Van Alstyne has always been a community reverent of its history. From the Van Alstyne Historical Museum to the Van Alstyne Historical Society to the Van Alstyne Public Library, the history of a town which sprung up along the railroad line has been well documented and lovingly passed along from generation to generation.
With the publication of Images of America Van Alstyne, Texas State Historian Bill O’Neal has contributed to the cause with a splendid work containing more than 200 vintage images of life from the latter half of the nineteenth century forward.
O’Neal has more than a passing interest in Van Alstyne as his own flesh and blood is part of the fabric of the community, as he notes in the book’s introduction. He also got help from such sources (in addition to the aforementioned Historical Society and public library, in particular Library Director Tracy Luscombe) from friend of the Leader and trusted photographer Griff Servati, Kanita Larkins and Cheryl Snider of the Chamber of Commerce, former mayor Benny Edwards and many more who have an intricate knowledge of the town’s history.
It’s always fascinating to see one’s community through a different prism, and the vintage shots of life in Van Alstyne all those years ago are amazing. Culled from a variety of his sources, the pictures O’Neal has pulled together for the book chronicle a life before the automobile was invented and when cotton was king, when Collin McKinney and family settled the area, building his house in the midst of what was to become the Van Alstyne Cemetery and when the first Van Alstyne High School graduating class in 1907 consisted of just two students.
Images of America Van Alstyne divides chapters among such subjects as pioneer beginnings, religion and schools. The popular Van Alstyne Grays, a semi-pro team from yesteryear which placed several players in the big leagues is also chronicled.
The book is another in Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series, and as such does Van Alstyne justice.
O’Neal will be making a stop in Van Alstyne to talk about and sign copies of his book. I’ve seen O’Neal’s presentations to school children in the past and he is as entertaining as he is knowledgeable, and that is saying something when talking about the Texas State Historian. O’Neal will be at the Van Alstyne Public Library at 2 p.m. on Saturday and the public is invited.