18TH CENTURY WILLS ARE NOW A DIGITAL COLLECTION
Washington County’s pre-1800 wills have been scanned and can now be viewed on the website’s “Digital Collections” sub-page at the following url: https://wctnarchives.org/digital-collections/.
A total of 67 hand-written wills in digital form are available stretching from the Watauga Association era (John Wood’s will of 1773) into early Tennessee statehood in 1799. The wills document the dying wishes of some of the county’s earliest and most prominent residents, including William Bean, Sr. (1782), the first permanent white settler in Tennessee; Charles Robertson, Sr. (1798), trustee of the Watauga Association; Andrew Taylor (1787), ancestor of Tennessee governors Bob and Alf Taylor; Robert Young, Sr. (1792), Revolutionary War patriot; and many others. Four women are represented, including the earliest will written by a woman in Tennessee, Rebeka Vanderpool’s in 1779.
Because of the prominent role played by many of these figures in the county’s early history, the wills provide not only genealogical interest but are of interest to students of history as well. One can make connections to early Tennessee citizens on the frontier and to possible Revolutionary War ancestors. We hope researchers of both families and regional history find these wills a useful tool in their research.
EARLY COUNTY COURT JUDICIAL
CASES ARE NOW AVAILABLE
As part of a massive collection processing project, early court case files found in the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions (County Court) records are now available for researchers. These loose records cover cases heard by the Court either collectively gathered in session in Jonesborough or individually by the justices of the peace, who composed the court.
From its’ formation in February 1778 until into the 1950s, County Court had both an administrative and a judicial function. Records of both civil and criminal cases are in this collection. Among the many types of cases handled were debt, bastardies, survey and land disputes, probate issues, theft, assaults, trespass, slander, broken covenants, etc. Among the types of documents found in the files are bonds, depositions, judgements, summonses, warrants, etc. Case files are arranged chronologically by year and then alphabetically by the title of the case, using the plaintiff’s surname first. The cases processed to date cover from 1778 through 1825.
“This had been a massive undertaking involving two years of work on the part of archive volunteers Betty Jane Hylton, Janette Guinn, and Georgia Greer,” County Archivist Ned Irwin noted. “It will be treasure trove for family and local historians.”
The guide listing these cases is found on our webpage at the following url: https://wctnarchives.org/record-groups/.
NOTE: This is an ongoing project. Twenty-five record center boxes of records dating from 1826-1950 are yet to be processed. As these records are completed, the online guide to the collection will be updated.
SIGNIFICANT BOOK COLLECTION
DONATED TO COUNTY ARCHIVES
The Book Collection, a reference collection, of the Washington County Archives was greatly expanded by the recent donation of a large and significant set of books by Cheryl Wexler of Kingsport, Tenn. The books were gathered by sisters Dorothy and Ruth Wexler, of Kingsport, deceased aunts of Wexler’s husband, during the course of their research over many years on the genealogy and local history of this region.
In this collection one will find much on the history of Washington County and surrounding counties in the region, as well as local and family history in neighboring Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia. The 220 books and three maps donated increase the Book Collection by an amazing 85%! There are transcribed state and county records, county histories, census records, tombstone inscription records, family histories, documentation on military service in the American Revolution, War of 1812, and the Civil War, and much more.
As County Archivist Ned Irwin noted, “It is a wonderful addition, as the books in Mrs. Wexler’s donation are all out-of-print and many are rare titles that would be difficult to acquire now. Those doing genealogical and historical research will find much of value in this collection.”
Archived News Articles
April 9, 2019 Annex Work Completed in 2019
February 22, 2019 “Passport to History” Brochure Published
February 21, 2019 Friends of the Archives Receive Donation
February 19, 2019 Genealogy Society Funds Purchase of Supreme Court Cases
January 22, 2019 Friends of the Archives Receive Kozsuch Donation
January 11, 2019 Watauga Association Records are now Digital