Members of the Loudon County Records Commission teamed with elected officials and other volunteers to finish an inventory of hundreds of boxes of historical records stored in a Lenoir City warehouse.
The group of about a dozen met at the former Yale Locks and Hardware building where the records have been stored since rescued from the basement of Loudon County Courthouse following a 2019 fire.
The effort was identified as a priority at a Jan. 5 meeting of the records commission.
During the meeting, a process for destroying records deemed unneeded was determined to require examination by various heads of county departments, completion of paperwork and a vote by the records commission.
Adam Waller, records commission co-chairman, and Van Shaver, records commission secretary, called the meeting under guidelines of Roberts Rules of Order, which allow any two members of a body to call a meeting. Both men also serve on Loudon County Commission.
Waller, who led the effort to expedite the disposition of the remaining records, was at the warehouse reviewing and moving boxes. He said he was glad the task could be addressed and completed.
“I’m thankful for everyone who came down to help,” he said.
Shaver said volunteers agreed to take another look at the records and prepare for destruction those that will not be saved. Paperwork will be filed with the state before records are sent for destruction. The panel will meet Jan. 26 to vote to remove the remaining records.
County Mayor Rollen “Buddy” Bradshaw reviewed and carried boxes filled with records to where those to be destroyed were being stacked next to the doorway.
“I’m just helping out,” Bradshaw said.
He said he had set aside several boxes of court records he wanted Judges Hank Sledge and Rex Dale to review.
“I’m just erring on the side of caution,” he said.
Matt Kleinschmidt, interim purchasing director, said he was present as a volunteer. The purchasing department has already secured all necessary historical records, he said.
County Registrar Tammi Gallaher, who is also a member of the records commission, said her department did not have records to be reviewed but she joined in the effort as a volunteer.
Riley Wampler, county clerk and a member of the records commission, said he was helping sort and review documents. He said among those deemed not worth saving were car registrations.
Road Superintendent Billy Pickel said he had already examined and removed any records pertinent to his department. He said he was at the warehouse to help other departments who might need a hand.
County Historian Darrel Tuck, who is a member of the records commission, was reviewing files stored in boxes and piles of yellowed paper. He photographed those he thought were important.
“Things that I feel have historical value I saved,” he said.
Among the documents Tuck found interesting included papers that referred to the county’s absorption of responsibility for schools, including Loudon High School, Dunbar-Rosenwald School and others that had been under the authority of Loudon. There were 33 elementary schools in the county at one time. Loudon had responsibility for funding the schools within city limits and decided to put them under control of the county.
“The city didn’t want to have to raise taxes for the schools,” he said.
School records included the deed to the land donated to build the Dunbar-Rosenwald School for African American students in Loudon. He said the records are “historical gems” he hopes can be displayed for the public some day.
Other records Tuck discovered included the house call notes of Dr. Joseph Harrison Jr. from the 1930s. Harrison founded the first hospital in Loudon, Tuck said. The handwritten notes detail specific patients and calls Harrison made to their homes.