Sunday, September 6, 2015

Where Have All the Readers Gone?

Wow! I cannot believe it's been almost 8 months since my last post! I have GOT to do better!

I know what the problem is, though -- it's FACEBOOK. See, once upon a time, I used to share my research discoveries, and other genealogy-related musings, here, or on my less personal, "Genea-Related" blog. For years, I felt a sense of kinship and belonging within a large, supportive group of genealogy bloggers. But, then, two things kinda happened at about the same time, and those concurrent events seemed to work together to lure me (and perhaps my others) from posting (regularly) to our blogs.

In my opinion, the BIG thing that happened was that more and more genealogy group began to pop up on Facebook. These groups started off with broad-topic ranges, but over time, the groups became more and more specific in scope - categorized in a variety of ways, by ethnicity, location, social/civic involvement, military service, and/or DNA-focused interests. As these groups grew larger in membership, I noticed a decline in the number of comments on, and visits to my blogs. Instead, people drifted over to the instantaneous feedback that Facebook allows, along with its ability for users to engage in "conversation" with each other about, and directly under each post. At first, I was reluctant to join in. After all, I'd been on Facebook since 2007, when I'd joined during my youngest's first year of college, just so I could see some pictures shed wanted to show me. At that time, very few "people my age" we're even on FB, but over the next couple of years, my "real" friends began to join, and the site began to serve as a place for sharing pictures and daily happenings with my family and friends.
As time went on, I began to miss the feedback I'd been used to getting when I would post to my blogs. Comments became sparse, to none, and I guess I started feeling like no one was reading. (I know that the purpose isn't supposed to be to entertain others, but we all need a little support, and the feedback was invaluable.) Anyway, I eventually began to poke around in some of the Facebook
groups, and soon, the old,"If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" adage won out. So, I dove in, joining
groups for the NC counties from which my ancestors hailed, groups for African ancestry, for genealogical societies to which I belonged, and MORE! I began to notice that those people who were still posting on blogs, would then publish the links to those posts on Facebook, and all of the commenting was being done there, instead of on the blogs. I became so active, so fast, that genea-matters began to totally consume my feed, and I was hardly ever seeing posts from my original friends. Not only that, I became a bit self-conscious about my hundreds of new "friends" being privy to my personal life, etc., so I decided it best to create a separate FB profile, just for genealogy. And, that was all she wrote! :)

The second factor which led to a slowdown in blog-posting, and surely contributed to the decrease in number of readers and commentary, was the demise of the very popular, Google Reader. The majority of us in the blogosphere seemed to have used this platform to organize and deliver the posts of the weblogs we each followed. When Google announced that its Reader was being discontinued, several options were given for new readers to which users could transfer. I chose Feedly; but it just hasn't been the same, and the transfer did not work, 100%. My guess is that this is true for many, and that's probably why we've all lost readers. Also, the interface is quite different, and in order to comment, one must click out of the program, to go,directly to the blog site, and then come back. I also find it frustrating that only small sections of posts open at one time.

So, why am I writing about all of this? Well, honestly, I hadn't planned to. I came here to write a post
about finding my dad's Marine Corps dog tags, but when I saw how long it had been since I'd posted,
I decided to "say something", and it turned into this post.  I'm still going to write that one; and I will share it (and this one) on Facebook (lol), but I'd like to ask just ONE favor of everyone who's actually ready this. Please ma'am, please sir: Just leave me one tiny comment here on the blog. I'd really like to get an idea of who is still even reading, so that I can make some decisions about how I'd like to go forth with my writing. Oh, I am going to renew my commitment to writing, the only question is, "What will my platform be?

Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Not So Mysterious Monday - William A Green

1/5/2015 - UPDATE!!!!!
I've learned a lot more about the illusive William Green since writing about him in 2009, but today has been a banner day because I've positively identified a PICTURE of William!  Here he is!
Sargent William Adam Green
(October 1874 - February 21, 1940)
 I've actually had a picture of this picture for a few years, and I've long suspected that it could have been William. However, the first time I saw it, and took a shot of it, the military insignia wasn't as clear.  As a matter of fact, the "3" above the crossed rifles, didn't show up on that first picture, at all. So, for a few years, I've had that picture but didn't realize that there was such a clear identifier on it!

Yesterday, I returned to the home of my cousin, H, in Louisburg, NC, where this picture, along with several others of the white-looking ancestral members of my family, hangs in a private room, which few people even know about.  I convinced my aged and ailing cousin to allow me to go back into the room (escorted by his wife) to compare a picture of another mystery ancestor, to a baby picture that I remembered being in there.  He obliged my request, and so, while in there, I quickly took new photos of each of the pictures in the little room. All of the pictures are framed, and most are hanging on the wall.  The ones that aren't are sitting atop an antique piano, which belonged to the home's original owner.

When I returned home from my trip, and looked over my pictures, I immediately noticed that the military-looking insignia was much clearer than it had been in the first shot, and that the was a unmistakable number "3" above the crossing of the two rifles.  I began to get excited, because I knew that I'd found William Green, some years ago, in the THIRD NC Volunteer Battalion, during the Spanish-American War! Could this be him?  But, what was on the little medal under the guns?  I studied it and studied it, trying to determine if it had the letter H on it, since that was William's company.  But, all the blowing up and starting at it couldn't clarify that part of the picture. So, what did I do?  I turned to the genealogy community on Facebook! :)  Posting the picture and query instigated lots of discussion.  In the end, although no one could  make out what was under the rifles, everyone agreed that the rest of the insignia definitely represented the Third NC Battalion.  Because there was no one else in my ancestral family who served in the SAW, and no one else who would have have been age-eligible and who would fit the physical description of the young man in the picture, I knew I had William!
Close-up of insignia

So, there you have it! I am now able to look into the eyes of the youngest son of my great-great grandparents, Nathaniel Hawkins and Anna Green, whom I've never seen photos of.  Looking at William allows me to look at the two of them - or at least to imagine what they may have looked like. I see William, and I think about what it must have been like for him to have served in this particular military unit - an all black battalion, which was subjected to the worst kind of racism, in and around their camps. I imagine for William, looking WHITE in this segregated regiment must have presented a multitude of additional challenges, both from within, and from outside of the "protective" walls of his encampments. I wonder, for William, what it was like to (presumably) for the first time in his life be immersed in an all-black world, especially since even the officers in this regiment were black?  I wonder if he got bullied? I wonder if he got called, "white-boy" - if he was beat up, or teased for his appearance?  I wonder if he was the only one in his company who was like this? I do know that he mustered in as a Sargent, and that was probably due to the color of his skin. But, why wasn't he one of the "officers"?

In William's eyes, I imagine I see the painfully-gained, growing wisdom of a young man, who has had his first venture into a harsh world, away from his family. I feel as though I see the contemplative wheels a-turning, and he considers his next move(s), knowing that he will never see himself the same way he may have before he enlisted, and understanding in even greater depth than before, the juxtaposition he would face as a white-looking black man in the Jim Crow south.  And, for the first time since I learned of William Adam Green, who moved to New York, not too long after this picture was made, and lived out his life "passing" as white - I understood, and I forgave him.

August 9, 2009 (Updated on 1/5/2015)
Last week's mystery was about my gg grandmother, Anna Green. Today I'll introduce her son, William. William Green was born in 1873 1874 in Franklin County, NC. He was the fourth of Anna's mulatto children, whose father was Nathaniel M. Hawkins. (See last week's Mysterious Monday for the back story) I know very little about William, except that he looked white, and that he left NC at an early age and moved to New York, where he lived as a White man. According to my 90 (now 95) year-old cousin, Florine, he married a white woman, who she thinks may have been Jewish. It is unclear as to whether or not this woman ever knew William's ethnicity before his death, but Florine recalls that she actually came to Louisburg at some point afterward, said some choice words and dumped off a bunch of pictures and such - which have since disappeared. William's wife was actually Irish. I don't know anymore about the whole "coming to Louisburg thing, but something seems to have happened once either she (Margaret), or someone else in her family discovered William's ethnicity, because apparently they "outted" other family members who were also passing in NY, causing them to lose their jobs, and more.

Florine tells a story of going with her aunt, William's sister, to New York for his funeral, but not being able to attend because she was "too brown" and would have given away the "secret". (Interesting, because Florine is very light, but not light enough to pass.) So, she stayed at the house - which I'm assuming was her Aunt Betty's (Elizabeth GREEN Miller's) house. Betty was also living in New York and passed for White. This was sometime in the 1930's. (She, along with her sister, Ruby, were the two, mentioned above.)

What I know for sure:... (Not much!)
1. William's middle name was Adam. Now, this is complicated, but I have a Family Group Record from that shows William's 1904 marriage in Manhattan. This marriage was to Sally Lou Johnson, who was also from Louisburg. (Florine says this is not the white woman, but a first wife, and I'm guessing she was Black.) On this document, William lists his parents as Anna Perkins and Nathaniel Green. If this is my William, which I believe it is, this document corroborates the oral history that Anna was originally a Perkins before she came to Louisburg. Nathaniel also matches the first name of the person I was told was Wm's white father, but I have a different surname. I'm assuming that William may have been guessing at this, because his father died when he was six and he was just probably assuming that his mother got her last name (Green) from him, but she didn't. They were never married. The other thing about this document is that I can no longer find it or pull it up on Family Search! Thank goodness I printed it out when I originally saw it, but it's a mystery as to why it no longer seems to be there. The middle name, Adam, was also confirmed on William's WWI Draft Registration (see below), and on his service record from the Spanish-American War.
William's WWI Draft Registration

2. William died in New YorkWilliam died on February 21, 1940, in the Bronx, NY. He is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery, Hastings-on-Hudson in Westchester County, New York.  His niece, Ruby Green, was the informant on his death certificate.  William's wife, Margaret Boyle, had long predeceased him, having passed in 1929.  I have not found evidence of them having any children, but I'm told that they may have had a son.  

3. William's sister, Betty, also lived in New York and was passing for White. She was a "hairdresser to the rich folk", according to Cousin Florine, until William's wife found out that they were Black and went and told everyone. Then she lost all her clients. Florine says she lived in the Riverdale section of NY. Bettie married Roy Miller, a postal worker. According to Florine, my cousin H, and my cousin Virginia, Betty was also Doris Duke's personal stylist, and "traveled with her everywhere she went".  I do have a picture of Betty relaxing on a ship deck, and others of her wearing furs, so perhaps this is true. I tried to verify this a few years ago, but I'd gotten the name wrong, and ended up writing to Doris DAY's people, instead of Doris DUKE's. A followup is on my to-do list. :)

William names his father as Nathaniel Green on the document. Our oral history gives the name Hawkins. (What the heck - that's the name. Nathaniel HAWKINS.) Well, this goes to show what a short time it's been since I discovered and uncovered my Hawkins ancestry!  There's no further conflict on this.  William's father was Nathaniel Hawkins.

1. Did William ever have any children, either by Sally Lou, or by his white wife? If so, what happened to them, and how can I find them? The whole Sally Lou thing is still a mystery, although I have a few suspicions. However, I don't find her anywhere else, in Louisburg, where it says she was from, or in NY. Florine insists that William had a child, but I'm thinking that if that child was in Louisburg, we'd know about him/her, so I don't know.

2. What was William's wife's name? (the white one) William married Margaret Boyle before 1918, in NY.  I had a source for this, but can't find it, right now.  Margaret was born in Ireland, in 1876, to parents John Boyle and Bridget Nolan.  She immigrated (with her parents) to the United States in 1907.

3. Where is William buried?  William is buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Westchester, NY

4. Did William maintain any type of communication with his mother, Anna? (Was she even still living, when he left NC?)

5. Did Anna ever visit William in New York? Could she have gone to live with him? (Perhaps as a servant? Remember, Anna disappears from my census findings after 1880.)

Today's mystery question: How can I find out more about William Green? The work continues...


*The picture of William A Green is the explicit property of this writer, and should not be copied without my permission.  You may, though, feel free to share this post, in its entirety. :)

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Historic Louisburg - An Article

Wow. I just finished reading this lengthy, well-written essay on the history of Louisburg, the town of my ancestors; and I must say, it's left me feeling "some kind of way".  When I first began reading the article, I was grateful to be learning more about the houses and properties on the "other side of the bridge", as I'd grown up knowing the "historic" part of Louisburg to be. As a child, visiting my grandmother on South Main Street, I was forbidden to ever travel across that bridge in my wanderings.  The one time I did, I got my behind tore up when I got back to the house, since Ms. Wilhelmina, and some of the other townsfolk, had already notified my grandmother, aunt, and uncle that they'd seen me coming back across the bridge. (I even got the privilege of picking the switch off the tree!) I didn't understand then, what I know now, about why they didn't want me to cross the bridge. They were trying to protect me, and to keep me safe and innocent. But, I didn't know that....

Anyway, I still find myself curious about the other side of the bridge when I come to town.  Yes, the historic district holds the Franklin County Courthouse, as well as the Register of Deeds - both crucial to the work I've done in my genealogy research.  But, the homes on the north side of the bridge incite in me a special intrigue, and not only because of my love and fascination for old and unusual architecture, but also because it was in some of these homes that my sweet grandmother, Annie YARBOROUGH, labored and, dare I say loved, as "the help". Not only that, but thanks to my years of research, I must also acknowledge that others of my ancestors were amongst those considered to be the town's "most prominent citizens", thus making them, and their peers the owners of many of the very properties mentioned in this article.

As I began to read the essay, I was frst filled with excitement. After all, when I drive through the neighborhoods mentioned - Noble St., Church St., N. Main Street, etc., I never dare to stop and ask anyone any questions about the homes, even though I always wonder, "Could this one be where my gg-grandfather, Nathaniel Hawkins lived?" "Is this the block that was owned by my 3rd great-grandmother, Jacobina Sherrod Hawkins?"  "I wonder exactly where my great-grandfather, Calvin's, last owner, James H. Yarborough lived with his wife, Arete?"  The questions in my mind are never-ending.  It seemed that, armed with a print-out of this article, I'd be able to ride through the neighborhoods and identify many of the very homes I've been wondering about, and more.  However, about halfway through the piece, I began to get irritated.  This article was walking me step-by-step through the building and development of the town of Louisburg, and there had not been one single mention of African-Americans, although people of color had, during the time of the county's development, outnumbered the population of whites.  As the article mentioned over and over again how these prominent folks "built" these beautiful properties, not one word was lent to acknowledge the enslaved laborers, who most certainly did much, if not all of the work, since all of the property owners were slaveholders.  There was no menton, even, of James Boon, a free person of color, who not only owned and operated his own carpentry business, but was a Louisburg property owner, too. Not a word about John H. Williamson, a freedman who represented Franklin County in the NC Legislature for six terms (and who was a friend and contemporary of my great-grandfather's). As a matter of fact, there was only one mention in the entire 5,671 word article of any persons of color, and that didn't occur until after the 4700th word, when the author stated this:   "There were other contractors active in Louisburg but unfortunately records of their work are scarce. The 1900 Census lists Houck as the only house contractor and nine carpenters six of whom were black. These carpenters, such as Perry Williams who helped construct the Alston House (107 South Elm Street, 1902-1905), worked under the supervision of builders such as Houck."  I won't go into the fact that James Boon's papers are housed at the NC State Archives, but by "scarce" records, I assume that means no one looked for them.

Anyway, I realize that I'm kind of on a rant here, but reading this article has just brought to the surface much of the frustration I've felt as a researcher with roots in Louisburg. The truth is, this city was a Confederate stronghold, as alluded to by one of it's citizens at the end of the Civil War, when she wrote in her diary of a group of Union soldiers, "but here they are still...encamped in our beautiful college groves, which have always been the pride of the Village, and consecrated to learning-now polluted by the tread of our vindictive foe."

Although I've met and befriended many of Louisburg's wonderful current-day citizens, I definitely have felt constrained in my efforts to uncover truths about my ancestors of color, and their lives in this sweet little town. I don't hold anyone living today accountable for the choices and/or actions of their (our) ancestors, but I do ask that we honor them all, by doing the work it takes to tell the whole stories of their lives, and of the building of the town that we all hold so dear.

My grandma, Anna Green Yarborough, on "the bridge".

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Amanuensis Monday - I'm Sorry, Grandma

I know that the title I've chosen for this post is a strange one, especially given that I don't bear any responsibility for what happened to my grandma. But, having lived a life that hasn't been particularly easy, and because I'm realizing more and more how much I seem to have inherited that stroke of fate from the (strong) female ancestors who preceded me, I can't help but to empathize with my Grandma Anna (Annie?) Yarborough for having to endure what seems like it was probably an exasperating ordeal to prove her date of birth.
So, what's this all about?  (I'm glad you asked!)
Some of my readers may recall that I recently lost an aunt.  She was last of my Yarborough grandparents' children, and she still lived in the family home, which was built by my grandfather (her father) and his brother(s), over 100 years ago.  I am the heir to this property, and I've been trying, a little at a time, to carefully go through all of the mounds and piles of STUFF that's built up and been left behind there.  My aunt, who lost both of her brothers (my dad and my uncle) just a month apart in 1997, reacted, in part, by becoming somewhat of a hoarder - in particular, a paper hoarder.  I am sure (with no exaggeration) that she had not discarded a single piece of paper since that fateful year, but the problem was seemingly beginning to develop, even before that.  So, yep - that leaves Renate, the genealogist, who wouldn't dream of just going in and trashing it all, to go painstakingly through every piece of mail, every manila envelope, every greeting card, etc., to look for possible clues to and/or evidence of my family history. But, I'll write more about that in another post.  Now, for the point of this one.
Yesterday, on one of my trips to the house, I was going through a dresser drawer that was stocked full of what appeared to only be old bank statements.  (These were from the 70's.)  As much as I wanted to just shred and chuck them, I knew better, because I've learned that anything can be anywhere in that house! (Don't get me started about the letter from my grandfather to my grandmother, written in NINETEEN TWENTY-ONE, which I found on my very first venture.  It was on the shelf of my aunt's headboard, mixed between some bills from 2012! But, I digress...)
Anyway, I stuck to it, and lo and behold, about 3/4 of the way through the bank statements, I noticed three neatly folder sheets of slightly yellowed paper.  Wondering what they might be (and getting excited), I opened the first one.  Here it is.

 Wow!  I've read posts from others about how their ancestors had to try to prove their birth dates, but I'd never seen any documentation from any of mine.  Even though I've worked with the Delayed Birth Records in Franklin County many times, those were just the actual records, but not the correspondence which led up to them.
The next paper I opened was this one.  I'm assuming my grandma had sent them a letter stating that she had contacted the Census Bureau, and her insurance company.  (I didn't find that letter.)

 The biggest surprise was third of the three documents, a hand-written letter from my grandmother to the SSA.  I was quite baffled at first, because I knew this wasn't my grandmother's handwriting, nor did she "talk" like this.  But, then I figured it out.  My Aunt Sue (who was a secretary at the time) had penned this letter for my grandmother.  Although I know she wasn't illiterate, I'm beginning to gather that, perhaps, writing wasn't her strong-suit, so she probably asked my aunt to write this for her.

The letter reads as follows:
                                        927 So. Main St.
                                        Louisburg, NC
                                        June 8, 1957

Mr. John H Ingle, Manager
District Office
Social Security Administration
Raleigh, N.C
Dear Mr. Ingle:
     I am enclosing a copy of the Census Bureau 
record to try to establish proof of my age.  
     You will note that there is a difference in
the spelling of the irst name.  I was always told
that my first name was Annie, but I've been called
Anna, and have always used Annie for official business
of any kind.  Is this acceptable or will I have to try
to do something about this?
     I will appreciate any help you can give me.
I am,
                                    Sincerely Yours,
                                   Annie G. Yarborough
                                   (SSN cut off for privacy.)

Needless to say, there had to have been correspondence before and after this.  I just feel so bad to learn of all the back-and-forth that my grandmother apparently had to go through, just to prove her birth.  She was a such a hard working woman, widowed after just a few years of marriage, and having raised 3 children, 3 step-children, and helped to raise the children of other relatives, all while working as a domestic and doing the best she could for everyone.  Given the year that this was, I can't help but wonder if maybe she was trying to go over to Japan, where my father was stationed, to help him with his newly-adopted son, my brother, Henry. I'll bet anything that's what it was.  I also wonder how it is that she already had a SSN, if she didn't have a birth certificate?  And, since she did, couldn't they have used whatever documentation she'd provided for that? Why couldn't this just have been a bit simpler for her?
I guess I know the answer to that.  As I just shared with a friend a few days ago, nothing ever just goes smoothly for me, and I've always been told, "You're just like your grandma." So, there ya go!  (And, I wouldn't have it any other way!) :)


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Monday, March 3, 2014

Amanuensis Monday - My Grandmother's Poem

When we were growing up, my brother, Arthur, and I used to each teasingly "claim" one of our grandmothers as our own.  Our paternal grandmother, Anna Green Yarborough, was, "MY grandma", and our mother's mother was "his".  I'm not sure how or why this started, but I did have an extremely close relationship with my Grandma Yarborough, and my Grandma Thomas was always a bit more of a mystery woman to me, even though she lived closer to us, in Norfolk.  I've always been aware of the many traits I inherited from my father's mother, but, as time goes on, I'm finding that there's quite a bit of my Grandma Thomas in me, too! 

I've been writing poetry since I was in junior high school, but for the most part, I've kept my writings private. (The exception has been the many motivational pieces I've written for students to perform.) Several years ago, while exploring some of the items left in the dresser drawer in the room my grandmother once occupied at my mom's house, I came across this poem.  I was delighted, yet baffled.  Did my grandmother really write this?  I never, ever would have even imagined her penning a poem, especially not something as fabulously insightful as this one.  I just didn't know this side of my grandmother at all!

I remember getting on the computer and searching for the lines of the poem, to see if perhaps someone else had authored it.  Nothing came up. I even did it again, before starting this post.  Still, nothing.  I recently learned that this poem was read at my grandmother's funeral in 1986, but I have no memory of hearing it, then.  The person who mentioned it to me referred to it as, "that beautiful poem that was written by your grandmother".  I think that with that, along with the inscription and dedication which follow the poem, it's time for me to accept what I found so hard to believe.  My "brother's grandmother" (lol) was a poet!

It is with enormous pride that I present the poem, "You Say I'm Growing Old?", written by Mary Davis Hill Thomas, January 24, 1960, and dedicated to her children, Howell, (Mary)Anne, and Jane.

You Say I'm Growing Old?
You tell me I'm glowing? I tell you that's not so
The house" I live in may be worn out, 
That of course I know.
It's been in use a long, long while, it's weathered many a gale
I'm really not surprised you think it's getting somewhat frail.

The color on the roof is changing, the windows getting dim,
The walls are a bit transparent and looking rather thin.
The foundation not so steady as once it used to be,
My "house" is getting shaky, but my "house" isn't me.

My few short years can't make me old, I feel I'm in my youth.
Eternity lies just ahead, a life of joy and truth.
I'm going to live forever there, as life will go on - it's grand.
You tell me I'm getting old? You just don't understand.

The dweller in my little "house" is young and bright and gay,
Just starting on a life to last throughout eternal day.
You only see the outside, which is all that most folks see.
You tell me I'm getting old? You mixed my "house" with me.

As Mary Thomas 
                                               feel(s) about herself this January 24, 1960
                                                                                        Mary H. Thomas

On the back of the original was this inscription:

To my children Howell, Anne, and Jane
Sunday afternoon, January 24th
reading poetry at Y.W.C.A. 927 Park Ave. Norfolk
compared my present life and my future home
ove on the other side of this sheet of paper
                                             Mary Thomas

I'm so proud of my grandmother for writing this phenomenal poem, and just for being the strong, beautiful woman that she was.  I know so much more about her, and the life she lived, because of my research, and I am grateful to have been chosen to share her story, and that of my other ancestors, with the world.

To learn more about my grandmother, Mary Davis Walker Hill Thomas, click here (for a post about both of my grandmothers) and here, here, and here for a 3-part series I wrote about the losses my Grandma Thomas experienced in her life.

Thanks for reading!

The poem, "You Say I'm Growing Old" was written in 1960 by Mary Thomas, and is the express property of her descendants.  It is not to be used or copied without crediting the author.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - NO WORDS

Coat of Arms of my ancestor, Sir John Hawkins
Image source:

I came across this image on another site about two years ago.  I saved it, knowing that one day I'd need to blog about it, but I just haven't been able to find the words. Each time I revisit it, and attempt to start writing, I begin to almost feel ill. There are just NO WORDS.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Destroyed Records - A Rebuttal from the Heritage Society

The backlash continues, following the destruction of valuable, research-rich records in Franklin County, NC. If you are not aware of the situation, you can read about it here, with previous updates given here, and here.

There is now a rebuttal from the Franklin County Heritage Society to the letter from County Manager, Angela Harris.  The Heritage Society had planned to present this rebuttal, along with supporting documentation at the January 21st Commissioners Meeting, however, it was canceled due to weather.  Therefore, the rebuttal was posted on the society's Facebook page, with the following precursor:

On January 16, 2014, Mrs. Harris, Franklin County manager, released a statement meant to defend her responsibility in the destruction of the historical records that the Heritage Society and many volunteers throughout the county had strived ...for months to save. Links to her statement appear on this page, on Franklin County News Online and on numerous sites throughout the internet. The Heritage Society believes that Mrs. Harris failed to support her decision and instead attempted to lay the blame for her own actions on the shoulders of members of the Society and the Clerk of Court. At our monthly meeting on Thursday, January 16, the membership voted unanimously to respond to Mrs. Harris's statement with the following Rebuttal. We were prepared to attend the commissioner's meeting in mass on January 21 and present our rebuttal along with numerous pages of supporting documentation. Since the meeting was delayed until January 27th due to the weather, we are releasing our Rebuttal here so that the public can view our response in a timely manner. Our apologies to the reader in that this is a lengthy document.
Here follows the Heritage Society's rebuttal, in its entirety:

REBUTTAL Offered by The Heritage Society of Franklin County, NC to Mrs. Harris's Statement

January 23, 2014 at 2:10am
This REBUTTAL, dated January 16, 2014, is offered by The Heritage Society of Franklin County, NC to the written statement made by Mrs. Angela Harris, on January 16, 2014, in response to the events of December 6, 2013 and the burning of 100 year old county records.  Mrs. Harris's original statement is in regular print, our rebuttal statements are in BOLD Print and quotes taken from others are posted in ITALICSSupporting documentation was included in the original statement provided to the County Commissioners and can be made available upon request.  

County Manager Angela L. Harris:
Response to Destruction of Franklin County Historical Records
After careful consideration and reflection of the chain of events that led to the disposal of county and state records on December 06, 2013, and with great concern for the citizens of Franklin County who have experienced disappointment over this matter, I am providing the following summary.

Early in her tenure (exact date uncertain,)…........Mrs. Chastain was appointed on May 1, 2013, the records were discovered on May 9, 2013.  On May 16, 2013, Mrs. Chastain wrote a signed and officially sealed document to The Heritage Society requesting our assistance in "sorting, cataloging, rediscovering and preserving the history" found in the basement.  The letter was presented at the Heritage Society meeting on that same day.  Present at the meeting was County Commissioner Sidney Dunston.  On May 17, 2013, following discussions with Society members and Mrs. Chastain about the proper handling of the documents and the best archiving system, Pat Leonard, Heritage Society President put in a request to the State Archives for their professional advice.  On May 22, 2013, Tom Vincent (Unit Supervisor with the Records Analysis Unit of the State Archives) returned the call and stated that they would make arrangements to come to Franklin County to assess the situation…...... newly appointed Clerk of Court, Patricia Chastain visited the County Administration Building and stopped by Chuck Murray’s office (Director of Finance and General Administration) where Mr. Murray and I were meeting. The Clerk of Court, Ms. Chastain made reference to North Carolina Archives wanting to come to Franklin County, but she was “trying to hold them off” (I believe was her statement).........Mrs .Chastain was not contacted by the State Archives until May 29, 2013 (seven days following their conversation with Heritage Society President Pat Leonard and a full 12 days following our initial phone call to the Archives). Her schedule was full at this point and the dates proposed by the Archives were in conflict with previously scheduled Court business.......... until Heritage Society members could go through documents stored in the basement. The basis of her concern was that Archives would take certain items and leave others behind..........which is what was stated in the email from Mr. Vincent, "We'll bring our small van and just two or three people, we may take some records on our initial visit.  If there is a large quantity of records for us to pick up, we can set up a time to come back with more staff and our large truck."  .Mrs. Chastain's main concern was that she be available and present when the Archives arrived so that she would be able to participate in the assessment............ I expressed on this date and a number of times thereafter that I would recommend seeking the guidance of Archives and fully disclosing the goal of maintaining records (or copies) locally. (Note: I would later learn that officials from Archives had proposed to the Clerk of Court the dates of June 10, 12 or 13 for a visit and initial survey; alternate dates were the week of June 17 and June 24.) The Clerk of Court indicated she would have Heritage members sign a confidentiality statement. I expressed concern that individuals unrelated to the court would be going through her files and advised her to seek guidance on this matter........From the onset, The Heritage Society had agreed that confidentiality was imperative and had agreed to such on May 16, 2013 when we received and entered into our record the Letter from Mrs. Chastain requesting our assistance…….. 
Note: Later, the question was raised about the County Attorney drafting a statement for the volunteers. The County Attorney and I discussed and agreed this was the Clerk’s matter; therefore, I advised the Clerk of the importance of her seeking appropriate guidance from her superiors........This issue was not presented to Heritage Society members until AFTER the County Commissioners meeting on August 5, 2013, where they agreed to provide utilities for the donated office space.  Society members agreed to sign a release of liability statement and even unanimously voted on the issue.  Mrs. Harris had stated that the release would be drawn up by the county attorney, Pete Tomlinson, and the Heritage Society requested on several occasions when the release would be made available to us.  It was discussed for the final time when Mrs. Chastain and Diane Taylor Torrent encountered Mrs. Harris on the street outside of the donated offices prior to August 15, 2013.  Mrs. Torrent asked Mrs. Harris when the release would be ready for signatures and Mrs. Harris replied that the decision had been made that it was no longer at issue.  Mrs. Harris did not at that time make any reference to it being "the Clerk's matter" and reiterated, when questioned, that it was no longer on the table.  
The Clerk of Court inquired of county staff about the availability of space so that Heritage Members could work on sorting documents. I am uncertain of the exact date she began to inquire about this.........The Heritage Society, not Mrs. Chastain, made multiple requests of Mrs. Harris for more space to work beginning in June of 2013. An email with an attached timeline sent to Mrs. Chastain reflects requests made in both June and July............. Again, I proposed she seek guidance within her system about the project. Space was was Mrs. Chastain that was able to acquire the donated space and informed Mrs. Harris about the donated offices and office equipment in a meeting attended by Mrs. Chastain, Mrs. Torrent and Mrs. Harris on the day of the County Commissioner's meeting of August 5, 2013..........    and on August 05, 2013, the Board of Commissioners supported paying utilities for a period up to six months. Utilities were turned on August 08, 2013 (cut off on November 04, 2013) at the space identified.
On August 14, 2013 Mr. Murray emailed Register of Deeds Brandi Davis “I think it would be smart to tell Heritage Society not to touch any of the ROD’s records until you guys have a chance to go through them.” He advised me he was concerned about confidentiality............In an email from Brandi Davis, dated August 15, 2013 she stated that her conversation with Tom Vincent at the State Archives had influenced the decision to ask The Heritage Society to "stand down"..........
In meeting on August 14, 2013 a local citizen made me aware she had been in the basement with Ms. Diane Taylor Torrent from the Heritage Society.............As the donated office space was being set up and preparations were being made to move some of the records into the space to begin work, volunteers were lining up to offer any assistance necessary to be sure that the records were preserved.  This volunteer, who had also facilitated in helping us to acquire much of the office furniture and supplies, was a trained librarian, a prominent member of the community and had offered her assistance in creating a cataloging system for the records.  As we discussed various methods, it became clear that no one system was going to work for the variety of records that were present in the basement.  Since she could not make an adequate assessment of the amount and variety of records and documents that would need to be catalogued without knowing what she was dealing with, we went into the basement.  She was able to get a general idea of the amount of records we were dealing with and at no time touched or opened any box or book.    At this time, no one had any objections to the work we were doing or to anyone entering the basement..............She expressed she was surprised Ms. Torrent had a key to the basement since she was not an employee (court or County)............ Both the upstairs office space and the basement doors were kept locked at all times, with the keys on a chain around my neck, to ensure the safety of the records, as items were being moved in and out..........  I had concerns regarding confidentiality of the County records and followed up with the Clerk of Court the next day. Some of these records were confidential and should not be handled by unauthorized personnel.
On August 15, 2013 the Register of Deeds emailed the Clerk of Court advising she and the Finance Director visited the basement on August 12, 2013 to see what records were in the basement or had been removed. In her email she advised she had contacted Archives for assistance. She advised the Clerk of Court in her email that Tom Vincent with Archives had informed her that ‘until Archives gave final approval, the Heritage Society should not have access to these records.’ Ms. Davis advised the Clerk of Court the Heritage Society should be “put on hold.”….......On August 19, 2013 The Heritage Society emailed Mrs. Chastain expressing our continued commitment to the project as well as expressing our hopes that following the Archives assessment we would again be allowed to continue the work.  By August 20th the keys to both the basement and the donated offices had been returned to Mrs. Chastain.  All items belonging to the Heritage Society remained in hopes that the project would be reinstated at a later date........... Ms. Davis was attempting to schedule a time for Archives to assist her with her records. Ms. Davis later advised me Mr. Vincent had not heard back from the Clerk of Court in reference to scheduling a visit to the County.
Note: Prior to this date, Ms. Davis understood there were no Register of Deeds records in the basement. Ms. Davis possessed two postcards with information regarding items that had been shredded in 2000. On the bottom of one postcard was the statement “NOTHING IS STORED IN OLD COURTHOUSE NOW.” Other information on the postcards read “DESTROYED AMENDMENT APPLICATIONS AND DELAYED BIRTH CERTIFICATE APPLICATIONS FROM 1968 thru 1994. BY SHREDDING IN JULY 2000.” Additionally, one card stated “Destroyed Financing Statement index Books (4) from 1982-1991 A-Z which were stored. Another statement read “Destroyed Marriage License Stubs from 1962 thru 1994.”............This information, while interesting, has little to no bearing on this issue as the range of the records in the basement covered the years 1840 to 1960.    
Later in the day, on August 15, 2013 I met with the Clerk of Court to discuss my concerns, one of which was confidentiality of certain records. On this date, I also discussed the State issued Record Retention and Disposition policy. Mr. Murray later emailed retention guidelines to the Clerk of Court and Ms. Torrent. I was aware Archives had attempted contact with the Clerk of Court in order to arrange a site visit. I urged Ms. Chastain to contact Archives and schedule the visit and later that day she did. 
The Clerk of Court emailed Tom Vincent (Local Records Supervisor- Records Analysis Unit with NC Department of Cultural Resources) regarding Franklin County Archival Records. In her email she wrote, “I am finally settling in and getting back to this matter” in response to her original contact of May 29, 2013 setting up a potential meeting in June, 2013.
On August 21, 2013 Mr. Vincent and Carie Chesarino (Records Analyst) examined the basement of the Franklin County Courthouse. The follow up report indicated “the records in the storage room are in extremely bad condition" A copy of their preliminary findings is available in the Manager’s office. The conclusion section of the report stated the amount of dirt and mold in the storeroom make it hazardous for anyone to spend any amount of time in there.” ..........and the entire quote continues to say "As stated above, the majority of these records can be destroyed according to current Records Retention and Disposition Schedules. The records must be identified in order to determine if the can be destroyed. The Record of Liens and the loose civil and criminal cases would need to be inventoried as stated above before the Division of Archives and Records could give permission to destroy them.".............. 
On August 22, 2013 Mr. Vincent followed up via email with the Ms. Davis regarding giving the delayed birth applications to the Heritage Society. He stated “I’m really uncomfortable with official copies of anything having to do with vital records being outside of government custody.” He went on to reference GS 130A-93(b) and advised “the retention period for the delayed birth applications is only 1 year, so you can get rid of those.”
On September 20, 2013, Ms. Davis emailed Becky McGee-Lankford (Manager, Government Records Section, Assistant State Records Administrator) regarding “delayed birth certificates and a trash bag of health certificates that used to be used to obtain a marriage license years ago.” She sought guidance regarding their destruction. On October 01, 2013 Ms. McGee-Lankford responded with instructions for destruction and/or retention. Note: Marriage Health Certificates contained “certificates from a regularly licensed physician stating that no evidence of venereal disease, tuberculosis in the infectious or communicable state, or mental incompetence was found in the applicants.”This information is confidential.................Mrs. Torrent actually discovered these documents early in the process and brought it to the attention of both Mrs. Chastain and Mrs. Harris immediately.  She gave them both instructions on exactly where they were located in the basement.  When the "stand down" order was given those items were still in the basement in the same location.  The question still remains as to why "sensitive" health department records were stored in this area in the first place............... 
On the evening of October 01, 2013, I noted the Clerk and Ms. Torrent were standing outside of the basement area. They stated they had been working on an inventory for Archives. I stated to the Clerk of Court that while the preliminary report from Archives did reference an inventory, it was my understanding we were to “cease and desist” until a representative from health and safety with the Administrative Office of the Courts made a site visit. The Clerk stated her guidance was to do an inventory. My understanding was Archives had initially stated “if” an inventory existed, they wanted a copy; however, the Health and Safety Inspector would be making a site visit and further activity should cease in the interim. I advised the Clerk of Court she may want to follow up on this issue rather than continuing to be in the basement….....By September 20, 2013, we were still waiting for a response from the Archives.   Steve Trubillia, a concerned citizen, wrote to Becky McGhee Lankford and expressed his impatience at the delay that the county was experiencing in the records preservation while awaiting their response.  Mrs. Lankford responded to Mr. Trubillia with the long awaited report attached.  This report was then forwarded to county officials via Mr. Trubillia.  This was the first anyone had heard from the Archives since their August visit.  The report was not received through official channels but had to be requested by a citizen.  The report stated that many of the items could be destroyed, but repeatedly reiterated these statements…............" The custodians of the records need to verify what the records are prior to destruction"…".Resources does not want these books and would be willing to give permission for their destruction, but prior to doing that we would need to receive an inventory of the volumes containing total number of volumes and beginning and end date of the entire collection"….. "Given their condition and the fact the action were also recorded in the court minutes, we would give permission to destroy those records if we were provided with an inventory"……"If, when inventorying these books prior to destruction, any chattel mortgage records are found prior to 1866, those records should be transferred to the State Archives or maintained permanently in the  office"……"CONCLUSION
The amount of dirt and mold in the storeroom make it hazardous for anyone to spend any amount of time in there. As stated above, the majority of these records can be destroyed according to current Records Retention and Disposition Schedules. The records must be identified in order to determine if they can be destroyed. The Record of Liens and the loose civil and criminal cases would need to be inventoried as stated above before the Division of Archives and Records could give permission to destroy them."……............Mrs. Harris met with Mrs. Chastain and Mrs. Torrent in her office in late September following receipt of this report to discuss its contents.  Mrs. Chastain stated at that time that an inventory needed to be completed in order to proceed.  Mrs. Harris did say that her interpretation of the report was the opposite even though the report had repeatedly stated that an inventory would be required in order for the Archives to fully assess.  Mrs. Torrent asked that since The Heritage Society had been ordered to "stand down" which of them would "physically put on their dirty clothes, go down into the basement and actually perform the task of completing the inventory?"  As neither had the time or inclination, Mrs. Torrent volunteered that she would solely do the work.  This was a full week before Mrs. Harris encountered Mrs. Chastain and Mrs. Torrent on the street on October 1…........ 
On October 11, 2013 the Clerk of Court forwarded a copy of an inventory to Mr. Vincent (NC Archives) and copied Ms. Chesarino (Records Analyst) and Ms. Torrent (Heritage Society member). Ms. Chesarino forwarded a copy to Ms. Davis who in turn provided me a copy….......Mrs. Torrent forwarded the inventory to Mrs. Chastain in a letter dated October 10, 2013 in which she stated that is was a cursory attempt and by no means a complete inventory of every item in the basement.  In the essence of time, boxes where only inventoried pertaining to the majority contents and date range.  The more than 100 books and ledgers where not included in the inventory as time did not permit their investigation…......... 
On October 18, 2013 Ms. Chesarino emailed Ms. Davis in reference to 3 Register of Deeds Fee Book Ledgers – 1940’s, Numerous Blank Real Estate Ledgers. In Ms. Chesarino’s email she stated, although these records should be destroyed, it is my opinion that the space is unsafe. Sarah West is an environmental health inspector at the Administrative Office of the Courts… date, an actual copy of a report on the testing of the mold as to its toxicity had not been made available, though it has been requested on numerous occasions…......She has an appointment to inspect the basement at 9 a.m. on Monday 10/21. I will accompany her on this visit. While we’re there, she could give you advice on the logistics for safe disposal of the remaining Register of Deeds records.

On October 29, 2013 Ms. McGee-Lankford (Government Records…NC Archives) emailed the following reports, copies of which are on file in the Office of County Manager:
(1) preliminary report from the 08/21/13 visit by NC Archives
(2) records inventory provided by the Clerk of Court
(3) report completed by Safety and Health Specialist, Sarah West with NC Administrative of the
(4) letter from Ms. McGee-Lankford. In Ms. Mcgee-Lankford’s email she writes “Based on the inventory provided by the Clerk of Superior Court (see attached) and notes taken by Division of Archives and Records staff (see attached), as well as the environmental assessment provided by Sarah C. West of the Administrative Office of the Courts (see attached),” it is the recommendation of the State Archives of North Carolina that all records listed above be destroyed using proper protocol. The letter grants each of you authorizations to destroy the records in the custody of your office. We urge you to take immediate action to destroy these records. No other disposition is advised, including the donation of the records to a non-government entity for any reason. The health and safety issue concerning these records outweighs all other considerations. Ms. West does an excellent job detailing these health and safety concerns in her report.
Ms. McGee-Lankford reiterated the above and adds in her letter, “The State Archives would have taken some of these records in accordance with established disposition instructions. However, due to the ongoing health and safety issues these records pose to the staff and general public that have access to them, we are requesting that these records be destroyed by the county office responsible for the records. The Clerk of Court will need to seek permission from Sean Bunn at NCAOC to destroy, in addition to the permission to destroy we are granting in this letter. Please prepare an appropriate written Request for Destruction of Records Form AOC-A-119 to be faxed . . .” Further Ms. McGee-Lankford writes These records should be destroyed as soon as possible per North Carolina Administrative Code, Title 7, Subchapter M, Section .0510:”

a) burned, unless prohibited by local ordinance
b) shredded, or torn up so as to destroy the record content of the documents or material concerned
c) placed in acid vats so as to reduce the paper to pulp and to terminate the existence of the documents or materials concerned
d) buried under such conditions that the record nature of the documents or materials will be terminated
e) sold as waste paper, provided that the purchaser agrees in writing that the documents or materials concerned will not be resold as documents or records

Ms. McGee-Lankford stated due to the health risk presented by the records in question, it is recommended that great care be taken in disposing of these records in order to prevent the further spread of mold spores.” Further she stated, “ Our agency does not typically authorize the destruction of records scheduled to come to the State Archives, however, due to the health and safety issues expressed during our initial meeting with county officials (see attached report) and Mrs. West’s report (see attached report) detailing the mold hazard present on and around these records, we are authorizing the destruction of all of the records listed above. Ms. West states in her report ‘I feel that the more these records are disturbed the more the toxins become airborne.”
On October 30, 2013, I instructed Mr. Murray to have Glen Liles (Public Facilities Director) execute the recommendations of Sarah West (Health & Safety Inspector with Administrative Office of the Courts) regarding Courthouse needs.
On November 04, 2013 at a Board of Commissioners meeting, I reported on the status of the site visits made by State officials to Franklin County. I advised the Board of the need to immediately destroy the records due to environmental health concerns. The matter was discussed again with the Board on November 18, 2013. Reports from NC Archives and the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts were emailed to the Board of Commissioners on November 07, 2013.
On November 05, 2013 the Clerk of Court and I participated in a conference call with Ms. Chesarino from Archives. The purpose of the call was to receive specific guidance regarding certain records brought to my attention. The Clerk was provided instruction to photograph said items and Ms. Chesarino agreed to follow up upon receipt of information from the Clerk. On November 15, 2013 Ms. Chesarino emailed feedback concerning those documents to the County Manager and Clerk of Court. The feedback received stated upon examining the photographs provided, it has been determined that the documents in question are not of administrative, legal, evidentiary, or historical value and should be destroyed along with the rest of the records that had been stored in the basement of the Franklin County Courthouse.”…..........These were documents, letters and other items brought forth by Mrs. Torrent and shown to Mrs. Harris in a last ditch effort to persuade her that there were indeed items of value in the basement that were not only of great interest to the community but were also clean and free of any visible mold.  One was a letter from a soldier serving in France in WW 1.  The Archives determined that since they had information that related to his military service that is was of no value and needed to be destroyed.  Their determination was that the information would be of sufficient value to his ancestors and not a hand signed, still in the envelope with the original stamp letter from 1918…......
During the conference call, it was also discussed an inventory was done by NC Archives in 1964. The Clerk of Court made reference to this inventory during our call. I was pleased to learn this had been done. Later that day, Ms. Chesarino emailed me relevant pages of a 1964 inventory of Franklin County official records which included the retention requirements for each category......In March of 1968 renovations to the courthouse required that all offices and records be moved from the building.  Whether or not the basement was included in this move, if the same records in the same order were returned to the basement following renovation or if over the period of 50 years since the 1964 inventory any records were added to or removed from the basement is a question to be left up to county management to address…........ 
On November 15, 2013, the Clerk of Court completed AOC-A-119 “Request for Approval for Destruction of Records” which certified the records listed can be destroyed. She further certified the records had been microfilmed or scanned and were appropriate for destruction. The Administrative Office of the Courts approved the destruction request on November 21, 2013. The Clerk of Court provided me with a copy of the approved request for destruction in order that the County could destroy the Court records when County records were to be destroyed. Please see a copy of the attached approved request........included in the county's blanket order to burn were ALL records in the basement, not just those that had met their retention dates or were deemed to be dangerous due to mold.  How did the late 1800s and early 1900s Chattel Mortgages, Lien Records, Poll Books, Plat books, County Audits, original road, bridge and school bonds, postcards, local business advertisements, news clippings, unopened letters in bundles tied with string, lists of Civil War pensioners and their widows, lists of county employees in 1900 and the jobs they performed, magazines and photographs fall within the category of records with a retention date, confidentiality or sensitive?  These were but just a few of the items that all met same fate, regardless of the fact that many of these items were not of a court or "sensitive" nature…….... 
On November 25, 2013 Mr. Murray emailed the Clerk of Court to advise that a company had been identified to clean…......CLEAN the basement, not burn records…...... the basement and he wanted to make sure the following week was acceptable. On December 02, 2013 Mr. Murray emailed the Clerk of Court again in reference to cleaning the basement   .......CLEANING the basement, not burning records…...... His email read “Is it ok to clean…...CLEAN….... the basement out this weekend?” The next day the Clerk of Court responded via email “Sure it is. I just need to know when and time so I can be here and have it open.”
On December 04, 2013 Mr. Liles emailed Mr. Murray to advise he had spoken with the Clerk of Court December 03, 2013 regarding the destruction of the documents. Mr. Liles indicated he informed the Clerk of Court of the time schedule and said she was “glad to know we were moving forward.”….....third party conversation 
On December 05, 2013, the Board of Commissioners were advised in an email that “Builder Services of North Carolina (Restoration Experts) would be removing and properly disposing of items (records) as well as cleaning the basement beginning the afternoon of December 06, 2013.”….......please note that to this date, neither The Heritage Society or the citizens of Franklin County had been notified that the decision had been made to burn the records. Notice was not given to any of the many volunteers who had worked so hard to preserve these records and the promised notification by Mrs. Harris to the Heritage Society of her decision never arrived…....... Note: Mr. Glen Liles worked this schedule out so as not to inconvenience the citizens since the area would be blocked off and would have caused parking/logistic problems. The project began around 4:00 p.m. and would last overnight and into the weekend….......the parking spots used by the truck, trailer and support vehicle utilized the parking spots in the rear of the court house on Market Street reserved for members of the court staff.  The public uses the front entrance of the courthouse and court staff uses the rear entrance.  No public spaces were blocked to accomplish this cleaning….......... 
On December 06, 2013 Builder Services began work on removing documents and other contaminated materials from the basement. The area was cleaned, tested and sealed. Ms. West, Health and Safety Inspector with the North Carolina Administrative Office of Courts, advised nothing else should be placed in this area after it was sealed. I reminded the Clerk of Court of this instruction due to the fact the area was not climate controlled and would become contaminated again.....….in 1998, contractors installed A/C units in the courthouse (reference County Commissioners minutes June 1, 1998) including a wall based unit in the basement, offering climate control.  These same contractors also drilled a hole through the floor of the upstairs offices and ran a vent pipe to be drained into the basement on top of the records causing the mold..  If, as Mrs. Harris states, the area will be contaminated again, then obviously the original cause of the problem was not addressed in the nearly $8,000 cleanup of the basement….......... The Clerk of Court indicated it was her understanding it could again be used after it was sealed. I suggested she review the recommendation from Ms. West. In a later conversation, she stated she would not place any records in the basement.
Kevin Cherry, Phd, Deputy Secretary, Director Office of Archives and History wrote a letter to the editor of The Franklin Times responding to an earlier article in the paper concerning the destruction of County records. Mr. Cherry commented on the history (110 years) of the State Archives of NC, an agency “charged by statute with the management of all state and local government records created and retained during the normal course of business within North Carolina government offices.” Further, he pointed out that “established professional standards within the state and the archival field across the country” were utilized in reviewing/appraising the records. He pointed out the fact that many records were decades past their retention date, many documents were “duplicates, confidential, drafts, or duplicated in another records series that has been saved.”… the onset of our work in the basement The Heritage Society was given an inventory of all of the records retained by the State Archives for Franklin County.  This list was posted on bulletin boards in the basement as well as in the donated offices.  We referred to this list as we began to inventory the basement's contents.  The intent was to check off each item that we found against the inventory to make sure that there were copies already in their collection.  At the point where we were told to "stand down" we had not checked off a single item.  If microfilm exists of any item that was in the basement, information on its location would be greatly appreciated by all…….......   Additionally, it was noted Archives has over 1,066 microfilm reels of permanently valuable Franklin County records.

I hope these facts demonstrate the destruction of records was necessary in order to protect the health and safety of our citizens and official report on the toxicity levels drawn from actual testing (and not a visual assessment) of the mold spores in the basement would go a long way in assuring the public that their health was in danger.  If such a report does exist and the mold was determined to be a danger to the staff and citizens, then why has action not been immediately taken and the courthouse closed so that it could be thoroughly cleaned.  In the report offered by Sarah West, Safety and Health Specialist for the NC AOC on October 21, 2013 she stated that the AREAS OF CONCERN included not only the basement but Judge Hobgood's office, the Law Library and the Second Floor.  On December 2, 2013 Judge Hobgood made an appeal before the county commissioners stating that the problem was real and needed to be addressed as soon as possible.  Was the urgency he expressed "interpreted" as immediate action to be taken upon records stored in a basement for 100 years or the hazards occurring daily in the upstairs work environment of staff…..   Access to confidential records would have posed additional liability issues for the County. In retrospect, I believe if arrangements had been made for the site visits proposed by Archives officials to the Clerk of Court on May 29, 2013, the final determination could have been made sooner and a great deal of confusion and disappointment would have been avoided..............In summary, are we the citizens of Franklin County to conclude that the decision to destroy over 100 years of our history was made based on the fact that one individual did not immediately return a phone call six months prior? 

In Conclusion:
From a power-point  presentation including Tom Vincent, Carie Chesarino and Emily Hanna,  Records Management Analyst for the NC State Archives dated April 24:

Every custodian of public records shall permit any record in the custodian's custody to be inspected and examined at reasonable times and under reasonable supervision by any person, and shall, as promptly as possible, furnish copies thereof upon payment of any fees as may be prescribed by law. GS 132-6(a)

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