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.

Other posts about Van Zandt:
Van Zandt: Father and Son, State and City (Part 1)
Blue and Gray: “Best of Friends . . . As If We Had Fought Side by Side”
A Rock and a Lock: Old-Fashioned Customer Service at the Trinity River Bank
Hotel Block: From “Sad and Gloomy” to the Golden Goddess
Buttons and Bones: The Life, Death, and 3 Burials of 2 Confederate Generals

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

  1. M. Rae says:

    My grandfather purchased lumber from the demolished van Zandt house and built two houses on Market Street on the North Side, both completed c. 1921. One of those houses was my childhood home where I lived from 1935-1947. My parents eventually retired back to that house in 1957 and lived the rest of their lives there. Both houses are still standing.

    • hometown says:

      Too bad Fort Worth could not preserve that historic house, but like the gift of an organ donor, its lumber lives on in houses such as your family’s.

  2. 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.

  3. Van Williams played football at Arlington Heights High School – went on to TCU and then
    to Hollywood to play in ‘The Green Hornet’,
    bit parts in movies and TV Commercials.
    The last word I got – is that he was the Sheriff of Malibu, California.

    • hometown says:

      Thanks, Gerry. Now I’ll always think of Van Williams when I watch the “Stay out of Malibu, Lebowski” scene.

    • Larry Brown says:

      Van Williams was one of my favorite actors that, also, appeared on Bourbon Street Beat, then Surfside Six on ABC.

  4. David Ford says:

    Khleber Miller Van Zandt was also the uncle of former Fort Worth Mayor Van Zandt Jarvis.

    And Green Hornet actor Van Williams was named after Van Zandt Jarvis. His full name is Van Zandt Jarvis Williams. Mr. Williams’ parents must have admired the former mayor.

    • hometown says:

      I remember Van Williams but had forgotten that he was born in Fort Worth. “Van Zandt Jarvis” is about as Fort Worth as a name can get. VZJ was the son of Ida, sister unto the major, and James Jones Jarvis. I think. Too many folks and too few names.

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