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One-stop shopping for Texas statutes

The Legal Genealogist‘s Texas-born-and-bred grandmother would have taken one look at yesterday’s snowfall and shaken her head at the idea that her grandchild had to get up at oh-dark-thirty and catch a plane to the Lone Star State today.

Anonymous-Flag-of-the-state-of-TexasIt’s cold, it’s dark, there’s a whole bunch of snow between me and the street where, with some luck, a cab will be waiting to take me away from all this.

I hope, if Mother Nature doesn’t pull another fast one, to be heading out to the Houston Genealogical Forum and an all-day session tomorrow.

We’ve got some methodology on tap, and some DNA, and — surprise, surprise! — a whole bunch of genealogy and the law.

And oh brother does Texas ever have law.

Lots of law.

Or laws.

Plural.

It’s got pre-republic laws of old Mexico. It’s got laws from the Republic of Texas. It’s got early statehood laws and late statehood laws.

It’d be enough to send even this law geek running for the exits.

Except…

Except…

Except for a man named Karl Hans Peter Mareus Neilsen Gammel.

Born in Denmark in 1854, he came to America in 1874, finally settling in Texas around 1877. He and a brother sold trinkets on the streets of Austin, and later Hans bought books for a nickel and sold them for a dime.1

And then came that serendipitous moment. It’s described in the Handbook of Texas Online this way:

He was still a newcomer to Texas when, in 1881, the old Capitol in Austin burned. From the debris scattered on the Capitol grounds, young Gammel gathered wet papers and charred documents, loaded them in a wagon, and took them to his home. He and his wife gradually dried the pages on clotheslines and stored them with their belongings. Years later he sorted and edited the crinkled papers, then published them beginning in 1898 as the famous first ten volumes of Gammel’s Laws of Texas, 1822–1897. This work won immediate acclaim, and with the addition of other volumes in later years the set came to be a basic item in law libraries across the state.2

And all of those volumes of Gammel’s Laws of Texas are readily available online.

The University of North Texas Libraries have this amazing website called The Portal to Texas History — and Gammel’s laws are all digitized there.

Volumes 1-10 cover the years 1822 to 1897;3 those were the volumes published in 1898 with the documents salvaged from the Capitol fire. Volume 11 picks up with the laws of 1897-1902;4 volume 12 has the laws of 1903-1905;5 volume 13 the laws of 19076 and so forth.

All digitized.

All word-searchable.

All free.

Online.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

Off to Houston, Gammel in hand!

Well, on an iPad at any rate…


SOURCES

Image: Open Clip Art, user anonymous.

  1. Dorothy Gammel Bohlender, “Gammel, Karl Hans Peter Marius Neilsen (1854–1931),” Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online : accessed 5 Mar 2015).
  2. Ibid.
  3. H.P.N. Gammel’s The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897, 10 vols. (Austin : Gammell Book Co., 1898), 4:716; digital images, University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History (http://texashistory.unt.edu : accessed 5 Mar 2015).
  4. H.P. N. Gammel, The Laws of Texas: Supplement Volume to the Original Ten Volumes, 1822-1897 (Austin : Gammell Book Co., 1902); digital images, University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History (http://texashistory.unt.edu : accessed 5 Mar 2015).
  5. H.P. N. Gammel, General Laws of the State of Texas … 1903-1905 (Austin : Gammell Book Co., 1906); digital images, University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History (http://texashistory.unt.edu : accessed 5 Mar 2015).
  6. H.P. N. Gammel, General Laws of the State of Texas … 1907 (Austin : Gammell Book Co., 1907); digital images, University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History (http://texashistory.unt.edu : accessed 5 Mar 2015).
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