SEARCHING PRISON RECORDS
October 9, 2011
When I was researching a prison record in the 1990s, prison records were not online. I had to do the next best thing and conduct my research in the city where the court heard the case. There I found even more than I wanted to know about the crime, who was acquitted, who went to prison, the hand written notes by the parties involved including the confession to the murder. At the courthouse in Waco, I found a signed pardon, signed by the governor, releasing the convicted murderer to return to his family where the elderly man died from cancer.
After making copies of all these in the Waco courthouse, I checked the Waco library for the newspaper microfilm for more on the story before returning home to search newspapers in McKinney and Plano. I did find articles on this case in the McKinney paper.
A search at Baylor Law Library was also fruitful.
A check of the Collin County obituaries netted those acquitted. They all died in this county and are buried in local cemeteries. The funeral home records include more information.
I have searched other criminal records, but the murder case was one I will never forget including the written confession and description of how the murder took place. Call me puny, but reading about the gore is embedded in my memory forever. The victim did not die immediately. They left him on the interurban tracks to die alone in the middle of the night.
Today, several states have their prison and or jail records online. A few states online are Alcatraz; Arizona; Fort Smith, Arkansas; Atlanta Federal Penitentiary; Colorado Penitentiary and reformatory records; Connecticut; Idaho and Chicago Police Department Homicide Record Index, 1870-1930.
USE ANCESTRY.COM FOR FREE: To celebrate their 15th year, Ancestry.com is inviting us to use it for 15 days free of charge from October 1-October 15. www.ancestry.com.
OLD MAN’S DRAFT: As I wrote in a previous column, men between the ages of 45 and 64 were required to register in the “Old Man’s Draft.” Reader Joe Proctor told me he had been working on another site with these records for weeks. He has added over 600 names to his website, www.houseofproctor.org/genealogy/. He researches from FamilySearch, https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/show#uri=http://hr-search-api:8080/searchapi/search/collection/1861144. I used this site and found the two I was missing. Being familiar with the site, I found it easier to use than Fold3. In addition, FamilySearch is free and you can access it from home without having to go to the library to use it.
FAMILY SEARCH OFFERS FREE CLASSES ONLINE: If you like to take free genealogy classes online then you need to investigate the FamilySearch.org site. They cover all topics for searching genealogy. Find these at www.familysearch.org/learningcenter/home.html.
FREE SOFTWARE CLASSES ONLINE: I have long taken the classes at the Hewlett Packard (HP) College on Microsoft and Adobe software, digital photography and PC security and maintenance. You can download the PDF of the class and enter the discussion of others enrolled in the class. I recommend it. I take one day each month to learn new software or learn new facets for using what I have on my computer. Access the free, leisurely-paced classes at http://h30187.www3.hp.com/?mcID=em10.
Brenda Kellow has a bachelor's degree in history, teaches, and lectures on genealogy. Before retiring to publish her family’s histories in 2007, Brenda held certification as a Certified Genealogist and as a Certified Genealogical Instructor. Send reunion announcements, books to review, and genealogy queries to: TracingOurRoots@gmail.com.