a Pecan Shell
in the mid 1860s, the town was originally known as Ratty Town
after a man with that unfortunate name (Ratty Towns) who opened the
first store. Other sources say that it also went under the name Who'd-a-Thought-It,
But it is pretty much agreed that the later name of Swindall, Texas
was legitimate. It was named to honor George Swindall, who donated
land for a church and school.
Still, the present name didnít comer about until the mid 1890s when
it was named for not one, but two citizens. (Henry Vance, first post
master and citizen Vannie Tunnell.)
In 1927 the Pure Oil company made a survey just outside of town which
pointed the way to the discovery of oil on land owned by W. T. Jarman.
This October 1929 discovery led to a boom Ė just as the Great Depression
was getting underway.
Virtually overnight, the sleepy community exploded with construction.
Pure Oil remained the dominant company, but soon Sun Oil Company,
Texas Oil Company (Texaco) and Humble entered the fray, becoming co-owners
with Pure. This boom led to extending the railroad (the Texas Short
Line Railway) from Grand
Saline in 1930.
The population remained at just under 1,000 residents throughout the
1930s, but declined to just over 600 during the Second
World War when men were drawn from the population to fill critical
In the 1940s, the oilfield was mechanized. Pure merged with Union
Oil in the mid 1960s when the population of Van was 1,103. By the
mid 1970s it had increased to 1,820. Proximity to Canton
curtailed further growth, but Van crossed the 2,000 mark with 2,362
residents for the 2000 census.
Texas (established 1893) Town Mural
Photo courtesy Barclay
Gibson, November 2010
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