Mystery Monday: Using Houston City Directories in search of Lewis Chappel

Using Houston city directories to reconstruct the lives of my great-grandparents in search of Lewis Chappel was an ideal resource for me to use at this stage of my research. I found the U.S. City Directories 1821-1989 database at and the Houston City Directories online via the Houston Public Library’s Digital Archives to be very easy to use. And since city directories are original records (created at the time and place the family lived), I found them to be very insightful and filled with some pretty exciting discoveries too!

I learned from the 1910 Census that my great-grandparents had been married for 7 years, which would put their year of marriage around 1903. So with that target year in mind, I decided to start my search for them in the 1900 Houston City Directory. I simply worked forward one year at a time until I finally found them living and working together as servants in the home of a, Mrs. T. J. Goree, in 1907 (see below).

A quick search in the directory for a Mrs. T. J. Goree revealed she was the widow of  Mr. Tommie Goree. She resided at 1410 Capitol Ave and my great-grandparents were her live-in servants. Mrs. Goree’s telephone number, which was a party line, was listed as Sw. ph. 1635. [1]

Houston City Directory, 1907

Lewis Chappel in Houston City Directory 1907


Chappel Carrie (c),   servt   Mrs   T.   J.   Goree,   r.   same.
Chappel Lewis (c),   servt   Mrs.   T.   J.   Goree,   r.   same.

But it was the 1908 city directory that had me doing the “Harlem Shake” all over the house! Why?! Well, living at West 21st Ave, 1 block west of Nashua Street in the Houston Heights area were my great-grandparents and their son, Joseph, and someone by the name of Amanda Chappel (see below)!!

Okay, are you thinking what I’m thinking? I’m sure you must be thinking what I’m thinking! This Amanda Chappel is either Lewis’ mother or his sister. The old me would have stopped everything and started research on Amanda Chappel! But not this time! I’m staying focus on my search for Lewis. But make no mistake about it, I’ve got Amanda Chappel on my radar now and will track her in these directories at the same time!

Houston City Directory, 1908

Lewis Chappel in Houston City Directory 1908


Chappel Amanda (c), r.  W.  21st ave.  1 blk  w  of  Nashua.  Ho.  hts
Chappel Louis (c),  lab.  r.  W.  21st ave.  1   blk   w of Nashua.   Ho.   hts.  3.

My great-grandparents moved a lot in 1910. According to the 1910 Census, they were living at 1609 Saulnier Street in Houston’s historic 4th Ward (Freedman’s Town). But according to the 1910 city directory, they lived at 614 McGowen Avenue in 3rd Ward —  the center of Houston’s Blues Music Culture Center– too  (see below)!

Houston City Directory, 1910

Lewis Chappel in Houston City Directory 1910


Chappel  Amanda  (c),  r.  ss  W.  21st  ave,  1  blk  w  of  Nashua.  Ho.  hts.
Chappel  Lewis  (c),  lab.  r.  rear  614  McGowen  ave.  3.

By 1911, the Houston City Directory included house numbers, spouses’ names, peoples’ occupations, and places of employment . My great-grandparents are now living closer to downtown Houston at 1 N. E. Crawford Street. By now my great-grandmother’s first name (though misspelled) has been added. This entry also confirms what I learned about my great-grandfather from the 1910 census record — that he worked for a Gas company. I now have the name of his place of employment too (see below).

Amanda Chappel’s occupation as a Laundress has finally been published for the first time. As a laundress, she probably worked from home at 834 W. 21st Avenue in Houston Heights, a historic subdivision northeast of downtown that dates back to the late 1800s. [2]

Houston City Directory, 1911

Lewis Chappel in Houston City Directory 1911
Lewis Chappel in Houston City Directory 1911


Chappel  Amanda  (c),  laundress,  r  834  W.  21st  av,  Ho.  hts.
Chappel  Lewis  (c)  (Corie),  wks  Houston  Gas  Co.,  r  1  N.  E.  Crawford.  (2).

It appears the only address change that occurred for my great-grandparents in 1912 was that they moved to — 3 N. E. Crawford – probably a house next door to where they were living in 1911 (see below).

Houston City Directory, 1912

Lewis Chappel in Houston City Directory 1912


Chappel  Amanda  (c),  r.  832  W  21st  ave,  Ho.  hts.
Chappel  Lewis  (c),  lab,  r.  3  N.  E.  Crawford.  3.

BINGO! I believe I have pinpointed the year (1913) my great-grandparents separated! Carrie is living at 1108 St. Charles Street, near downtown Houston. Lewis is living at 721 Hill Street, in 5th Ward which is understandable since he is now working at one of the largest railroad hump yards in the United States — Englewood — which is located in 5th Ward (see below).

Houston City Directory, 1913

Lewis Chappel in Houston City Directory 1913


Chappel  Carrie  (c),  r.  1108  St.  Charles.
Chappel  Lewis  (c),  wks  S. P. Shops,  h.  721 Hill.
Chappell  Amanda  (c),  r.  832  W.  21st  ave,  Ho.  hts.

Even though I wasn’t able to locate a 1914 Houston City Directory, online or offline, the 1915 Houston City Directory was most revealing!! What did I discover?! Lewis is nowhere to be found by this time, but my great-grandmother Carrie boards in the home of a, Henry Chappell.  He lives on the east side of  Houston Avenue just 1 block of 35th Avenue in an area of town called, Independence Heights, the first African American municipality in Texas (see below). [3]

Okay, are you thinking what I’m thinking? I’m sure you must be thinking what I’m thinking! This Henry Chappell is either Lewis’ older or younger brother, or an uncle!  Listen, I am really fighting this urge to stop what I’m doing right now and start research on Henry Chappel/Chappell. But I’m not going to do it! I’m going to stay focus on my search for Lewis. But trust and believe this — I have Henry Chappel on my radar screen as I continue my search in these directories for Lewis — LOL!

Houston City Directory, 1915

Lewis Chappel in Houston City Directory 1915


Chappell  Amanda  (c),  res  828  W  21st  av  Ho  Hts
Chappell  Carrie  (c)  lndrs  bds  Henry  Chappell
Chappell  Henry  (c)  lab  res  e  s  Houston  av  1  n  of  35th  av  Indpc  Hts

In the 1917 directory, I see my great-grandmother no longer boards with Henry Chappell. She now lives 1 block west of the Creosote Works (which is a Southern Pacific Railroad Shop) at the Englewood Yard in 5th Ward. I’m sure now more than ever that my great-grandparents separated in 1913, and Lewis left Houston sometime in 1913 or 1914 (see below).

Houston City Directory, 1917

Lewis Chappel in Houston City Directory 1917


Chappell  Amanda  (c)  res  828  W  21st  av  Ho  Hts
Chappell  Carrie  (c)  res  1  blk  w  of  Creosote  Wks
Chappell  Henry  (c)  hlpr  S.  P.  Shops  res  811  W  22d  av  Ho  Hts

According to the 1918 directory, my great-grandmother is working as a Dometic at 4900 Caroline Street. It doesn’t state that she lives at this location, just that she works there. If she doesn’t live there, then she probably still lives in the 5th Ward area where she was listed in the 1917 directory.

This directory also reveals someone new — Arie Chappel —who works as a laundress and boards with Henry Chappel at 717 W 22nd Ave, in Houston Heights. Since Arie hasn’t been mention in the directories before now, I wonder if she’s Henry’s wife? Okay, she’s on my radar now as well (see below)!

Houston City Directory, 1918

Lewis Chappel in Houston City Directory 1918


Chappel  Arie  (c)  lndrs  bds  717  W  22d  av  Ho  Hts
Chappel  Henry  (c)  lab  res  717  W  22d  av  Ho  Hts
Chappel  Amanda  (c)  res  828  W  21st  av  Ho  Hts
Chappel  Carrie  (c)  dom  4900 Caroline

I’m not sure where my great-grandmother, Carrie, is living in the city by 1919, but she’s not listed in the directory for that year. I also notice that Arie Chappell, who I discovered in the 1918 directory, is not listed in this year’s directory either (see below)!

Houston City Directory, 1919

Lewis Chappel in Houston City Directory 1919


Chappell  Amanda  (c)  r  828  W  21st  av
Chappell  Henry  (c)  appr  S. P. Shops  r  717  W  22d

Great news! This 1920 directory confirms my great-grandmother’s occupation that was reported in the 1920 census. Even though the enumerator did not record the actual address of the home she was buying at this time, this directory entry gives me some idea as to where she lived — on the west side of August Street, 1 block south of Liberty Road. What also makes this bit of information so compelling in my research is that after my mom’s mother died in July of 1930, she and her siblings were raised in grandmother Carrie’s home. My mom said she grew up off of Librerty Road and I have a feeling this just may be that home . . . woo-hoo!

Finally, I see my grandfather, Joseph (mom’s dad), listed in the city directory for the first time! He is about 17 years old now and works as a milker for Houston Cooperative Dairy Association. I can say with certainty that he didn’t work as a milker very long before he began his career with Southern Pacific Railroad and worked in the railroad industry until he retired in 1958.

This 1920 directory also reveals another new Chappel ancestor — Ella Chappel who works as a laundress and boards with Henry Chappel at 717 W 22nd Ave, in Houston Heights. Okay, are you thinking what I’m thinking? I’m sure you’re thinking what I’m thinking! This Ella, who has the same occupation and lives at the same address as Arie Chappel in the 1918 directory, must be Henry Chappel’s second new wife (see below)!

Houston City Directory, 1920

Lewis Chappel in Houston City Directory 1920


Chappel  Carrie  (c)  lndrs  r  w s August  1  s  of  Liberty rd
Chappel  Ella  (c) lndrs  h  717  W  22d  av
Chappel  Henry  hlpr  S.  P.  Shops  r  717  W  22d  av
Chappel  Joseph  (c)  milker  Ho  Co-Op  Dairy Assn  h  Carrie Chappel
Chappell  Amanda  (c)  lndrs  r  828  W  21st  av

WOW! When I started my search for Lewis Chapel a couple of months ago (April 15th to be exact), I knew absolutely nothing about him. But after using census records, the birth and death certificate of his son Lewis Blanton Chapple, and now Houston City Directories, I know more about him and other Chappel family members (Amanda Chappel, Henry Chappel, Arie Chappel, and Ella Chappel) than I ever imagined I would so soon.

Among the new names that I discovered, I noticed that Amanda Chappel’s address — W. 21st Avenue — seemed to be constant (with only a slight change in her house number) year after year in the directories. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? I’m sure you’re thinking what I’m thinking! There is a good chance that this may be Lewis’s mother and she owns this home that she has been living in since the early 1900’s! Okay, I’ve made a note to self (when I’m ready) to research deed records to see if my hunch about Amanda as a home owner is true.

So based on information from the 1900-1920 Houston City Directory, what new information have I been able to add to 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
Live-in Servant for a Mrs. T. J. Goree (Houston City Directory, 1907)
Laborer (Houston City Directory, 1908-10 & 1912)
Pipefitter for a Gas Company (1910 Census)
Gass Plummer (son’s 1910 birth certificate),
Laborer for Houston Gas Company (Houston City Directory, 1911)
Laborer for S. P. Railroad Shops (Houston City Directory, 1913)
Laborer in Cotton-Compress Industry (1920 Census)

o Birth date and place
abt 1883, Texas, USA (1910 Census)
abt 1884, Texas, USA (1920 Census)

o Age
27 yrs old (1910 Census)
36 yrs old (1920 Census)

o Residence
1410 Capitol Ave, Houston, Texas (Houston City Directory, 1907)
W.  21st ave.  1   blk   w of Nashua.   Houston Heights (Houston City Directory, 1908)
614 McGowen Avenue (Houston City Directory, 1910)
1607 Saulnier Streeet, Houston, Texas 77019 (1910 Census)
815 Schwartz Street, Houston, TX (son’s birth & death certificate, 1910)
1  N.  E.  Crawford Street, Houston, Texas (Houston City Directory, 1911)
3 N. E. Crawford Street, Houston, Texas (Houston City Directory, 1912
721 Hill Street, Houston, Texas (Houston City Directory, 1913)
2426 Avenue J, Galveston, Galveston County, Texas (1920 Census)

o Family structure
Siblings: Henry Chappel (Houston City Directory, 1915)
Spouse: Carrie Blanton abt 1903 (1910 Census)
Children: Joseph Chappel (1910 Census); Lewis Blanton Chappel (1910-1910)
Extended Family Members: SIL-Arie Chappel (Houston City Directory, 1918), SIL- Ella Chappel (Houston City Directory, 1920)

o Marriage
Married Carrie Blanton abt 1903 (1910 Census); separated from Carrie (Houston City Directory, 1913), (1920 Census)

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

Source Citation:

1. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

2. Houston Heights. (2013, July 16). Wikipedia. Retrieved July 20, 2013, from

3. Independence Heights, Houston. (2013, July 20). Wikipedia. Retrieved July 20, 2013, from,_Houston