Biography of Van & Mintie Stanbery

Van Buren & Mintie (Bond) Stanbery

Van Buren Stanbery was the oldest son of Nathaniel Stanbery and Samantha (Oglesby) Stanbery. He was born on Wednesday, May 8, 1867. According to the 1880 Federal Census, Van was born in Illinois, but the 1900 and 1910 censuses stated that he was born in Tennessee, and the 1920 census stated Missouri, so it will be necessary to locate their family in the 1870 census when he was three years old to find out for sure.

At the age of six Van was told by his doctor that if he would chew "Dry Time" tobacco, it would prevent him from having scurvy in his teeth. Scurvy is a disease which sometimes resulted in teeth and gum problems as well as weakness and anemia because of a depletion of vitamin C. So, from the age of six, Van chewed tobacco regularly, and his teeth were white and healthy, only losing one permanent tooth in all his life, according to Homer Stanbery, one of Van and Mintie's youngest sons.

Apparently when Van Buren was a child, he moved with his family to Castor township in Stoddard County, Missouri. Van was a young boy when his father died, and when his mother remarried to Jesse W. Ballard, Van, his mother, two brothers and grandmother, Martha Oglesby, moved in with the Ballard family.

Several years later, Van began courting a neighbor girl named Mary Emeline Mandy Aliminta ("Mintie") Bond, daughter of James Abner Bond and Matilda "Jane" (Herndon) Bond. Mintie was born on Monday, September 20, 1869 in or near Murfreesboro, Tennessee. In 1884 or 1885, James A. Bond and his family moved to Ellis County, Texas, and lived near the town of Ennis.

Van Stanbery remained in Missouri for awhile, but realized that Mintie was to be his wife, so he moved to Texas to marry Mintie in 1887. The following incident was recounted by Homer Stanbery:  A passenger on Van's trip from Missouri to Texas was his shepherd dog. Not long after they arrived in Texas, though, Van's dog disappeared. He never showed up again and was presumed to have died. A few years later, Van and his young family went back to Holcomb, Missouri to visit his folks. Since they had been in Missouri last, their family had moved to another place, but while Van was in that part of the country he decided to visit the old home place. In the distance Van saw a familiar looking dog so he whistled loudly at him and to his astonishment came running his long lost dog. The dog had found his way back to Holcomb, Missouri from Ennis, Texas, a distance of some 500 miles. One of the neighbors in Holcomb told Van that when the dog arrived back at Holcomb, about two weeks after they had left, his paws were raw and sore from the long journey. He did nothing but lie around for a couple of weeks. Apparently the dog preferred Missouri over Texas!

Van Stanbery acquired a job at the local cotton gin in Ennis, Texas shortly after moving to the area. His job was to stomp down the lint cotton in the gin. It was quite a job for a small framed man like Van, but he learned to do it proficiently.

On Sunday, September 11, 1887, Van Buren Stanbery and Mintie Bond were married at her parent's house near Ennis, Texas. Van and Mintie began their family there, living near her folks. The next day after their wedding, Van went back to work at the cotton gin, and Mintie went back to work in the field where she had previously been working.

While they were living in Ellis County, Van and Mintie's first four children were born. Samantha Jane ("Jennie") Stanbery, their first child, was born in the fall of 1888. She was named after Van's mother, Samantha, and Mintie's mother, Jane, yet she was called Jennie. America Emeline Stanbery was Van and Mintie's second child, born in the summer of 1890. Their third child and first son, Thomas ("Tom") Marion Stanbery, was born in the summer of 1891, and in early 1893, John Robert Stanbery was born.

Van and Mintie never owned any land of their own, but instead moved around from place to place, farming "thirds and fourths," which meant that they farmed on someone else's land, using their own farm equipment. The rent price for the house and use of the land was one third of the land's yield of corn and one fourth of it's yield of cotton.

In about 1894, Van and his family moved to Van Zandt County, Texas and they continued farming thirds and fourths. It was there that their next three children were born, including their first set of twins. James "Albert" and George Elbert Stanbery were born in 1895, however George only lived three weeks. The loss of this young one was difficult for them all. A little over a year and a half later, in the latter part of 1896, another little one was born to Van and Mintie, and she was named Laura Mae Stanbery.

In about 1897, Van and his family moved back to Ellis County for about a year. It was there, in early 1898, that Van and Mintie's eighth child was born, and she was named Effie "Lela" Stanbery. Later that year Van and his family moved back to Van Zandt County.

For a short time, in 1899 and early 1900, Van and his family lived and farmed in Hill County, which is where Una Edna Stanbery was born in February of 1900. By Spring of 1900 they were again living in Van Zandt County, where they were enumerated in the federal census.

For several years, Van Stanbery was a social drinker, and would frequent the saloon in Canton, Texas. Van claimed not to have ever become drunken, but he realized that his drinking was not good. Van was struggling inside. He had committed his life to the Lord Jesus in his younger years, but was not very diligent to follow Him. Occasionally, Van would treat Mintie harshly, although he never did it in front of the children. In fact, the children never even saw their parents kiss, as they would show no emotions in public. Mintie put up with Van and loved him through the years. Mintie, who had been raised in a Christian home, was a submissive wife and would pray for Van, no doubt.

In February of 1901, Van was out drinking at a Canton saloon with his brother-in-law, Jake Norman. They were doing a toast when someone entered and asked for Van Stanbery, and proceeded to relate a tragedy that had just occurred. At the Stanbery place, Van's children were burning brush. Three year old Laura Mae Stanbery was playing around the fire and she got too close. Her dress quickly caught on fire, Laura panicked and began to run. Her brothers and sisters chased after her and caught her. Her layered clothes were buttoned tightly so they could not merely rip them off, but had to be carefully unbuttoned, so her sibling's hands were being burned as they struggled to get her burning clothes off. But before they could help her she was burned too badly and did not survive. Van immediately returned home to find his precious little daughter, burned and lifeless, and he was awakened to the harsh reality that if he had been there this would not have happened. Van was so grieved and shaken by the tragedy that from that day forward he never took another alcoholic drink. God used that horrible, sobering incident to get Van's attention, and Van began following the Lord, faithfully attending Starr Baptist Church. He soon became a deacon in the church, and at the time of his death, he had served as a deacon at Starr for twenty years.

At the age of 98, Lela vaguely recalled how she and older her sister Laura, who were only 14 months apart in age, were as close as twins. One would not eat without the other. So the absence of little Laura Mae was also very traumatic for young Lela.

In the latter part of 1901, Van and Mintie's tenth child, Iva Myrtle Stanbery, was born. Nearly a year and a half later, Winnie S. Stanbery was born.

On August 14, 1904, Mintie, who was carrying twins in her womb at the time, was outside in the yard, hanging clothes on the clothes line, when suddenly a darkness began to descend upon her. Mintie's heart began to beat very fast as she realized that she could no longer see anything, not even the ground or her own hands. A few seconds passed and then the darkness lifted. It was not a typical "blacking out," but something different and very frightening. That night as the Stanberys slept, young seventeen month old Winnie suddenly died in her sleep. Mintie and the rest of the family were grief stricken the next morning when they discovered the still body of their baby. Mintie remembered her incident with the black cloud the afternoon before, and she realized that she had probably been given a warning about her daughter's passing. Winnie's body was buried at Starr Cemetery, across from the church that the family attended.

In February of 1905, Mintie gave birth to her second set of twin boys. Van and Mintie named the two boys Clyde Dick and Clarence Teddy Stanbery.

In about 1906, Van and his growing family moved back to Ellis County, and lived on Chamber's Creek, about three miles from the town of Ennis. There they continued farming thirds and fourths. Towards the end of that year, God once again blessed Van and Mintie with a baby boy, whom they named Homer William Stanbery.

In 1908, Van and his family were living in Brown County, where their fifteenth child was born. His name was Carl Calvin Stanbery. By 1910, Van and his family were living in Archer County, where Archie Whiten Stanbery was born. Later they all moved to Leon County and then back to Van Zandt County.

One year, Van and his family lived and farmed on Dr. Gibb's place, at Roddey, near Mabank, Texas. Another year they spent on the Lamberth place near the Wallace Community (west of Canton). In 1912, they lived on the Merff place, also near Wallace, on the southeast side of the community. While living there, their last child was born. He was named Leon Clifford Woodrow Wilson Patrick ("Pat") Henry Stanbery. Pat had been given several names, as his mother had also been given, probably as a novelty. They called him Leon, but in later years many called him Pat.

Altogether, Van Buren and Mintie had 17 children, however according to their grand- daughter, Lillie Bell (Stanbery) Heddins, they also had two or three additional children that didn't live past birth or were miscarried.

Christmas was a special time of the year for the Stanberys, although they could not afford too give many gifts. The simple things, however, meant a lot and were not taken for granted. Homer recalled a gift that he had received for Christmas one year when he was a child. Van had gone out and bought several "noisemakers" for his boys, which consisted of a wooden stick with a thin strip of wood attached which when twirled made a clicking sound. The boys enjoyed playing with them, but it didn't take too long before Van sent them outside because of all the racket!

In 1914, Van and his family lived and farmed on Walter Pitman's place in Van Zandt County. Another year they lived on the Odom place in the Clark Community of Van Zandt County, to the west of the old Clark "Cross Oak" School. In 1918, their family moved to the High Community on the Canton and Kaufman road, and farmed on the Nail place. They lived there for two years during World War I. Albert and John Stanbery both went to war during the first World War and fought in France.

In 1920, Van and his family lived and farmed on the Wade Burns place at High Community in Van Zandt County. Then in 1921 they moved back to Hill County where they lived and farmed on the Jerden place in the Bethel Community. In 1922, they lived and farmed on the Roseman place in the Starr Community of Van Zandt County, and the next year on the Odom place in the Clark Community.

Lela (Stanbery) Helms, one of Van and Mintie's daughters, recalled the days of working out in the field as a child. The days were long and the work was hard. When they were not in school, the children worked long hours and looked forward to meal times when they could rest. At one of the farms the Stanberys had no dinner bell to announce that the meals were prepared, so Mintie would place a pillow on the roof of the house to indicate that it was that time. The children often anxiously looked toward the house as they worked in anticipation of seeing that old pillow.

All the family would gather around a long rectangular table, with benches on either side. All their plates were turned upside down until after they gave thanks to God for their meal, when they would turn them right-side up and serve themselves. Homer Stanbery recalled one occasion when they were living on the Roddey place that he had earned some money for doing a certain chore, and his parents hid the money under his dinner plate. After the prayer, he turned his plate over and discovered the money.

In about 1922, Van Stanbery contracted lung cancer, according to Homer, and he died on Monday, May 28, 1923, while living on the Odom place in Clark Community. He was 56 years old. Van's body was buried at Starr cemetery near Laura & Winnie.

Mintie died about 26 years later on Thursday, November 10, 1949 at 2:20 PM. She had been living with her daughter, Iva Chitty and her family in the Turner community, southeast of Wills Point, Van Zandt County, Texas. Mintie died of cancer of the stomach and was buried beside Van at Starr Cemetery. She was 80 years old. The funeral services were held on Friday afternoon at 2:00 at Starr Baptist Church with Rev. Elmer Parkerson and Rev. A. C. Arington officiating.

After Van's death, Mintie had been left at home with a housefull of children, although the older ones were already married and had families of their own. In order to be a blessing and an encouragement to Mintie, the families organized a reunion to be held on the Sunday just after September 20th, which was Mintie's birthday. Year after year they had the birthday reunion, and even after Mintie's death, the family reunion continued. In the early 1990's the reunion day was changed to the fourth Saturday in September in order for people to be able to attend their own churches the following day. Over 70 years later, the reunion continues, held at what used to be Starr Baptist Church across from Starr Cemetery. The reunion consists of a church service where one of the many ministers in the large family preaches, after which a short business meeting is held, followed by good eating and fellowship.


Compiled and written by Roland J. Heddins, copyright 2002. As further details are discovered, this biography will be updated. If you have any details to add, please email Roland at [email protected]. Do not re-publish this biography (in print or on the internet) without permission. Thank you.


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