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Canton, Texas

Coordinates: 32°33′13″N 95°52′0″W / 32.55361°N 95.86667°W / 32.55361; -95.86667
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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
Coordinates: 32°33′13″N 95°52′0″W / 32.55361°N 95.86667°W / 32.55361; -95.86667
CountryUnited States
CountyVan Zandt
 • Total6.51 sq mi (16.87 km2)
 • Land6.04 sq mi (15.66 km2)
 • Water0.47 sq mi (1.21 km2)
505 ft (154 m)
 • Total4,229
 • Density638.71/sq mi (246.59/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)903, 430
FIPS code48-12496[2]
GNIS feature ID1332115[3]
Canton Civic Center at 800 Flea Market Road hosts the First Monday Trade Days.[4]
Historic Canton Main Street banner
Canton is the location of the Van Zandt County courthouse.
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.[5]

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 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 10 miles (16 km), 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, 10 mi (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 had the completion of a new courthouse. In 1933, area schools registered 500 white and 28 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 86 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 5,100 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.[6][7] 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 popular that Canton goes from a town of 5,100 to a town of over 30,000 during each First Monday weekend, making it the largest flea market in the world.[8] In the past, due to the success of First Monday, the city of Canton had no property tax[9][full citation needed]. 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.[citation needed]

On April 29, 2017, the city and county sustained severe damage from four tornadoes. One of these tornadoes was rated EF4, making it one of the two strongest tornadoes of the year. Reports of four fatalities and dozens of injured prompted opening of displacement shelters as a disaster declaration was made for Van Zandt County. Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered state resources to the area to offer assistance to local officials.[10][11]

On May 29, 2019, the city and county sustained extensive damage from a tornado that struck the downtown area, near First Monday Trade Days. No deaths or injuries occurred, but several houses and local businesses were severely damaged or destroyed. The tornado struck the intersection of Texas State Highways 19 and 64.


Canton is located at 32°33′13″N 95°52′00″W / 32.553576°N 95.866710°W / 32.553576; -95.866710 (32.553576, –95.866710).[12]

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) are land and 0.4 square mile (1.1 km2) is water (7.80%).


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[13]
Canton racial composition as of 2020[15]
(NH = Non-Hispanic)[a]
Race Number Percentage
White (NH) 3,489 82.5%
Black or African American (NH) 128 3.03%
Native American or Alaska Native (NH) 18 0.43%
Asian (NH) 54 1.28%
Pacific Islander (NH) 4 0.09%
Some Other Race (NH) 4 0.09%
Mixed/Multi-Racial (NH) 134 3.17%
Hispanic or Latino 398 9.41%
Total 4,229

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 4,229 people, 1,682 households, and 922 families residing in the city.


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[edit]

Popular culture[edit]

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."[17] The comment resulted in a local uproar, which prompted Colbert to apologize for the story during his July 30, 2008, show.[18] 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,[19] (drawing the ire of Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius[20]), and Canton, South Dakota,[21] before turning his attention to Canton, Texas, on August 12, 2008.[22] After apologizing to the people of Canton, South Dakota, Colbert called Canton, Texas, an "incorporated outhouse" and "one steaming pile of longhorn dung."[23] This jab at the Texas town had been predicted by Governor Sebelius at the end of her July 31, 2008 remarks.[24] 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".[25] 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".[26]


  1. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
  2. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  3. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  4. ^ "Civic Center". visitcantontx.com. Archived from the original on November 10, 2012. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  5. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  6. ^ Greene, A.C. (May 13, 1990). "Trades day tradition a vestige of frontier; 'First Monday' at Canton predates Civil War". The Dallas Morning News.
  7. ^ Day, Ede (December 24, 1995). "Make a weekend away at First Monday Trade Days". San Antonio Express-News.
  8. ^ Wilson, Janet (May 30, 2004). "Bed, bass and beyond". Austin American-Statesman.
  9. ^ Botter, Mary Ellen (November 29, 2004). "The call of Canton: Texas town offers a super shopping adventure". The Dallas Morning News.
  10. ^ Miles Parks; James Doubek (April 30, 2017). "Dozens Hospitalized, Several Killed As Tornadoes, Storms Hit The South And Midwest". NPR. Retrieved April 30, 2017. A tornado has injured dozens and killed at least five people in Canton, a small city in the east of Texas Saturday.
  11. ^ Jeff Anastasio; Hannah Davis (April 30, 2017). "National Weather Service: 4 tornadoes touch down in East Texas". WFAA-TV. Retrieved April 30, 2017. Significant tornado damage was reported in the Canton, Texas area which is about 60 miles east of the metro area. The National Weather Service confirms four tornadoes struck Eustace, Caney City, and Canton in Northeast Texas. Widespread damage has been reported across a large area of Van Zandt County.
  12. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  13. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  14. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  15. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved May 22, 2022.
  16. ^ "About the Hispanic Population and its Origin". www.census.gov. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  17. ^ Gumbrecht, Jamie (July 23, 2008). "Colbert's 'crappy Canton' comment puzzles mayor". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  18. ^ Crawley, Paul (July 31, 2008). "Colbert Apologizes To Canton... Sort Of". WXIA-TV.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ Stader, Megan (July 31, 2008). "Canton Reacts to Colbert Comments". Wichita, Kansas: KWCH-TV.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ "Colbert's remarks draws Kan. governor's response". KWCH-TV. Associated Press. July 31, 2008.[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ "The Colbert Report pokes fun at Canton, S.D." Argus Leader. August 6, 2008.[permanent dead link]
  22. ^ Colbert, Stephen (August 12, 2008). "Canton, South Dakota Apology". The Colbert Report. Archived from the original on August 23, 2008.
  23. ^ "Stephen Colbert apologizes to Canton, S.D." KTIV News Channel 4. August 13, 2008. Colbert says Canton, South Dakota, is great. In his words: "At least you're not an incorporated outhouse like Canton, Texas."[permanent dead link]
  24. ^ "Governor Responds to "Colbert Report" Jokes". KWCH Eyewitness News. July 31, 2008. Archived from the original on August 23, 2008. Next, you'll surely be headed for Canton, Texas, (population 3,000) which is reportedly home of the world's largest flea market. I bet they can't wait!
  25. ^ "Texas town responds to Colbert's 'outhouse' slam". YahooNews. August 15, 2008. A city councilman in Canton, Texas, joked that he would "mash his nose" after the comedian referred to the town as an "incorporated outhouse."
  26. ^ "Canton, Ohio". October 28, 2008.
  1. ^ Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.[16]

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