Two archive employees had significant changes in their positions starting with the new fiscal 2022-2023 year.
The department is very fortunate to have both women working for it, especially with their unique skill sets, knowledge, and experience. Congratulations!
INDEX TO DEED BOOK A (WATAUGA PURCHASE BOOK)
NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE
One June 1st, 2021, the county’s earliest deed book, Deed Book A, was returned to Washington County by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and Secretary of State Tre Hargett, after an absence of almost 125 years. Soon afterwards, archive volunteer Carolyn Andrews began indexing this nearly 500-page volume. After nearly a year, that massive indexing project is completed and is now available to researchers online on the archives’ website: https://wctnarchives.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/deed-book-a-index-public.pdf. In that frontier era before census records, the land records found in this volume can be wonderful for tracing that early ancestor.
The volume contains the earliest land transactions for the county and for what became the state of Tennessee. Land records found in the deed book cover the period 1775-1782. It includes copies of all the deeds made to settlers by Charles Robertson as trustee for the Watauga Association that preceded the establishment of Washington County, along with deeds made by Jacob Brown for lands of the Nolichucky settlements. These records were made following the purchase of the settlement lands from the Cherokee nation completed at Sycamore Shoals on March 19th and March 25th, 1775. For this reason, the deed book was often referred to as the “Watauga Purchase” book. Also included are land patent surveys and early North Carolina land grants made in Tennessee.
Contained in the book are 73 indentures (deeds), including the original indenture securing the land from the Cherokee; 84 land patent surveys; and 233 land grants. The land records provide names of many of the earliest settlers in what became Washington County and Tennessee. This includes many prominent frontier leaders such as William Bean, Jacob Brown, John and Landon Carter, John Chisolm, William Cobb, Isaac Lincoln (Abraham Lincoln’s great-uncle), William Nelson, Charles and James Robertson, John Sevier, Matthew Talbot, Christopher Taylor, Robert Young, and many others. Indexed are all personal names and geographic locations found in the documents.
We especially thank Carolyn Andrews for her hard work in completing an index that will prove invaluable to researchers.
BOONE TREE GAVEL DONATED TO ARCHIVES
A famous man, a famous tree, and a famous relic have now joined in the archives through the recent anonymous donation of a gavel made from the beech tree on which legend says Daniel Boone made a carving stating he had “cilled a bar” (killed a bear).
A display documenting the story of Boone, the tree, and the gavel is now viewable in the Reading Room during public hours (Monday-Friday from 8-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m.).
According to the legend, Boone killed the bear near the tree in the 1760s on a hillside in what is now the Boones Creek community of Washington County. Boone (1734-1820) passed through Washington County at various times in the 18th century as a long hunter and explorer. The story is told of how on one occasion he had to hide under a waterfall to escape native warriors. Boone was present at Sycamore Shoals in March 1775, when the settlers purchased the lands on which they were living from the Cherokee. At this same session, Richard Henderson purchased the lands that became Kentucky. He hired Boone to blaze the Wilderness Road there, which thousands of settlers used to move west.
The beech tree with the famous carving became a notable tourist site in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1897, officials from the Tennessee Centennial Exhibition wanted to cut the tree down and take to Nashville for display. Local residents raised such resistance that the idea was eventually dropped. The tree finally fell in a severe storm in May 1916. Some years later, the Daughters of the American Revolution, John Sevier Chapter purchased the surviving tree wood. From this wood, they had various souvenirs made, such as tables, sconces, stools, candleholders, and gavels. Since the gavel we have on display is numbered 472, it is possible that as many as 500 gavels were made. The chapter gifted notable individuals with these gavels over the years, including Fess Parker, who portrayed Daniel Boone in the 1960s television series.
2022 News Articles
May 12, 2022 The Cold War Comes to the Archives – 5 12 22
March 28, 2022 Georgia Greer Obituary
2021 News Articles
November 16, 2021 Law Court Files are Open to Research
August 19, 2021 Archives 2020-2021 Annual Report Now Available
June 21, 2021 Six County Documents Returned By Two Institutions
April 30, 2021 Processing of Circuit Court Cases Completed
April 13, 2021 Paintings Installed in Archives Reading Room