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 RoadJonesboroughTennessee 37659.  The organization’s web site is

                                                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:

     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 compromisedState 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.