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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Texas Trip

In the mid-1960s, the factory where I worked constructed a large addition to the building. After everything was in place they gave us tours. In the new lunch room there was a machine that would heat food in one minute. I tried it just to see how it worked. Amazing! I never dreamed I'd have one of those machines in my own kitchen and use it every day.
Another fascinating machine I saw on the tour was an IBM machine in the office. With this machine they could send electronic messages back and forth between the Pennsylvania and Arizona plants. Amazing! Again, I never dreamed I'd have such a machine in my own home and use it every day.
The Internet has become so much a part of everyday life I feel cut off when it is down. The Internet is my encyclopedia, dictionary, phone book, recipe book, and more. The genealogy research I do would  be very restricted without the Internet. More things are online today then even five years ago. It is now possible to find public records such as wills, deeds, death certificates, etc. from other states without physically going there.
Yesterday I traveled to Texas via the Internet. According to oral family history, my paternal grandfather bought a grapefruit orchard in Texas just before the stock market crash. It was a bad move but he was not able to foresee the Great Depression and Dust Bowl years that were just around the corner. He was bankrupted and lost everything, including the land in Texas.
I always wondered exactly when my grandfather bought that land and where it was located but Texas is huge and I had no idea where to start looking. I had tried earlier but came up blank. I often dreamed of going down there to search by going from county to county to look at deeds. This week I decided to try another Internet search.
Oral history said the orchard was in the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas. I found a website that had a free deed index for some of the counties in Texas. I tried Cameron County first because that is the most southern county. I searched for Burkholder and viola! There it was! E N Burkholder bought land in Cameron County on November 14, 1928. The date fit the oral story but I needed to see the deed to be sure.
Seconds after my credit card was charged $2, I had a copy of the deed in my computer. Bingo! The deed said E N Burkholder was from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He bought 9.99 acres in Cameron County near Harlingen. It's way down near the tip of Texas, a few miles above Brownsville.
The questions of when and where are finally answered, and without leaving home. But I'm still dreaming of going down there to see the land. Now that I know the general area, it would not require as much time. We could fly down, go directly to Harlingen, and see it in one day. I'm hoping to pin down the exact location of those ten acres first so I can see the exact spot. Will it happen? I don't know. But armchair travel and dreams are free.
 P.S. Where did I get this picture if I haven't been there? Three guesses and the first two don't count!

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