Discovery Offers Glimpse into Past

By: Jessica Dealy Email
By: Jessica Dealy Email

The Lauderdale County Department of Archives and History contains Meridian's oldest documents, dating back to the 1800s. Recently, an amazing discovery took place, by chance, in the corner of a dusty room filled with unmarked boxes.

"I had finished building our Web site for the archives, and I needed something else to do so I just started cleaning up in the back vault room," said Leslie Joyner, archive publisher. "And I found about forty-four boxes that were labeled circuit court records."

The records Joyner found date back to the 1830s. While attempting to organize the files, she found many local family names listed on the cases, even relatives of her own.

"I found what I believe is my great great great grandfather," said Joyner. "He was down here about five years earlier than what I thought. Unfortunately, it was a civil case where he had been accused of stealing someone's moonshine."

Joyner She then organized them by year and put them in these archival boxes for the public to come and view, whenever they want.

Joyner is now creating an index of these files and hopes to make the court cases easily accessible by uploading them to the department's Web site.

Records manager, Ward Calhoun, Jr., a self-proclaimed Neanderthal history buff, says among familiar family names, you can find notable suits involving the people who first opened up businesses in Meridian.

"It's fascinating," said Calhoun. "A lot of the movers and shakers of Meridian are in these files. We need to know where we came from. And we have the answers here."

When the work is finished, the files will be added to this Web site:

Note Leslie Joyner's comment in the comment section.

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  • by Leslie Joyner Location: meridian on Jan 29, 2010 at 07:10 PM
    The Index for these Old/Historical Court Files has been completed. You can go to our website, to view it. Go to the "Virtual Research Room" then to "The Bookshelf" at the bottom of the page and scroll to the bottom of the screen and choose "Circuit Court & Miscellaneous Court Files Index 1831-1899." Or you can visit the Archives in person, and look at the hard copy index. I should be able to load the Miscellaneous Court files that have been indexed, that were found with these older cases, that date from 1900-1937 sometime Monday. Keep in mind these are only indexes, and not the actual court cases, only a device in which to locate the files. Thanks everyone, and have a great weekend.
  • by Lola Maroney Location: Arkansas on Jan 27, 2010 at 12:17 PM
    This is GREAT. Hats off to Ms. Joyner and Mr. Calhoun for having the feelings about out past the we genealogist share. It takes all of us keeping the lives of our forefathers alive. Ms. Joyner, your ggg-grandfather must have been something, can't you just visualize that era. I live in Arkansas, I can't wait to check out the web site. My line from that area was SHOTTS, BRANNON, COX, COLSON. Again Thanks, Lola
  • by in Meridian all my life Location: Meridian on Jan 26, 2010 at 07:29 PM
    How exciting!!!! I can't wait to go through more of the online info.I've already found some info that will help fill out my family tree I've been working on for the past year or so.I can't wait to do some more digging.
  • by Leslie Joyner Location: Meridian on Jan 26, 2010 at 05:21 PM is our web address, however, the files are not loaded to the website, there is a huge amount of work to be done before we can even consider placing them on the website. We are currently just indexing the files for quick access. To view the index of the files & the files themselves you will need to visit the Archives, at 410 Constituion Ave. 2nd Floor Raymond P. Davis Annex Building, Meridian, MS Thanks, Leslie Joyner Desktop Publisher
  • by janet Location: waynesboro on Jan 26, 2010 at 04:14 PM
    what was the web address to view some of these documents, the one I tried did not work.
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