"Our Loose Ends" Genealogy Column
by Lynna Kay Shuffield
Houston, Texas

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Printed in the Taylor Daily Press & Thorndale Champion
11 December 2003

Destruction of Original District Court Records

Genealogists and historians will be horrified to learn that the Milam County District Clerk has shredded and destroyed the original civil, divorce and criminal court case file records.

The case files consist of all of the original documents, pleadings, correspondence, etc. filed in a lawsuit, divorce or criminal trial.

A researcher who lives in Milam County sent me an e-mail earlier this week and said, "I recently learned that the old Milam County District Court original case files were shredded. They were considered to be 'non-permanent records.'

However, I checked the records inventory and found that they were designated as 'permanent records' and were not supposed to be destroyed. Even though the case files were microfilmed the originals were still valuable. Often, microfilmed records have legibility problems and filming errors are common. Without the originals as backup files, the information is lost.

If the county did not have the space to store them, they could have been transferred to Texas A&M University, which is the regional archives for Milam County."

I checked with the Local Records Retention under Texas law and that directs the District Clerk on what can and cannot be destroyed and it specifically addresses that old case files should be evaluated for historic preservation and considered permanent records.

To read more about Records Retention under Texas Law, go to http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/govt/index.html

Reader's Comments

From time-to-time, I receive wonderful letters from my readers. I love hearing from my readers and most especially remember I will post your family history queries.

This week, I received the following via e-mail Charlene Olbrich of Taylor: "I always look forward to your articles in the newspaper. In this instance, it was in the Taylor Daily Press. My condolences on the loss of your friend Mrs. Huffington. I remembered reading that she had donated money for the back issues of a newspaper. That was quite a nice gesture to do that.

You really hit the nail on the head about folks not being interested in genealogy. I have been doing it for over 40 years, well before computers were in homes with nice programs to use. I have one and love it as it saves so much time and work. I have 21 families going all the time with all my data on five CDs. But, when someone shows interest it just warms my heart and makes me feel so good that they want to look at some of the hard work that I've done over the years.

I've thought so many times that I would like to join the Milam County Genealogical Society that meets in Rockdale once a month, but I don't drive at night any more and my husband doesn't either. He is such good help when we go walking cemeteries or looking through microfilm or searching county clerk's offices, but that's where his interest ends. He enjoys the end product, but says he wouldn't spend that much time on it.

Anyway, I really enjoy your articles and wanted you to know you are not the only one who gets a thrill when someone shows a little interest in our roots. If we don't do it now, it will not get done and valuable information is lost forever.

Stay well and keep up the good, hard work."

More Holiday Traditions

Judy Hugg Grimes of Yorba Linda, CA, wrote about last week's column that her grandmother prepared a similar "Green Holiday Salad" but used well-drained cottage cheese instead of the cream cheese and added chopped pecans.

This is a wonderful example of how each family, in different parts of the country, prepared a similar holiday treats with just a twist of originality!

In this column, I will be glad to highlight and review any family history, genealogy, county history, or similar book, free of charge, if you donate a copy of the book or item. After it has been highlighted and reviewed, on a space available basis, it will be donated to the genealogy section of a library. You will receive an acknowledgment of the donation from the library. Mail item or book to me at the below address.

Lynna Kay Shuffield has written several books related to Texas genealogy and military history. She has spoken before numerous genealogy and veterans groups. Also, is a County Coordinator for the Texas GenWeb Project. Regretfully, she cannot help with individual genealogical research. Please visit the website for this column at: http://www.geocities.com/lks_friday/COLUMN-001.htm or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions for column topics, genealogy or historical society announcements, please contact her at: P. O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222-6604 or e-mail: lksfriday@sbcglobal.net

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This webpage was last created on 15 Mar 2005 and was last revised on __________

Copyright 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003 Lynna Kay Shuffield - All rights reserved.
P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222-6604