The Historical Document Room was opened to the public on October 24, 2006. The room
is available for viewing historical documents from 1837—1925. These court records
are not just paper, they are valuable sources of Texas' and Houston’s history. Some
of the most badly deteriorated records have been restored and preserved by the Harris
County District Clerk's Office. Those efforts have been honored with a 2004 Good
Brick Award from the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance.
What Can I do to Help Save Harris County’s History?
The Harris County District Clerk’s Office has teamed with the Houston Bar Foundation to raise the funds
needed to continue restoring and preserving Harris County’s past. The Houston Bar Foundation is
accepting tax-deductible donations to preserve records. We do not suggest an amount for your donation
as any amount is greatly helpful and appreciated.
Checks can be made payable to: Houston Bar Foundation Records Preservation and mailed to P.O. Box 4651,
Houston, TX 77253. For a contribution form to include with your check,
In addition to preserving case files, bound volumes such as criminal case indexes, minute books, fee docket books
and accounting books from as early as the Republic of Texas days are being saved. Costs for preserving these
invaluable historical documents range from $10 for a file to as much as $2,500 for a civil index book. Donors
who contribute an amount necessary to preserve one entire book may, if they wish, be recognized on the spine or
outside cover of the book. Standard wording for such recognition will be, “In memory of _________,” “Graciously
donated by ________,” etc. Other wording desired by the donor will be taken into consideration.
The process for preservation requires experts trained in handling historical documents, as the documents must be
handled with extreme care. They are unfolded, pacified, then encapsulated in special Mylar plastic sheets to
protect them from further damage caused by exposure to air and moisture. The process being used will preserve
these records for up to 300 years and prevent further deterioration of our historical records.
Services Available in the Historical Document Room
- Public viewing of original documents
- Requested copies for $1.00 per page
As a public service, the documents that are made available over the Web are provided
at no charge. Please note, while the clarity of some of the documents is exceptional,
the quality of others is poor. This is directly related to the quality of the original
document as well as the penmanship of the scribe in some instances. Click below
to begin viewing these priceless historical documents.
Historical Case Of The Month
The Honorable Judge Mark Davidson has been instrumental
in the development of the Harris County District Court Historical Document Project.
An avid legal history buff, Judge Davidson continues to write and serve as a special
advisor to the ongoing Case Of the Month articles.
THE CASE OF THE MOONSHINE GROCERY-GONE BAD!
It is well known that Texas is THE place to live if you owe someone some money. Our homestead protection is the second of no state in the union, unless you count pre-1987 Texas as a state separate from our current State of Texas. Collecting judgments can be onerous, time consuming, costly and frustrating.
Few creditors have had the success of getting a judgment and collecting it than the Plaintiffs did in in 1918 case of Schumacher Company v. Moonshine Grocery dba E. W. Corley and W. S. Jackson. Moonshine’s owners operated a grocery store, and apparently got behind in their bill to a wholesale supplier. On June 13, 1918, they signed a note to Schumacher payable on demand. Demand was apparently made within the next few days, and the debtors were unable to pay.
On July 18th, only thirty-five days after execution of the note, a lawsuit was filed in the 80th District Court seeking to enforce the terms of the note. While the note had pledged no collateral, the Plaintiff sought a pre-judgment attachment of the contents of the Moonshine Grocery Store. Upon the filing of a bond, Judge J. D. Harvey authorized seizure of the contents of the store, provided the process server prepare an inventory of the property seized. The detailed inventory filed gives us a wonderful glimpse of the items for sale in a turn of the century grocery store, and hints as to the diet of our forefathers.
A few of the brands sold at the Moonshine Grocery store are familiar to us today. Many are not. Eagle Brand Milk, Argo Corn Starch, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and Lipton Tea are among the brands that remain in existence. Helmet Apple Butter, Climax Pork and Beans and Tall Hebe Evaporated Milk did not make the transition through the Twentieth Century as well.
Some products have ceased to exist as the result of our changed life style. Lamp wicks and burners are no longer sold at grocery stores due to the widespread use of light bulbs for nighttime illumination. Black Night Stove Polish is no longer sold, since wood burning stoves are extremely rare. Alamo Lye Soap was probably put out of business by the invention of the washing machine.
The Moonshine apparently did not sell fresh meat, dairy products or vegetables, which may indicate that there were no refrigerators or cooling equipment available. Many Houstonians would have had gardens, either on their homestead or on a rented tract of land in the “country” to provide fresh food.
The assets of the grocery store were sold. The sales price at the auction was, by coincidence, the same as the amount of the debt. No records reflect that the Moonshine ever was able to reopen.