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Genealogists find treasures during trip to Austin

By Victoria Advocate
Sept. 22, 2010 at 4:22 a.m.

Members of the Genealogy 102 class recently traveled to Austin where they visited the Texas State Library and Archives, the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum and the Texas General Land Office.

By Martha JonesBY MARTHA JONES

Recently, the Genealogy 102 class culminated its five-week study in Austin beginning with the Texas State Library and Archives, the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum and ending the day at the Texas General Land Office.

We left Victoria before dawn, arriving early at the beautifully refurbished Lorenzo de Zavala Building across from the Texas State Capitol. We divided into two groups, with one heading to the Library section, learning about its holdings and researching Texas ancestors, and the other half going with Donaly Brice, noted Texas archivist, learning about the many resources located in the Texas Archives ranging from early Texas Ranger records, Republic of Texas documents, Civil War and Reconstruction records and numerous Texas legislative documents, including prison records. The excellent Biographical Index housed in their card catalog wooden boxes lists all Texas Archives records related to an individual.

We longed to spend time researching, but had to move on because by then it was noon and time to head to the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum, where our lunches and the "Star of Destiny" Texas history movie awaited us. After making a fast trip through the Museum and shopping in their excellent gift shop, we headed across the street to the Stephen F. Austin Building and the Texas General Land Office (GLO).

Waiting for us was James Harkins, Outreach Manager for Archives and Research, who gave us a presentation on genealogical resources at the GLO.

Why would genealogists go to the Texas GLO?

Because it contains records for persons whose ancestors came to Texas prior to 1836, fought in Texas Revolution, resided in the Republic of Texas, immigrated to the early state of Texas, especially Germany, or served in the Confederacy during the Civil War. The land records include Bounty, Donation and Headright Grants to the Texas Revolution; Republic of Texas and Indigent Republic Confederate Veterans; Empresario Contracts, Republic of Texas; Headright Grants to Settlers 1836-1845; Pre-emption Grants to Settlers, 1845-1898; Loan and Sales Scrip, 1836-1858; Internal Improvement Scrip, 1844-1882; and School Land Sales, 1874-1905. Texas did not have money to pay the soldiers, but it had an abundance of land.

The Texas General Land Office houses an extensive early Texas map collection with probably the world's largest map of Stephen F. Austin's land grant for the "Old 300" settlers who came with him to Texas. Early Texas colony, district and county maps are available for reproduction at a nominal fee. The maps are not only interesting, they are extremely valuable to genealogists because they list the original owners on their sections of land.

Did we have a great trip? We are patting our feet, ready to return to Austin for genealogical digging. Included in the group were Janice Fait, Eileen Fowler, Rhonda Gleinser, Rose Mary Havlik, James Kelley, Kathy Kern, Mildred Lester, Mary Belle Meitzen, Donna Schultheiss, Jean Shores, Marilyn Stewart, Debbie Stovall and Mary Lou Stellman. Assisting me were Billye Jackson, Loretta Johnson, Annette Karm, Rosemary Kelley, Marilyn Logan and Karen Mueller.

Happy researching.

E-mail genealogy queries to mjones@vicad.com. VCGS members will research queries requiring extensive study.

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