September 03, 2009

Many residents of Claiborne County may not realize that we have an Historical and Genealogical Society and what we have been doing lately. I am writing this to get past members up to date and to let the citizens of the county know as well.

We at the society are dedicated to preserving and educating the public about the history of our county as well as providing research resources and assistance in tracing family trees in the area. In the past 2 years we have been concentrating on getting our offices up to speed and I am proud to report that this has been accomplished and we are operational. We do not have funding for a full time staff yet but we hope to in the future. The phone number to our office is (423) 526-5737 and we will try to respond to questions left on our voice mail as soon as possible.

In the past year we have attended the reenactment of the battle of Cumberland Gap a well as the battle of Tazewell. At these events 1 was happy to see a great interest from the public as well as several of our members from out of state come. We are publishing our quarterly newsletter, "Reflection'' and delivering these to our members in over 20 states. Several of these members have been encouraged to come to the area and research their families and have come here to enjoy what Claiborne County has to offer.

Many people do not realize what that brick building beside 1st Century Bank in Tazewell is. It is actually the Claiborne County jail built in 1819. It the oldest remaining free standing jail in the state of Tennessee and is actually one of the oldest jails left in the United States. It was in operation from 1819 until 1932 when the jail was moved to the 3rd floor of the new county courthouse. After that it was used for a short time as a candy store and finally as a storage area for the county. It is in a serious state of neglect and we have tried for 4 years to get grant money from the state in order to begin restoration. We have had preservation architects come and evaluate the building and the estimate 1st phase of the restoration will be approximately $ 100,000. Of this amount the historical Society will have to raise a 40% of it to qualify for the grant money. We have raised a portion of it from curtail tours and money that was donated to us from the county but there is still a ways to go to get the ball rolling. The need for members and volunteers to help clean the jail up inside and out is very important and needed desperately.

This fall we are organizing presentations by several of our members and local historians. These will be focused on local, state, and national topics varying from the civil war to early settlement. We plan to begin these in September and have 1 per month. Also this fall we plan to have a history fair which will include a Civil war encampment presentation and artifacts on display in the area of the building which we are hoping to open as the new Claiborne County museum. We are still in the planning stages of this event and will get out a firm itinerary as soon as we can.

There are a lot of events planned to bring people to our county. This is not the Historical and Genealogical Society of the past. We are dedicated to bringing the past alive and to let people know about Claiborne county. The subject of history, especially local history, is woefully under emphasized in schools today. We need to keep the rich history of this county alive for the next generation and we need your help to accomplish this. The Historical Society is publicly funded, relying on donations from the County and it's citizens. The county has been gracious enough to grant us operating money for years but with present financial considerations this may be cut so we will have to rely on the public donations and membership fees more. I don't mean to make this sound like a plea for money because I understand that times are tough on everyone but we don't only need money, we need you. We need people to help with clean up of the "Old Jail'' and to help out with the events we have planned. lf you have an interest in history and a little time to spare please contact us and let us know we would be glad to have mu. The Claiborne County Historical society is meant to be for all the citizens of this county not just a few.

Kevin Wolfe - CCHGS President



From The Claiborne Progress Online - Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Historical Society Has Deed to Old Jail


Congratulations are in order to the Claiborne County Historical and Genealogical Society because it now holds the deed to the historical Old Jail located in Tazewell located on what was once a back street of the town of Tazewell but now is Highway 33.

The Old Jail next to Century Bank sits unoccupied and in bad need of renovation and repair.

The announcement came by Patricia Brooks, President of the CCHGS at the July meeting of the Society and she and the Society would like to express their thanks to County Mayor Virgil Harrell and the county commissioners who worked to see that the Old Jail would be saved for future generations of Claiborne County residents and non-residents to learn more of the County's historic past. This news comes almost in perfect unison with the opening of the newest of Claiborne County's facilities, the new Jail and Detention Center located on Straight Creek Road.

From Goodspeed's History of Claiborne County - "The first jail was completed at about the same time as the courthouse - 1804. It was used until 1819, when Josiah C. Ramsey, John Evans, William Graham, William Renfro, Robert Crockett, David Rogers and Reuben Rogers were appointed commissioners to erect a new jail. It was built with a double wall, the outside being rock and the inside frame."

The Claiborne County Historical and Genealogical Society would ask that all concerned readers please help in the restoration efforts that will soon be underway lead by the CCHGS. This can be by individual donations to the Old Jail Project specifically or by joining the Society and contributing with your attendance and ideas of how this and other projects concerning preservation of County historical landmarks can be accomplished. Funding and support of these efforts are of utmost importance.

You can send your contributions to the CCHGS, P.O Box 32, Tazewell, Tennessee 37879 and look for our booth at the upcoming Claiborne County Fair in August .

The annual dues of the Society are $12.50 for single, $15 for family and $1 for students. Prospective members should visit the website for more membership information.


CCHGS Dedicates A Monumental
Marker To Leatherwood Baptist Church

Article Dated - 8/20/2003
Courtesy - The Claiborne Progress Newspaper
Article and Photo Provided Courtesy - Tina Cooke

CCHGS Dedicates Monument to old
 Oak tree in the Hopper Cemetery

A monument was dedicated to an Oak tree, believed to be 350-400 years old in the Hopper Cemetery in the Leatherwood Community on Saturday, July 12th, 2003.

The Claiborne County Historical and Genealogical Society dedicated the monument and declared the Oak tree a Historical Landmark. The purpose of the Society is to collaborate with Claiborne County residents as well as local, state, and federal organizations to preserve county history in all forms.

Joyce Ramsey, the society's president, said the motto of the society is "We are products of our Past." She went on to say they were pleased to recognize the magnificent old Oak tree and that it was the oldest thing they had been asked to acknowledge.

A brief history of the cemetery was presented and the veterans buried in the cemetery were recognized. Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War Veterans are all buried in the cemetery.

Article Dated - 7/22/2003
Courtesy - The Claiborne Progress Newspaper
Written by Michael Roach, CCHGS Secretary
Article and Photo Provided Courtesy - Tina Cooke