Happy New Year!
After enjoying a fabulous soul-food meal prepared by my mom who truly knows her way around a kitchen, I talked her into going on a quick genealogy road-trip with me across town in search of the community where my grandfather, Joseph Chapple (mom’s father), and great-grandparents, Louis & Carrie Blanton Chapple (mom’s grandparents) lived around 1910.
Last week on Ancestry.com, I was able to download and review a copy of the 1910 United States Federal Census that gave specific details and valuable information about the lives of my grandfather and his parents at that time.
One bit of information that was responsible for my road trip today was that it listed their physical address in Houston back in 1910. So to determine exactly which side of town this house was located, I typed the address in the Google search field, and Trulia.com, a real estate search engine, came back with a description and photos of the shotgun house that sits exactly in the location where my grandfather lived and it is for — SALE!
According to the description provided by Trulia.com:
This Single-Family Home located on Saulnier Street is in the Fourth Ward neighborhood in Houston, TX and in ZIP Code 77019. The average listing price for Fourth Ward is $279,916. This house has 2 beds, 1 bath, approximately 713 square feet, was built in 1928, and list for $124,999.
This description of the house and location of their community was just the information I needed to fill in the gaps about how my grandfather and his parents lived at that time. The Fourth Ward community where they lived was called Freedman’s Town and was one of the oldest and most important black neighborhoods in the city of Houston. According to Texas historians, black settlers selected that area of the city which ran southwest of downtown along the southern edge of the Buffalo Bayou because it was inexpensive and White citizens didn’t want to settle in that area which was like a swamp and prone to flooding. Black settlers paved the streets of Fourth Ward with bricks that they made by hand. Because of segregation, black settlers pretty much provided their own services and utilities throughout the community. Many blacks worked as tradesmen, day laborers, or in the service industry. My great-grandmother worked in the service industry as an excellent cook for a boarding house in the downtown area, and my great-grandfather was a tradesman who assembled, maintained and repaired piping systems for a gas company.
In 1910, 17,000 blacks lived in the Fourth Ward area making it the center of black cultural and professional life in the city. But my road-trip today in 2011 depicted a community that has become the poorest black area in the city. But despite this neglected community, investors seem to be pumping some major capital in the ward again as swanky loft condos and town-homes can be seen on the same blocks with dilapidated and boarded up shotgun houses.
So if you have the surname — Chapple–falling out of your family tree (especially if they lived in the Houston area) let me hear from you because — I’m Claiming Kin!
Year: 1910; Census Place: Houston Ward 4, Harris, Texas; Roll: T624_1560; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0071; Image: 30; FHL microfilm: 1375573.