This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.

Continued From Page 27 <<<

Arkansas County Circuit Clerk Sarah Mer- chant and County Clerk Melissa Wood dis- play one of the many bound volumes of docu- mentation such as marriage licenses, deeds and probate records that has been preserved.

Photo by Holly Hope/AHPP

Arkansas County historic preservation efforts encompass recorded documents

ByMark Christ Arkansas Historic Preservation Program

tion of county records. Held in large bound volumes, these cumbersome, often molder- ing books contain a county’s history from its earliest days. Marriage licenses. Deeds. Pro- bate records. Te details of the lives of the people touched by county government. Arkansas County has taken an aggressive


approach to preserving its records, which include marriage and probate records dat- ing to 1819 and deeds, mortgages and other materials that go as far back as 1808. Here you find the records of indentured servants who came to Arkansas to start a new life, the files that show a slave who re- ceived manumission and returned later to purchase his wife’s freedom. Te lives of real people, long dead. Arkansas County Clerk Melissa Wood

and Arkansas County Circuit Clerk Sarah Merchant are keeping the preservation ef- fort moving. “I take great pride in our restoration

project,” Wood said. “We have received numerous compliments on the condition of records. I always enjoy when a person


ne of the greatest challenges faced by Arkansas county courthouses, from the histori- an’s viewpoint, is the preserva-

comes in to do genealogy research and they find something new. We have marriages, adoptions,

wills and probate records that date back to 1819. Our records are an important tool in telling a person’s family history. We must do our very best to maintain and preserve these records for years to come.” Merchant shares that sentiment. “It is my personal opinion that we should always be mindful of ‘where we came from.’ I think it helps to keep us grounded and gives us prospective in creating goals for the future,” she said. “All county records are rich in heritage and history. Even grade school and high school students who are not par- ticularly interested in history seem to be in awe of the old records. Tere is nothing like sitting down with a 200-year-old book to get a feel for how things used to be. Many young people come away with a thankful attitude that they don’t have to write ev- erything by hand, they don’t have to ride a horse to town, they don’t have to walk to school and they don’t have to feed the live- stock. For adults of all ages, the records are a source of valuable information that provides a connection with generations past. Many people sit and reminisce over the books as childhood memories of family, friends and community return. I believe that it is of ut- most importance to preserve these records so that generations to come may have the same

guardianships, tax records,

opportunity to enjoy them.” Te restoration effort began about 17

years ago when Arkansas County Circuit Clerk Tommy Sue Keffer began budgeting money from the Recorder’s Cost Fund, and the first records targeted for preservation were indices, deeds and mortgages, circuit court judgments, marriage licenses, wills and probate records — the records that are researched and handled the most. Te Ar- kansas County Records Preservation Com- mittee was established around 2001 to raise funds for the project, beginning with an Arkansas County Historical Cookbook, which was a huge success. Te citizens — private, corporate and non-profit — have made donations in Gold, Silver and Bronze categories, and the Committee has raised $76,700, while the Recorder’s Cost Fund has supplied $68,000 over the years. Circuit Clerk Merchant began a digital imaging project in 2009, beginning with a $25,000 Arkanas Court Recorders grant that helped buy equipment to scan county records, and $35,040 in additional grants has kept the project moving along. To date, 28 of the 139 books targeted

for preservation by the county clerk’s of- fice and 86 of the 240 in the circuit clerk’s office have been completed, and they will continue

preserving Arkansas heritage, one page at a time. COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2015 County’s

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56