Van Zandt County, Texas

Colfax Community

Taken from Van Zandt County Texas Biographies 1848-1991 Vol. II. Thanks to Kitty Wheeler for the original information and for permission to use it on the web site. The information that is included in this document is transcribed portions of information that appear in the above referenced book. Additions, corrections, complaints or compliments concerning this page or any other page on this web site should be submitted to Betty Miller and Patsy Vinson.

Colfax, Texas

Through the years Colfax has been known by at least three names: Cold Water, Tunnel's Chapel and then Colfax. It is believed Martin Weaver gave the post office the name of Colfax in honor of Schuyler Colfax, a prominent Republican of Indiana.

John Thorn soon established a gin one mile west of the present site of Colfax and erected a building in the front yard that was to become the site of the post office in 1882 and continued for the next twenty three years.

The Colfax community became widely known as the site of mass-attended religious camp meetings and ultimately the religious center of that part of the county. In the period at the turn of the century, Colfax was a bustling hub of activity of the people in the area. Beside the Thorn Gin, there were three churches, a good school, two stores, one belonging to Will Bailey, C. S. Thorn's drug store, a blacksmith shop and a harness shop.

The other store was owned by Warren Jackson hendley who came to Van Zandt County in 1878 and married Lucretia Johnson 4 Dec 1883. As a successful merchant he carried a full line of merchandise and was always striving to build up his community and to take care of his customers. In February 1904 he sold his stock of goods to Ben Odom.

Ben Odom was known for a lively trade in the bartering business. He bought chickens, eggs and butter and would exchange for trade goods as well as cash. The farmer's wives appreciated this for they had no market for such products.

George A. Reeves operated a gin, grist mill and saw mill in the area. He ran the gin in the fall and spring, and in the summer, he operated the saw mill.

Mr. Reeves was a most enterprising man. In 1904, he and Cull Berryman went to Myrtle springs and purchased enough broom wire to run about one-half mile of telephone line. they would cut a round hole in the box, and then nail a tin lid over the hole. They would punch a hole in the tin lid, run the wire through it, and ite it to a nail. To attract the attention of the neighbor a person would thump on the lid, and then talk to his neighbor, sometimes one-half mile away, sometimes a mile. Each family had different "thumps" as a signal.

Mr. Jack Kellam provided syrup for the community. He had a syrup mill near his home on the roadside by a creek. He grew ribbon cane on his bottom land. After the syrup was made he would put in old-fashioned jugs, sealed with a hot red sealing wax over the stopper. Some people would bring their own jugs to get their syrup.

Jack Kellam was the son of Alexander kellam and Cornelia Rusk. Alexander Kellam donated land for the Methodist Church and the school at Colfax.

Perhaps the inspiration for George Reeve's "telephone" was the new telephone exchange that came to the Colfax residents. As of Jul 1903 there were 45 telephones in the community giving not only local connection but connection with the outside world.

Colfax is now a quiet, residential community. many of the descendants of the people mentioned still live here. Some still worship in the only remaining church, the Methodist. The school has been closed for many years and all must go to nearby towns to shop. Each year at the Colfax hoemcomingmemories are renewed and all are reminded of the proud heritage they possess.

John Stephen Thorn

Van Zandt County, Texas

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