Road Trip: The Galveston and Texas History Center (GTHC)

Its been a while since I’ve been on a genealogy road trip and it seems the only facility near Houston that has Galveston City Directories (from 1856 – to current) for me to continue my search for Lewis Chapple is the Rosenberg Library in Galveston. So Friday (9 August 2013), my genealogical journey took me to Galveston!

Map to the Rosenberg Library, Galveston, TX

My Map to the Rosenberg Library, Galveston, TX

The Rosenberg Library, named after the city’s prominent business leader and philanthropist, Henry Rosenberg, is a very nice facility! According to the library’s website, [1]

[t]he building itself was dedicated on June 22, 1904, . . .[and as] successor to the Galveston Mercantile Library, which was founded in 1871, Rosenberg Library is the oldest public library in Texas in continuous operation.”

Rosenberg Library, Galveston, Texas

Rosenberg Library, Galveston, Texas. Photo Credit: Rosenberg Library

As soon as I arrived, I was directed to the Galveston and Texas History Center (GTHC) located on the 4th floor of the Moody Memorial Wing.

The Galveston and Texas History Center

The Galveston and Texas History Center, Rosenberg Library. Photo Credit: Rosenberg Library

This center – [2]

preserves and organizes archival materials that document the history of Galveston and Texas, focusing on Galveston from the city’s incorporation in 1839 through the present. The collection also relates to Texas from the Spanish period to the end of the Civil War.”

After signing the guestbook, Archivist Carol Wood gave me a brief overview of the center and helped me locate the city directories that I needed. Because so much of what is archived in this center is unique and fragile, before I could use any of the machines and materials, I had to agree in writing to the guidelines and regulations of the center. A list of the GTHC’s guidelines for patron behavior are online at – http://www.gthcenter.org/regulations.htm.  Once my purse and the steno tablet I brought with me were stored away in a locker, Ms. Wood provided pencils and note paper for me to jot down notes as I perused Galveston City Directories in search for Lewis Chappel!

So what are some of the resources available to genealogists at the Rosenberg Library and Galveston and Texas History Center (GTHC)? LOTS! Here’s a quick sampling of what’s you’ll find and more below:

  • Census Records
  • Tax Records
  • Birth Records
  • Death Records
  • Marriage Records
  • School Records
  • Funeral Home Records
  • Cemetery Records
  • Passenger Lists
  • City Directories
  • Church /Temple Records
  • Newspapers

You can view their Special Collections online

To learn more about the various resources available at this facility, feel free to download the handout I received when I visited the center:
Genealogical Research Materials at the Rosenberg Library and GTHC

If you are unable to visit the Rosenberg Library and the GTHC in person, limited reference service is provided for a fee. Visit this link – http://www.gthcenter.org/research.htm – for more information regarding research requests.

So was my road trip a success? Did I learn any new information to assist with my search for Lewis Chappel?

Most definitely! The Galveston City Directories were enlightening, but I believe searching the library’s newspaper databases provided me with the most interesting information regarding my great-grandparents’ relationship during the mid to late 1900’s. I sure hated to leave this library – LOL! Lucky for me, I learned that their library cards are also free to residents of the State of Texas . . . woo-hoo! So with my new Rosenberg Library card, I’ve been able to pick up where I left off at their facility in the comforts of my home and I cannot wait to share my findings with you!

So stay tuned for there’s more to come in my search for Lewis Chappel!

Source Citation:

1. Library History. (n.d.). Rosenberg Library. Retrieved August 10, 2013, from http://www.rosenberg-library.org/information/about.html

2. Rosenberg Library – The Galveston and Texas History Center. (n.d.). Rosenberg Library – the Cornerstone. Retrieved August 10, 2013, from http://www.rosenberg-library.org/information/discover/gthc/gthc.html

Road Trip: Clayton Library, Center for Genealogical Research

Photo Credit: Susan D. Kaufman

My road trip this quarter (on 20 August 2011 to be exact) was to join other family historians for an orientation of the fourth largest genealogy library in the United States — the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research.

Let me say that this wasn’t my first visit to the Clayton Library. Before United States census records became searchable online, I used this library’s census records and microfilm readers whenever I was in H-town visiting family and following up on research leads. So this orientation gave me an opportunity to gain a better understanding on how to use the vast resources and research materials housed at this facility. After a couple of hours in this place,  I totally understand why Family Tree Magazine named it, “one of the 9 genealogy libraries you need to visit before you die (July 2008).”

So what are some of the resources available to genealogists at the Clayton Library? WHEW . . . LOTS!  What began as a separate collection at the Houston Public Library in 1921, is now one of the best genealogical libraries in the United States! With regards to the library’s collection, genealogist will find:

  • census records for all states on microfilm from 1790-1930
  • Soundex/Miracode indexes for 1880, 1900-1920, and some 1930
  • city directories
  • birth and death indexes
  • estate records
  • deeds
  • wills
  • newspapers
  • handbooks
  • guides
  • databases

Their Notable Collections consist of:

  • the Draper Manuscript Collection, with guides
  • a substantial collection of Records of Ante-Bellum Southern Plantations on microfilm
  • one of the largest microfilmed collections in the country of the Papeles Procedentes de Cuba (Cuban Papers)
  • a collection of documents generated by the Spanish government for the Mississippi Valley, Gulf Coast, and East and West Florida

To learn more about the various resources available at this library, feel free to download the Clayton Library Collection Summary Sheet I have linked below:
Clayton Library Collection Summary

View a video of the Clayton House!

Just across the driveway from the main library building is the Clayton House, a three story Georgian style home that was built in 1916. This house was the home of businessman and statesman, William Clayton and his wife Susan Ada Vaughn Clayton, until 1958. Then it was deeded to the City of Houston for library purposes. As the Houston Public Library’s genealogy collection grew, it was eventually moved to the Clayton House, which was located in Houston’s historic Museum District at 5300 Caroline Street in 1968. Once the main building was completed in 1988, the library’s entire collection was moved there and is where it remains today. Now that renovations of the Clayton House is complete, it’s open to the public and is a partner of the Family History Library (FHL) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in Salt Lake City. Clayton Library users are able to order microfilm and other materials directly from the Family History Library and view them on-site at the Clayton Library.

Library Hours are:

M Closed | T 10-6 | W 10-8 | Th 10-6 | F 10-5 | Sa 10-5 | Su Closed

 

My New Year’s Day 2011 Roadtrip

My New Year’s Day 2011 consisted of a fabulous soul-food meal prepared by my mom, and a quick road trip across town to a community where my maternal grandfather,  Joseph Chapple, and great-grandparents, Louis & Carrie Blanton Chapple lived around 1910.

Last week on Ancestry.com, I was able to download and review a copy of the 1910 United States Federal Census that gave specific details and valuable information about the lives of my grandfather and his parents at that time. [1]

Jospeh Chappel, “United States Census, 1910”

One bit of information that was responsible for my road trip today was that it listed their physical address in Houston back in 1910. To determine which side of town their house was located, I typed the address into Google’s search field, and Trulia.com, a real estate search engine, came back with a description and photos of the shotgun house that sits exactly in the location where my grandfather lived, and it is for — SALE!

Saulnier Street in Freedmen Town, Houston, Texas

According to the description provided by Trulia.com:

This Single-Family Home located on Saulnier Street is in the Fourth Ward neighborhood in Houston, TX and zip code 77019. The average listing price for Fourth Ward is $279,916. This house has two beds, one bath, approximately 713 square feet, was built in 1928, and list for $124,999.

This description of the house and location of their community was just the information I needed to fill in the gaps about how my grandfather and his parents lived at that time. The Fourth Ward community where they lived was called Freedman’s Town and was one of the first and oldest and black neighborhoods in the city of Houston. According to the Texas State Historical Association, black settlers selected that area of the city which ran southwest of downtown along the southern edge of the Buffalo Bayou because it was inexpensive and White citizens didn’t want to settle in that area which was like a swamp and prone to flooding. Black settlers paved the streets of Fourth Ward with bricks that they made by hand. Because of segregation, black settlers had to create their services and utilities throughout the community. Many blacks worked as tradesmen, day laborers, or in the service. My great-grandmother worked in the service industry as an excellent cook for a boarding house in the downtown area, and my great-grandfather was a tradesman who assembled, maintained and repaired piping systems for a gas company.

In 1910, 17,000 blacks lived in the Fourth Ward area making it the center of black cultural and professional life in the city. [2] But my road-trip today in 2011 depicted a community that has become the poorest black area in the city. But despite this neglected community, investors seem to be pumping lots of capital in this ward again as expensive lofts, condos, and townhomes are on the same blocks with dilapidated and boarded up shotgun houses.

So if you have the surname — Chapple–falling out of your family tree (especially if they lived in the Houston area) let me hear from you because — I’m Claiming Kin!

—–

Source Citation

1. Year: 1910; Census Place: Houston Ward 4, Harris, Texas; Roll: T624_1560; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0071; Image: 30; FHL microfilm: 1375573.

2. Wikipedia. (2013, July 12). Fourth Ward, Houston. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved December 8, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Ward,_Houston