By: John L. Kiener
WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL BANQUET
“I am pleased to announce the Washington County Historical Association’s Annual Banquet was a success with 91 in attendance,” President Chad Fred Bailey announced after the November 2ndmeeting held at the Historic Jonesborough Visitor’s Center. “Margaret Holley was surprised with an award for her 25 years of service to the WCHA Board of Trustees. Margaret’s plaque will hang in the Washington County- Jonesborough Library until the Archives is ready. Elaine Scott Cantrell was honored as the 12th Annual Samuel Cole Williams Award recipient with a certificate and a video tribute to her work.”
In her speech to the Association Cantrell emphasized her hard work and dedication to WashingtonCounty and encourage those in attendance to continue the work on the CountyArchives. Officers were also elected. They are as follows: Michael Beard, president; Pat Beard, vice president; Donna Cox Briggs, secretary and Gene Hurdt, treasurer. Also elected trustees were Chad Fred Bailey as past president and Betty Jane Hylton.
Fred Sauceman finished the night with a great presentation on “Hamburgers” in our area. His talk made most of the audience want to either take the course he teaches on “The Foodways of Appalachia” at East Tennessee State University or to visit several of the establishments identified as “culturally important” in his speech.
The banquet’s program had a cover featuring the “JONESBOROUGH HOMECOMING 1912.” Pictured were “The Matrons of Jonesborough” a promotional piece used to advertise the event held from August 12 through 17, 1912. The homecoming celebrated the laying of the cornerstone for the Washington County Courthouse which will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2013.
The picture’s caption on the “Matrons of Jonesborough” photo states: “Whoever drinks from Old Mill Spring is sure to come back and drink again.” The matrons were identified as Mrs. Eliza Murphy, Mrs. D. T. Wilds, Mrs. Mary Dosser, Mrs. S. J. Kirkpatrick, and Mrs. M. S. Mahoney.
According to an article in the Newsletter of the Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia: “Invites were sent far and wide, calling old residents back to the place they’d once called home. The event spanned multiple days, and included such activities as a baseball game, recitals, a barbecue, and a parade. Jonesborough’s Homecoming was so successful (that the) story was picked up by papers as faraway as New York…”
The Jonesborough Homecoming Officers were E. J. Baxter, President; John D. Cox, Vice-President; W. P. Shipley, Treasurer, and H. C. Beauchamp, Secretary. The members of the Homecoming Executive Committee were R. M. May, Chairman; R. H. Lankford, Secretary; Honorable A. A. Taylor, Dr. R. G. Duncan, J. S. Prichett, and H. C. Jackson.
The Washington County Historical Association’s mission is to study, preserve, and document the history of Washington County and to support other organizations also dedicated to preserving the county’s history. Membership in the organization is $15 for individuals and $20 for families. Dues are collected on January 1st of each year.
The WCHA meets on the third Saturday of March, May, July and September. The annual banquet of the Historical Association takes place on the first Friday in November. For additional information or to pay dues, contact the WCHA by mail to Gene Hurdt, Treasurer, 471 Old Embreeville Road, Jonesborough, Tennessee 37659. The organization’s web site is www.rootsweb.com/~tnwcha/index.htm.
HURDT OBTAINS ARCHIVES CERTIFICATION
On October 17, 2012, Gene Hurdt completed the three-year cycle of courses and was certificated as an Archives Manager by the Department of State and the TennesseeState Library and Archives. Upon receiving this certification, Hurdt said that he looks forward to working as a volunteer with WashingtonCounty Archivist Ned Irwin in the development of the WashingtonCounty Archives.
Hurdt said: “What an honor it was representing Washington County at the Tennessee Archives Institute and being the first (person certified) from WashingtonCounty! Also it was an honor in meeting everyone at the Tennessee Archives Institute including Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, Chuck Sherill, Dr. Wayne Moore, and all those who work at the Tennessee State Library and Archives.” He added that he enjoyed making friends with people from various counties across Tennessee and those who spoke at the workshops.
Hurdt serves on the CountyRecords Commission of the WashingtonCounty Records Management and Archives Department. He is a member of the Friends of the WashingtonCountyArchives, Jonesborough Genealogical Society, WashingtonCountyHistoricalAssociation, and other historic groups. He is a member of WestHillsBaptistChurch.
The Tennessee Archives Institute is a series of workshops on the principles and practices of archival management and records preservation. The Institute provides participants with an opportunity to interact and exchange ideas with other archivists and records keepers from around the state.
The Institute is intended primarily for county and municipal archivists and records managers. Historians, genealogists, county officials, and other individuals who work with historical records are also invited to participate. For more information on the Institute and its curricula, contact Jami Awalt: [email protected].
The state also supports an Archives Development Program that works with county and municipal governments to improve the storage conditions of and access to local government records. Archives Development Program staff provide training and support for local government officials, historians, genealogists, archivists, and others interested in establishing records and archive programs in their community. The Archives Development Program is the administrating agency for the Direct Grants to Local Government Archives provided by the Tennessee General Assembly.
TENNESSEE’S PUBLIC RECORDS
(Editor’s Note: The purpose and reason for the establishment of a WashingtonCounty Records Management and Archives Department is explained in part by the following information provided by the Tennessee Secretary of State’s Office.)
Tennessee’s public records are created by state and local governments in conducting the business of the people of Tennessee. They document the work of public agencies and represent the evidence by which citizens may understand the consequences of decisions made by their government. In essence, they allow the governed to hold those who govern accountable. To that end, these documents must always remain available for public inspection.
By law, some records must be maintained permanently by state and county governments. They must remain forever in public custody, and at no time can public records legally be owned, traded, sold, or bought by members of the general public. The government’s responsibility towards custodianship of public records is serious and mandated by law.
The private sale of these records is strictly prohibited according to TCA 39-16-504, the so-called replevin law. Replevin provides for the repossession from private hands of all public records removed from state, county, or municipal government offices. Violation of this law is a Class A misdemeanor.
State Officials and County Archivist Ned Irwin seek citizens’ help in returning Tennessee’s state and local records (court records, wills, deeds, etc.) that have been lost or stolen. These documents should be located safely and securely in their appropriate counties, where they can be preserved, indexed, microfilmed, and made available to all citizens.
In some counties, public records were taken from courthouses years ago or were removed from their proper storage location in the county archive. Whenever such records are removed or stolen–sometimes for resale on web auction sites such as eBay–our shared history is lost and accountability in our government is compromised. State and county records are public property and cannot legally be owned by private individuals. Removing government documents from government custody is illegal.
If you are a document collector, dealer, or staff member at an archives, library, historical society, or museum, you can:
- avoid buying, selling, or trading in lost or stolen Tennessee public records.
- identify lost or stolen public records and report them to the Tennessee State Library and Archives.
Staff members at TSLA’s Archives Development Program work with the public to determine whether items are, indeed, government records that belong in a state or county archive. By avoiding the purchase of stolen records on eBay or through other auctions, individuals will ultimately save time, the loss of their money, and potential lawsuits. It will also ensure that we, as Tennesseecitizens, continue to have access to the records of our own government.
The TSLA staff generally advises callers to contact their county attorney, county sheriff, or county archivist, depending on the unique circumstances of each county when government records not in government possession are located. . Even though it is up to law enforcement authorities to prosecute theft, the TSLA has been able to aid several Tennessee counties in recovering their lost or stolen public records.