Texas Death Index
This index of deaths is compiled from the issues of five Texas newspapers published from January 1, 1880 to December 31, 1905. There are about 81,000 entries for about 73,000 individuals. The papers are: Dallas Daily Herald, Houston Daily Post, Galveston Daily News, the San Antonio Express and the Houston Chronicle. The last named paper began publication on October 16, 1901, appearing Monday through Saturday. It began a Sunday edition on October 16, 1904.
The population of the four Texas cities covered in this index in 1900:
San Antonio 53,300
All papers have deaths from the entire state. If your ancestor lived in Dallas but someone of a similar name died is noted in another city's paper, it could be your person.
Many of the people listed here were murdered. The victim's death may not be noted when it happened or the paper may have garbled the surname. The murderer may have been caught and/or tried months or years after the crime. Do not overlook dates that don't seem right. A body may be discovered long after death. Therefore, the date of the article may be months after the death occurred.
I may have listed people here as dead whose deaths probably occurred much later. Some papers say in the headline that a person is dead but the body of the article says the person "lingers". I thought the headline was probably written after the article and so listed the person in this index. Some of the people could have recovered. The word "fatal" also seems to have been used for nonfatal (no death occurred) happenings. If a person's death is noted in one paper, it may behoove you to look in other papers around that time period. Another city's paper may carry articles, especially about accidents, but have no information that a death took place.
Throughout this time period several papers ran articles on those who died from a particular cause..One article listed those who died from burns, exploding lamps being especially deadly.. There was another article about murders, naming victims back to the mid nineteenth century.
The papers often listed prominent deaths in an early January issue following the year in which the death took place. Don't overlook these references. They sometimes give a characterization of the deceased: "San Jacinto veteran" "prominent businessman", etc.
Problems with indexing from microfilm were numerous: Two issues of the Houston Chronicle were dated June 24, 1902. If all pages for a given issue are filmed, they often are not in numerical order. Double posting of page numbers is not uncommon; thus, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 5, 6, 7, etc. EXTRA after the page and column indicates an Extra edition of that date.
The filming was done from bound issues and material was often lost in the gutter of the binding. Some surnames of the deceased were in the gutter and only the first name or initial was visible, precluding a listing in this index. Several articles mentioned the deceased's surname two or three times and spelled it differently each time. I chose the most likely surname as the main entry and listed the others in parentheses followed by question marks. Alternate spellings, maiden names of women and names of earlier spouses can also be searched.
Each entry in the index ideally has the deceased's surname, given name or initials, and age at death or birth year. When only a surname was provided, I listed the sex. In the case of married women, the most complete entries have the married surname, the given name, the husband's given name or initials and the maiden name. A letter before each date entry tells the user which paper to access. The entries for the Dallas paper begin with D; for Galveston, G; for the Houston Post, P; for the Houston Chronicle, C; and for San Antonio, S. Month, day and year are separated by slashes. A typical entry read P2/2/1904 p3 c7 and denotes a reference to the Houston Post of February 2, 1904, page 3, column 7. A lower case "p" following the column number means a picture is included.
Married women were often listed by initials. The initials may be their own or the husband's; there is no consistency. I gathered the deaths of all nuns, Catholic and otherwise, in the "S" listing under Sister or in the "M" listing for "Mother". Some of these included the given and family name of the deceased.
In some instances there is more information in brackets following the citation. There were exhumations, which I noted as "[exhumation]". The news of a death by murder didn;t always appear, but information about the outcome of the perpetrator's trial produced an article. In that case, the note "his/her murderer sentenced" appears in brackets after the column number. The bracketed phrase "2 items" alerts the user that two references to a person's death appear in the same column separated by unrelated news stories. To save space I abbreviated "Mr and Mrs." as M/M.
One person may be named as dead in an article but the last paragraph of the article will have information on another decedent.
Names enclosed in double quotes are aliases or nicknames. Asterisks in entries mean "this looks wrong but that's what's in the paper". The abbreviation for doctor with a person's name indicated a medical doctor or dentist. Though some clergymen were termed "Dr." I consistently used the abbreviation "Rev." to distinguish the two professions. Men's surnames followed by "Esq." in the news article are lawyers. The title professor; often means a teacher, usually a male of some reputation, but not always at the college level. A judge in Texas can preside over a commissioner's court which runs the government at the county level or be a member a civil or criminal court.
Mortuary Reports compiled weekly by the city health departments list name, age, sex and often cause of death. They are not published in every paper every week. In the Houston Post "Texas Marriages and Texas Deaths" are often reverse labeled. The Post also listed deaths in single sentence format under the heading "Short Texas Specials". In late 1904 the Post "Mortuary Reports" stopped listing names of the dead and became lists of statistics on the causes of death. Houston mortuary reports are also published in the Galveston Daily News.
The San Antonio Express lists burial permits often with parenthetical information that death occurred in another city.
Exhumations and reburials of Galveston victims of the 1900 hurricane were taking place as late as June, 1905. It is not always clear is this was an exhumation & burial in another place or if a body was discovered during the reconstruction of the city.
I would like to thank Frances Weeks of the University of Houston Clear Lake Neumann Library and her Interlibrary Loan staff ably headed by Jody Mantell for their help in making this index possible. At the Dallas Public Library Carol Roark and her staff were founts of information. Special thanks to Gay E. Carter, Shelley Kelly and Karen Berrish
Patricia Pate Havlice