Texas History

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Brief History

The following important events affected political boundaries, record keeping, and family movements in Texas.

  • 1682  Spaniards founded the first permanent settlement near present-day El Paso. Catholic missions soon followed in east Texas.
  • 1821  Texas became part of the new nation of Mexico. Stephen F. Austin brought the first Anglo-American colonists to Texas. They settled the Austin Colony in south central Texas. Several other impresarios soon brought other colonists.
  • 1836  Texas declared independence from Mexico after a military confrontation. Municipalities were soon organized into counties. The Republic of Texas existed until 1845.
  • 1845  (December 29,) United States acquired Texas as the 28th state.
  • 1846-1848  Mexico declared war on the United States in an effort to reclaim Texas and other territory claimed by both countries. Over 6,000 Texas citizens served in the Mexican-American War. Mexico gave up its claim to Texas.
  • 1846 After the annexation of Texas a treaty signed at Council Springs Texas by the Wichita, Comanche, Lipan, Kichai, and Caddo Indians recognized the jurisdiction of the U.S.
  • 1850  Texas relinquished its claims to Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma.
  • 1861-1865  Texas seceded from the Union during the Civil War. In 1870 it was readmitted to the Union.
  • 1868  Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th Cavalry skirmished with Indians near Fort Quitman.
  • 1870s  Most Indians were removed to the Indian Territory in present-day eastern Oklahoma. Some escaped to Mexico.
  • 1873-1874 "Buffalo War" against white hunters in Oklahoma and Texas by Cheuenne, Arapaho, Comanche, and Kiowa tribes in the attempt to save the few remaining buffalo herds from destruction.
  • 1898: Over 300,000 men were involved in the Spanish-American War which was fought mainly in Cuba and the Philippines.
  • 1901  The oil boom attracted many new residents.
  • 1917–1918: More than 26 million men from the United States ages 18 through 45 registered with the Selective Service. World War I over 4.7 million American men and women served during the war.
  • 1930's: The Great Depression closed many factories and mills. Many small farms were abandoned, and many families moved to cities.
  • 1940–1945: Over 50.6 million men ages 18 to 65 registered with the Selective Service. Over 16.3 million American men and women served in the armed forces during World War II.
  • 1950–1953: Over 5.7 million American men and women served in the Korean War.
  • 1950's–1960's The building of interstate highways made it easier for people to move long distances.
  • 1964–1972: Over 8.7 million American men and women served in the Vietnam War.
  • 1987  The oil boom collapsed.

Historical Content

Histories are great sources of genealogical information. Many contain biographical information about individuals who lived in the area, including:

  • Parents' names
  • Maiden names of women
  • Place of birth, death, or marriage
  • Occupation
  • Migration
  • Military service
  • Descendants

Local Histories

Some of the most valuable sources for family history research are local histories. Published histories of towns, counties, and states usually contain accounts of families. They describe the settlement of the area and the founding of churches, schools, and businesses. You can also find lists of pioneers, soldiers, and civil officials. Even if your ancestor is not listed, information on other relatives may be included that will provide important clues for locating your ancestor. A local history may also suggest other records to search. Local histories are extensively collected by the Family History Library, public and university libraries, and state and local historical societies. The United States Research "History" page cites nationwide bibliographies of local histories which include histories of Texas.

  • Cracker Barrel Chronicles: A Bibliography of Texas Town and County Histories. [1]
  • Texas Local History: A Source Book for Available Town and County Histories, Local Memoirs and Genealogical Records [2]
  • A Bibliography of American County Histories [3] [4]
  • United States Local Histories in the Library of Congress [5][6]

State Histories Useful to Genealogists

Good genealogists strive to understand the life and times of their ancestors. In this sense, any history is useful. But certain kinds of state, county, and local histories, especially older histories published between 1845 and 1945, often include biographical sketches of prominent individuals. The sketches usually tend toward the laudatory, but may include some genealogical details. If these histories are indexed or alphabetical, check for an ancestor's name. Some examples for the State of Texas are:

  • History of Texas and Texans is a good source for a general background for Texas. [7] Volumes 3-5 have biographical information.

United States History

The following are only a few of the many sources that are available:

  • The Almanac of American History, [8][9]This provides brief historical essays and chronological descriptions of thousands of key events in United States history.
  • Dictionary of American History, Revised ed [10] [11]This includes historical sketches on various topics in U.S. history, such as wars, people, laws, and organizations. A snippet view is available at Google books.
  • Webster's Guide to American History: A Chronological, Geographical, and Biographical Survey and Compendium [12][13][14]This includes a history, some maps, tables, and other historical information.

To find more books and articles about Texas 's history use the Internet Google search for phases like "Texas history." Family History Library Catalog Surname Search lists many more histories under topics like:


Web Sites

Wiki articles describing online collectiona are found at:


  1. Jenkins, John Holmes. Cracker Barrel Chronicles: A Bibliography of Texas Town and County Histories. Austin, Texas: Pemberton Press, 1965. (Family History Library book 976.4 H2jc; film 1000609 item 2.)
  2. Munnerlyn, Tom. Texas Local History: A Source Book for Available Town and County Histories, Local Memoirs and Genealogical Records. Austin, Texas: Eakin Press, 1983. (Family History Library book 976.4 H23m.)
  3. Filby, P. William. A Bibliography of American County Histories. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1985. (FHL book 973 H23bi)
  4. Worldcat
  5. Kaminkow, Marion J. United States Local Histories in the Library of Congress. 5 vols. Baltimore: Magna Charta Book, 1975-76. (FHL book 973 A3ka.)
  6. Worldcat
  7. Frank W. Johnson, History of Texas and Texans, Five Volumes. Chicago, Illinois: American Historical Society, 1914. (Family History Library book 976.4 H2j; 1916 ed. is on film 1000592.)
  8. Schlesinger, Jr., Arthur M. The Almanac of American History. Greenwich, Conn.: Bison Books, 1983. (FHL book 973 H2alm)
  9. Worldcat
  10. Dictionary of American History, Revised ed., 8 vols. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1976. (FHL book 973 H2ad.)
  11. Worldcat
  12. Webster's Guide to American History: A Chronological, Geographical, and Biographical Survey and Compendium. Springfield, Mass.: G&C Merriam, 1971. (FHL book 973 H2v)
  13. Limited view at Google Books
  14. Worldcat
  15. Writings on American History By American Historical Association, Library of Congress, United States National Historical Publications Commission, Published by KTO Press, 1921 FHL book 973 H23w
  16. Worldcat