Saturday, January 1, 2011

"'One of the quiet men'"

While visiting the Texas Civil War Museum recently, two employees suggested that I trek into Fort Worth and visit Oakwood Cemetery because it is the resting place of two notable Texas Confederates. Even though I spent a number of years living in Denton, Texas, while I was in graduate school, I had never heard of Oakwood Cemetery. The desk clerk at the hotel kindly provided directions to the cemetery, and on Christmas Eve morning, my mom and I drove to Oakwood Cemetery. It was a chilly, dreary morning with light rain—not surprisingly we were the only visitors. Oakwood Cemetery was established in 1879, and it made the Texas Monthly “Bucket List” earlier this year. It is a peaceful and beautiful place. We had no idea what part of the cemetery to look in for our two notable Confederates but found them fairly quickly not far from the cemetery’s entrance.

The gravesite of Khleber Miller VanZandt was the first one that we located, and it is marked by a tall obelisk. Unfortunately, I neglected to take my camera on this trip so click on the link to see photographs of VanZandt as well as his grave marker. VanZandt was born in Tennessee in 1836 and moved with his family to Harrison County, Texas, in 1839. The young man was admitted to the bar and started practicing law in 1858 in Marshall. After the war started, VanZandt helped to organize and then became captain of Company D of the 7th Texas Infantry. During the war he was captured at Fort Donelson and then exchanged later in 1862. Following his exchange, he became Major of the 7th Texas and served with the regiment until his discharge for disability in 1864. The 7th Texas is perhaps most famous for its stubborn stand during the battle of Raymond (Mississippi) in May 1863, but the unit was also heavily engaged during the battle of Chickamauga. VanZandt led the regiment on the second day of fighting at Chickamauga after Colonel Hiram Granbury fell wounded.

Just a few months after the war ended, VanZandt moved to the then small town of Fort Worth where he soon became a civic and business leader. His many achievements are outlined in an entry in the Handbook of Texas Online. This article states that “According to his biographer…[VanZandt was] ‘one of the quiet men who built homes,…engaged in business, promoted towns,… opened schools, and enforced law and order.’”

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