My Hispanic Texas Roots
My ancestral connections to Texas have been a recent discovery, despite actively researching my family history for 18 years, and they occur entirely on the Hispanic branches of my family tree.
Texas as a Waypoint
I learned in 2003 from her U.S. Petition for Naturalization that my father’s grandmother, my great-grandmother Maria Hermalinda Nieto y Compean de Robledo (1887-1974), immigrated from central Mexico to the United States in 1915 via the footbridge connecting Nuevo Laredo, Mexico with Laredo, Webb County, Texas. Over the past year, I have identified additional ancestors and an extended family network, who also crossed into the U.S. at this same entry point during the Mexican Revolution.
Deeper Texas Roots
Just a few months ago, I learned the identity of my biological father (I was adopted as an infant)—Richard De Leon (1950-2003), a lifelong Californian. Richard’s father, however, was a native Texan of Mexican descent. I have traced Richard’s paternal line back to the Goliad area in the 1880s, and look forward to digging further back.
Chronicling Border Life
The exhibition uses historical records and artifacts to showcase a particularly violent decade (the decade of the Mexican Revolution) along the Texas and Mexico border; an episode that helped launch the Mexican American civil rights movement.
With such an important exhibit opening this week, I thought it timely to focus this first Hispanic Texas post on the topic of finding Texas and Mexico border records.
Border Crossing Records
These records are critical for those of us with ancestors and collateral relatives who immigrated from Mexico during the early-to-mid 20th century, and particularly during the violent Mexican Revolution.
Where to Find the Records
The records can be located and reviewed from the comfort of your own home, through select libraries, or by rolling up your sleeves and scrolling through microfilm.
Ancestry provides a searchable database of digitized records, titled “Border Crossings: From Mexico to U.S., 1895-1964.”
- Available on Ancestry.com, with a paid subscription.
- Available for free on Ancestry Library Edition, through participating libraries.
- Available at the U.S. National Archives & Records Administration (NARA).
- Available through the FamilySearch Library.
FamilySearch provides a free searchable index (“United States Border Crossings from Mexico to United States, 1903-1957”) of the records available on Ancestry.
Understanding the Records
These articles and guides provide useful tips for analyzing the records.
- NARA’s guide to “Mexican Border Crossing Records.”
- FamilySearch Wiki, “US Immigration Mexican Border Crossings.”
- FamilySearch Wiki, “United States Border Crossings from Mexico to United States.”
 “Border Crossings: From Mexico to U.S., 1895-1964,” database and images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 June 2012), Laredo, Texas, 27 October 1915, Maria Nieto, age 23.
 “International Foot Bridge, Laredo, Tex. [Texas]” Postcard, n.d., University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth13260/ : accessed June 20, 2012); crediting Laredo Public Library, Laredo, Texas.
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