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02 August 2019

Our Library Collections: Texas

One in a series by CGS member Chris Pattillo highlighting some of our holdings at the Library in Oakland.  For a fuller listing of books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog in WorldCat.
This issue of Stirpes includes several excellent
articles on DNA

Stirpes (Latin for family branch or line of descent) is the name of the journal published by the Texas State Genealogical Society. We have copies starting in 1961 and going up to the latest issue. The theme of the most current issue is "Navigating the DNA Maze." There are several good articles on how to understand and interpret ancestral DNA for genealogical research, from the basic “Beginning a DNA Journey” to “Use DNA Match Clusters to Organize and Analyze Your Shared Matches,” to an update on the Early Texans DNA Project. Useful even if you have no ancestors from Texas.

Our shelves hold two copies of The New Encyclopedia of Texas, first published in 1925 and  reissued as a two-volume set in 1937. The book begins with a lot of useful background information about Texas. All three volumes consist of short biographies of individuals and full-page photos with autographs. The 1937 set  has a beautifully embossed multi-color cover, a very impressive gold bookplate, and a lot of detailed artwork throughout the book.
The Encyclopedia of Texas
has a handsome cover.
After perusing forty states for this series it is rare for me to find something that I have not seen before, but I did just that with Character Certificates in the General Land Office of Texas, edited by Gifford White and first published in 1985. It features a compilation of certificates submitted by those wishing to purchase land in Texas in 1834-1835, when it was part of Mexico. According to the book's foreword, “The government of Mexico, in allowing the settlement of Texas by people other than its own residents, wanted to ensure that the new Anglo-American settlers were of high character. It did not want the province to include the criminal element or the non-productive.” Hum, does this sound familiar? The book is a compilation of more than 3,000 abstracts, each listing the name and residence of the applicant, along with other personal details and the name of the character witness. A typical example is entry number 333 for Jose Maria Cervantes from Nacogdoches, recorded on 22 August 1835: “Certify citizen Jose Maria Servantes de Bejar is a man of very good character… resident of this municipality since the year 1820… single without family… has not obtained land … [signed] Radford Berry” These 28 words tells us where the subject he was living in 1835, his marital and economic status, and that he is associated with Radford Berry.
A book of particular interest to me
A book I know I’ll return to is Tracks Along the Clear Fork Stories from Shackelford and Throckmorton Counties by Lawrence Clayton and Joan Halford Farmer. I have several relations from those counties, including a great uncle who owned a ranch on the Clear Fork. Once again I am impressed by our collection and what it has to offer.

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