Featured Collection: True Crime

True Crime books on display at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Our newest Featured Collection on display in the reference reading room offers stories of true crime in Texas. Selected titles highlight some of the most notorious cases in Texas history. Journalist Steve Sellers exposes a sheriff’s department in East Texas whose officers abused drivers and the legal system in, “Terror on Highway 59.” Winner of the 1977 Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime, Thomas Thompson’s “Blood Money” details the mystery surrounding the death of a Houston socialite and the subsequent murder of her husband. Read about deeply reported and compelling events like these in the other books on view.

To search for these books and more, check out our catalog at www.tsl.texas.gov/catalog. If you are interested in checking out a title on our Featured Collection shelf, please visit the reference desk in room 109. Below is the complete list of titles you’ll find on our Featured Collection shelf this month.

Title

Author

Call No.

Collection

Selena: como la flor

Patoski, Joe Nick

782.42164 P274s

Main

The man with the candy; the story of the Houston mass murders

Olsen, Jack

364.1523 OL8

Main

Bad boy from Rosebud: the murderous life of Kenneth Allen McDuff

Lavergne, Gary M.

364.15 L388b

Main

Blood aces: the wild ride of Benny Binion, the Texas gangster who created Vegas poker

Swanson, Doug J.

364.1092 Sw24b

Main

Blood and money

Thompson, Thomas

364.1523 T378B

Main

Evil among us: the Texas Mormon missionary murders

Driggs, Ken

364.15 D832e

Main

Fetch the devil: the Sierra Diablo murders and Nazi espionage in America

Richmond, Clint

364.1523 R414f

Main

Legends & lore of the Texas Capitol

Cox, Mike

725.11028 C839L

Main

Poison for profit

McKinnon, Mac B. (Mac Byrton)

364.1523 M216p

Main

Ten Deadly Texans

Yadon, Laurence J.

364.1092 Y106t

Main

Terror on highway 59

Sellers, Steve

070.924 SE48T

MAIN

The bridge: a true account of the most horrible crime in the history of Fayette County, Texas

Freudenberg, Gene L.

976.4251 F895b

Main

The Carrasco tragedy: eleven days of terror in the Huntsville prison

House, Aline

365.641 H816C

Main

The day Kennedy died

Wise, Dan

923.173 K3835w

Main

The midnight assassin: panic, scandal, and the hunt for America’s first serial killer

Hollandsworth, Skip

364.152 H719mi

Main

The Zani murders

Fero, Kelly

364.1523 F399Z

MAIN

True stories of crime from the District attorney’s office

Train, Arthur Cheney

920.7 T682t

Main

Texas Monthly on– Texas true crime

Smith, Evan

Z UA380.8 T312TR

TXD

A sniper in the tower: the Charles Whitman murders

Lavergne, Gary M.

Z N745.8 SN36 1997

TXD

Death on the lonely Llano Estacado: the assassination of J.W. Jarrott, a forgotten hero

Neal, Bill

Z N745.8 N25de

TXD

Eleven days in hell: the 1974 Carrasco prison siege in Huntsville, Texas

Harper, William T.

Z N745.8 H234el

TXD

No hope for heaven, no fear of hell: the Stafford-Townsend feud of Colorado County, 1871-1911

Kearney, James C.

Z N745.8 K214no

TXD

The girl in the grave: and other true crime stories

Stowers, Carlton

Z S850.8 ST79gi

TXD

The trials of Eroy Brown: the murder case that shook the Texas prison system

Berryhill, Michael

Z UA380.8 B459TR

TXD

Prepare Collections for Disasters and Learn Recovery Skills with THRAB’s Emergency Planning Workshop Series

The Texas Historical Records Advisory Board (THRAB) is offering in 2019 a series of professional development opportunities to equip those caring for archival materials with the knowledge, skills and hands-on experience needed to prepare repositories for threats and recover damaged collections. THRAB has contracted with Cultural Heritage Preservation Consultant Rebecca Elder to teach two 90-minute webinars on emergency planning and two-day hands-on workshops in Austin and Houston. Funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), workshops are provided free of charge and available to those working in Texas repositories. Registration is now open for the webinars:

  • Webinar: Emergency Preparedness        4/23/2019 10 -11:30 a.m
  • Webinar: Emergency Response               5/01/2019 10 -11:30 a.m.

Hands-on workshops are scheduled for June 13-14 in Austin and in Houston June 27-28. Each will be a two-day event. The first day will focus on emergency preparedness, and the second day will focus on response, including a wet salvage exercise. Each workshop will be limited to 20 attendees working for a Texas repository. Registration will open in early May. Please note that THRAB may limit registration to one person per institution to allocate space equitably.

Rebecca Elder is a seasoned preservation consultant who works with the staff of cultural heritage institutions to care for their historical collections. Elder holds a Master’s in Information Science from the University of Texas and is a former field services officer for Amigos Preservation Services. She currently teaches preservation management at the University of Texas iSchool and courses online at Kent State.

Funding for THRAB workshops provided by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Margie Neal, First Woman Elected to the Texas Senate

By Susan Floyd, Archivist

In 1927, two years after Miriam “Ma” Ferguson became the state’s first woman governor, four years after Edith Wilmans entered the Texas House of Representatives as the first woman in the Legislature, and only eight years after Texas women’s suffrage rights were acknowledged and enforced by the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, Margie Neal became, as Governor Allan Shivers said at Margie Neal Appreciation Day in Carthage in 1952, “the first woman to invade the masculine sanctity of the Texas Senate.”

Margie Elizabeth Neal was born in 1875 in Clayton, Panola County, Texas, to William Lafayette and Martha Anne Gholston Neal. Later in life, she recalled that her interest in politics was sparked at age ten, when she saw then-Governor John Ireland speak in Carthage in 1885 or 1886. She attended, but did not graduate from, Sam Houston State Teachers College.

In the spring of 1893, Neal earned a first-grade teaching certificate and began her career in the Mount Zion community in east Panola County. She subsequently taught in several schools, including in Forney, Scottsville, Marlin and Fort Worth, before returning home to Carthage in 1904 to be the primary caregiver of her mother, whose health was failing. However, this move also provided her a new professional opportunity. From 1904 to 1911, Neal was publisher and editor of the Carthage East Texas Register. A large portion of the newspaper’s content was editorial writing. Neal used its pages to champion the establishment of a Y.M.C.A. in Carthage, push for city clean-up and tree-planting projects, argue for the creation of a chamber of commerce and press for improvements to county roads. But the Register’s most consistent editorial interest was in public education. As editor, Neal argued for improvements to school facilities and sponsored scholarships to local business colleges.

Photograph: “Margie E. Neal—The Progressive Editor.” From Harris, Walter L. The Life of Margie E. Neal, MA thesis, University of Texas, 1955. Available from TSLAC-MAIN Collection (non-circulating) ARC 923.2764 N254H.

From 1912, her mother’s health worsened, and Neal was forced into semi-retirement for four years. Despite these family obligations Margie Neal was also instrumental in the founding and development of both the Carthage Circulating Book Club from 1907 and the Panola County Fair, first held in 1916. Her interest in women’s suffrage also continued to grow, and she became secretary of the Panola County Equal Suffrage Association.

In 1918, the Texas Legislature recognized women’s right to vote in state primary elections.[1] In an effort to bolster women’s turnout in Panola County, Margie Neal ordered professionally printed buttons reading “I have registered” and distributed them among women. At the end of the 1918 voting drive, more than 500 women in the county had registered. Margie Neal was, unsurprisingly, the first woman to cast a vote in Panola County.

Margie Neal was the first woman to serve as a member of the State Teachers Colleges board of regents (1921-1927) and the first woman to serve as a member of the State Democratic Executive Committee in 1918. She was also a delegate to the 1920 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco. In 1922 and 1924, she turned down first Governor Pat Neff’s and then Governor Miriam Ferguson’s offer to appoint her Secretary of State.

Photograph: Margie E. Neal in 1925. From Harris, Walter L. The Life of Margie E. Neal, MA thesis, University of Texas, 1955. Available from TSLAC-MAIN Collection (non-circulating) ARC 923.2764 N254H.

Neal’s work as a regent was the primary impetus for her 1926 Senate run. She was a frequent visitor to Austin during legislative sessions; in an interview later in life, she recalled a specific visit during which she became concerned about the direction certain legislation was heading, leading her to think to herself, “If I had a vote… I might do more for education than I am doing as a college regent sitting in the gallery.”[2] She returned to Carthage and sought advice from trusted colleagues, family, and friends, then decided, in March 1926, that she would run for the Texas Senate from District 2.

This district included Panola, Harrison, Gregg, Rusk and Shelby Counties. Neal’s only opponent in the Democratic primary was Gary B. Sanford of Rusk County, who had prior experience as a member of the Texas House of Representatives. Neal launched her campaign on June 12 in the Carthage County Courthouse, followed by five weeks of intensive campaigning in all five counties of the district. Her platform consisted of four components: better public schools—especially rural schools, to be achieved through an increased per capita apportionment; an improved state highway system, to be achieved through a new gasoline tax; more aid for farmers, labor, and capital; and a streamlining of laws for improved law enforcement. In the end, Neal defeated Sanford in every county but his own, and, facing no opponent in the general election, was elected to the Senate on July 28, 1926.

Continue reading

Women’s History Month, 2019: Women in the Texas Legislature

By Stephanie Andrews, Library Assistant

Display of titles on Texas women from the collections of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Every March, we as a country celebrate women and their role in our nation’s history with Women’s History Month. According to the United States Statutes, Public Law 100-9, the first celebrated Women’s History Month was in March 1987.

Visit the Law Library of Congress’ Women’s History Month webpage for more information about the federal government’s role in this yearly event. In addition to the annual proclamation, the National Women’s History Alliance suggests a theme for each year’s celebration. This year’s theme is, “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace & Nonviolence.”

As the Texas Legislature is currently in session, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) would like to share some of our resources about women in the Texas Legislature. These women embody this year’s theme by the way they have brought about change in peaceful and nonviolent ways. Whether they were serving unfinished terms for their husbands, lobbying for a woman’s right to vote, or becoming the first of many to serve in the Texas Legislature, Texas women have had a vibrant and important role in the history of Texas politics.

A selection from the TSLAC collections highlighting the contributions of Texas women.

Some of the more notable women in Texas politics include: Edith Wilmans, the first woman to be elected to the Texas Legislature; Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, the first woman to be elected as Texas Governor; Barbara Jordan, the first African-American woman to be elected to the Texas Legislature; and, Irma Rangel, the first Mexican-American woman to be elected to the Texas Legislature. Read more about Texas’ female Legislators in Nancy Baker Jones’ book, Capitol Women: Texas Female Legislators, 1923-1999.

Below you will find a reading list of publications that cover people or topics related to Texas women in politics. The list is not intended to be comprehensive, but can be a starting place for learning more about Texas women legislators.  

“The majority of the American people still believe that every single individual in this country is entitled to just as much respect just as much dignity,
as every other individual.”     
Barbara Jordan, Texas State Senator 1967-1973

Publications and Electronic Materials

Title

Call Number

Format

Collection

A Texas Suffragist: Diaries and Writings of Jane Y. McCallum

322.44 M124H

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Barbara Jordan: A Self-Portrait

923.2764 J761B

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Black Texas Women

305.48 W725B

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Black Texas Women: A Sourcebook

305.48 W725BS

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Brave Black Women

305.48 W725

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Celebrate the World

PE 1.12:W 84/2

Electronic File

U.S. Documents

Claytie and the Lady

976.4063 T578c

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Democratizing Texas Politics

Z UA380.8 M348de

Print

Texas Documents

Finder’s Guide to the Texas Women: A Celebration of History Exhibit Archives

305.40976 F492

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Joint Resolution to Designate the Month of March, 1987, as “Women’s History Month.”

AE 2.111:101/PT.1

Print

U.S. Documents

Latina Legislator: Leticia Van De Putte and the Road to Leadership

Z TA475.8 N228La

Print

Texas Documents

Oveta Culp Hobby: Colonel, Cabinet Member, Philanthropist

Z UA380.8 W725ov

Print

Texas Documents

Picturing Texas Politics

Z UA380.8 B151pi

Print

Texas Documents

Profiles in Power: Twentieth Century Texans in Washington

923.2764 P943 2004

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Quotable Texas Women

305.4 Q57

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Texas Senators 83rd Legislature

L1803.1 SE55 83

Print

Texas Documents

Texas Through Women’s Eyes

Z UA380.8 M118TE

Print

Texas Documents

Texas Women in Politics

329.009764 W413T

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Texas Women: A Celebration of History

976.4042 T312

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Texas Women: A Pictorial History

305.4 W725T

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Texas Women: Interviews and Images

305.409764 L334T

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Texas Women’s Hall of Fame

976.4092 M814t

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Texas Women’s Hall of Fame: A Sesquicentennial Celebration

976.4092 SE64

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Texas Women’s History Project Bibliography

305.4 T312B

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

The Capital Book

328.764092 C172

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Tributes Delivered in Congress: Kay Bailey Hutchison

Y 1.1/3:113-8

Print

U.S. Documents

Women in Decision-Making

PE 1.12:W 84

Electronic File

U.S. Documents

Women in Texas

976.4042 C856W 1992

Print

ARC-REF

Archival Materials

Title

 

Collection

Records of Representative Anita Hill, 1979-1992

 

Archives

Representative Patricia Harless records, 2007-2015

 

Archives

Representative Debbie Riddle records, 2003-2015

 

Archives

Representative Molly White records, 2007-2016

 

Archives

Representative Myra Crownover records, 2003-2015

 

Archives

Representative Patricia Gray records, 1991-1993, 1995-2002, undated, bulk 1995-2001

 

Archives

Representative Harryette Ehrhardt records, 1991, 1994-2001, undated bulk 1995-2001

 

Archives

Records of Representative Ernestine Glossbrenner, 1977-1990 (bulk 1987-1990)

 

Archives

Records of Senator Cyndi Taylor Krier, 1974-1992 (bulk 1985-1992)

 

Archives

To search for these collections, books and more, check out our catalog at www.tsl.texas.gov/catalog. To learn more about our archives collections visit our Descriptive Guides webpage.

Contact the Reference Desk with any inquiries regarding these or other materials at TSLAC at ref@tsl.texas.gov, call us at 512-463-5455 or visit in person at 1201 Brazos Street, Austin, TX 78701 room 109.

Quotes above were referenced from Susie Kelly Flatau and Lou Halsell Rodenberger’s “Quotable Texas Women” (State House Press, 2005).

Texas State Library and Archives Commission Awards Research Fellowships

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) is pleased to announce two recipients of the 2019 Research Fellowship in Texas History. The 2019 TSLAC Research fellows are Maggie Elmore for her project, “Claiming the Cross: How Latinos and the Catholic Church Reshaped America,” and Deborah Liles for “The Beefmasters: Confederate Contractors, Texas Cattlemen, and Civil War Trade.” First awarded in 2018, the fellowship supports scholars who require the use of State Archives collections and includes a $2,000 stipend.

TSLAC Research Fellow Maggie Elmore.

Maggie Elmore holds a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley and is a postdoctoral research associate at the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame. Elmore studies the Latino experience with social and political exclusion in the 20th century United States.

Deborah Liles, who obtained her doctorate from the University of North Texas, serves as an assistant professor at Tarleton State University where she is the W.K. Gordon Chair of Texas History. Her current research focuses on the livestock trade and slave ownership during the Civil War.

State Archivist Jelain Chubb coordinates the fellowship in conjunction with the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). “The number and quality of proposals we received this year was impressive,” said Chubb.  “These projects highlight the range of materials the State Archives offers scholars and I look forward to reading their publications,” she said.

Jelain Chubb poses with Deborah Liles at the TSHA awards luncheon.
State Archivist Jelain Chubb and TSLAC Research Fellow Deborah Liles. The 2019 TSLAC Research Fellowships were announced March 1 at the Texas State Historical Association annual meeting in Corpus Christi.

The TSLAC Research fellowship in Texas history is administered in partnership with TSHA and made possible by the Friends of Libraries and Archives of Texas through a generous donation from the Edouard Foundation. The awards were announced March 1 at the TSHA annual meeting held in Corpus Christi, Texas.


Artifacts Collection Highlights: Treaty Between Great Britain and the Republic of Texas for the Suppression of the African Slave Trade

By Rebecca Romanchuk, Archivist

Front cover of the Treaty between Great Britain and the Republic of Texas for the Suppression of the African Slave Trade, November 16, 1840. ATF0419, Artifacts collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

A few of the items in the Texas State Archives’ Artifacts collection are both artifact and document—a combination of physical object, often with aesthetic or artistic value, and informational record—that sheds light on a facet of our historical past. Among these are treaties between the Republic of Texas and other sovereign nations, created between 1839 and 1844 as formal and official documents of international diplomacy. These treaties are also described in our holdings as Texas Department of State treaties between the Republic of Texas and other nations.

The treaty pictured above, with its bright red velvet cover and decorative cord, is one of three treaties by which Great Britain recognized the Republic of Texas as an independent nation and was signed in November 1840. This particular treaty established an agreement between the two nations to suppress the African slave trade by declaring such trade as piracy. British or Texian merchant vessels discovered by either nations’ war ships to be carrying Africans for the purposes of enslavement were to be subject to capture and adjudication of their masters, crew, and accomplices. African men, women, and children found on board who were destined for slavery were to be immediately given their freedom and delivered to the nearest Texian or British territory. “Texian” was the adjective used during the Republic era where we would instead use “Texan” today.

First page of the Treaty between Great Britain and the Republic of Texas for the Suppression of the African Slave Trade, November 16, 1840. ATF0419, Artifacts collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

The treaty was signed in London, England, on November 16, 1840, by Lord Palmerston as Great Britain’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and by James Hamilton, financial agent for the Republic of Texas. Hamilton had taken over the task of negotiation from James Pinckney Henderson, Texas minister to England at that time and the future first governor of the state of Texas.

Hamilton’s efforts resulted in three signed treaties between the nations, including this one to suppress the African slave trade, one of several such treaties Great Britain negotiated with other nations during this time. Great Britain had abolished slavery within its empire in 1807 and was working toward universal emancipation. The treaty was not approved by the Congress of the Republic of Texas until January 1842 due to politically motivated delay in sending the document to Texas. It became effective on June 28, 1842.

Though slavery existed and was lawful in Texas while it was a republic, and later as a state after annexation, prohibition of the African slave trade was part of the Constitution of the Republic of Texas, as it had also been prohibited by the United States Constitution since 1808. Even so, a small percentage of slaves in the republic arrived there due to illegal African trade.

Permanent residence of free blacks in the republic required the approval of Congress in each case. Before the Texas Revolution, the Mexican government had given free blacks full citizenship rights, but afterward, the Constitution of the Republic of Texas took away citizenship from those with one-eighth African blood and restricted their property rights. The “freedom” granted to those Africans who were found on vessels smuggling them into Texas was by no means full freedom as the white population enjoyed.

“All persons, Africans, the descendants of Africans, and Indians excepted, who were residing in Texas on the day of the declaration of Independence shall be considered citizens of the republic and entitled to all the privileges of such.” Detail from INV 6512, General Provisions, Section 10, Texas Constitution of 1836, Texas (Republic) Department of State records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Click here for an image of the entire page from Section 10.

The treaty was nullified by the subsequent annexation of Texas by the United States in 1845. A similar treaty between Great Britain and the United States was finally concluded in 1862, though negotiations had gone on between the two countries since 1814 (with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent) and had primarily been hindered by disagreement over conditions for search and visitation of vessels. Slavery in Texas officially ended after June 19, 1865, when federal forces occupied Galveston two months after the end of the American Civil War and emancipation was announced by the Union commander of the Department of Texas, General Gordon Granger. Still, the devastating effects of slavery persisted and continue to echo in our society’s struggles to ensure social justice and the protection of civil rights for African Americans.

Featured Collection: National Parks

By Maria Barker, Access Librarian

The new Featured Collection on National Parks is on display. If you are looking for a taste of the great outdoors or want to learn more about the history of the National Parks program and parks across the country, the current display is here to deliver. Our selection includes publications from the Texas document, US document, and Main collections.

My wild life : a memoir of adventures within America’s national parks, Wauer, Roland H., Texas Tech University Press, 2014. Call#: Z TT422.8 W356my

To search for these books and more, check out our catalog at www.tsl.texas.gov/catalog. If you are interested in checking out a title on our Featured Collection shelf, please visit the Reference Desk in room 109. Below is the complete list of titles you’ll find on our Featured Collection shelf this month.

Selections from the Texas State Library and Archives Collections:

599.097649 SCH56M
The mammals of Trans-Pecos Texas : including Big Bend National Park and Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Schmidly, David J.
MAIN
36237000391850

917.8 Y31
Your western national parks : a guide
Yeager, Dorr G. (Dorr Graves)
MAIN
36237003043920

T1300.8 C146RE
El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail
Texas Historical Commission.
TXD
36237003008436

Z TA475.8 C547en
Enjoying Big Bend National Park : a friendly guide to adventures for everyone
Clark, Gary
TXD
36237003482177

Z UA220.7 G941 NO.26
Guide to the Permian Reef Geology Trail : McKittrick Canyon, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, West Texas
Bebout, Don G.
TXD
36237001513809

Z TT422.8 W356my
My wild life : a memoir of adventures within America’s national parks
Wauer, Roland H.
TXD
36237003650864

I 29.2:M 56/5
Balcony House : a history of a cliff dwelling, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Fiero, Kathleen
USD
36237504217981

I 29.86/4:AC 1/2
Cultural landscape report for the historic motor road system, Acadia National Park
Killion, Jeffrey
USD
36237505654596

I 29.2:F 94/2
Fruitful legacy : a historic context of orchards in the United States, with technical information for registering orchards in the National Register of Historic Places
Dolan, Susan
USD
36237506212212

I 29.2:M 97                                                              
Museum curatorship in the National Park Service, 1904-1982
Lewis, Ralph H.
USD
36237503346377

I 29.2:P 21/11
Parks for America : survey of park and related resources in 50 states, and preliminary plan.
United States Department of the Interior. National Park Service
USD
Pending cataloging

I 29.2:N 19/4                                                           
Presenting nature : the historic landscape design of the National Park Service : 1916 to 1942
McClelland, Linda Flint.
USD
36237503410249

I 29.2:T 64/3/2012
The most striking of objects : the totem poles of Sitka National Historical Park
Patrick, Andrew author.
USD
36237507278022

I 29.2:AR 7/5                                                           
Treasured landscapes : National Park Service art collections tell America’s stories
National Center for Cultural Resource Stewardship and Partnerships (U.S.). Museum Management Program, publisher.
USD
36237507968507

I 29.2:C 54/2
Where we found a whale : a history of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve
Fagan, Brian
USD
36237505971644

A Girl Named Loise: 19th Century Documents Record Hidden Lives

By Richard Gilreath, Reference Archivist

Historical records at the State Archives provide insight into the lives of enslaved African Americans residing in Texas in the 19th century. Various government documents available through the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) provide dates, names, and geographic locations important to family historians and other researchers hoping to identify individuals who may have lived in bondage. Deeds, wills, court cases and tax records are some of the evidentiary documents establishing intermittent timelines of those whose lives intersected with legal transactions, including those considered, under the law, as property. One such individual was a young African-American girl known as Loise. Loise makes several appearances in records dating from 1848 -1851. By using the names and locations mentioned in a single document as leads, we may follow Loise’s path for several years through the historical record.

We locate Loise on an 1849 Harris County tax-assessor’s deed which states that her owner, C. W. Bassett, owed the state back taxes. Loise was put up for auction. With no bidders, the State of Texas purchased her for $5.90.

This Harris County document reveals that C. W. Bassett owed back taxes for the year 1848. Tax Assessor and Collector, John N. Reed therefore levied “upon the following property of said C.W. Bassett to wit: One negro girl named Loise about ten years old slave for life.”
John N. Reed Deed, July 25, 1849, Miscellaneous File, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

In our Texas Treasures online exhibit, we noted that Loise’s fate is unknown. However, by using other resources available at TSLAC, we can develop a better understanding of the life of Loise after this point. Loise’s own voice and words are not reflected in the records, but we are able to reconstruct an incomplete timeline of her life through the probate records of Harris County. These records, which have been microfilmed, are part of our county records on microfilm.

The probate record refers to Loise as “Louisa.” These similar but slightly different names add an additional layer of uncertainty. However, we believe – based on the locations and times in which these individuals lived – that Loise and Louisa are the same individual.

Loise is first referred to in the Harris County probate record on August 28, 1848 with the assigned value of $100.00 and as the legal property of Adam Erastus Cloud. Cloud, a minor, was represented by his guardian, James Walker. However, the probate record shows Loise under the possession of Harris County Sheriff, D. Russell, not Cloud. Walker sought to acquire physical possession of slaves that Cloud claimed.

On July 25, 1849, records reveal that the tax assessor and collector for Harris County, John N. Reed, put up for public auction in Harris County the young girl named Loise. She was described as “about ten years old” and “a slave for life.” As no one bid on her, the state purchased Loise for $5.90. Her purchase by the state is listed in a Comptroller’s Office register of tax sales. The finding aid for these records is available online. Although the finding aid references the sales of land, sales of slaves are also included in the volumes.

In an entry in the probate record dated June 27, 1850 – nearly a year after the auction – James Walker and Adam Cloud continued to claim Loise as Cloud’s property. The record noted that she was gifted to Cloud by his grandfather’s will. Several other slaves claimed by Cloud were found in Brazoria County, on property owned by F.J. Calvit. James Walker filed a lawsuit against Calvit to claim the slaves on Cloud’s behalf.

Texas Supreme Court document M-2980 – part one. James Walker filed a lawsuit against F.J. Calvit to claim slaves on behalf of Adam Cloud.
Texas Supreme Court document M-2980 – part two.

This court case ultimately went to the Texas Supreme Court. The case file went missing, but TSLAC recovered a portion of the file in 2008. The portion of the case file recovered does not mention Loise. (You can read more about TSLAC’s replevin efforts here.)

The probate record also reveals some of the circumstances of the death of Clement N. Bassett. A petition by August C. Daws, dated November 11, 1850, averred that Bassett died in 1848 (though it did not provide the exact date). This petition noted that litigation was ongoing between Adam Erastus Cloud and Bassett regarding the ownership of Loise. Daws applied to be the administrator of Bassett’s estate and swore that Bassett died without writing a will.

Bassett’s widow, Julia, protested Daws’s application on November 16, 1850. In response to her protest, Loise was mentioned by name, and appraised at $375.00 by the court. She was noted to be “about thirteen years of age.” On January 28, 1851, Daws submitted a motion to withdraw his application for administration of the Bassett estate. He cited a decision against him in a lawsuit, which also referenced Loise, as his reason for withdrawing the application. The other party in this lawsuit is not mentioned, but may have been Julia Bassett.

On July 31, 1851, Adam Erastus Cloud appears again in the probate record. He reached 21 years of age and asked to receive property held by James Walker as his guardian. In this entry in the record, Loise is assigned a value of $400.00. An entry in the probate record on October 2 of that year reveals that legal difficulties still surrounded Loise. She was excepted from the property returned to Cloud by Walker, due to “the prosecution of the suit in the District Court … in favor of said Cloud against Clement N. Bassett for a negro girl Louisa, commenced by said defendant as Guardian of said Cloud.” It appears, at this time, that Loise worked for a man named James W. Henderson, also in Harris County.

The probate court ordered Loise be returned to Cloud, but that she would remain in Henderson’s possession until the conclusion of the suit in District Court. The probate record noted that Loise was hired by Henderson, rather than owned by him.

After October 1851, we did not find further reference to Loise in the probate record. Her exact fate remains unknown, but the probate record allows us to reconstruct claims over her ownership and have a sense of what may have happened to her. After Bassett died, she was moved to the property of Henderson. It appears that several of Cloud’s slaves were sent to work on others’ property during this time period, and that Cloud took legal action to attempt to recover them.

Loise and the other slaves owned by Cloud were discussed as property, and the impact these decisions would have on their lives was never considered in the record. We do not have documentation of the hardships Loise experienced and survived during this time. However, these records provide us with the opportunity to understand a little more about the lives of slaves like Loise, who, to the best of our knowledge, left no written record of her own experiences.

Additional records at TSLAC and other institutions may provide more of the story. Harris County District Court records might provide the court case records of Adam Cloud’s and James Walker’s efforts to claim ownership of Loise. Her descendants may know the rest of the story. If you have additional information regarding Loise, please contact us at: ref@tsl.texas.gov.

Meet the Staff: Naomi Frantes

Meet the Staff is a Q&A series on Out of the Stacks that highlights the Archives and Information Services staff of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

A photograph of Cataloging and Metadata Librarian Naomi Frantes standing front of the pink granite wall of the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building.
Cataloging and Metadata Librarian, Naomi Frantes

Describe your role at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC).

I have the distinct privilege of creating metadata so that the vast resources of Archives and Information Services are discoverable by researchers here in Texas and around the world.  My responsibilities include creating catalog records for our archival collections, photograph collections, Texas state publications and United States government publications.  These collections and documents pertain to a wide variety of subjects and can be found in our online catalog. I also create personal and corporate name authority records; the records help ensure that researchers can find all the books by the same author or publications and collections by the same government agency.

Why did you choose your profession?

After high school, I went to a small college in Minnesota and was assigned to the library for my work study program.  I loved the job! My intent in attending college was to major in biology or chemistry but there were only a few science courses available at the small college.  My science professor encouraged me to transfer to a larger university, so I transferred to the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. Once again, I was assigned to work in the library. That position confirmed my desire to pursue a library career and I eventually graduated with a B.A. in history and German.  After taking a break from working to stay at home with my two children, I worked at the North Dakota State Library and obtained my Master’s Degree in Library Science.

What do you wish more people knew about TSLAC?

I wish more Texans knew about the vast array of services available from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.  There is something here for everyone!  Besides the amazing historical resources we have in the ARIS Division, TSLAC also offers the Talking Book Program, which provides free library services to qualifying Texans with visual, physical, or reading disabilities. TSLAC also has the Center for the Book, which seeks to stimulate public interest in books, reading, literacy and libraries.  The Library Development and Networking Division provides online resources to the citizens and libraries of Texas and assists libraries and librarians in their efforts to serve their local constituents.

What do you like to do for fun?

I love to hike, explore Texas, visit national and state parks, play French horn, scrapbook, cross-stitch, bake, and hang out with my husband, Mike. I also love spending time with my two children whenever I can.

Thanks, Naomi!

Out of the Stacks and Into the Catalog: Secrets to Search Fields and Operators

By Kelli Dover, Library Assistant

If your library catalog searches for items in the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) collections give you too few or too many results, or you are not finding exactly what you want, this post will help you utilize Boolean operators and special characters to maximize your search efforts.

To perform any catalog search, you will need to open the TSLAC Library Catalog search home page. (If you’re not sure how to get there, see our previous post in this series.) This article will focus on the search buttons (circled in red below). Future posts will address the radio buttons (keyword, browse, exact) and library options on the drop-down menu. For the purposes of this post, we will select the radio button for “keyword” and choose “*TX State Library & Archives Comm” for the library.  You are now ready to search the catalog in keyword mode.

library catalog search screen

On the search home page, there are three radio buttons to choose from, a library drop-down box and six different buttons indicating search type.

After typing in your search terms, click on one of the blue buttons (Words or Phrase, Author, Title, Subject, Series, and Periodical Title) to run a specific search type. It is important to understand what kinds of results each search will yield.

Words or Phrase: Results include your search terms as found anywhere in the catalog record. If you type in your search terms and press enter, this is the default search type used. Below is an example of a catalog record and all of the fields that may include your search term.

Author: Results include your search terms that are found only within the author fields. This can include corporate authors and additional authors. You can use first name, last name, or initials. Including a last name will provide the best results.

Title: Search mechanism limits the options to only the title fields in the catalog record. Note: Periodical Title is a separate search.

Subject: Results will include your search terms as found in the subject index. If you are not looking for a specific item, this search will pull up a range of titles that may be related to your research area of interest. While it may not include every item in our collection on the subject, it will give you an idea of the types of publications in our collection. Clicking on a subject in the catalog record will bring you to a list of items that have the same subject.

Series: Results will include your search terms as found within the series field. Government documents and academic journals are often entered as series. A series covers publications released in intervals though not necessarily with regularity. It may be best to use a Title search or Words or Phrase search if you’re not finding what you want.

Periodical Title: Results will include your search terms as found within the periodical titles field. Periodicals are released at regular intervals and they generally have multiple contributors. It may be best to use Title search or Words or Phrase search if you’re not finding what you want.

Now that you’ve selected the appropriate search type, we will focus on terminology. Search operators and special commands determine how the words will be used to search the catalog. If you are unfamiliar with these terms, refer to the list below. We have described the basic Boolean operators and some special characters you can utilize in your search.

Basic Boolean Search Operators and Special Commands:

AND finds only records containing all of the search words entered.

         Example: Texas AND Architecture

OR finds records containing one or both of the search words entered. This search operator provides broader results than using AND.

         Example: Cooking OR Baking

NOT finds records containing search words but excludes anything following NOT.

         Example: Architecture NOT Texas.

XOR finds records containing only one of the two words entered, not both.

         Example: Film XOR Music

: finds records containing the exact phrase found inside the quotations.

         Example: “Landscape design”

$ works as a stem/truncation search. The search will find records that begin with the stem of the word and are truncated by the $.

        Example: searching gov$ will find records for government, governor, governing,  govern, etc.

$# : If you want to limit the number of letters following the truncation, add the number sign after the dollar sign.

         Examples: gov$3 finds records for govern. gov$5 finds records for govern and governor.

? : this symbol will work as a wildcard letter in searches.

         Example: searching gr?y, will find records for both grey and gray.

Refining your search technique with search types, operators, and special commands will help get you the results you want. Keep checking our blog for more posts on how to use and navigate the catalog.