VA Historical Society announces first yard of the month
The Van Alstyne Historical Society named home at 632 East Fulton Street its first “yard of the month” recipient. It’s a fitting honor for one of the area’s oldest homes. The Historical Society recently provided a detailed account of how the original 4.5-acre property morphed into the 0.3-acre yard that is well known today
Originally a part of the James McKinney land grant, this farmhouse was established in the nineteenth century, likely around 1884 (possibly earlier), and included about 4.5 acres, some of which is now a part of the Van Alstyne Cemetery.
As the town grew outward, it incorporated the home into its boundaries. Jesse Terry purchased the lot from T. E. Shirley in 1883. Mr. Terry purchased many lots in the Van Alstyne area and may have been a house builder. He bought the lot for $60. When he sold it in 1885 to B. F. Maddox, he sold it for $1100, thus indicating that there had likely been a home built on the lot, which increased the value of the land.
Both the 1883 and 1885 transactions only included subdivision number 1 in division 9, which is the one-acre lot surrounding the home. When B. F. Maddox sold the farm in 1891 to N. and Sallie Cern for $1100, it now included about 4.5 acres. In 1896, the Cern family sold the farm for $1250 to Mrs. Mary Wylie. At this time, the farm still consisted of 4.5 acres.
Mary Wylie was the wife of David B. Wylie and it is unclear as to why she purchased the farm on her own. Her husband died in 1906 and shortly after she and her daughter, Sarah, sold the farm to M.P. Bray. The Wylie’s lived in the Westminister vicinity and it is unclear if the Wylie family took up permanent residence in this home.
In 1909 Mr. Bray purchased an additional 1 acre of land from J. B. Moore that adjoined the property on the south, thus increasing the size of the farm to over 5 acres. The Bray family also purchased over 1 acre further south, now extending the farm to what is today the cemetery entrance sign at Austin Street and extending east to the first intersection in the Van Alstyne Cemetery which runs along the western border of the original McKinney Family Cemetery.
The farm now consisted of about 7 acres and had two houses on it as there was at one time a house at the northeast corner of Austin and Sherman Street in what is now the cemetery. The house having faced south toward Austin Street and in 1908 belonged to B. F. Moore. This last piece of land that was purchased, which included the house at Austin and Sherman Streets, was sold by Mrs. Bray for $200 to Lillie Mae Powell in 1936 who immediately sold it to W. D. Benton.
M. P. Bray had died in 1935 and was buried in the Van Alstyne Cemetery, overlooking his farm on the edge of his former property. When his wife joined him in 1940, their children sold the farm to the L. J. Medders family for $500 in 1941. According to the deed record, the land sold to the Medders family included all of the original five-plus acre farm except a section of land deeded by Mrs. M. P. Bray to the African Americans to be used as a cemetery. This would eventually become incorporated into the Van Alstyne Cemetery.
In 1944, Alvin and Florena Stinnett purchased the farm for $1000 and would live out their lives at the home. Sometime after 1926, the back porch was enclosed, giving the home its current shape with the exception of the small shack that was added to the back of the house sometime later.
Around 1972, the Eastside Church of Christ secured about 1 acre of land from the farm to be used as their new church grounds. Alvin died in 1984 and his wife in 1998. Alvin and Florena are buried in the Van Alstyne Cemetery on what was also their property line where it adjoins the cemetery.
At some point, Billy and Willadee Edwards secured the 2 acres of the farm that surrounds the farmhouse, thus giving the farm its current boundaries of about .3 acres.