When I was seventeen, it was a very good year; It was a very good year for [big city] girls . . . ” – sung by Frank Sinatra in D minor, 1966
When I found my original Texas Driver Education Certificate (Form DL-41A) last year, I smiled from ear to ear. It was so cool to find this document after all these years. Where was it? Tucked away in a box in my parents garage for many, many years. After looking at this document more closely, I found myself humming and singing the two opening stanzas of Frank Sinatra’s song above with a slight change in the lyrics (of course) to show that I was no small town girl. Still, why that song came to mind, I can’t say. But what I will say is 1977 “was a very good year” because it’s the year I learned to drive a car!
A closer look at this certificate reveals that 39 years ago yesterday, May 4, 1977, I completed 12 hours of simulator instruction, 3 hours of in-car instruction, and 3 hours of in-car observation at University of Houston. I have no memory of Marvin Reichle, the instructor who signed my certificate above. But, he must have been great because I do remember enjoying the simulator and in-car instruction part of the program very much!
When my classmates learned that I was taking drivers ed at the university twice a week, they all asked why didn’t my parents teach me how to drive themselves. I wondered about that too at first. But I soon realized they wanted me to learn best practices with regards to the laws of the road (i. e. how to deal with different driving conditions, how to react in emergencies, etc.). They also knew if I completed a driver and traffic safety education program approved by the Department of Public Safety, I would receive the SO-30 Driver Training Certificate for insurance purposes too.
This certificate automatically gave me a 10% discount on Bodily Injury, Property Damage, Medical Payments, Personal Injury Protection and Collision coverages when my parents added me to their auto insurance. Now that I had a learner’s license guess what make and model car I drove to practice driving? I did all of my practice driving in a 1976 or 1977 Dodge Monaco Brougham, very similar to the one featured below.
Yes, our family car was a BIG one. But despite its size, I LOVED driving that car! It was easy to handle and offered all its passengers a very smooth ride every time.
Do you remember when you learned to drive? What make and model car did you use for practice driving? Let me hear from you; feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section of this post below.
When Luckie Daniels (Our Georgia Roots & Our Alabama Roots) and Felicia Mathis (Echoes of My Nola Past) invited me to join them on the new African American Genealogy & Slave Ancestry Research (AAGSAR) Group they were launching via Facebook, I had no idea that I would be joining, in my opinion, one of the BEST collaborative genealogy group for “serious” family historians and researchers in 2014. Luckie said it best when she wrote, “Slave Ancestry IS CHALLENGING WORK,” in one of her messages to the group. From that message comes one of the most exciting projects I have ever worked on with a group via the Internet . . . the 2014 Spring Ancestor Challenge – No Brick Walls Permitted!
I have accepted this challenge which officially begins Tuesday, October 1, 2013 and ends April 1, 2014. In essence, this is MY ANCESTOR WORK, but I’m not alone on this journey! I have met some awesome group members who have made the setup and preparation for this challenge so-so sweet (sending a special shout-out to the Texas Tribe . . . woo-hoo!). So I have a support system that is willing to lend a helping hand, consult with me when I need it, and support me when it looks like I don’t know what the heck I’m doing!
So without further adieu, here’s my 2014 Spring Ancestor Challenge . . .
Masters & Slaves: The Texas Routts
To determine the approximate date/location of my 3rd great-grandfather Osborn Routt’s birth in Virginia, as well as the approximate date/location of his death in Washington County, Texas.
William Robert Routt from Northumberland County, Virginia
Joseph William Routt from Huntsville, Madison, Alabama & Chappel Hill, Washington, Texas
Texas – Chappel Hill, Washington County
Alabama – Huntsville, Madison County
Virginia – Northumberland County
It was the “5 Generations” photo I found above in an old family photo album featuring my 97-year-old 2nd great-grandmother, Lula (Routt) Green, that initially launched my research into my father’s side of my family tree. Based on a few names my dad could remember, I was able to glean from the 1870 & 1880 census records that Lula Routt, born 12 September 1867 in Chappel Hill, Washington County, Texas, was the daughter of Osborn and Sallie Routt. Lula was born just 2 short years after slavery ended in Texas. Prior to 1867, her parents were slaves on one of the major plantations in the Washington County, Texas area. To learn more about who the slaveholders were in that area, I wrote to Chappel Hill’s local Historical Society, who put me in contact with one of their respected historians, Nathaniel Winfield, in 1998. It is through email conversations with Mr. Winfield, that I discovered that Osborn & Sallie Routt were probably once slaves on his great-grandfather’s plantation – Mulberry Bower. According to Mr. Winfield, his great-grandfather (Joseph William Routt) came to Chappel Hill, Texas from Huntsville, Alabama in the mid 1840’s. Both the 1870 & 1880 census records report Osborn was born in Virginia about 1835. If Osborn was born in Virginia, how did he end up in Texas on the Mulberry Bower Plantation? Well according to a free Google e-book I was fortunate to download titled, A History of Texas and Texans, Volume 4 by Frank White Johnson, Joseph William Routt was the son of William Robert Routt, ” . . . a slaveholder and planter of Virginia . . . ” So in light of that family connection it is very possible that William Routt may have been the original owner of Osborn which resulted in him being passed down to the son as a part of the father’s estate.
References Needed for Further Review and Analysis:
Probate Will of William Robert Routt Probate Will of Joseph William Routt Estate Inventories for William Routt & Joseph Routt Insurance Policies for William Routt & Joseph Routt Plantation Records for William Routt & Joseph Routt (if available) Sharecropping Records for Osborn Routt 1850 & 1860 US Federal Census Slave Schedules for William Routt & Joseph Routt Tax Records for William Routt, Joseph Routt, and Osborn Routt U.S. Federal Census Non-Population Schedules, 1850-1880 U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885 U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918 Washington County, Texas Death Records Local Histories & Pamphlets Chancery Records Index African-American Newspapers Church & Baptism Records*
For Family, Friends, and Visitors:
What have I missed? Are there any other references and resources I need to explore? If yes, let me know in the comment section below!
*Special thanks to Shellye (My Genealogical Journey) for reminding me to include Church & Baptism Records to my list as well!
UPDATE! When I asked the question – what will happen to the historic Foley’s building? – in my At the Heart of Texas – Foley’s post just a little over 6 months ago, I had a gut feeling this building/company, which played a major role in Houston’s retail history, would be gone sooner than later. I was right! This 65-year-old landmark building was imploded this morning (September 23, 2013) in downtown Houston.
I was actually heading out of the downtown area just as the implosion took place. As much as I wanted to stay and see this demolition in person, I didn’t think it was a good idea simply because I knew once the building came down, there would be a massive cloud of dust and smoke that would blanket the downtown area for miles. That is exactly what happened. Many folks who were standing and observing this event at street-level soon found themselves running for cover as fast as they could once the dust and smoke started billowing up and out.
WOW! What a sight, huh?!
The implosion was a success and quite bittersweet to watch!
Ecclesiastes 3: 1 — “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” 
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. 
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
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.
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. 
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
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
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). 
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
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
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
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
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
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)
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)
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. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Even though I did not find my great-grandparents enumerated as a family the first time I looked for them in the 1920 Census, I just could not dismiss this gut feeling I had that I really needed to visit that record AGAIN! When I think about everything they experienced in 1910 — the loss of a child and moving two or three different times — another look for them in the 1920 census just seemed so necessary. Well, I’m glad I did! I found them, not as I expected to find them, but . . . I found them!
In the city of Houston I found my great-grandmother Carrie and my grandfather Joseph together . . .
Enumerated on the 20th day of February 1920, this U. S. Federal Census reports living in the Pinehurst Addition of Houston, Harris County, Texas dwelling #454 was: 
Line 22: Carrie Chappel, head of household, owner of the mortgaged home she lived in, age 35, awidow, born in Texas as were her parents, works as a Laundress for a Private Family
Line 23: Joseph Chappel, son, age 17, single, born in Texas as were his parents, works as a Laborer for a Railroad Company
In another Texas city, I found my great-grandfather Lewis . . .
Enumerated on the 3rd day of January 1920, this U. S. Federal Census reports living as a boarder at 2426 Avenue J, Galveston, Galveston County, Texas was: 
Line 38: Lewis Chappel, black male age 36, married, born in Texas as were his parents, works as a Laborer in the Compress Industry
WOW . . . this is interesting stuff!
As I take a closer look at both of these 1920 census records, I cannot help but think there may be “trouble” in the marriage of my great-grandparents!
My great-grandmother obviously told the enumerator that she was a widow! But that wasn’t true at all because my great-grandfather was very much alive and well living just 50 miles away (by car) in the city of Galveston, Texas. Not to mention that I have not been able to find, to date, any record of my great-grandfather’s death in Texas between 1910 – 1920!
My great-grandfather either told the enumerator he was married, or the owner of the boarding house where he lived did. Either way, my great-grandmother and grandfather are not living there with him and it seems my great-grandmother may see this separation as a, “death,” where my great-grandfather is concerned – YIKES!
The cotton-compress industry developed in antebellum Texas because of the need to lower the cost of transporting cotton on sailing vessels. . . Compressors, which reduced bales received from cotton gins to roughly half their former size, were first acquired in port. By 1860 more than $500,000 had been invested in the industry at Galveston. As cotton culture spread into the Texas hinterland after the Civil War, compresses were built in many Texas towns in addition to the port cities. The development of communications and the extension of railroads into the state’s cotton-producing regions revolutionized the Texas cotton trade.”
With “widow” and “married boarder” being the key words that jumped out at me in these two records, I’m starting to think that my great-grandparents may have separated by this time! When did this separation take place and is it permanent? I’m not sure. But what I do know is that I will need more evidence than what was reported in this record to validate a legal separation, or divorce between them.
So what’s my next resource?
I think it’s time I use city directories to track them more closely between the 1900, 1910, and 1920 census decades! Hopefully this resource will help me pinpoint the year they arrived in Houston and when my great-grandfather left for Galveston. I also hope this directory will shine a HUGE spotlight on other Chappels living in Houston at this time who just may be immediate family members of my great-grandfather!
Based on information from this 1920 census record, what new information have I added 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 – Pipefitter for a Gas Company (1910 Census); Gass Plummer (son’s 1910 birth certificate); 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 – 1607 Saulnier Streeet, Houston, Texas 77019 (1910 Census); 815 Schwartz Street, Houston, TX (son’s birth & death certificate); 2426 Avenue J, Galveston, Galveston County, Texas
o Family structure – married to Carrie Blanton and has 2 sons, Joseph Chappel (1910 Census); Lewis Blanton Chappel (1910-1910); separated from Carrie & Joseph (1920 Census)
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!