Posted in Forts, Indian Wars, Library of Congress, Maps, Military, National Archives

Hold the Fort! …or at least stick around and learn a little more about it

Out West, early on, it was lawless and rugged and full of guys who wanted land, gold, and water rights, and sometimes did not get along with the Native Americans who came first.  So Out West is also where forts and the United States Army Cavalry could be found.  Maybe your ancestor lived near a fort, or maybe he lived in one as a soldier.

Fort Laramie, Wyoming
Fort Laramie, Wyoming

Walters Art Museum {{Commons:File:Alfred Jacob Miller – Fort Laramie – Walters 37194049.jpg}} at Wikimedia Commons

You will probably be surprised to know how many forts actually existed in the 19th century Out West.  I don’t have an exact number, but I have some resources that will help you track them down, and also find the records created by the U.S. Army at those forts. Continue reading “Hold the Fort! …or at least stick around and learn a little more about it”

Posted in Forts, Land and property, Maps, Texas, Texas Land Grants

Ninja Genealogy and Serendipity among the Cacti and Taxidermists

I am on my way home from a research trip to the Texas Hill Country to find the land my Gooch ancestors occupied from the late 1840s at least through the 1880s.  I know Texas would rather consider itself part of the South than part of the West, but that’s where my folks were before they moved to Arizona, and if a trip through the county roads of central Texas is not On Granny’s Trail, then I don’t know what is.  Besides, any state with the amount of cacti and roadside taxidermists I saw surely qualifies as “Western.”

My specific goal for this trip was to locate my ancestors’ original land tracts on a modern map, so I could drive there and take pictures of the surroundings.

This post recounts the steps I took in the research process and the fun surprise ending. I plan to follow up in the future with some helpful advice for planning a research trip but I couldn’t wait to share what I found, because it involved what I call Ninja Genealogy and some delightful serendipity. The post is long, but not nearly as long as the 25 year journey I took to this particular tract of land. Continue reading “Ninja Genealogy and Serendipity among the Cacti and Taxidermists”