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Volume 5, Number 18 Mountain Press, P.O. Box 400, Signal Mountain, Tennessee 37377, 1-423-886-6369 September 4, 2013
With this article on researching in Texas, we celebrate our 75th newsletter. If you want to browse older issues, you can view them on our Archives Page. We started the newsletter back in 2009 with a monthly edition.
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James L. Douthat
GONE TO TEXAS
At some point in our research, we are likely to find someone in our family history that ended up in Texas. This is certainly not a bad thing at all, but it helps to know when they came into the area as well as why they came. Texas is so different from most of the area that would migrate, especially that part of Texas west of Dallas/Fort Worth. Remember that Texas is more than a days’ trip to drive across from Shreveport, Louisiana. If my memory serves me right, when you cross into Texas on Interstate 10 the sign says “mile 782" which means that it is a long way to El Paso on the other side.
One of the things that I have noticed in my research is how and when people from Tennessee populated a lot of Texas. It all goes back to the time of the “Second War of the Revolution” or the War of 1812 as we know it. General Andrew Jackson was taking a large group towards New Orleans to recapture the city from the English. Tennessee sent a large number of ‘volunteers’ to help their General fight the battle. In fact, this is when Tennessee became known as the Volunteer State.
The story goes that on the night prior to the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, in September of 1814, a number of units from Tennessee left the field and returned home. Fourteen years later, General Andrew Jackson filed charges of treason against the men and their leaders in Federal Court. Every man argued that they had signed up for a three month volunteer enlistment in a militia unit. General Jackson argued that the men had signed up for six months. Every man was found guilty and the punishment was to have half their hair shaved and their sword broken over their heads. The men were then set free to return home. When the men returned home the embarrassment was too much for many of them, so they packed up their families and headed west. Many of them ended up in Texas. Not all of them went to Texas since Missouri was also a good place to stop off in the early 1830s.
This is just one of the multiple ways that settlers went to Texas. Even many of the Native American tribes went to Texas hoping for a fresh start on new land and the hope of a new country. To research in Texas, one must understand their long history which is almost as old as the New England area, but with a totally different path.
Here is just a brief outline of Texas history:
1519 - First European exploration of Texas
1682 - First mission by the various orders of the Roman Catholic Church
1716 - Town of Nacogdoches established by the Spanish
1727 - Territory of Tejas or Texas established
1821 - January 17 - Land Grant for Moses Austin to settle 300 families
Mexico won independence from Spain
1830, April 6 - Mexican law prohibited any further colonization by U.S. citizens
1835 - October 2 - Texas Revolution began with battle of Texans with Mexican troops
1836 - February 23 until March 6 - Siege of the Alamo in San Antonio
October - Sam Houston elected first President of the Republic of Texas
1837 - President Andrew Jackson officially recognized the Republic of Texas - many settlers were attracted to Texas
1845 - December 29 - Texas admitted into the United States as their 28th state
1850 - First census of Texas that now had 212,592 population
All along the history of the state, settlers came from all over the United States as it existed at the time because of the vast land areas in almost any type of soil and range. The land was there almost “free for the taking". Prior to 1830, the area of Texas was searching for settlers to come and help make this a new ‘nation’. Settlers were actively recruited from all walks of life. They came from Tennessee and all other states.
There are a number of great libraries in Texas for the genealogical researcher in cities like Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth and Austin just to name a few. There is a repository of the National Archives in Fort Worth that has lots of good genealogy material.
Texas is one of the few states that will inter-library loan microfilm of the records of the various counties. Contact the State Archives in Austin to find out which library loans which county. It takes a little effort to find what you want, but the effort is well worth it.
1814 Court Martial of Tennessee Militiamen
As mentioned in the article, some migrated to Texas after they were found guilty.
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