Land has its Own Genealogy

By Linda Stewart, 5 April 2019

To establish when you ancestor first came into a particular county in a state, you must search the county records.  The county clerk’s office will have births, deaths, marriages, deeds, brands, assumed names, etc.  The district clerk’s office will have civil and criminal records.  The old deeds, brands, assumed names, etc., civil and criminal records are not online.  The courthouse is the only place you can view these records.

The deed records will be listed under Grantor or Grantee.  The Grantor sells the land and the Grantee buys the land.  The dates of when the land was purchased and sold will help with the timeline you are establishing for your ancestor.  The deed will give the surveyors description of measurements and will determine property boundaries.  This description remains with the land no matter how many times it is bought and sold.  The title search of the property establishes the genealogy of the land.

Several years ago, my husband and I made a genealogy trip to Parker County Texas. In the spring of 1855 John T., Mary and their children moved from San Augustine, TX to Veal Station which is located fourteen miles NE of Weatherford in Parker County.  John T.  received a land patent and homesteaded 146 acres.  The patent reads in part “The said survey is situated in the Northeast part of the county on the waters of Ash Creek a tributary of the West Fork of the Trinity River beginning 164 varas south of the NW corner of the preemption survey of 320 acres of land made in the name of Samuel Woody …” John and Mary’s older sons, Robert Anderson Paschall received land in the east side of the county in the Azle community, and sons Lunsford Standhope and John Clay received land north of Parker in Wise County.

During the week, we did research in the County Clerk’s Office and the District Clerk’s office, visited and interviewed a member of the Parker County Historical Commission and the Heritage Society, and the County Commission of Precinct 1 in Veal Station.  We returned to Veal Station several times during the week with an 1880 Texas Land Grant map, as well as a modern map of the area, to try to locate the natural land mark of Ash Creek on both maps.  Ash Creek ran through the southern portion of John T. and Mary Paschall’s property.  After the third time of pulling off the road, Curtis Coffee stopped and asked if we needed assistance.  We told him we were trying to locate John’s land and Ash Creek.  He took us to meet his 90 year old stepmother Juanita Gilley Hinkle Coffee.  We showed her the maps of the Paschall land.  She said, “Honey, you are standing on top of it.  Do you see out the [patio] door the dairy farm on that far hill on the left?  That is the Swallow land. [Levi Swallow purchased the John Francis property in the 1850’s.] The road you came in on from Springtown to Veal’s Station, that is Woody land.  From this map you are standing on Paschall Land.  Follow the road around that goes to the left and look left.  Across the field is Ash Creek.  Now if you keep on the road you will cross the bridge on Ash Creek.”

The Gilley, Hinkle, and Coffee families came to Veal Station in the 1850’s, the same time that the Paschall’s came.  Juanita has always lived in the area and is very familiar with the families and their histories.  We thanked the Coffee’s for the information realizing that God had orchestrated a divine appointment with them.

Happy Hunting!

This is one of my favorite pictures of what may be John T. Paschall’s land.  It was either foggy or rainy every time we visited Veal Station.  In the background just above the land you can barely see a tree line.  That is where Ash Creek is.

Newton, John C. Parker Co. Map, University of North Texas Libraries.  The Portal to Texas History,

County Tax Assessor-Collector Records

By Linda Stewart, 13 July 2018

Researching your family history today is not like the research of 30 years ago. Back in the pre-Internet days, you spent your Saturdays going to the library, or walking your local cemeteries looking for ancestors. All of your vacation time was spend looking at the records in a courthouse. Then a table was setup at the family reunion so everyone could fill out the family sheets. Today with the creation of the Internet, we have access to a myriad of records. The marriage, birth, death, census, voter’s registration, probate, etc. records on the Internet can only give you a partial picture of your ancestor’s life. You still need to research the courthouse records.

The county records that do not appear online are the County Tax Assessor-Collector records, deed records, divorce records, and civil court records. Our ancestors paid property and poll taxes, bought and sold land, got divorced, and even got into disputes with their neighbors. The Tax Assessor records will tell you when your ancestor was living in a county. It will list if he had land, how many acres he owned, a brief description, and the year the taxes were due. With that information you can go to the County Clerk’s Office and look at the deed records. There will be two indexes. The Grantee Index lists when the land was purchased. The Grantor Index lists when the land was sold.

With the County Tax Assessor-Collector records, I have actually tracked an ancestor every year of his life from the time he was old enough to pay the poll tax to vote until he died. In many cases, you can even find out the year he died. It will list the ancestor’s name with deceased written beside it, and who the administrator of his estate was. With this information you know what year to research the probate records at the County Clerk’s Office.

With our busy schedules, sometimes it is simply not feasible to go to the courthouses for research. If you live in Texas, The Texas State Library and Archives Commission has microfilmed all of the county records in each County Clerk’s office. Check with your local library. If they have a microfilm reader, then they can inter-library loan five reels of microfilm at a time. The reels may also be loaned out of state. Be patient. There is only one reel so you will have to wait your turn … it is usually a short wait. Here is the link to the Texas State Library microfilm page.  Click on the name of the county and see what is available.

I know that the county microfilm program is available in Tennessee, as well as Oklahoma. Tennessee will loan their film within their state as well as out, but Oklahoma will not. You have to go to their state library to view it. Check with your state library to see what they offer.

Happy Hunting!