Login  
Loading...
[WS4] Skip Navigation LinksHome > About Us > Historical Document Room Like us on Facebook     Houston, Texas  |  October 22, 2014
Quick Links Contact Information

Historical Document Room:

Civil Courthouse
201 Caroline, Room 200
Houston, TX 77002
Map of Downtown

Hours: Tues. & Thur., 12 - 4 p.m.
  Wed., 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Phone: 713-755-9463
Fax: 713-755-5700

Mailing Address:

Harris County District Clerk
P.O. Box 4651
Houston, Texas 77210

For additional information regarding Historical Documents, please see our Frequently Asked Questions, call 713-755-7300 or e-mail us.

Historical Documents

The Historical Document Room was opened to the public on October 24, 2006. The room is available for viewing historical documents from 1837—1925.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, please click here.

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 Costs for preserving these invaluable historical documents range from $10 for a file to as much as $2,500 for a civil index book.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The process for preservation requires experts trained in handling historical documents, as the documents must be handled with extreme care.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

Historical Documents Available Online

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.
 

View Online

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.


Saving Texas History

Saving Texas History Image Read more about the preservation process of the Historical Documents.

Public Viewing Rules and Regulations

Public Viewing Rules and Regulations image View information regarding public access and the regulations that safe guard the Historical Documents.

Online Historical Documents

Online Historical Documents image These court records are valuable sources of Texas' and Houston's history. View these priceless historical documents.