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                             The Van Zandt Family

                                    (Our thanks to John Hill for these articles on this pioneer Dido family)

Dido School


If you have family history you would like to share, please contact Rayna Lewis (rayna.lewis@sbcglobal.net)
  Van Zandt Family Portrait
Dr. Isaac L. Van Zandt Francis Van Zandt Beall K. M. Van Zandt
Ida Van Zandt Jarvis Francis Cooke Lipscomb Van Zandt Louisa Van Zandt Clough

A Little Background on the Van Zandt Family

The Van Zandt family came from Holland before the American Revolution.  First they came to New York and later to North Carolina.  Isaac's parents, Jacob Van Zandt and Mary Wallace Isaacs, moved from the Winston-Salem area to Franklin County, Tennessee, near the town of Winchester around 1800 where Isaac was born in 1813. 

William Lipscomb and his wife, Ann day Cooke Lipscomb, moved from South Carolina to Lincoln county, Tennessee.  Their daughter, Fannie Cooke Lipscomb, became the bride of Isaac Van Zandt on December 18, 1833.  Their first child, Louisa, was born in 1834 and they moved to Coffeeville, Mississippi, where Isaac became a merchant. 

Two years later a boy was born - Khebler Miller Van Zandt - and he was to become a great leader.  He was a major in the Confederate Army and a land agent for the T&P Railroad.  K.M. Van Zandt was to later come to Fort Worth and become a promoter and builder for the city.  His business failed in 1837 in Mississippi and he was then persuaded to become a lawyer by a friend.

In 1838 Isaac Van Zandt decided to go to Texas via the Mississippi River and up the Red River to Natchitoches, Louisiana, then over land to Camp Sabine after the Texans had been abandoned by the army.  In a place called Elysion Fields, near what is now Marshall, Texas, the third child was born - the first Van Zandt to be born in Texas.  His name was Isaac Lycurgus Van Zandt.  Born on January 5, 1840, he later became a prominent physician.  Isaac's law practice became stable and he soon moved his young family to Elysion Fields.  Isaac surveyed the town site in 1839 and suggested the town be named Marshall after Chief Justice John Marshall.

In 1846 the Mexican War broke out but Isaac was too ill to go to war with the volunteers he organized.  So his law partner went to war and Isaac ran the law practice.  In 1847 Isaac was persuaded to run for governor of Texas.  In his campaign with the other candidates in Galveston, he contracted yellow fever and was ill for several weeks.  When he arrived in Houston he had a relapse and died on October 11, 1847, at the age of 34.

Texas and the town of Marshall had lost a great leader.  Marshall built a memorial statue to honor Isaac and his wife and the county was named Van Zandt County in his honor.


Exploring the Van Zandt Dido Connection

The Van Zandt family had a great impact on the Dido Cemetery.  The Van Zandt connection began in 1894 when Dr. I. L. Zandt deeded land to the cemetery. Reading from the handwritten deed granting the land to the Dido:

"That I, Isaac L. Van Zandt of said State and County in consideration of the purposes hereinafter set forth leave this day bargained, sold, and delivered and do by these presents grant bargain sell quit claim and deliver to George W. Armstrong, County Judge of Tarrant County Texas, and his successors in Trust the following described real estate situated in Tarrant County Texas and being a part of the J. Wilcox survey No.6a described as follows:                       

Situated about 16 miles northwest of Fort Worth and beginning at the South East corner of the D. M. Davis survey, a stake in north line of said Wilcox survey No. 60: Thence South 162&1/3 yards to a stake: Thence west 169 & 1/3 yards to a stake: Thence North 116 & 2/3 yards: a stake in North line of said me the undersigned a Notary Public in and for said County and State came Wheeler H. Hall who is personally known to me to be the identical person described in and who executed the forgoing instrument as successor in Trust and duly acknowledged the execution of the same as such successor in Trust for the uses and purposes therein mentioned.

To understand a bit about the Van Zandt family a little genealogy is in order at this point. 

Dr. Isaac L. Van Zandt was a Corpsman in the Civil War tending the sick and wounded. After the war he went to medical school at Tulane and earned his M. D. degree.  Later Dr. Van Zandt became the First Ambassador from the Republic of Texas to the United States of America. 

William Lipson Van Zandt married Belle Williams and they became the parents of two daughters and a son.  Mildred Van Zandt (Cantrell), Martha Van Zandt (Perryman), and Harris Van Zandt married Dorothy (Townes). Mildred taught school at Dido around 1928 and is buried at Dido. Martha married C. W. Perryman but had no children but did have stepchildren. Harris Van Zandt and Dorothy had three children Donna, Townes, and Bill.  Townes and Bill are deceased. William and Belle Van Zandt also had twins who died as infants and they are buried at Dido. Another son named Jack was born to William and Belle Van Zandt but died as an adolescent. He is also buried at Dido.

Townes Hall, home of the Law School of the University of Texas at Austin, is named after Dorothy's family.



Townes Van Zandt

Since fans from all over the country are visiting Dido to pay their respects to Townes Van Zandt, I decided to investigate this gifted songwriter and musician in depth.

John Townes Van Zandt was best known as Townes Van Zandt.  He was an American country-folk music singer-songwriter.  He wrote over 800 songs and performed mostly in bars with small audiences.  He never had a successful album or single.  In 1983, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard covered his song, "Poncho and Lefty," which is one of my personal all-time favorites.  So this fact really got my attention and I dug even deeper in my research.  Even with this achievement and others, he spent much of his life in cheap motel rooms, touring various dive bars, staying in backwoods cabins and on friends' couches.

In the 2000s, there was increasing interest in Van Zandt after his death on New Year's Day 1997.  During the past ten years, books, a film, and articles in magazines have been written about him and his music.  Bob Dylan, Norah Jones, and other varied musicians have remembered him as a great songwriter.  He also produced some videos, and appeared playing himself in three movies.