Van Zandt County Genealogical Society

Blackwell House Museum

Van Zandt County Genealogical Society

314 First Monday Lane
FM 859 One half mile north of Hwy 64
Canton,Texas 75103

Canton's rich heritage has been preserved for future generations in the form of the Blackwell House museum under the direction of the Canton Museum Board. The Henry Fisher Blackwell II house, located on FM 859 just one half mile north of Hwy 64, is the oldest house in Canton. The house was built by Mr. H.F. Blackwell II and his wife, Nannie Jane Bartlett Backwell, in 1886. The Blackwell family originally came to Texas from Virginia where H.F. Blackwell Sr. was born in 1826.

Henry F. Blackwell Sr. served as a soldier during the war between the United States and Mexico in 1848. At the conclusion of that struggle Mr. Blackwell joined in the "Gold Rush" to Californian in 1849. After remaining there for some months, he made his way back to Nacogdoches, Texas, in 1852. Here he met and married Miss Sarah P. Engledow, from Missouri. Shortly after their marriage, Mr. Blackwell and his young bride set out on horseback from Van Zandt County, arriving late in 1852 where they built their home at the corner of Buffalo and West College Street. The elder Blackwell was one of Canton's first merchants.

Henry F. Blackwell Sr. was elected Van Zandt County Treasurer in 1854 and served through 1855. He was a Civil War prisoner from 1863 to 1865. After the war, he returned to Canton where he lived until his death.

Update: It has been discovered that Henry did not return to Canton. He was a prisoner of war at Camp Chase, Ohio until the spring of 1863 when he was released. He was returning home and got sick in Shelby County, Texas. Seven days later, he died just outside of Shelbyville. His wife Sarah received word that he was ill but got there only after he had died and was buried. For more on this see Sarah's letter to her mother on the Old Documents Page.

Henry F. Blackwell II, the builder of this house, was born on July 15, 1859 in Canton. He married Nannie on December 16, 1885. They had eight children, Henry Fisher III, Rebel, Robert Lee, Janie, Bonnie, Rose, Helen and a child who died at birth.

Henry Fisher Blackwell II served as desputy sheriff ten years before he was elected sheriff of Van Zandt County on November 2, 1886. He was elected to the office of sheriff for three more consecutive terms, serving a total of eight years as sheriff. (source: "Desperate Characters of Van Zandt County" by Cheryl Vaughn. See Local Authors Page.)

On December 12, 1988, Rebel Blackwell of Dallas, presented the City of Canton with the deed to the Blackwell house and 7 ½ acres as a historical gift. He made the presentation on behalf of himself, Joyce Y. Blackwell, Lola Black and Marguerite Chambers.

A Texas Historical Marker ceremony dedicating the Blackwell House as the oldest home in Canton was held on November 14, 1996. As of January, 2003, the house is under the direction of the Canton Museum Board. The gardens and lawn are maintained by the Iris Garden Club. Many civic groups contribute to the upkeep of the house. (information taken from a brochure published by the Canton Museum Board)

For further information on the museum or hours:
Call 903-484-0675 or 903-567-2992

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This page last updated 06 October 2007

Van Zandt County Genealogical Society Website maintained by
Sibyl Creasey