JONESBOROUGH – Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett has said he will hand over a historic copy of the first Washington County property records to Jonesborough on June 1, which also marks the 225th anniversary of the state of Tennessee .
Hargett’s office issued a press release on Friday saying the Secretary of State would be making Deed A, a handwritten copy of the first real estate transactions made in the border territory that would eventually become the state of Tennessee.
The first transaction in the Deed Book is dated March 19, 1775 and was an agreement between principals Watauga and Nolichucky and chiefs Cherokee.
A celebration of the state
Earlier this week, Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy said Governor Bill Lee would also be in Jonesborough on June 1 to celebrate the 225th anniversary of the founding of the state of Tennessee. Grandy said he plans to block Main Street that day for Lee’s appearance.
City officials have said Lee is expected to address spectators outside the historic courthouse at 6:30 p.m. A musical performance by the Oak Ridge Boys is expected to follow the governor’s remarks.
The Book of Act A was sent to Nashville in 1897 as part of Washington County’s contribution to the Tennessee Centennial Celebration and International Exposition.
Some time after this event, the deed book was transferred to the Tennessee State Library and Archives in Nashville, where it remained until county officials and state lawmakers had successfully advocated for his return earlier this year.
A question of ownership
Officials at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, which are overseen by Hargett’s office, had previously argued that the deed book was legally a state document. Washington County and State archivists agreed that the document in question was a copy of the original Washington County Book A, which chronicled documents between 1775 and 1782 which were later transcribed into new volumes in the 1830s.
Copy of Deed A contains the first 178 transcribed pages (copied to 493 pages) of the document. The remaining transcript pages from Deed Book A (pages 179-320) are stored in the County Deeds Register office at Jonesborough Courthouse.
The county and state also acknowledged that the transcription work was overseen by a Jonesborough resident named Nathan Shipley. The two parts differed on the official title and functions that Shipley carried at the time of transcription.
Return the book of acts
In its press release on Friday, Hargett’s office said: âAt the request of local lawmakers, State Senators Rusty Crowe and Jon Lundberg and State Representatives Rebecca Alexander and Tim Hicks, the secretary’s office State and Tennessee State Library and Archives have examined documents explaining the chain of custody of Book A deeds – justifying his definitive return to Jonesborough. ”
Crowe, R-Johnson City, said in the statement he was happy to see the Deed Book eventually returned to county seat.
âI want to thank Secretary of State Tre Hargett for his work in helping to make this happen,â Crowe said. âThe Deed Book left us for Nashville in 1897 as part of our county’s exhibit in celebration of the State’s Centennial on Horseback, and we also plan to take it home by horse-drawn carriage.
Alexander, R-Jonesborough, said getting the act book return was “one of the most exciting minutes of my first session as a state representative.” She said she “could hardly hold back my emotions” when the Secretary of State told her that Act A would be sent back to “my hometown of Jonesborough”.
Hicks, R-Gray, said in a statement he also believes it is appropriate to bring the Book A deed back to Tennessee’s oldest city.
âThe book of acts is very important to the history of Tennessee,â Hicks said. âSometimes we take history for granted in today’s world. We are delighted to see this book return to Washington County. “
Hargett said that working with lawmakers in Northeast Tennessee on the Deed Book issue “has truly revealed how deeply committed these members of the General Assembly are to preserving Tennessee’s rich history.”