Texas County records vary widely from county to county in both quality and quantity. Some have been carefully preserved while others have been much abused and neglected. Some Texas records have simply disappeared.
For genealogists doing research in Texas there is no effective replace for an on-site search of county courthouse records.
The Texas legislature created a uniform statewide record preservation system in 1972. That led to historical depositories across the state receiving copies of important Texas records. The act led to the Local Records Division of the Texas State Library collecting and maintaining local government records, including city and county records. All of those records are available to researchers.
Each county has a designated repository for county records. Those records include probate, property, and naturalization records, as well as marriage records, wills, and district court minutes. Since each county keeps its own records, there is no complete collection of those records available at the state level.
There are 26 depositories across the state. They all contain some manuscripts and original records. Many county records have been microfilmed, but some have not. Out of 254 county courthouses, approximately 80 have had inventories of their records done. It is also worth noting that thefts, fires, and floods have destroyed many courthouse records in Texas. So, availability dates may vary.
There were 27 more counties formed by the legislature at later dates. Also, certain counties were organized and then organized again later, often due to boundary changes. The 27 additional counties, which included Foley, Buchel, and Encinal, were never officially organized. Only records for those three exist. Later, Buchel and Foley counties were merged into Brewster County. Encinal county was absorbed by Webb County. The county clerk holds deeds, while probate records may be found at the probate clerk’s office or the county clerk’s office, depending on the size of the county. County or district court clerk offices hold court records.
Some counties were organized twice. Although twenty-seven additional counties were created by the legislature, none were organized. Of these only Buchel, Encinal, and Foley counties had records. Buchel and Foley were incorporated into Brewster County, while Encinal was included in Webb County. Deeds are located through the county clerk, probates at the county clerk’s or the probate clerk’s office in larger counties, and court records through the county or district court clerk. Letters should be addressed to the appropriate clerk. So, researchers must address inquiries to the appropriate offices. See also a list of links to county and county seat government run websites.
Crosby County Courthouse in Estacado caught fire on October 9, 1889 and destroyed the judges’, treasurer’s and county clerk’s offices.
Delta County Courthouse at Cooper was destroyed by fire on 9 March 1899. Nearly all of the county records were stored in a fireproof vault and were saved. Records in the district clerk’s office, probably records on current cases, were destroyed.
Galveston County Courthouse was destroyed by the Galveston Hurricane in September 1900, swept the island clean, therefore, it is likely the record was destroyed in the hurricane. Check in nearby counties for any such replications of any records from the Galveston area prior to 1900.
Grayson County Courthouse was burned by a mob on May 9, 1930. However ALL of the vital records, land records, and most court records were saved from this fire. The courthouse had records in fire proof rooms and storage areas.
Hardin County Courthouse burned about August 8, 1886. Early county records were destroyed in the conflagration. Some records were destroyed including the assessment rolls of the county, surveyor’s records, and the county judge’s records, including the probate records. The only records that may have been saved were those that were stored in an iron safe.
Hill County Courthouse caught fire on 18 Sept 1872. Many county records were destroyed. Courthouse, built in 1890, caught fire on 1 Jan 1993, destroying most of the building.
Hopkins County Courthouse built in 1882, was destroyed on Feb. 11, 1894 by a fire that also burned the jail and several nearby structures. Nearly all of the records were saved. Those destroyed were in the office of Judge Morris. The fire additionally destroyed the jail, part of the Courthouse square and the offices of the Hopkins County Echo newspaper.
Houston County Courthouse , a brick building, which replaced the first courthouse in 1851, was destroyed by a fire of mysterious origin in February 1865 . The third courthouse and jail burned in November 1882 . Most early records were destroyed
Hunt County Courthouse , built in 1883, was destroyed by a fire on August 17, 1884 which heavily damaged the town’s commercial district. Some early records destroyed. (more).
Jackson County Courthouse was destroyed by fire on June 15, 1900. Records of the County Judge, Assessor and Justice of the Peace were lost. The Jackson County Progress Newspaper plant and offices (along with part of the Edna business district) were destroyed by fire, 12 November 1906.
Limestone County Courthouse destroyed by fire in October 1873 at Springfield and most county records were destroyed. A fire at Groesbeck on February 1, 1891, records were stored in vaults and were not lost. The Old Courthouse, built in 1891, was destroyed by fire in May 1954.
Llano County Courthouse was destroyed and many county records were destroyed by fire in December 1873. Again courthouse was entirely consumed by fire in Oct of 1880, destroying the office of the district and county clerk, containing all the county records, etc (more). Courthouse, built in 1885, was destroyed by fire on January 23, 1892. Papers and records of the clerks office were the only records saved. The tower and parts of the interior of the Llano County Courthouse, built in 1893, was damaged by fire in Sept 1932. Also fire destroyed the courthouse Dec, 17, 1951, county’s oldest records were destroyed. (more)
Madison County Courthouses and county records were destroyed by fire in June 1865 and January 1873.Courthouse, built 1896, was destroyed by fire on May 14, 1967. Some county records may have been destroyed.
Tom Green County Courthouse in Ben Flicken, then the county seat, was destroyed by flood in 1882. The second floor of the Tom Green County Courthouse caught fire on June 28, 1886, possibly from mice eating matches. The fire started in the office of the Clerk of District Courts. Many of the records in the clerk’s office were destroyed.