How to Get Started On Genealogy Research In Texas
There are a lot of How To guides and tips and tricks out there for general genealogy research, and with the explosion of the internet over the past two decades that number has multiplied exponentially. Oddly enough, getting started in any one specific state or city's system is still a bit of a murky endeavor. In Texas, there are 254 separate counties which can be both a boon to researchers, because there are a lot of local resources available, but also a hindrance, because you might have to sort through a lot of things you don't want in order to get to anything that you do. Allow this article to be your jumping off point for getting started.
Step 1 - Starting Outside the Box
There are a ton of places you can go in order start narrowing your search and finding clues to your family past, but many of these will require a lot of digging before you even find anything relevant. For this purpose, it is recommended that you start with some unique (though not overly obscure) methods. While it may not be as fun to some as sifting through microfilms of civil war letters or reading books from hundreds of years ago, the internet is now the go-to place to find these tools off the bat. You might not find every single record available in physical form, but the online and offline genealogy worlds are getting closer and closer to perfect parity each and every day.
Did you know that there's a Texas Genealogy Research Facebook page? It isn't huge yet, but what is does have is other enthusiastic genealogists to confer with, as well as informative guides and presentations linked from all over, many of which are completely dedicated to Texas researchers.
From there, check outline genealogy search engines that let you specificy by current living location, or the presumed living location(s) of your ancestors. The thing to keep in mind about online tools is that while they aren't 100% guaranteed to find you what you want, they can drastically cut down on research time when you get lucky and they do manage to find you a good starting point.
Step 2 - Color Inside the Lines A Bit
Your next step should be the state library. Whether visiting in person or online, the Texas State Library has an extensive array of databases and archives dedicated to historical and genealogy records. In addition to standard property records dating back 200+ years, you'll also be able to dig into some much more specific and sneaky ways of finding your roots. One for example, involves records of families who received confederate pension plans dating back 115 years. Even denied applications are included.
In another example, the "Act to Support the Families and Dependents of Texas Soldiers" was passed in 1863, and you can now view the records of military families that received aid. Old voter registration records, newspaper archives, and county records are all held on microfilm at the state library and archives, making these good places to go next.
No matter what you do, don't be afraid to get creative and reach out personally to people you think might be connected to you or your search, or to find other relevant business, etc. that might have records pertinent to past members of your family. Best of luck!