Blue Monday: A Devastating Loss for Lewis and Carrie Chappel in 1910

I now know that my great-grandmother, Carrie, was 3 months pregnant when her family was counted on April 18th for the 1910 census. How I know this? According to the 1903-1997 Texas Birth Index, on 19 October 1910, my great uncle, Lewis Blanton Chappel, was born! [1]




Certificate of Birth
City – Houston
County –  Harris
Certificate No. 36495

Date of Birth – Oct. 19th 1910
Name of Child – Lewis Blanton Chappel
Sex – Male
Race or Color – Colored
Legitimate or Otherwise – Legitimate
Alive or Stillborn – Alive
Name of Father – Lewis Chappel
Nationality – American
Maiden Name of Mother – Carrie Blanton
Nationality – American
Residence of Parents
Town – Houston
Street No. – 815 Swartz(?) Street
Occupation of Father – Gass Plummer
Name and Residence of Person Reporting – I. P. Lamb MD, 2009 Calhoun Ave.  Houston, Texas
Permanent Record. Write plainly with unfading ink. Place 1-cent stamp on reverse side and mail within 5 days to City Registrar if birth occurs in incorporated town; otherwise to County Clerk.

But not long after his arrival into this world, tragedy struck, and his death became a devastating loss for my great-grandparents, 9 December 1910! [2]

Lewis Blanton Chappel Death Certificate


Texas State Board of Health
Registered No. 1640


County – Harris
City – Houston
No. 815 Schwartz St., 5 Ward

Full Name – Lewis Blanton Chappel


Sex – Male
Color or Race – Colored
Single, Married, Widowed or Divorced – Single Colored
Date of Birth – Oct 19, 1910
Age – 1 mo. 19 ds
Birthplace – Harris, Tex

Name of Father – Lewis Chappel
Birthplace of Father – Texas
Maiden Name of Mother – Carrie Blanton
Birthplace of Mother – Texas

Informant – C Chappel
Address – 815 Schwartz


Date of Death – Dec 9 1910
I HEREBY CERTIFY, that I attended deceased from Dec 8 1910 to Dec 9 1910 that I saw him alive on Dec 8 1910 and that death occurred on the date named above  at 7 a.m.
The CAUSE OF DEATH was as follows: Congestion of Lungs
CONTRIBUTORY – Indigestion
I. P. Lamb, MD
Dec 9 1910
Address – 2009 Calhoun Ave.  Houston

DATE OF BURIAL – 12-10-1910
ADDRESS – 2615 1/2 Odin Ave

In addition to using for locating historical documents about my ancestors, I also use where I’ve been fortunate enough to access and download for free birth and death records online for many of my ancestors. You’re probably wondering how in the world have I been able to access these documents online for free since state privacy laws prohibit access to vital records like these. Well being aware of what is considered public information and not public information in Texas helps a lot! According to Section 552.115: Confidentiality of Birth and Death Records from the 2012 Public Information Handbook,  [3]

“(a) A birth or death record maintained by the bureau of vital statistics of the Texas Department of Health or a local registration official is excepted from [required public disclosure], except that:

(1) a birth record is public information and available to the public on and after the 75th anniversary of the date of birth as shown on the record filed with the bureau of vital statistics or local registration official;

(2) a death record is public information and available to the public on and after the 25th anniversary of the date of death as shown on the record filed with the bureau of vital statistics or local registration official;

(3) a general birth index or a general death index established or maintained by the bureau of vital statistics or a local registration official is public information and available to the public to the extent the index relates to a birth record or death record that is public information and available to the public under Subdivision (1) or (2);

Reviewing Vital Records

More Clues and Information

The best way to show a valid connection for every ancestor you’ve added to your family tree is with BMDs —  birth, marriage, and death records! For the most part, birth certificates connect children and their parents. Marriage certificates connect husbands and wives. Death certificates can connect both –parents and spouses — provided the Informant giving the information at the time of death knows the decedent’s family history well enough to give accurate information.

I don’t have to tell you how SURPRISED I was to locate this birth and death record! I actually found baby Lewis’ death certificate when I wasn’t even looking for it. Once I had a birth date, his birth certificate came to light quickly.

According to the FamilySearch wiki — Introduction to Birth Records [4]

 . . . experts recommend looking into death records first and marriage records second. Followed by Birth records, because they are usually the most difficult to find. It is very common to find birth information in other soucres.”

My mom, who is my oldest living Chapple family member that I interview and discuss my findings with regularly, was just as surprised — shocked in fact — to learn that her father, who was raised as an only child, wasn’t the only child her grandmother had given birth to. Grandfather Joseph, would have been about 7 years old when his baby brother died. So I wonder why he never mentioned to mom (or any of his children) he had a baby brother who died as an infant? Or was this loss simply too difficult to “ever” talk about with others?

Baby Lewis’ birth and death records provide a few more interesting facts about the lives of my great-grandparents in 1910! When I first started tracking them in the 1910 Census:
1) Lewis, Carrie, and their son, Joseph were living in Houston’s Historic Freedmen’s Town at 1609 Saulnier Street, Houston, Texas in mid April.
2) Carrie, for whatever reason, is reported living in the home of her younger sister in Houston’s Historic Freedmen’s Town at 1604 Cleveland Street, Houston, Texas without her husband and son by late April.

Now by 9 December 1910:
3) Carrie, who is the informant on her son’s death certificate, reports they’re living in Houston’s Greater Fifth Ward Community at 815 Schwartz Street, Houston, Texas.
Like Freedmen’s Town, Fifth Ward was settled by freedmen too in 1866 and became known as a musically rich neighborhood just east of downtown Houston.

So based on information from these vital records, what new information have I added to my Great-Grandfather Lewis’ profile as I continue my search for him?

o Names (given, middle, and nicknames) – Lewis Chappel, or possibly Louis Chappel (1910 Census)
o Occupations – Pipefitter for a Gas Company (1910 Census); Gass Plummer (son’s birth certificate)
o Birth date and place – abt 1883, Texas, USA (1910 Census)
o Age – 27 yrs old (1910 Census)
o Residence – 1607 Saulnier Streeet, Houston, Texas 77019 (1910 Census); 815 Schwartz Street, Houston, TX (son’s birth & death certificate)
o Family structure – married to Carrie Blanton and has 2 sons, Joseph Chappel (1910 Census); Lewis Blanton Chappel (1910-1910)
o Marriage – Married Carrie Blanton abt 1903 (1910 Census)

Think we have a family connection?
Let me hear from you because  . . . I’m Claiming Kin!

Related Posts:
Mystery Monday: Searching for Lewis Chappel (Part 1)
Mystery Monday: Enumerated Twice in the 1910 Census?


Source Citation:

1.  “Texas, Birth Certificates, 1903-1935,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 09 Apr 2013), Lewis Blanton Chappel, 1910.

2. “Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 09 Apr 2013), Lewis Blanton Chappel, 1910.

3. United States, Attorney General of Texas, Greg Abbott. (2011, November). 2012 Public Information Handbook. Retrieved April 09, 2013, from

4. FamilySearch. (2012, November 27). United States Birth Records. FamilySearch. Retrieved April 21, 2013, from


Blue Monday: “Pistol Fell Out of Bra, Woman Says of Slaying”

The murder of my Aunt Estella (Chapple) Thomas wasn’t the only shooting tragedy my mother experienced in her family. My aunt’s oldest daughter, Carolyn (Bingham) Bryant, was murdered at age 29 on 10 April 1975. I was 15 years old walking home from school when my mom pulled alongside me and told me to get in the car. As soon as I got in, she immediately told me that daddy heard on the mid-day news that a, Carolyn Bryant, of the 2500 block of Pierce Street, died early that morning. He wasn’t sure, but he thought it was mom’s niece. Therefore, we were in route for Carolyn’s house to find out for sure. It was her! Carolyn was a shy soft-spoken woman who kept to herself. Who would want to kill her?

Pistol Fell Out Of Bra, Woman Says of Slaying

A woman says her pistol fell out of her bra today and discharged when she tried to catch it killing a woman with whom she was arguing.

Carolyn Bryant, 24, of the 2500 block of Pierce, died about 1:30 a.m. today in Ben Taub Hospital, less than an hour after she was shot on a lounge parking lot in the 2600 block of Gray.

The other woman, Cynthia Freeman, 23, of 2614 Gray surrendered to police.


By the time we arrived at Carolyn’s house, the brother, of the man who called himself Carolyn’s father, and his girlfriend were the ones at her home. They pretty much took over the care of her children (2 daughters), all her personal belongings, and made all of the funeral arrangements. There was nothing my mother (who Carolyn pretty much stayed in contact with), or any of Carolyn’s mother’s side of the family could do.

Just as I don’t believe my aunt Estella’s shooting was an accident, I don’t believe my cousin’s shooting was an accident either!

I did do a quick search at the Harris County District Clerk’s office for more information and this is what I learned:


File Date

Case (Cause) Status


Last Instrument Filed
Felony Indictment

Case Disposition

Case Completion Date

Defendant Status

Bond Amount

Next/Last Setting Date




In Custody —  N




1201 Franklin (Floor:19)
Houston, TX 77002
Phone: 7137556328

Judge Name
Shawna L Reagin

Court Type




03/12/1980    JUDGMENT

03/12/1980   RECORDED

02/23/1976   JUDGMENT

02/23/1976   JUDGMENT

02/23/1976   PENALTY

02/23/1976   RECORDED



Source Citation:

“Pistol Fell Out Of Bra, Woman Says of Slaying” HOUSTON POST, Houston, Texas, 10 April 1975.

The State of Texas vs. Freeman, Cynthia Yvonne. 022801901010-3. 176th Harris County Criminal Court. 1975. OFFICE OF HARRIS COUNTY CLERK. Web. 24 Jun 2012.


Blue Monday: “Woman Killed”

One of the first items my mother gave me when I sat down to interview her about the Chapple family and her siblings a few years ago was the 1954 newspaper clipping below about the murder of her sister, Estella (Chapple) Thomas. I’ve known about her death since my pre-teen years; she died before I was born. But to see and read this news clipping for the very first time about the way she died impacted me more than I realized. I often think about what it would have been like to know her . . .

Woman Killed

Mrs. Estella Thomas, 28, of 2402 Altoona St became involved in arguments with two men at the same time early Monday – and was shot to death.

Oia Henson, 26, of 2412 1/2 Altoona, a Texas Southern University student, said the shooting was accidental, that he had got his German Luger to protect her and that it discharged accidentally. But the police charged him in Justice of the Peace Dave Thompson’s court with murder.

The other man, L. K. Brown, 36, said he and Mrs. Thomas were just having a discussion about the $20 she owed him for furniture when Henson and Mrs. Thomas got into an argument and she was shot. A bullet hit her in the face and she was dead when the police arrived.

The discussions and the shooting occurred in her home just before 2 AM.


Source Citation:

“Woman Killed,” Houston Chronicle, Houston, Texas, 31 August 1954.