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[WS5] Skip Navigation LinksHome > About Us > Historical Document Room Houston, TX | January 25, 2020
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Historical Document Room: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: 832-927-5729
Fax: 832-927-0145

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For additional information regarding Historical Documents, please see our Frequently Asked Questions, call 832-927-5860 or e-mail us.

Historical Documents

The Historical Document Room was opened to the public on October 24, 2006. The room is available for viewing historical documents from 1837—1925.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 77210. 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 Costs for preserving these invaluable historical documents range from $10 for a file to as much as $2,500 for a civil index book.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The process for preservation requires experts trained in handling historical documents, as the documents must be handled with extreme care.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.

All I Want for Christmas is to be an Adult Cause No. 114681 – Ex Parte Howard Robard Hughes, Jr

Judge Mark Davidson ; Hughes in the 1930s

The week before Christmas is often a slow time at the Harris County Courthouse. There are no jury calls and very few jury trials still going on from the period before jury calls are stopped. A few divorces may be granted, but there are usually less of those as well. In short, there are fewer legal emergencies that require lawyers and judges to postpone their holiday celebrations. An exception to this rule took place in December of 1924. Howard R. Hughes, Sr. had died on January 14th of that year. His wife Allene Gano Hughes, had died two years before, and the sole heir of the estate was his eighteen year old son.

Mr. Hughes had invented a phenomenally successful oil bit, and the inheritance of his son was to be substantial. Throughout 1924, R. C. Kukdell had served as the manager of Hughes Oil Tools company for the benefit of his son. That son was Howard R, Hughes, Jr. On December 24, 1924, he celebrated his nineteenth birthday. It was apparently decided that, notwithstanding his youth, he was up to the challenge of taking control of the company. On the 24th, a petition was prepared asking that a district court of Harris County declare young Howard to be an adult. Among the allegations in the petition are that he was “… sober, studious, and industrious; that he does not indulge in the use of intoxicants or tobacco, and that his conduct is that of an orderly, sober and moral young person.” The petition was filed by Frank Andrews of the firm of Andrews, Streetman, Logan, and Mobley.

That same day, two supporting affidavits were prepared and signed. Mr. Kuldell, as the administrator of the estate of Hughes, Sr. swore to the contents of the petition in his capacity as manager of Hughes Oil Tools Company. County Judge Chester Bryan, signed an affidavit stating that he knew young Howard and recommended that the petition be granted. According to legend, Mr. Andrews, Howard Hughes and Walter Monteith, the Judge of the 61st District Court, spent Christmas morning at the Houston Country Club playing a round of golf. Spending a few hours on the links would certainly have given Judge Monteith the ability to survey the character and fitness of Howard to be adjudicated an adult.

The next morning, the petition was filed. The case was not assigned to any particular one of Harris County’s four civil district courts. Judge Monteith appeared at the courthouse, and agreed to hear the matter. The former County Judge of Harris County, A. E. Ammerman was appointed to be the guardian ad litem for the minor, and he appeared to serve. It is uncertain how long the hearing lasted, but it was granted on December 26th, 1924, the same day it was filed.

Judge Ammerman was awarded a $250.00 ad litem fee, the equivalent of about $2,700.00 in 2019 dollars. Hughes would perform admirably as the President of Hughes Oil Tools. The company would grow many times over the size of the company he inherited. In time, he would use his profits to found a movie studio, an airline, and several hotel/casinos in Las Vegas. He also became a bit of an eccentric, totally withdrawing from the public eye decades before his death in 1976.

Click here to view the historic case documents for Ex Parte Howard Robard Hughes, Jr


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.