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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