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Canton, Texas
The Blackwell House Museum in Canton was built in 1886, but occupied as a residence until 1975.
The Blackwell House Museum in Canton was built in 1886, but occupied as a residence until 1975.
Location of Canton, Texas
Location of Canton, Texas
Country United States
State Texas
County Van Zandt
 • Total 6.51 sq mi (16.87 km2)
 • Land 6.04 sq mi (15.66 km2)
 • Water 0.47 sq mi (1.21 km2)
505 ft (154 m)
 • Total 4,229
 • Estimate 
 • Density 638.71/sq mi (246.59/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 903
FIPS code 48-12496
GNIS feature ID 1332115
Canton, TX, Civic Center IMG 5618
Canton Civic Center at 800 Flea Market Road hosts the First Monday Trade Days.
Historic Canton, TX Main Street banner IMG 5627
Historic Canton Main Street banner
Another photo, Van Zandt County, TX, Courthouse IMG 5621
Canton is the location of the Van Zandt County courthouse.
Downtown Canton, TX IMG 5631
A glimpse of Canton across the street from the courthouse

Canton is a city in and the county seat of Van Zandt County in East Texas, United States. It is located about 40 miles west of Tyler. As of the 2020 census, the city had a population of 4,229.

The city sustained severe damage on April 29, 2017, from several tornadoes, and two years later from another tornado that struck downtown on May 29, 2019, both of which occurred just before First Monday Trade Days, the popular flea market extravaganza which draws thousands to the city each month.


Canton was surveyed as early as 1840 by a company of men under Dr. W. P. King. The community stands on the original survey of Jesse Stockwell, an early settler in the area. No settlement was made until 1850, when the town was laid out and named by settlers moving from Old Canton in Smith County, Texas. The first district courthouse at Canton opened in 1850, and a post office, the county's fourth, was established in that year.

When the Texas and Pacific Railway was built across the county in 1872, it missed Canton by ten miles, and the citizens of Wills Point persuaded county officials to move the county seat there. In the resulting dispute, in 1877 armed residents of Canton went to Wills Point to recover the records, and the county judge wired Governor Richard B. Hubbard for aid. The Texas Supreme Court finally decided in favor of Canton. Unwilling to use the railroad at Wills Point, Canton businessmen established Edgewood, ten miles (16 km) to the northwest of town, and built an extension to the railroad at a siding formerly called Stevenson.

Property for the town's first school, the Canton Academy, was acquired in 1853. Sid S. Johnson began publication of the Canton Weekly Times, the county's first newspaper, in 1860. A Grange was founded in 1876. By 1890 Canton had a population of 421, flour mills, sawmills, cotton gins, and a bank. Brick buildings were under construction by 1892 and a new brick courthouse was completed in 1894. Iron ore and anthracite coal were discovered in 1887 and 1891. By 1896, the town reached a population high of 800 and had several churches, a steam gristmill and gin, two weekly newspapers, three general stores and two hotels. But the population had fallen back to 421 by 1904.

Canton was incorporated in 1919, and elected a mayor and aldermen. Despite the Great Depression, development of the Van oilfield after 1929 brought further expansion. A Public Works Administration project in the 1930s saw the completion of a new courthouse. In 1933 area schools registered 500 white and twenty-eight black students. The population reached 715 in 1940, but dwindled again after 1949. In the 1950s, local business included a sweet-potato curing plant, an ice factory, a concrete-tile factory, lumberyards, and a cotton gin. Expansion of the Canton city limits doubled its territory in the 1960s. In 1970 the community had a municipal lake with recreational facilities, seven churches, a school, a bank, a library, a newspaper, and eighty-six businesses. The population doubled between 1960 and 1970 from roughly 1,000 to 2,000, and reached nearly 3,000 by 1990. The population was 3,292 in 2000. However, when the city council decided to recount the population, they found that the town had 5100 residents instead of the previous census total of 3,292.

Canton is known for its First Monday Trade Days. According to various sources, the tradition began with district court meetings held on the first Monday of each month, or with the monthly visit of neighbors during the days of the Confederate States of America. The custom began with the swapping of surplus stock by barter and grew to include casual bargaining for or swapping of dogs, antiques, junk, and donkeys on a 30-acre (120,000 m2) grounds. It is so immensely popular that Canton goes from a town of 5,100 to a town of over 300,000 during each First Monday weekend, making it the largest flea market in the world. In the past, due to the success of First Monday, the city of Canton had no property tax. However, as of 2006, that is no longer the case.

Canton also holds The Van Zandt County Fair and Rodeo and an Annual Bluegrass Festival, which takes place in August. Between 2003 and 2007, Canton was the host community for the United States Equestrian Drill Championship (Super Ride), which showcases top color guard and mounted drill teams from throughout the country.


Canton is located at 32°33'13" North, 95°52'0" West (32.553576, -95.866710).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.6 square miles (14.6 km²), of which, 5.2 square miles (13.4 km²) of it is land and 0.4 square miles (1.1 km²) of it is water. The total area is 7.80% water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 183
1880 331 80.9%
1890 421 27.2%
1920 583
1930 704 20.8%
1940 715 1.6%
1950 881 23.2%
1960 1,114 26.4%
1970 2,283 104.9%
1980 2,845 24.6%
1990 2,949 3.7%
2000 3,292 11.6%
2010 3,581 8.8%
2020 4,229 18.1%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, 3,292 people, 1,296 households, and 848 families resided in the city. The population density was 633.8 people per square mile (244.9/km2). The 1,486 housing units averaged 286.1 per square mile (110.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.14% White, 2.73% African American, 0.52% Native American, 0.33% Asian, 0.09% Pacific Islander, 1.09% from other races, and 1.09% from two or more races. About 3.49% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Of the 1,296 households, 27.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.5% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.5% were not families. Around 31.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 19.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.87.

In the city, the population was distributed as 21.4% under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 24.2% from 25 to 44, 20.7% from 45 to 64, and 25.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females, there were 86.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,098, and for a family was $42,500. Males had a median income of $32,117 versus $20,598 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,351. 11.3% of the population and 7.9% of families were below the poverty line. Of the total population, 10.6% of those under the age of 18 and 10.9% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Places of interest

Canton is the home of First Monday Trade Days, held on the Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday before the first Monday of every month. It claims to be the oldest and biggest flea market in the United States.

Canton is also the host city of the annual United States Equestrian Drill Championship

Canton is also home to a water park in East Texas, Splash Kingdom Waterpark is a family-friendly waterpark conveniently located on I-20 just west of Canton.

Canton is also home of Yesterland Farm, a farm that sells Christmas Trees, as well as Pumpkin Patches & Corn Mazes for children.

Canton-Hackney Airport is just north of Canton on I-20

Popular culture

On July 21, 2008, Stephen Colbert made a comment on The Colbert Report about John McCain making a campaign stop in Canton, Ohio, and "not the crappy Canton in Georgia." The comment resulted in a local uproar, which prompted Colbert to apologize for the story during his July 30, 2008, show. This began a running gag on the show in which he would apologize to one town and make several jokes at the expense of another town named Canton then repeat the cycle a week later. He went on to insult Canton, Kansas (drawing the ire of Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius), and Canton, South Dakota, before turning his attention to Canton, Texas, on August 12, 2008. After apologizing to the people of Canton, South Dakota, Colbert called Canton, Texas, an "incorporated outhouse" and "one steaming pile of longhorn dung." This jab at the Texas town had been predicted by Governor Sebelius at the end of her July 31, 2008 remarks. In response to Colbert's comments, a Canton, Texas, city councilman joked that he wanted Colbert to come there so he could "mash his nose". On October 28, Colbert turned his attention back to Canton, Ohio, after Barack Obama made a campaign stop there, forcing Colbert to find it "crappy".


The City of Canton is served by the Canton Independent School District. It is classified as a 4A school district, by the University Interscholastic League. Canton High School Eagle athletics include football, girls' volleyball, cross country, basketball, power lifting, track and field, golf, tennis, softball, and baseball. Canton is also known for the CISD band program coined the "Mighty Band from Eagle Land".

Notable people

  • Colten Brewer, professional baseball player for the Boston Red Sox
  • Calvin Graham was the youngest U.S. serviceman in WWII enlisting at the age of 12. He served aboard the USS South Dakota
  • James S. Hogg, who once served as district attorney in Van Zandt County, was elected governor in 1890
  • Jerry Hunt, composer, established IRIDA Records there in 1979
  • G.J. Kinne, former professional football player
  • Keavon Milton, former professional football player
  • Van Zandt, Townes, singer-songwriter who wrote numerous songs considered masterpieces of American songwriting.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Canton (Texas) para niños

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