TABLE OF CONTENTS
Texas County Court (Liberty County) Probate Case Files:
An Inventory of County Court (Liberty County) Probate Case Files at the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Texas State Archives, 1850-1972, undated
Liberty County formed and organized in 1836 in the new Republic of Texas and included parts of what are now Chambers, Hardin, San Jacinto, and Polk Counties, and all of Tyler County. The Convention of 1836 converted old municipalities into counties. The town of Liberty was named the county seat and incorporated in 1837. The Texas Constitutions of 1846 (Art. IV, Sec. 15-16, Constitution of the State of Texas, 1846) and 1876 (Art. V, Sec. 15-16, Constitution of the State of Texas, 1876) established the county-level court system for all Texas counties, including the county courts.
The Constitution of 1846 created the office of the county clerk. The Constitution requires that the clerk be elected by voters of the county to serve a four-year term of office. The clerk's primary duty is to record and preserve all records created by the county court.
The Constitution of 1869 abolished the office of county clerk and the county clerk's duties were performed by the district clerk (Art. V, Sec. 7, Constitution of the State of Texas). The constitution of 1876 reestablished the office of county clerk, with the provision that counties with a population of less than 8,000 may combine the county and district clerk offices pending the approval of the voters (Art. V, Sec. 20, Constitution of the State of Texas). Liberty County has separate clerk offices that handle the matters of county court and district court. All county clerks must be bonded before taking office (Acts 1846, 1st Legislature, Regular Session, May 12, 1846).
Many of the duties of county clerk were established by an 1846 Texas law requiring the clerk to record deeds, mortgages, conveyance instruments, and contracts regarding land or goods. The county clerk's office files and records a variety of documents from births and cattle brands to marriage licenses and wills.
The county court is the court responsible for probate cases. All cases pertaining to probate matters are filed in the county clerk's office. Probate case files may include guardianship for minors and incompetent persons, applications for administration, administrators' bonds, administrators' oaths, estate inventories, final accounts, probate claims, reports of sale, orders for partition, orders for distribution, probate case disputes, ex-parte applications, and wills.
(Sources include: "About County Records," Texas State Library and Archives Commission website; "About Texas Courts," Texas Judicial Branch website; and "Description of County Offices," TexasCounties4U website; all accessed May 14, 2019.)
Records of the Liberty County Court document the judicial hearings of the Liberty County Court judges, and the recording, indexing, and filing activities of the Liberty County clerk as clerk of the county court. These records are the probate case files from the probate court. Causes of action in cases include guardianship, mental or chemical dependency cases, illnesses such as epilepsy and tuberculosis cases, applications for administration, estate inventories, final accounts, claims, reports of sale, orders for partition, orders for distribution, disputes, ex-parte applications, and wills. The dates of the records are 1850-1972 (not inclusive), and undated.
Multiple case file numbers within the sequence listed in the inventory have not been transferred to the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center and may still be in the custody of the Liberty County Court. Case file numbers missing from the sequence are noted in the inventory.
Restrictions on Access
Materials do not circulate, but may be used in the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center reading room. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.
Because of the possibility that portions of these records fall under Public Information Act exceptions including, but not limited to, records of judicial mental health proceedings (Texas Health and Safety Code, Section 571.015); names or other identifying information of patients committed to eleemosynary facilities (Texas Health and Safety Code, Sections 576.005 and 595.001 or the Texas Human Resources Code, Section 12.003); and information concerning individuals committed to a state mental hospital (Texas Health and Safety Code, Section 611.004), an archivist must review these records before they can be accessed for research.
The records may be requested for research under the provisions of the Public Information Act (Texas Government Code, Chapter 552). The researcher may request an interview with an archivist or submit a request by mail (Texas State Library and Archives Commission, P.O. Box 12927, Austin, TX 78711), fax (512-463-5436), email (email@example.com), or by using our web form (https://www.tsl.texas.gov/publicinformationrequest). Include enough description and detail about the information requested to enable the archivist to accurately identify and locate the information. If our review reveals information that may be excepted by the Public Information Act, we are obligated to seek an open records decision from the Attorney General on whether the records can be released. The Public Information Act allows the Archives ten working days after receiving a request to make this determination. The Attorney General has 45 working days to render a decision. Alternately, the Archives can inform you of the nature of the potentially excepted information and if you agree, that information can be redacted or removed and you can access the remainder of the records.
Restrictions on Use
Most records created by Texas county agencies are not copyrighted. County records also include materials received by, not created by, county agencies. Copyright remains with the creator. The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).
Some of the documents are fragile and must be treated with care. Please see Sam Houston Center staff to determine if a document can be photocopied or scanned.
(Identify the item), Texas County Court (Liberty County) probate case files. Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession numbers: 1982.041, 2007 accession number unknown, 2012.071, 2018.014
These records were transferred to the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center from the Liberty County Clerk's Office in Liberty, Texas, on September 21, 1982; on an unknown date in Fiscal Year 2007; March 22, 2012; and April 11, 2018.
Initial finding aid by the Texas State-wide Records Project, Division of the Community Service Programs, Work Projects Administration, 1941
Access database, final processing, and finding aid created by Sandra Medina-Burrell, January 2018
EAD encoding by Lauren Davis, May 2019
The probate records are considered a permanent record according to the State of Texas Retention Schedules. No cases have been disposed of by this agency.
The Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center has created an Access database containing item-level information for the records. Database information includes the case number, case type, file date, county, presiding court, plaintiff, defendant, and box number. This resource is available at the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center.