Epidemics and Genealogical Research

“Philadelphia 11th october 1793 11 OClock A.M. “The fever from all that I can learn is more fatal than ever, yesterday a vast number of burials – I do not expect any abatement of the fever before we have rain and high winds – The day before yesterday we were witness to what appears to me Shocking – a Coffin was brought to the entrance of Welsh’s alley, where it stayed sometime for the man to die before he was put into the Coffin, Such hurry must burry many alive.” The role of disease-causing microbes in human history has long been studied. When conducting genealogical research, however, knowledge of disease becomes just as important. Disease could be the reason why you can’t find an ancestor somewhere, or why long-residing families suddenly relocated, or why an ancestor may have remarried. But it also has wider genealogical ramifications. Disease affected entire communities....

“By the Dawn’s Early Light”: Researching War of 1812 Ancestors

The War of 1812 was a military and naval conflict between the United States (US) and Great Britain over British impressment of American sailors (1803), restriction of American trade with France during Napoleonic Wars (1807), and US desire to expand territory (1811). It has been referred to as “the forgotten war” – most likely because there was no clear winner or loser in the conflict. No lands were gained or lost after the Treaty of Ghent ended the war on February 16, 1815. Only 7,000 men served in the United States military when the war broke out. By the end of the war, more than 35,000 American regulars and 458,000 militia—though many of these were only mustered in for local defense—were serving on land and sea in the following locations: Was your ancestor one of those who served? Who Could Serve? Before starting your research, you should answer several important...

Researching the Kids: Babies, Children, and Teens in the Family Tree

Why should you spend time researching the kids in your family tree? Simple! Children are the ones who make us ancestors, and all of our ancestors were children once. They generated records that allow us to trace them from the cradle to the grave. Plus, you may find family information via an ancestral sibling that you can’t find through your direct ancestor. Without the kids, no genealogical research is possible! Let’s start with regional attitudes and time periods that affect records documenting their lives. Settlers in different regions of America brought their own ideas about childrearing with them from different parts of the world. Several factors contributed to these attitudes, including religion, social morés, ethnicity, class, and physical environment. The book Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America by David Hackett Fischer provides an outstanding detailed look at these factors and is highly recommended reading. Fischer details the folkways of...

The Great Grapevine Road Fight, Part V

In mid-June 1931 a large motorcade of about 150 cars and 500 people from Riverside visited Grapevine to celebrate the East Belknap project. This project was seen as very important to Riverside and all of Northeast Tarrant County because it would give easy access to Fort Worth through Riverside from Grapevine, Lewisville, Irving, Smithfield and places farther northeast. The Grapevine Sun urged as many citizens as possible to greet the group and attend its 1½-hour entertainment program. This, however, was not the end of the Great Grapevine Road Fight. Grading of four miles of State Highway No. 121 had been completed across Tarrant and Dallas Counties to the Denton County line by December 1931, and concrete paving began in early June 1932. But roadwork stopped at the Denton County line because six Denton County property owners holding twenty-four acres had not given right-of-way for the 1½-mile stretch through there to...

The Great Grapevine Road Fight, Part IV

On March 13, 1929 Commissioner Sandy Wall announced that the right-of-way for the new Fort Worth-Grapevine Road, known officially as State Highway No. 121, would increase from eighty to 100 feet wide. The eighty-feet increase was already in place so the additional twenty feet would be sought in order to meet the State Highway Commission’s requirement. The first authorized offer for the first strip of land near Pleasant Glade was made by County Engineer Damon A. Davis to Carl Yates at the end of March. Commissioner Wall stated that no more than this one parcel of land would be condemned; all other right-of-way would be obtained through negotiation with land owners. The road grading and building process from the A. J. Anderson corner to Grapevine was almost finished around this time, and in due course would be ready for paving. When completed, about two miles would be cut from the...

The Great Grapevine Road Fight, Part III

Tarrant County Forges Ahead The initial cost of putting in the new road from Anderson’s Corner to Grapevine was $70,000. Commissioner Wall had saved $60,000 out of the Tarrant County road and bridge fund, and the State Highway Commission found it so unusual for so much of this money to be saved that it decided to match the cost dollar for dollar. In February 1927, Tarrant County commissioners decided that instead of waiting until an audit of the State Highway Department made state funds available the following autumn, they would select the right-of-way for the Grapevine stretch of the road. It would be the first link in the improved road to be graded, drained, and graveled. Doing so would allow the roadbed to settle and be traveled for at least a year before the hard surface was laid using state and federal funds. Grading would start in May 1927. On...

The Great Grapevine Road Fight, Part II

In January 1919, the Tarrant County Commissioners court designated twenty-three miles of the Grapevine Road to be maintained from the county’s part of automobile license revenue. The previous year $55,000 had been received but not yet spent, so soon there would be $100,000 in the county coffers for road maintenance. In March, the National Good Roads Association held its annual convention in Mineral Wells, Texas, and as part of the Texas delegation J. E. M. Yates and H. F. Saunders were appointed to represent Grapevine. The Road To Improvement Pushes Forward By the end of April a movement to call a good roads election, chaired by H. R. Wall, Commissioner of Precinct 3, was endorsed by over twenty-five Grapevine citizens at the Farmers National Bank. All but two attendees signed a petition favoring a bond issue to give Tarrant County the best possible roads. Commissioner Wall told the group that...

The Great Grapevine Road Fight, Part I

In today’s blog post we begin the colorful history of the road connecting Fort Worth to Grapevine in the latter part of the 19th century that went by several names, including Grapevine-to-Fort Worth Cardinal (main) Road, Cardinal Road, Grapevine Pike, Fort Worth-to-Grapevine Road, and eventually, State Highway 121. By whatever name it was called, the road to its completion was far from smooth. Although Grapevine’s growth as a town included the development of its internal infrastructure, the transportation network beyond the township limits remained a significant problem throughout much of the historic period. Finally in 1884 a commission was appointed in Fort Worth to establish the alignment of four main (cardinal) roads in Tarrant County heading north, south, east, and west from Fort Worth. One of the results of the commission’s planning activities was the construction of the sub-cardinal Grapevine Road running northeast from Fort Worth. A sub-cardinal road is...

The Internet Archive for Genealogists

History of the Internet Archive The Internet Archive (https://archive.org) is a non-profit that is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. It provides free access to researchers, historians, scholars, people with print disabilities, and the general public. Their mission is to provide Universal Access to All Knowledge. The Archive began archiving the Internet in 1996 It now has over twenty-three years of web history accessible through the Wayback Machine and partners with over one thousand and other partners to identify important web pages. It soon began providing digital versions of other published works. At this time it contains seven hundred thrity-five billion web pages, forty-one million books and texts, 14.7 million audio recordings (including two hundred forty thousand live concerts), 8.4 million videos (including 2.4 million television news programs), 4.4 million images, and eight hundred ninety thousand software programs. It pays to set...

The Taxman Cometh: Researching in Tax Records

‘Tax lists’ is a term used to describe personal property tax lists, tithables, poll lists, land tax lists, and rent rolls, to name a few. Broadly speaking, these lists indicate the amount and kind of property owned by the taxpayer. At face value they don’t seem to be very helpful for genealogists, but when we look a lot closer, we can see how important they can be. They can place people in a certain place at a certain time, indicate relationship of individuals in a household and their approximate ages, and are often the only documentation that an individual lived in a certain place at a certain time, especially someone who didn’t own land. Just because you didn’t own land didn’t mean you weren’t taxed! A couple of things to keep in mind regarding the importance of tax lists: The census taker came every ten years and often missed people....