January 9, 2014
(Post first written on January 4, 2014)
I am fighting back tears and my stomach is in knots. Most people probably wouldn’t have a physical reaction like this upon learning that 100 boxes of old official documents dating from 1840 and languishing in a county courthouse basement in Franklin County, North Carolina were destroyed beginning December 6, 2013, but I do. They were incinerated at an Animal Pound no less. Reportedly, it took the whole weekend and a lot of fuel to burn through all the leather bindings. It also took more than $7,000 taxpayer dollars. I have this pained reaction because historical records are a passion of mine. They helped me find many of my enslaved ancestors. As a sort of obsessed family historian, I have driven far distances to research in ancestral towns and spent days in the backrooms and basements of courthouses. I’ve combed through fragile 200-year old documents and I initiated a project in western Kentucky to try unfold and better preserve records still folded into small bundles like these burned in Franklin County.