In 2018, piles of old documents were uncovered during remodeling work at the old Title Guaranty Building on Walnut Street and retrieved by Rob H. Bentley, who recognized their historical significance. Soon thereafter I was introduced to Rob in hopes I might be able to do something with the aging pages - and at the very least, identify anything of historical significance.
I scanned 388 pages and photographed 380 more that were in too poor condition and water damaged over the years. My ability to discern the script and interpret their stories was far less productive. Fortunately, John Wilson of Chattanoogan.com has more patience, and spent several months reading them, extracting some fascinating facts about Chattanooga’s earliest history.
In 2019, Hamilton County, Tennessee will celebrate its 200th Anniversary, and Mr. Wilson will be featuring insights gleaned throughout the year at Chattanoogan.com.
Within the nearly 800 pages, there were land grants, depositions from many of the early settlers of Ross's Landing, details about the store the Williams family operated, the cattle drives to Baltimore and Augusta, and the Williams slaves. The Williams papers give the best record of who was living in and around Ross's Landing in the latter part of the 1830s and the 1840s. READ MORE: Chattanoogan.com
It is also an exhibition of the pre-typewriter world in the legal office, where scriveners (or copyists), produced “fair copies” of documents, i.e., copies that faithfully and accurately reproduced the originals. Having a scrivener who could produce fair copies quickly and cheaply could produce a substantial profit for the lawyer.
FROM SCRIVENERS TO TYPEWRITERS - DOCUMENT PRODUCTION IN THE NINETEENTH-CENTURY LAW OFFICE
- M.H. Hoeflich
Sourced at: www.greenbag.org