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09 July 2017

Chris' Genealogy Journey: Handley Cemetery & Tarrant County, TX


by Chris Pattillo

Cemeteries and Courthouses...a genealogy goldmine. My next highlighted stops as I continued along my genealogy adventure had me in Texas with visits to the Handley Cemetery, near Fort Worth, and the Tarrant County Courthouse.  So take a quick break now and enjoy a bit of genealogy travel and research along with me, a fellow California Genealogical Society member.

Handley Cemetery
After the Stock Yards on the 24th I drove to Azal, a little northwest of Fort Worth, where I found an RV Park for the night. My spot had a very nice view of a field with a small herd of Angus cows grazing in it. I planned to find the Handley Cemetery, the following day, and look for the grave of Wirt W. Pattillo. Wirt was listed on the 1880 census with his parents and his birth information showed he was born in May of that year. I Googled “Handley Cemetery” to I could find the location and the Find A Grave site came up – a tremendous resource for genealogists.


I entered “Pattillo” and three burials were listed. I was taken aback to find three infant sons buried in the Handley Cemetery. Previously, I’d known about two infant boys that had died but now I found that there were three. Wirt W. Pattillo was born May 25, 1880, James H. Pattillo, named after his grandfather, was born September 18, 1882 and died November 11, 1883 – just 13 months old, and Infant Pattillo, a son died January 31, 1884. In just three years James and Carrie Pattillo had lost three children. How very tragic. I’d like to know the causes of death but those records were lost in a fire, as I learned later in the day at the Tarrant county Courthouse.  For more photos and the end of Chris' tale, click here.

Tarrant County Courthouse

When I left the Handley Cemetery I drove south to Camper World to have my solar power converter fixed. I arrived a little early for my 1:00 appointment but spent the time shopping for a few things I needed. After the lunch break I went out to the shop to show them where the converter was hidden. The technician asked me a couple of questions about what the problem was, he tested for electricity flow, then moved a little black switch into the “on” position and voila my problem was fixed – No charge! So, now all my technical problems were fixed and I had time to visit the Tarrant County Courthouse that afternoon.

It is a beautiful building designed by Gunn & Curtis Architects in the Renaissance Revival style. The original cost of construction was $408,840 and the citizenry thought the politicians were so extravagant at the time they voted them out of office.  The interior of the building is also spectacular. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.


After finding a parking space directly across the street from the courthouse, I made my way to the City Clerk’s office. The man at the front desk informed me that the marriage record I sought for my great grandparents did not exist because there had been a fire and ….. just then one of his co-workers, Mary Boyd, returned from her break and chimed in, “oh, yes we do have those records”. The front desk person looked dubious but Ms. Boyd escorted me into the adjacent room filled with computer workstations and within five minutes had located my prize. She explained, “we only get requests for these old records about once every five years, so they forget that we have them, but I love looking for them.”  The story continues here.

Stay tuned for my next adventure at the Tennessee State Archives.  If you've got ancestors from this neck of the woods, you'll enjoy this one!

Photos courtesy of Chris Pattillo


Copyright © 2017 by California Genealogical Society

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