Van Zandt
Praries & Lakes
2010 Census - 3,581
2000 Census - 3,292
Canton, Texas
Canton Texas History:
The townsite was originally surveyed around 1840. In 1850, Canton was named the county seat of Van Zandt County. The town was platted and named by settlers moving from Old Canton in Smith County. The first district courthouse at Canton and the Canton post office opened that same year. In 1872, the Texas and Pacific Railway built a line across the county and through Wills Point, bypassing Canton by ten miles. Wills Point residents were able to persuade county officials to move the county seat to Wills Point. A dispute erupted and armed Canton residents went to Wills Point to retrieve the county records. The county judge had to wire Governor Richard B. Hubbard for aid. When the issue was finally brought before the Texas Supreme Court, the court decided in favor of Canton. Meanwhile, Canton residents refused to use the Wills Point railroad station so the town’s businessmen built an extension line from Canton to the Texas and Pacific rail line at current day Edgewood, ten miles northwest of Canton. District judge elect John C. Robertson and his partner William S. Herndon donated land for a railroad depot. A section house and a freight and passenger depot were constructed and named Stevenson Switch. The Edgewood community is still in existence. By 1890, canton had flour mills, sawmills, cotton gins, a bank and 421 residents. Notorious bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow once lived briefly at the 1915 Dixie Hotel. Canton incorporated in 1919. Unlike most East Texas towns, Canton lived through the Great Depression relatively unscathed. Canton is famous for its First Monday Trade Days. The tradition is thought to have started during Confederate times when district court meetings were held the first Monday of each month and residents and visitors swapped surplus stock, and later began swapping dogs, antiques, and other items on the 30 acre grounds. The Van Zandt County Pioneer Monument is located in Canton. The monument is a bass-relief sculpture by famous Italian sculptor Pompeo Coppini’s adopted daughter, Waldine Tauch. It is located on the northwest corner of the courthouse square. Canton is located on the Mills Creek tributary of the Sabine River, one mile south of IH-20 at the intersections of SH 19 (Trade Days Boulevard), SH 198 (South Buffalo Street), SH 64 (Dallas Street), SH 243 and FMs 17 and 1255, 57 miles southeast of Dallas, 52 miles southeast of Greenville, 30 miles southeast of Terrell, 35 miles southeast of Lake Tawakoni, 32 miles southeast of Quinlan, 14 miles southeast of Wills Point, 10 miles slightly southeast of Edgewood, 23 miles southwest of Emory and Lake Fork, 40 miles southwest of Quitman, 30 miles southwest of Mineola, 413.5 miles southwest of Grand Saline, 8 miles northwest of Whitehouse and Tyler Lake, 36.8 miles northwest of Tyler, 31 miles northwest of Lindale and Tyler State Park, 31 miles northwest of Chandler and Lake Palestine, 21.6 miles northwest of Edom, 21.6 miles northwest of Edom, 16.6 miles northwest of Van, 11.6 miles northwest of Ben Wheeler, 24.6 miles north of Athens, 21.8 miles northeast of Eustace and Purtis Creek State Park, 25 miles northeast of Gun Barrel City and the Cedar Creek Reservoir, and 27 miles east of Kaufman, Texas.
Van Zandt County Courthouse, 1937:
This brick courthouse was designed in modern style by architects Voelcker & Dixon. The 2010 Van Zandt County Census was 52,579. (903) 567-4071. 121 East Dallas Street.     
Canton Plaza Museum:
This museum is located in the old Canton Plaza Theater. It houses the Brewer Bell collection, one of the largest bell collections in the state, a First Monday Trade Days Museum, and the Kennedy collection of Indian artifacts and models. It also features a variety of local historic items. The museum is owned by the City of Canton and is operated as a private, non-profit museum. Admission is free. Open Mon-Fri, 9am-4pm. (903) 567-1849. 119 North Buffalo Street.   
Blackwell House Museum:
This museum is located in the 1886 Blackwell House, the oldest house in Canton. The house was restored and donated to the city as a historical gift. It is furnished in period pieces. Call for an appointment. (903) 484-0675. (903) 567-4550. 314 First Monday Lane.
Billy The Kid Museum:
Billy the Kid died of a heart attack at the age of 90 in Hico, Texas. He is buried off U.S. 281 North in Hamilton, Texas. The museum is a self-guided tour, and self-honor pay museum. After hours viewings and group tours are available by appointment. Admission is $1 for ages 18 and over; $0.50 for those under 18. Open daily, 9am-9pm. (972) 504-6608. The museum is located at 19453 IH-20, on the south side of IH-10, between SH 64 and FM 859. Email  
Van Zandt County Library of Genealogy and Local History:
Open Mon-Fri, 9am-4pm; Sat, 9am-1pm. (903) 567-5012. The library is located in the Courthouse Annex at 24632 SH 64 East, adjacent to the Hillcrest Cemetery. Email
Van Zandt County Public Library:
The library provides traditional library programs, children, youth and adult programs, summer programs, public access computers with internet connections, and free Wi-Fi. Open Tue-Fri, 10am-5:45pm; Sat, 9:30am-12:45pm; closed Sunday and Monday. (903) 567-4276. 317 First Monday Lane, Canton.