US, Texas–Voter Registration, 1867-1869

Toni Carrier
by Toni Carrier
Detail fromTexas Voter Registration Woodley Cook, Brazoria, TX 1867
“Texas, Special Voter Registration, 1867-1869-1869,” database on FamilySearch, voter register Anderson County, p. 1, July 24, 1867 – Caldwell County, p. 500, September 24, 1867, record for Woodley Cook, Frame 714 of 1,022, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C3S2-F9LC-L?cc=3163398&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AW19S-MTN2, accessed 14 Dec 2019.

Today’s featured FamilySearch collection is US, Texas–Voter Registration, 1867-1869. This collection can be especially helpful for African American genealogy because the records were made prior to 1870, and can help you tighten up your ancestor’s timeline between 1865 and the 1870 U.S. Census.

About This Collection

This collection includes voter registration records for male voters in various counties in Texas.

These records may include the following information:

  • registration date
  • county and precinct of residence
  • years resided in state
  • years resided in county
  • years resided in precinct
  • native of what state or county
  • how, when and where naturalized
  • signature or mark
  • general remarks

This collection was formed from microfilm of original documents housed at the Texas State Library in Austin, Texas. Some images may be difficult to read, but are the best copies of the images that are available. For more information about this collection, please see the collection’s Learn More page.

Researching From This Collection

If you find an ancestor in this collection, you can search for other Reconstruction era records for the location where your ancestor registered to vote.

Let’s look at an example for Woodley Cook, who registered to vote in Brazoria County, Texas in 1867. Benjamin Cook and Jacob Cook also registered to vote on the same day (please click on image to view larger).

Detail fromTexas Voter Registration Woodley Cook, Brazoria, TX 1867
“Texas, Special Voter Registration, 1867-1869-1869,” database on FamilySearch, voter register Anderson County, p. 1, July 24, 1867 – Caldwell County, p. 500, September 24, 1867, record for Woodley Cook, Frame 714 of 1,022, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C3S2-F9LC-L?cc=3163398&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AW19S-MTN2, accessed 14 Dec 2019.

Name: Woodley Cook
Event Type: Voter Registration
Event Date: 15 Aug 1867
Event Place: Brazoria, Texas, United States
Event Place (Original): Brazoria, Texas
Birthplace: Miss

The collection description page from the Texas State Archives and Archives Commission notes that names were recorded in the order that people presented themselves to be registered. Woodley Cook, Benjamin Cook and Jacob Cook all appear on the same page of the voter registration record and registered to vote on the same day.

Woodley, Benjamin and Jacob Cook in Freedmen’s Bureau Records

A good place to start first for researching from this record would be to search Freedmen’s Bureau records to see if Woodley Cook appears in any records produced by the Freedmen’s Bureau. Here we see a labor contract that Woodley Cook and several others entered into with planter William Kennedy (please click on the image to view larger).

We found a freedmen’s labor contract between Edward Kennedy and Woody, Jake, Ben, Annette, Mary and Emeline Cook, made January 1, 1867. A remark in the margin notes that the contract was paid in full June 1, 1867:

Freedmen's Labor Contract, Woody Cook with Edward Kennedy, Brazoria, TX
Texas Woodley Cook with Edward Kennedy Freedmen s Bureau Field Office Records 1865-1870 https familysearch org ark 61903 3 1 3QSQ-G9MX-QNGZ cc 1989155 wc 94KQ-YWT 3A266079201 2C266092701

We found a second freedmen’s labor contract for Woodley Cook, with William Kennedy:

Labor Contract, William Kennedy With Freedmen, Brazoria County, Texas
“Texas, Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1870,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9MX-QNJG?cc=1989155&wc=94KQ-YWT%3A266079201%2C266092701 : 22 May 2014), Columbia > Roll 15, Register of contracts, vol (79), 1866-1868 > image 13 of 43; citing NARA microfilm publication M1912 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Wm. Kennedy with

  • David Gardner
  • Becky  “ “
  • Monday Solomon
  • Starling Powell
  • Chas Thompson
  • Frances McDonnel
  • Sarah Kenedy
  • Dick Adkins
  • Annie Adkins
  • Tom Boykin
  • Renah Powell
  • January Boykin
  • Susannah “
  • Woodley Cook
  • Mary   “ “
  • Jacob “  “
  • Antoinette? “
  • Hannah Bird
  • Emiline Cook
  • Ben Cook
  • Sukey “
  • Ben Cook Jr.
  • [no first name listed] Cook
  • Nelson Nolin?
  • Lavinia Nolin?
  • Ned Hodges

There are brackets around Woodley, Mary, Jacob and Antoinette Cook, Hannah Bird and Emeline Cook, with the notation “$345. Per year one half payable monthly.” There is also a bracket around Ben Cook, Sukey Cook and Ben Cook Jr. with the notation “208. Per year.” Do the brackets perhaps indicate family groupings? 

Detail From Labor Contract, Woodley Cook With William Kennedy
Detail From Labor Contract, Woodley Cook With William Kennedy, “Texas, Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1870,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9MX-QNJG?cc=1989155&wc=94KQ-YWT%3A266079201%2C266092701 : 22 May 2014), Columbia > Roll 15, Register of contracts, vol (79), 1866-1868 > image 13 of 43; citing NARA microfilm publication M1912 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Woodley and Emeline Cook, 1870 U.S. Census

We searched for Woodley Cook in the 1870 U.S. Census and found that Woodley and Emeline Cook were in the same household:

Name: Woodly Cook
Event Type: Census
Event Date: 1870
Event Place: Justice Precinct 4, Brazoria, Texas, United States
Event Place (Original): Precinct 4, Brazoria, Texas, United States
Gender: Male
Age: 50
Race: Black
Birth Year (Estimated): 1820
Birthplace: Mississippi
Page Number: 60

HouseholdRoleSexAgeBirthplace
Woodly CookM50Mississippi
Emeline CookF16Texas

Household ID: 474
Line Number: 25
Affiliate Name: The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
Affiliate Publication Number: M593
GS Film Number: 000553075
Digital Folder Number: 004275546
Image Number: 00352

“United States Census, 1870”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MXGK-TP6 : 15 June 2019), Emeline Cook in entry for Woodly Cook, 1870.

Woodley Cook in Texas Marriage Records

We found a marriage record for Woodley Cook and Olly Evans in Brazoria, Texas in the collections Texas, County Marriage Index, 1837-1977 and Texas Marriages, 1837-1973:

Name: Woodley Cook
Event Type: Marriage
Event Date: 03 Sep 1874
Event Place: Brazoria, Texas, United States
Spouse’s Name: Olly Evans

“Texas, County Marriage Index, 1837-1977,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XLH1-LJS : 22 December 2016), Woodley Cook and Olly Evans, 03 Sep 1874; citing Brazoria, Texas, United States, county courthouses, Texas; FHL microfilm 1,008,071.

Woodley Cook in the 1880 U.S. Census

We searched for Woodley Cook in the 1880 U.S. Census. His household members were:

HouseholdRoleSexAgeBirthplace
Woodley CookSelfM40Mississippi, United States
Ollie CookWifeF30South Carolina, United States
Antony CookSonM12Texas, United States
George CookSonM2Texas, United States

Name: Woodley Cook
Event Type: Census
Event Date: 1880
Event Place: Precinct 9, Brazoria, Texas, United States
Gender: Male
Age: 40
Marital Status: Married
Race: Black
Race (Original): B
Occupation: Laborer
Relationship to Head of Household: Self
Relationship to Head of Household (Original): Self
Birth Year (Estimated): 1840
Birthplace: Mississippi, United States
Father’s Birthplace: Mississippi, United States
Mother’s Birthplace: Mississippi, United States
Sheet Letter: D
Sheet Number: 212
Person Number: 0
Volume: 1

“United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MFFP-7M9 : 15 July 2017), George Cook in household of Woodley Cook, Precinct 9, Brazoria, Texas, United States; citing enumeration district ED 22, sheet 212D, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 1,255,292.

Woodley Cook in Texas, County tax Rolls, 1837-1910

If you find an ancestor in early voter registrations, be sure to search for early tax records as well. We searched for Woodley Cook in Texas, County Tax Rolls, 1837-1910, which contains records for 1865, 1875, 1885, 1890, 1895 and 1905. These records can help you locate your ancestor between federal census years. Here we see that Woodley Cook appears several times in early Brazoria, Texas tax records:

Search Results for Woodley Cook in Brazoria TX Tax Rolls
Search Results for Woodley Cook in Early Texas Tax Rolls

Suggestions for Further Research

  • Search for vital records such as birth, marriage, and death using the location where your ancestor registered to vote.
  • Search for land and probate records in the county where the family lived.
  • Search for your ancestor, and their enslaver if known, in historical newspapers. The free resource Chronicling America is a great place to start your research.

Related Resources

The FamilySearch Wiki page Texas, United States Genealogy provides an overview of resources for genealogy research in Texas.

The FamilySearch Wiki page African American Resources for Texas provides an overview of resources for African American genealogy in Texas.

The Texas Record Finder page on the FamilySearch Wiki is a great resource for locating Texas records, based on the information you would like to learn about your ancestor. Below is a snapshot of the page and the information it contains:

Texas Record Finder FamilySearch Wiki
Texas Record Finder Page on the FamilySearch Wiki

To learn more about African American genealogy research in Texas, you can view BlackProGen LIVE! Ep 62: People of Color Genealogy Research in Texas.

More FamilySearch Wiki Resources for African American Genealogy

Researching African American Genealogy provides step-by-step guidance for beginning your ancestor search, as well as links to online resources.

Quick Guide to African American Records contains information on beginning research tips, links to suggested guides for beginning your search for African American ancestors, overviews of major record sets, tips for finding the slaveholder, links to tutorials for African American genealogy in the FamilySearch Learning Center, and links to other online and offline resources.

Southern States Slavery and Bondage Collections will help you locate digitized searchable collections as well as digitized microfilms in the FamilySearch catalog related to slavery and bondage. The page is arranged by state. 

African American Genealogy provides links to Wiki pages for researching African Americans in each U.S. state.

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