Texas County records can vary widely from county to county in either quality and also quantity. Some are already carefully maintained while some have been significantly misused and overlooked. A number of Texas records have simply vanished. For genealogists undertaking research in Texas there’s no valuable replace to have an on-site research of county court house records. For Definitions of all court terms see the Genealogy Encyclopedia
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.
|County||Date Formed||Parent County||County Seat|
|Archer||1858||Unorganized Territory||Archer City|
|Bandera||1856||Non-County Area, Bexar and Uvalde Counties||Bandera|
|Bee||1857||Live Oak, Goliad, Refugio, San Patricio and Karnes Counties||Beeville|
|Bexar||1836||Original County||San Antonio|
|Blanco||1858||Gillespie, Burnet, Comal and Hays Counties||Johnson City|
|Brazos||1841||Washington and Robertson Counties||Bryan|
|Brooks||1911||Starr, Hildalgo and Zapata Counties||Falfurrias|
|Brown||1856||Travis County and Non-County Area||Brownwood|
|Burleson||1842||Milam and Washington Counties||Caldwell|
|Burnet||1852||Bell, Williamson and Travis Counties||Burnet|
|Calhoun||1846||Jackson and Victoria Counties||Port Lavaca|
|Callahan||1858||Non-County Area, Travis and Bexar Counties||Baird|
|Chambers||1858||Liberty and Jefferson Counties||Anahuac|
|Childress||1876||Hardeman County and Young Territory||Childress|
|Coke||1889||Tom Green County||Robert Lee|
|Coleman||1858||Brown and Travis Counties||Coleman|
|Colorado||1836||Old Mexican Municipalities and Counties of Mina and Matagorda. Original County||Columbus|
|Comal||1846||Bexar, Travis and Gonzales Counties||New Braunfels|
|Comanche||1856||Non-County Area, Coryell and Bosque Counties||Comanche|
|Concho||1858||Bexar County||Paint Rock|
|Coryell||1854||Bell and McLennan Counties||Gatesville|
|Cottle||1876||Hardeman County and Young Territory||Paducah|
|Crockett||1875||Bexar Land District||Ozona|
|Culberson||1911||El Paso County||Van Horn|
|Dallas||1846||Nacogdoches and Robertson Counties||Dallas|
|Dewitt||1846||Gonzales County, Goliad County and Victoria County||Cuero|
|Deaf Smith||1876||Young Territory||Hereford|
|Delta||1870||Lamar and Hopkins Counties||Cooper|
|Dimmit||1858||Bexar, Maverick, Webb, Uvalde Counties||Carrizo Springs|
|Duval||1858||Nueces and Live Oak Counties||San Diego|
|Eastland||1858||Non-County Area and Palo Pinto County||Eastland|
|Edwards||1858||Bexar Land District||Rocksprings|
|El Paso||1850||Non-County Area||El Paso|
|Erath||1856||Bosque and Coryell Counties||Stephenville|
|Falls||1850||Milam and Limestone Counties||Marlin|
|Fayette||1837||Colorado and Bastrop Counties||La Grange|
|Fisher||1876||Jones County and Young Territory||Roby|
|Foard||1891||Knox, Hardeman and Cottle Counties||Crowell|
|Fort Bend||1837||Austin, Harris and Brazoria Counties||Richmond|
|Franklin||1875||Titus County||Mount Vernon|
|Frio||1858||Uvalde and Atascosa Counties||Pearsall|
|Galveston||1838||Brazoria and Liberty Counties||Galveston|
|Glasscock||1887||Tom Green County||Garden City|
|Goliad||1836||Old Mexican Municipality. Original County||Goliad|
|Gonzales||1836||Old Mexican Municipality. Original County||Gonzales|
|Guadalupe||1846||Gonzales and Bexar Counties||Seguin|
|Hamilton||1858||Comanche, Bosque and Lampasas Counties||Hamilton|
|Hardin||1858||Liberty, Tyler and Jefferson Counties||Kountze|
|Harris||1836||Old Mexican Municipalities and Counties of Austin and Liberty. Original County||Houston|
|Hays||1848||Travis County||San Marcos|
|Henderson||1846||Houston and Nacogdoches Counties||Athens|
|Hood||1865||Erath, Johnson and Palo Pinto Counties||Granbury|
|Hopkins||1846||Lamar and Nacogdoches Counties||Sulphur Springs|
|Howard||1876||Tom Green County and Young Territory||Big Spring|
|Hudspeth||1917||El Paso County||Sierra Blanca|
|Hunt||1846||Fannin and Nacogdoches Counties||Greenville|
|Irion||1889||Tom Green County||Mertzon|
|Jackson||1836||Old Mexican Municipality Matagorda County. Original County||Edna|
|Jasper||1836||Old Mexican Municipality Liberty County. Original County||Jasper|
|Jeff Davis||1887||Presidio County||Fort Davis|
|Jefferson||1836||Old Mexican Municipality Jasper County. Original County||Beaumont|
|Jim Hogg||1913||Brooks and Duval Counties||Hebbronville|
|Jim Wells||1911||Nueces County||Alice|
|Karnes||1854||Bexar, Dewitt, Goliad and San Patrico Counties||Karnes City|
|Kendall||1862||Kerr and Blanco Counties||Boerne|
|Kenedy||1921||Hidalgo and Willacy Counties||Sarita|
|La Salle||1840||Red River County||Lampasas|
|Lamb||1856||Bell and Travis Counties||Paris|
|Lampasas||1858||Nueces, Bexar and Webb Counties||Littlefield|
|Lavaca||1846||Colorado, Gonzales, Jackson and Fayette Counties||Hallettsville|
|Lee||1874||Burleson, Bastrop, Fayette and Washington Counties||Giddings|
|Liberty||1836||Old Mexican Municipality Nacogdoches County. Original County||Liberty|
|Live Oak||1856||San Patrico and Nueces Counties||George West|
|Llano||1856||Bexar and Gillespie Counties||Llano|
|Madison||1853||Grimes, Walker and Leon Counties||Madisonville|
|Marion||1860||Cass and Titus Counties||Jefferson|
|Mason||1858||Bexar Land District||Mason|
|Matagorda||1836||Old Mexican Municipality Nacogdoches County. Original County||Bay City|
|Maverick||1856||Kinney County||Eagle Pass|
|McCulloch||1856||Bexar Land District||Brady|
|McLennan||1850||Milam, Navarro and Limestone Counties||Waco|
|McMullen||1858||Nueces, Atascosa and Live Oak Counties||Tilden|
|Menard||1858||Bexar Land District||Menard|
|Midland||1885||Tom Green County||Midland|
|Milam||1836||Old Mexican Municipality. Original County||Cameron|
|Mills||1887||Brown, Lampasas, Hamilton and Comanche||Goldthwaite|
|Mitchell||1876||Young Territory||Colorado City|
|Nacogdoches||1836||Old Mexican Municipality. Original County||Nacogdoches|
|Nueces||1846||San Patrico County||Corpus Christi|
|Palo Pinto||1856||Bosque and Navarro Counties||Palo Pinto|
|Panola||1846||Harrison and Shelby Counties||Carthage|
|Parker||1855||Bosque and Navarro Counties||Weatherford|
|Pecos||1871||Presidio County||Fort Stockton|
|Rains||1870||Hopkins, Hunt and Wood Counties||Emory|
|Reagan||1903||Tom Green County||Big Lake|
|Real||1913||Edwards, Kerr and Bandera Counties||Leakey|
|Red River||1836||Old Mexican Municipality Nacogdoches County. Original County||Clarksville|
|Refugio||1836||Old Mexican Municipality. Original County||Refugio|
|Robertson||1837||Milam and Nacogdoches Counties||Franklin|
|Runnels||1858||Bexar Land District||Ballinger|
|Sabine||1836||Old Mexican Municipality San Augustine County. Original County||Hemphill|
|San Augustine||1836||Old Mexican Municipality Nacogdoches County. Original County||San Augustine|
|San Jacinto||1869||Polk, Liberty, Montgomery and Walker Counties||Coldspring|
|San Patricio||1836||Old Mexican Municipality. Original County||Sinton|
|San Saba||1856||Bexar County||San Saba|
|Shackelford||1858||Young Territory and Non-County Area||Albany|
|Shelby||1836||Old Mexican Municipality Nacogdoches County and San Augustine County. Original County||Center|
|Somervell||1875||Hood County||Glen Rose|
|Starr||1848||Nueces County||Rio Grande City|
|Stephens||1858||Young Territory and Non-County Area||Breckenridge|
|Sterling||1891||Tom Green County||Sterling City|
|Tarrant||1849||Navarro County||Fort Worth|
|Taylor||1858||Bexar Land District||Abilene|
|Throckmorton||1858||Young Territory and Non-County Area||Throckmorton|
|Titus||1846||Bowie and Red River Counties||Mount Pleasant|
|Tom Green||1874||Bexar Land District||San Angelo|
|Upshur||1846||Harrison and Nacogdoches Counties||Gilmer|
|Upton||1867||Tom Green County||Rankin|
|Val Verde||1885||Kinney, Pecos and Crockett Counties||Del Rio|
|Van Zandt||1848||Henderson County||Canton|
|Victoria||1836||Old Mexican Municipality. Original County||Victoria|
|Waller||1873||Austin and Grimes Counties||Hempstead|
|Ward||1887||Tom Green County||Monahans|
|Washington||1836||Old Mexican Municipality Austin County and Liberty County. Original County||Brenham|
|Webb||1848||Bexar and Nueces Counties||Laredo|
|Wharton||1846||Brazoria, Colorado, Jackson and Matagorda Counties||Wharton|
|Wichita||1858||Young Territory||Wichita Falls|
|Willacy||1911||Hildigo and Cameron Counties||Raymondville|
|Wilson||1860||Bexar and Karnes Counties||Floresville|
|Winkler||1887||Tom Green County||Kermit|
|Wood||1850||Van Zandt County||Quitman|
|Zapata||1858||Starr and Webb Counties||Zapata|
|Zavala||1858||Uvalde and Maverick||Crystal City|
Texas Extinct Counties
Texas has counties that no longer are in existence. They were organized by the state, provincial, or territorial governing administration. Most of these counties were established and disbanded in the Nineteenth century; county boundaries have evolved little since Nineteen hundred in the vast most of states. These counties needs to be researched when you are conducting family history and genealogy research. Pay attention where the courthouse records went to if the county was abolished or joined with a different county.
At least thirty-two counties that were established by Texas law no longer exist. These defunct counties were either (1) Judicial counties, (2) Counties established by declaration of the Constitutional Convention of 1868-69, (3) Counties established by legislative act but never organized and later abolished by legislative act (4) Counties established outside the present boundaries of Texas or (5) Counties whose names have been changed.
- Bexar Territory – That part of Bexar Land District north of Young Territory became known as Bexar Territory or Unorganized Territory on contemporary maps.
- Bexar Land District
- Buchanan County: – Formed in 1858, Renamed Stephens County in 1861
- Buchel County: Buchel County, along with Foley, & Jeff Davis County were formed out of Presidio County on 15 March 1887. In March of 1889, a legislative act passed attaching the county to Brewster County. Although the then governor did not sign it into law, in 1897, Buchel County was abolished.
- Cibilo County: Between 1869 and 1874 Wilson County was called Cibilo County
- Davis County: Formed as Cass County, Called Davis County from 1861-May 1871, Renamed Cass County
- Denton Land District created 13 Feb 1854, eliminated 19 Aug 1856
- Encinal County: Formed in 1856 never organized. Abolished in 1899 and incorporated into Webb County
- Foley County: Created in March 1887 out of Presidio County. The Texas legislature passed an act that created Foley, Buchel, and Jeff Davis counties out of part of Presidio County on March 15, 1887, shortly after passing a similar act making Brewster County from Presidio County. The original Brewster County occupied the northwestern portion of what is now Brewster County, and Foley County occupied most of the southern part. Foley and Buchel counties were not organized, however, and on March 22, 1889, the legislature passed an act attaching them to Brewster County for surveying purposes. Foley County had only twenty-five residents in 1890; thus it was one of the most sparsely settled counties in Texas. Seven years later the legislature passed a bill abolishing Foley and Buchel counties and attaching their territory to Brewster County. With the addition of the territory of Foley and Buchel counties, Brewster County became the largest county in Texas.
- Fannin Land District created 14 Mar 1846, eliminated 13 Feb 1854.
- Greer County: Formed in 1860 from Young County, Organized in 1886. Now located in Oklahoma
- Harrisburg County: Harrisburg County, evolved from and named for the Municipality of Harrisburg, was established in 1836. In 1839 the name was changed to Harris County.
- La Baca County: In January 1842 the Sixth Congress of the Republic of Texas establish and organize the county of La Baca. On January 12 President Sam Houston vetoed the resolution. On January 29 the House voted to reconsider the resolution. At the same time the legislature attached the new county to the fourth judicial district of the republic. According to the resolution, the County of La Baca would contain parts of Fayette, Gonzales, Victoria, Jackson and Colorado counties. The Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas in its 1842 term ruled that La Baca and all other “judicial counties” were unconstitutional. Four years later, the County of La Vaca was established in place of La Baca, and, on July 13, 1846, immediately after the entrance of Texas into the Union, La Vaca County was formally organized.
- Mina County
- Miller County was created on April 1, 1820, included most of what is now Miller County, Arkansas, and the Texas counties of Bowie, Red River, Lamar, Fannin, Cass, Morris, Titus, Franklin, Hopkins, Delta, and Hunt. In December 1874 Miller County was created out of that part of Lafayette County lying west and south of the Red River, and Texarkana, Arkansas, was made the county seat.
- Navasota County: Created January 1841 from Washington & Robertson Counties, the name changed to Brazos County in 1842
- Neches County was established for judicial and other purposes on January 29, 1841. Its area included all of what is now Orange County, the south half of the future Jasper County, and the south half of what is now Newton County; Madison was to be the county seat. It was abolished by a Texas Supreme Court decision, in 1842.
- Paschal County was established for judicial and other purposes on January 28, 1841, included all of the area of future Hopkins, Franklin, Titus, Morris, and Cass counties and most of future Marion County. The county seat, to be selected by county commissioners, was to be named Dangerfield. It was abolished by a Texas Supreme Court decision, in 1842.
- Santa Fe County: established on March 15, 1848, it was abolished by a Texas Supreme Court decision, in 1842.
- Travis Land District created 05 Feb 1852, eliminated 05 Feb 1858
- Waco County: established for judicial and other purposes on January 29, 1842. Viesca was named the county seat. It was abolished by a Texas Supreme Court decision, in 1842.
- Wegefarth County: Wegefarth County, established on June 2, 1873 and it was abolished by the act of legislature on August 21, 1876, which established the other Panhandle counties.
- Young Territory created 19 Aug 1856, eliminated 19 Nov 1876
Texas Counties with Burned Courthouses
The damage to Texas courthouses drastically has a impact on genealogists in just about every way. Not only are these kinds of historic buildings ripped from our lifetimes, so are the documents they stored: marriage, wills, probate, land records, among others. Once destroyed they are lost forever. Despite the fact that they have been placed on mircofilm, computers and film burn as well. The most tragic aspect of this is the reason that almost all of our courthouses are destroyed at the hands of arsonist. Though, don’t assume all records were damaged or lost. Many Texas counties have dealt with a loss of records due to courthouse fires, floods, and theft.
- Angelina County Courthouse burned on November 19, 1891. Many of the county records – including those in the assessor’s office and the justice of the peace office were destroyed.
- Austin County Courthouse was built in 1888, was destroyed by fire on April 5, 1960. Courthouse records were saved
- Cass County Courthouse – damaged by fire in August 1933. Courthouse rebuilt and enlarged.
- 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.
- Denton County Courthouse and almost all county records were destroyed by fire in December 1875.
- Eastland County Courthouse, a three-story stone building, burned on November 29, 1896. The records are believed to have been saved.
- Erath County Courthouse and most of the county records were destroyed by fire in the summer of 1866.
- Gillespie County Courthouse and many county records were destroyed by fire in July 1850.
- 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.
- Goliad County Courthouse and almost all county records were destroyed by fire in June 1870.
- Gray County Courthouse Annex destroyed by tornado in 1970.
- 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.
- Grimes County Courthouse records were destroyed by fire in late 1848.
- Hamilton County Courthouse and many county records were destroyed by fires in September 1863, March 1877, and February 1886.
- 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.
- Hood County Courthouse and most of the county records, if not all, were destroyed by fire in March 1875.
- 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.
- Jasper County Courthouse and all county records were destroyed by fire in October 1849.
- Karnes County Courthouse and most records of the county clerk were destroyed by fire in July 1865.
- King County Courthouse destroyed by a Tornado in 1905, again destroyed by fire in 1914.
- Kent County Courthouse in Clairemont, built in 1893, was burned in April 1955. The building was vacant because the county seat moved to Jayton in 1954. No record loss.
- Lamar County Courthouse was destroyed in a courthouse fire in March 1916, most records of the district clerk were destroyed. Birth, death and marriage records were not lost.
- Lee County Courthouse, built in 1878, burned in 1897
- Leon County Courthouse fire on the night of November 9, 1885 destroyed the courthouse. Many records were lost. Most of the records for the county were destroyed.
- Liberty County Courthouse, built in 1857, was destroyed on December 28, 1872. County records were destroyed
- 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.
- Mason County Courthouse burned on 22 January 1877 during the Mason County HooDoo War.
- Milam County Courthouse and all county records were destroyed by fire in April 1874.
- Mills County Courthouse, built in 1889, burned on May 5, 1912. No records were lost in the fire.
- Montague County Courthouse and many county records were destroyed by fire in February 1873.
- Motley County Courthouse, built about 1904, was destroyed by fire Sept 1944. No vital records were lost, but some were damaged by water.
- Navarro County Courthouse Records of the district clerk were destroyed by fire in October 1855.
- Newton County Courthouse, built in 1902, burned on August 4, 2000. The Courthouse was rebuilt and restored in 2002.
- Orange County Courthouse, built in 1884, destroyed by fire, April 14, 1898. All county records were stored in a vault and were not harmed by the fire.
- Parker County Courthouse and almost all county records were destroyed by fire in May 1874.
- Rains County Courthouse, built in 1871, burned; All county records were destroyed.Courthouse, built in 1884, burned. County records were save in a fireproof vault.
- Refugio County Courthouse fire in January 1879, many records were destroyed.
- Rockwall County Courthouse and most, if not all, county records were destroyed by fire in March 1875. Courthouse again caught fire on January 27, 1892. All records were saved.
- Rusk County Courthouse and many county records were destroyed by fire in March 1878.
- Sabine County Courthouse and all county records were destroyed by fire in November 1875.
- San Patricio County Courthouse records were destroyed by fires in 1846, 1867 and 1888.
- Shelby County Courthouse burned May 31, 1882 destroying all records. Tax lists were forwarded to Austin so still exist. Deed records were “reconstructed” by the county commissioners.
- Somervell County Courthouse and many, if not all, court records were destroyed by fire in February 1893.
- Stonewall County Courthouse burned on August 9, 1910. Records of the county judge, sheriff, tax collector, and some of the surveyors office were lost in the fire.
- Tarrant County Courthouse burned in a fire in 1876 which destroyed all county documents
- Titus County Courthouse and all county records were destroyed by fire in September 1895.
- 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.
- Trinity County Courthouses and most county records were destroyed by fire in December 1872 and February 1876.
- Wise County Courthouse and many county records were destroyed by fire.
- Wood County Courthouse and all county records were destroyed by fire in December 1878.
- Yoakum County Courthouse destroyed by fire in December 1926. All county records were stored in a vault and were saved.
- Zapata County Courthouse lost most, if not all, county records were destroyed during military action in 1863.
- Resources of Texas Libraries. Austin, Tex.: Texas State Library, 1968.
- Inventory of County Records. Austin, Tex.: Texas State Library, 1973.
- Texas County Records: A Guide to the Holdings of the Local Records Division of the Texas State Library of County Records on Microfilm (1978; 2d ed., Austin, Tex.: Texas State Library, 1990), is a valuable guide.