Clayton Library contains an impressive collection of records for deaths in Texas and the Houston area. First, Clayton Library houses the original records of two Houston funeral homes. The Fogle-West funeral home (or Fogle West Undertaking Company -- 1921 through 1975) and the Boulevard funeral home (or Boulevard Undertaking Company -- 1961 through 1967). Second, Clayton's book collection contains transcripts of City of Houston death certificates from 1874-1894, 1896 and January through August 1900. Third, Clayton's microprint collection contains the Harris County register of deaths, volume 1, 1903-1909. Lastly, also housed in Clayton's microprint collection is a statewide collection of Texas death records and index -- 1903 through 1976 and 1903 through 2002.
Information that can be found in funeral home records is: deceased name (last, first, middle, and sometimes nicknames), sex, age, death date, parents, place interred, copy of a death certificate, an obituary, information on an autopsy, last residence, insurance records, military service information, and many other miscellaneous bits of information about a person. Information that can be found in death records is: deceased name (last, first, and middle), sex, age, death date, parents, place interred, cause of death, date and place of bith are also sometimes recorded on a death record.
Clayton Library has created a searchable index to the Fogle-West and Boulevard Funeral Home records database which can be searched here: Clayton's Death Records Database.
The Fogle-West Undertaking Company opened its doors in Houston in 1920 or 1921. The earliest mention that can be found for the company is in a 1920/21 Houston City Directory (pgs. 291 and 612 ). In 1920/21 the president was listed as J.H. West and the manager was listed as Ray Fogle and the address for the company was 903 Caroline St., Houston, Texas. By 1927 the company is at 1903-1907 McKinney St..
Records for the company, that cover the time period 1921 through 1975, are housed at Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research. These records were donated to Clayton when the Fogle-West Company was closed. Later, five more file drawers of Fogle-West records were located in storage at Crespo Funeral Home and offered to Clayton Library.
The records owned by Clayton Library consist of 29 drawers of file folders and 30 bound volumes. Information from the bound volumes was not included in the original paper index, a copy of which can be found in the Harris County section of books at Clayton and in the Texas and Local History Room under the call number 929.5 F656. The bound volumes cover the years 1950 (January-June), 1951 (July-December), and 1952-1965. The index to the Fogle-West records is being proofread and updated. For most people there will be more information in the file than is shown in the index.
The index includes an INFO field that gives an abbreviation for the types of papers found in a person's file. The abbreviation code consists of the letters BCILMO.
B stands for Book (this indicates that there is a book entry for this name in the bound volumes)
C stands for death Certificate
I stands for family Information sheet(s) (pre-printed forms that have areas for pall-bearers, surviving relatives, songs played at the funeral, etc.)
L stands for Ledger sheet (a sheet pulled from a ledger book that has payment information on the front and can have family information on the back)
M stands for Miscellaneous papers (Literally paper(s) in the file that do not fit into one of the defined information sources [BCILO] they can be military papers, letters to the funeral home about payments or almost anything else you could imagine)
O stands for Obituary (This indicates that there is an obituary that was cut from the newspaper, handwritten and typed copies of an obituary are counted as miscellaneous papers)
Go to Clayton's Death Records Database
The Boulevard Undertaking Company opened its doors in Houston in approximately 1927. The earliest mention that can be found for the company is in a 1927 Houston City Directory (p. 397). In 1927 the President / Manager was listed as J. V. Cossaboom and the address for the company in 1927 was 6929 Harrisburg Boulevard, Houston, Texas.
Clayton Library owns the records for the company, that cover the time period December 12, 1961 through December 1, 1967. These records were donated to Clayton (anonymously) September 11, 1996 and were previously housed in the Harris County Records Center, Historical Files. According to Paul Scott, Records Manager for Harris County, Texas in 1996 the 4 boxes of files that make up this collection were found in a filing cabinet on the third floor of the Crumpacker Building in January, 1990.
Clayton has an index to these records also. It is found in the Harris County section of books under the call number B763 HARRIS TEX. For most people there will be more information in the file than is shown in the index.
The index for the Boulevard Funeral Home records uses the same abbreviations in the INFO field as are used in the index for the Fogle West records. The only difference in the abbreviation code will be that there may be an:
F stands for a Folder (pre-printed folder that has areas for pall-bearers, surviving relatives, songs played at the funeral, etc.
and there won't be a: B because the Boulevard records don't have any bound volumes.
Go to Clayton's Death Records Database
The City of Houston began registering deaths in 1874 and continued until statewide death registration began in 1903. Clayton Library has transcripts of City of Houston death certificates from 1874-1894, 1896 and January through August 1900. Copies of records for the years 1895, 1987-1899 Sept 1900 through 1903 were not available at the time Clayton received the transcripts, but can be obtained from the Department of Health and Human Services at 8000 North Stadium Drive, Houston, Texas 77054.
Clayton Library has a book index for this set of death records it is shelved with the 42 volumes of the death records in the Harris County book section under the call number H843 HARRI TEX.
Microfilmed as part of a project by the Clayton Library Friends this roll is an important supplement to the statewide "Texas Death Certificates 1903-1976" collection, because the death certificates for Harris County in the statewide collection do not begin until Nov/Dec 1909. This register of deaths was filmed from original records found at the Harris County Clerk's warehouse, 102 San Jacinto, Houston, TX, and covers Apr 16, 1903 thru Jul 27, 1909. A name index to the # of the record is found at the beginning. Shows: #, name, race, nativity, sex, age, residence, date and place of death, cause, name and address of physician, surgeon or coroner, filing date, and by whom filed. This microfilm roll can be found in the Clayton Microprint department in cabinet 88 drawer 1 right after the Index to Texas deaths microfilm.
The State of Texas began registering deaths in 1903 and continues today. Statewide general compliance with the Bureau of Vital Statistics rules for registration is considered to have occurred by the mid 1930's. Clayton has copies of the Bureau of Vital Statistics' indexes for deaths in the microprint collection (cabinet 88 drawer 1 and in fiche cabinet 4 drawer 7). The index to deaths covers 1903 to 2002. During 2006 Clayton also obtained microfilm of Texas death certificates held by the Bureau of Vital Statistics. These certificates cover the years 1903 to 1976. They are found in the microprint collection in cabinets 88 and 89.
To find a death certificate in this collection you should first check the Index to Texas Deaths to obtain the spelling of the person's name, the county the certificate was filed from, the date of death and the file number the certificate is under. You would then proceed to the death certificate microfilm and go to 1. the year of death, 2. the month, 3. the county, 4. the certificate number. If the certificate number does not appear to fit in the number scheme for the month and county then check the other rolls of certificates for that year, especially the end of the year of death. The filing of some certificates was delayed and these are usually grouped at the end of the year in number order although some will be just filed in a later month under their certificate number.
For information on any of these records, call Clayton at 832-393-2600.