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The Free State of Van Zandt

During the Civil War and the period of Reconstruction, Canton was little more than a hole in the road. Following the end of the Civil War, the small towns in Van Zandt County were overrun with Federal Troops and carpetbaggers all in the name of reconstruction. The Van Zandt citizens became “fed up” with all of these troops and carpetbaggers and formed a committee of citizens to approach the County Commissioners, informing them that they wanted Van Zandt County to secede from the United States and also from the State of Texas!

It passed and Van Zandt County became the Free State of Van Zandt, totally separated from the United States and the State of Texas.

It wasn’t long before the Free State was attacked by Federal soldiers from New Orleans led by Gen. Sheridan. The Van Zandt County Soldiers won the Free State War which called for a celebration with the group ending up quite drunk. While in this condition, the Federal Troops acted quickly by putting all the Free Staters in leg and wrist irons and locking them up in the stockade, however, the Federal soldiers did not check Dr. Allen’s pockets where he carried a nice file. He was able to file the irons off himself and some of the others. Seeing that the stockade had no roof, the men all pushed together to knock down the log wall and escaped. The men all scattered to the east, west and to Oklahoma. Dr. Allen went to Oklahoma where he obtained his physician’s license and later came back to Van Zandt County. After the escape, the Federal troops took control of the county again.

No document has ever been found to indicate that the actions leading to the formation of the Free State of Van Zandt were rescinded.