From Adams’s Beaver Hat to Dylan’s Coffee Table

Khleber Miller Van Zandt was born in Tennessee on November 7, 1836. He would become a Civil War major, banker, and one of Fort Worth’s most influential early civic leaders.

But first he was a boy, the son of Isaac Van Zandt (right photo), for whom that county is named. Isaac was a diplomat for the Republic of Texas. In 1842 President Sam Houston appointed Isaac to be charge d’affairs to the United States. So, Isaac moved his family from Marshall, Texas, to Washington. During his tenure in Washington, the elder Van Zandt worked for the annexation of Texas to the Union.

yoostabe van zandt annexation 1844This article about Isaac Van Zandt is from the Houston Telegraph of 1844—one year before annexation.

While the Van Zandts lived in Washington, their next-door neighbor was John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), then a congressman from Massachusetts. Khleber was six years old at the time; Adams was seventy-five. Many years later Khleber recalled Adams as “a very austere man, and when he came walking down the street, the children would scamper out of his way. Perhaps we were frightened by his large, white beaver hat and the gold-headed walking cane he always carried.”

Consider the time span of Khleber Miller Van Zandt: Because he lived to 1930, people of my parents’ generation, some of them still alive today, knew a man who had known a man who had been the sixth president of the United States and who had been the son of the second president—an old man who had been a young boy during the American Revolution and had known the founding fathers.

van zandt house 800 penn

Khleber Miller Van Zandt died on March 19, 1930 at his home on Quality Hill.

van-zandt-obit-stUntil a few weeks before his death he was still going in to his office at Fort Worth National Bank each workday. He was survived by four generations of descendants.

Major Khleber Miller Van Zandt is buried in Oakwood Cemetery.

More posts about Van Zandt:
Blue and Gray: “Best of Friends . . . As If We Had Fought Side by Side”
Making a Withdrawal at the Trinity River Bank
Hotel Block: From “Sad and Gloomy” to the Golden Goddess
Bank Assets: 2 Million Dollars and 1 Confederate General (Deceased)
And, yes, according to A Deeper Blue: The Life and Music of Townes Van Zandt by Robert Earl Hardy, Khleber Miller Van Zandt was the great-granduncle of singer-songwriter John Townes Van Zandt (1944-1997).
Said singer-songwriter Steve Earle: “Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world, and I’ll stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that.”
Townes Van Zandt:

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7 Responses to From Adams’s Beaver Hat to Dylan’s Coffee Table

  1. Jann Jeter says:

    Another great article! This one brings a thought to my mind however. As a child in the 50’s attending Oakhurst Elementary School, one of my classmates was Khleber Miller Van Zandt the 5th. I can’t help but wonder if the name is still being carried forward…

    • hometown says:

      Thanks, Jann. I suspect the name is being carried on in some branch of the family. In addition, a Van Zandt married a Jennings, and then you had the Van Zandt names on the Jennings side.

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