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Washington County commissioners are being asked to back efforts to return an important piece of the county’s history to Jonesborough.

Ned Irwin, Washington County’s archivist, said the county is working to retrieve its very first property deed book, “Deed Book A,” which was sent to Nashville in 1897 as part of its contribution to the Tennessee Centennial Celebration.

The deed book was eventually moved to the Tennessee State Library and Archives, where it remains today.

The historical document is a 1830s copy of Washington County’s original deed book, which was created between 1717 and 1782.

“It is a Washington County record, and should be returned to Washington County,” Irwin told members of the county’s Health, Education and Welfare Committee on Thursday.

He also said he was “not exactly sure why” the state library has resisted Washington County’s calls to return the deed book.

“They (state officials) did return other early Washington County records, including the first minutes of the Washington County Court in the handwriting of John Sevier, the first county clerk of Washington County,” he said.

Irwin said he and members of the Washington County Public Records Commission have spent the past two years recovering missing county records from the 18th and 19th centuries.

“We’ve been successful in this endeavor, and we’ve recovered more than 12,000 records, but there is one record we have not been able to see returned,” Irwin told committee members last week.

He said that is why he is asking the Washington County Commission to approve a resolution calling for the return of Deed Book A, and giving its authority to the county archivist and the county attorney to purse its recovery.

Irwin said he has also asked Washington County’s legislative delegation to the state General Assembly — Sen. Rusty Crowe and Reps.-elect Rebecca Alexander and Tim Hicks — to support a request for state Secretary of State Tre Hargett, who oversees the state archives, to return the deed book to Jonesborough.

The Washington County Archives Building in downtown Jonesborough and its adjacent annex in the old jail of the Washington County Courthouse hold almost 10,000 linear feet of county records in more than 4,252 boxes and 3,674 bound volumes. Those records cover a period from British colonial rule to the early 21st century.

Washington County, which was the first county created in Tennessee, also has an 1803 court disposition written by Andrew Jackson when he served as a Circuit Court judge.

The archives house some of the oldest public records in the state. That includes records dating back to the Watauga Association in 1771.

Documents signed by legends of this state, including Sevier and Jackson, are among the county’s historic documents. One such prized document is Jackson’s admittance to the bar in 1788.

Officials say these items tell the early history of Washington County, and include State of Franklin records, pre-Civil War slave documents and summonses from early Superior Court and Circuit Court cases.

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