Van Hook Diary Kept By Daughter

The Gazette
October 5, 1939

Was First White Child Born in Farmerville; Killed Deer on Site of Present Court House

Diaries often tell untold tales. The idle jottings of a person years later tells many things about the times and people.

Such a tale is told by the diary of Sarah Van Hook Wilson, daughter of Thomas Van Hook, one of the more prominent citizens who participated in the founding of Union Parish.

She was the eldest child of Thomas and Maria Van Hook and is, according to tradition, the first white child born in Farmerville.

Excerpts from her diary follow:

“My father, Thomas Van Hook, was born in Tennessee of Holland decent. His father was one of the brave Tennesseans who went with General Jackson to defend New Orleans. He died as he was returning home in 1815. His widow, with her family, then moved to Louisiana settling on Boeuf River. After his mother’s death, Thomas went to Union Parish where he assisted in laying out the town of Farmerville. He and his party lived in tents while at work. I remember as a child hearing him say he had stood on the site of the courthouse and killed deer for their nest day’s dinner by shining their eyes with the light of his fire pan. This was a long handled iron pan filled with live coals and carried over the shoulder, the reflection shining in the eyes of the deer made them an easy mark for the hunter but to my mind was unfair and not of a true sportsman’s nature.”

“Thomas Van Hook was active in the public affairs of Union Parish, holding public office almost continuously until his death. In 1839, he was made clerk of the police jury, about 1846, he was commissioned clerk of the district court. After this he was elected to serve as legislator. In a letter to his wife, dated March 6, 1855, he writes her that he was named on the committee for the removal of the remains of Lieut-Gov Farmer, after whom the town of Farmerville was named. a joint committee from the senate and the house escorted the body from Baton Rouge to Farmerville.”

“The last few years of his life were devoted to the study of law; he was admitted to the bar but died shortly thereafter on November 8, 1857, honored and beloved by his friends, honest and faithful to any trust and charitable beyond his means”.

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