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Van Zandt County TX
Van Zandt County

CANTON, TEXAS

First Monday Trade Days

Van Zandt County Seat, Central Texas North

3233'13" North, 9552'0" West (32.553576, -95.866710)
One mile S of I-20 on Hwy 19
60 miles SE of Dallas
Population: 3,610 (2010) 3,292 (2000)

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City of Canton Texas mural
A mural near the courthouse depicts the former courthouse (lower left)
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, December 2006
Canton is famous for it's First Monday Trade Days. Once a month. Thursday through Sunday before the First Monday. Estimates are now up to 250,000 visitors per month.

There are several parallels between Mardi Gras and First Monday. One is that everyone should experience it once. You can then decide if you want to go back. In Canton's case you also need to go back and see the town for its tranquility.

Historical Marker (at Groves and Capitol, entrance to First Monday Trade Days grounds:

Canton: The Misplaced County Seat

The Texas Legislature created Van Zandt County in 1848. It originally included nearly 2,000 square miles of territory. Jordan's Saline, now Grand Saline, was near the county's geographic location and became the first seat of government. Two years later, with the creation of Wood County from part of Van Zandt, officials had to select a new county seat based on the changed boundaries.

In December 1850, the Commissioners Court purchased 320 acres of land from Obey W. Owens and sent a surveyor to determine the right site for the new town of Canton. Officials soon built a courthouse, jail and post office in the new town, but in less than three years the county discovered an error in the survey. The new county seat was actually two-and-a-half miles from the county's land. Canton, it turned out, was on property owned by John George Woldert. He donated 160 acres of land to the county in January 1853, however, to avert the legal crisis. Despite Woldert's generosity, which meant county officials did not have to move the county seat or pay him for the mistake, many Van Zandt County residents were unhappy with the situation and wanted Canton relocated to the site as originally planned. So great was the resentment that following construction of a brick courthouse in 1857, county voters elected officials who refused to pay for the building for many years. The debt was finally resolved in 1880.

Today, Van Zandt's county seat remains on the wrong site. Since the surveying mistake more than 150 years ago, though, the city of Canton has grown into a regional commercial center, known most notably for its First Monday Trade Days.
(2004)


The Free State of Van Zandt is sometimes used to describe the independent nature of the county's citizens. Besides the incident of marching armed to Will's Point, Van Zandters also dynamited or otherwise destroyed dipping tanks in the late 1890s. The state had made dipping cattle mandatory when tick-fever was rampant. Maybe they should've asked nicer.
Canton Texas town square
Canton square
TE photo
Canton, Texas Attractions / Landmarks
  • The Van Zandt County Courthouse
  • Van Zandt County Pioneer Monument
  • Hillcrest Cemetery - Dating back to the town's original plat, the Cemetery contains the graves of most of Canton's notables. Located on Hwy 19, two blocks North of Highway 64.
  • The Cherokee Line - The Cherokee Boundary Line, an important part of East Texas, finally got the recognition it deserves recently in a ceremony on a oiltop road north of Canton... more

    Book Hotel Here > Canton Hotels
  • Pioneer Monument on the
    NW corner of the Van Zandt County Courthouse

    Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, December 2006
    Lone cow in pasture near Canton, Texas
    "Where'd Everyone Go" - A scene near Canton
    Photo courtesy John Stankewitz 02-07-2005
    See "Are There Cows in Texas?"
    water tower Canton Texas

    Canton water tower & storefront
    TE photo
    More Canton, Texas Area Destinations
  • Van Zandt County Towns
  • Mill Creek Reservoir - On Arnold Paul Road off Texas 243
  • Take FM 17 NW 11 miles to Grand Saline, from there Hwy 80 West 14 miles to Mineola.
  • Take Hwy 18 South 27 miles to Athens
  • Take Hwy 64 SE 40 miles to Tyler

    Canton Tourist Information
    Canton Chamber of Commerce - 903-567-2991
    315 First Monday Lane Canton, TX 75103
    http://www.cantontx.com/
  • water tower in Canton Texas


    Canton, Texas Area Towns:
    Dallas
    See Van Zandt County |Central Texas North
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