The Dallas Journal, Volume 42, 1996 Page: 35
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From Peters Colony to Lakewood Country Club
Hallie Price Garner
What did the residents of Lakewood Estates in Dallas; the pastor and congregation of
St. Martin-in-the-Field of Philadelphia; Rev. T. S. Rumney of St. Peter's Protestant Episcopal
Church in Philadelphia; the Bishop of Maine; and over one hundred other people who were not
lineally related to Henry H. Houston of Philadelphia, [who died testate and with issue] have in
common? How would a person looking in the deed records of Dallas County, Texas find
information leading to a document about familial relationships of over one hundred people in
ten different locations, none of them living in Dallas or even in Texas?
We all know that records in jurisdictions apart from a person's residence may yield
information on family relationships occurring in far away places. We also know that deed
records often yield direct and indirect information about families. Desmond Walls Allen makes
the point in her Institute of Genealogical Studies lectures that land developers and speculators
often leave records in many places besides their domicile; that to get a complete picture of this
kind of ancestor you must search the records of all jurisdictions where he owned property.
This will, relating to the deed records of Dallas County, Texas is perhaps one of the
most extensive, certainly the most interesting, that I have seen anywhere. It gives an important
insight into the testator's generous character in addition to his family and financial affairs.
Because of its unique specific delineation of numerous relationships, it makes one wonder if
the testator or his lawyer might have been a genealogist and wanted those coming after him to
be able to find his entire family! Indeed, it gives new meaning to the words "extended family."
Documentation for this will was found in the abstract for Country Club estates in what
is commonly called "Lakewood" on the waters of White Rock Creek in East Dallas. The
original land patents were first issued in two parts. The first was from the Commissioners of
the Peters Colony, Certificate # 474 on 25 March 1850 to Elisha Bennett' and the other was
Certificate #72, issued on 1 Apr 1850 to William James.2 After several later sales, the land rose
in value and eventually was purchased by Henry H. Houston of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia for
about $15,000.3 He most likely bought it as a speculative land investment, as he never lived in
Dallas County. His heirs later sold the land to the Dallas Development Company for
$103,087.50,4 which indicates the growth of property values in the interim period.
The most interesting parts of this document are somewhat far into the will. The time
period is the late 1890's when a thousand dollars meant a lot more than it does today!
Surely if you were a legatee of this will, it would be a will to live for. But if you are a
genealogist working on any of these families it would be a will to answer your dreams. If you
are the congregation of the Church of St. Martins-in-the-Field, you don't ever have to worry
about mortgage payments, and if you are a rector of the church above you don't have to worry
about the church members' donations to pay your salary. The will is abstracted only to show
relationships of genealogical interest, or examples of character that the will reveals. Read on.
Here’s what’s next.
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Dallas Genealogical Society. The Dallas Journal, Volume 42, 1996, periodical, December 1996; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth186855/m1/41/: accessed May 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Genealogical Society.