The Free State Of Van Zandt

The following story, one of my favorite family stories, has been handed down in my family since, I imagine, these events took place. On one occasion, I also saw a version of the story in print in the “Texas Co-op Power” magazine.

When the Southern soldiers returned from the War Of Northern Agression, they found a serious situation, carpetbaggers, crooked politicians and a general lack of law enforcement. The returning Van Zandt County soldiers gathered together and formed The Free State of Van Zandt. The Unionist quickly responded by sending Colored Federal Cavalry to suppress the “revolt”. Shots were exchanged and the Federal troops were driven off which ignited a party by the victors, causing most of them to become very drunk.

The Federals returned, and without a shot being fired, captured the entire lot of the revelers, hand cuffed them all and put them in a hastily built stockade. Big trouble for the former Confederates! However, during the first night, a violent rainstorm hit the stockade, causing the hastily built facility to, literally, come apart. Since the Federal troops had sought shelter from the storm and weren’t guarding it, and the stockade came apart, the Confederate prisoners simply walked out and went back to their homes. There were no further arrests and the matter was dropped, so ended The Free State of Van Zandt.

My Great Grandfathers, Levi Lindsey Sanders and Shaw Wallace, were former comfederate soldiers from Van Zandt County, and since another of my Great Grandfathers, Brinson Murrill Bryan, also a Confederate, was from directly across the Trinity River from Van Zandt County, and family legend has he never missed a fight or party. My family history doesn’t say if my Great-Grandfathers were involved or not.

These 3 were ardent Confederates and two of them from Van Zandt County, so the reader will have to draw his own conclusions.