WASHINGTON COUNTY COURT RECORDS
1780-1965

East Tennessee State University
Archives of Appalachia
Box 70295
Johnson City, Tennessee 37614

E-mail: archives@etsu.edu
Telephone: (423) 439-4338



SUBGROUP/SERIES DESCRIPTION

Subgroup A, SUPERIOR COURT OF LAW AND EQUITY, 1785-1811, Volumes 1-4 (located in Box 5), Boxes 3-5.

Subgroup A consists of 4 volumes: bail bondbook; casebook (minutes); executive docket; and witness book and the administrative records of the clerks of the superior court. Included in the civil and criminal cases are legal documents submitted to or generated by the superior court in cases involving $100 and upwards. These cases are concerned with settlement of estates; debts; land disputes; trespassing; slander; assault; theft and murder. The various types of records involved in the suits are: subpoenas; bonds; declarations; depositions; injunctions; affidavits; fiera facias; and capias ad respondendums. Subgroup A is divided into the following series; Series A-I, four volumes related to the cases; and Series A-II, Civil and Criminal cases.

Series A-I, VOLUMES, 1788-1809, Box 1-4.

Series A-I contains the casebook (minutes) summarizing cases heard by the courts and the dockets scheduling actions of the superior court. The cases involve both civil and criminal cases. The volumes are arranged alphabetically by type of record then chronologically.

Series A-II, SUPERIOR COURT RECORDS, 1785-1811, Boxes 5.

Series A-II consists of the civil and criminal cases involving land disputes; debts; respassing; settlement of estates; slander; assault; theft and murder with some cases being appealed from the county court. The arrangement is chronological.

Subgroup B, CIRCUIT COURT, 1801-1950, Volumes 5-206 (including Boxes 1-9), Boxes 10-142.

Subgroup B consists of bound volumes including bondbooks, dockets, jury books, minutes, and casebooks and the records resulting from petitions to and actions of the circuit court. The circuit court head civil cases and criminal cases involving felonies and misdemeanors. Subgroup B is divided into the following series: Series B-I, Bound Volumes; Series B-II, Civil Files; Series B-III, Civil and Criminal Files; and Series B-IV, Criminal Files.

Series B-I, VOLUMES, 1808-1946, Volumes 5-206 (including boxes 1-9).

Series B-I, contains bond books, executive dockets, rule dockets, trial dockets, jury books, enrolling dockets, minutes, grand jury dockets, and witness dockets concerning civil and criminal cases before the circuit court. The cases involved civil suits concerning debts, divorce and damages and criminal charges as murder, larceny, assault, battery, tippling, lewdness, adultery, rape, transporting liquor, bestiality, carrying arms, and forgery. The volumes are divided first into Subseries A, Civil; Subseries B, Civil and Criminal; and Subseries C, Criminal. Within the respective subgroups the volumes are arranged alphabetically by type and then chronologically.

Subseries B-I-A, CIVIL, Volumes 5-58.

Subseries B-I-B, CIVIL AND CRIMINAL, Volumes 59-119.

Subseries B-I-C, CRIMINAL, Volumes 120-206.

Series B-II, CIVIL/CRIMINAL RECORDS, 1810-1941, Boxes 10-114.

Series B-II consists of the civil cases involving suits concerning debts, divorce and damages, and the criminal cases involving suits concerning assault, battery, tippling, lewdness, murder, adultery, rape, bestiality, carrying arms, larceny, forgery and transporting liquor. The cases contain subpoenas, narratives, depositions, notices, warrants, petitions for certiorari, exhibits, declarations, fi-fas, answers, bonds, notices, decrees and demurrers. There are three subseries: Subseries B-II-A, arranged numerically by files number on case; Subseries B-II-B, alphabetical arrangement by plaintiff's last name; and Subseries II-C, chronologically arrangement by earliest date of case. For those cases that are arranged chronologically, the records are filed by the earliest date appearing on the bundle of records. The cases continued for a number of years, and therefore records in each packet may extend well past the starting date by which the records are filed.

Subseries B-II-A, FILE NUMBERS, 1-841, 1910-1950, Boxes 10-68.

Subseries B-II-A includes both civil and criminal cases. The civil cases concern debts, divorce and damages, and the criminal cases concern assault, battery, tippling, lewdness, murder, adultery, rape, carrying arms, larceny, forgery and transporting liquor. The arrangement is hronologically by the file number on the case.

Subseries B-II-B, ALPHABETICAL FILES, 1865-1888, Boxes 69-72.

Subseries B-II-B includes both civil and criminal cases. The civil cases concern debts, divorce and damages, and the criminal cases concern assault, battery, tippling, lewdness, murder, adultery, rape, carrying arms, larceny, forgery and transporting liquor. The arrangement is alphabetical by the defendants last name.

Subseries B-II-C, CHRONOLOGICAL FILES, 1810-1948, Boxes 73-114.

Subseries B-II-C includes both civil and criminal cases. The civil cases concern debts, divorce and damages, and the criminal cases concern assault, battery, tippling, lewdness, murder, adultery, rape, carrying arms, larceny, forgery and transporting liquor. The arrangement is chronological. Inclusive dates in a files are indicated in parenthesis following the full date.

Series B-III, CIVIL CASE RECORDS, 1810-1841, Boxes 115-126.

Series III consists of court documents related to civil cases involving divorce, debts and damages. Included among these documents are summons, petitions, fifas, declarations, narratives, subpoenas, bonds, decrees and answers. The records are arranged chronologically by the earliest date in the bundle of records as received. Some cases continued for a number of years, and therefore records in each packet may extend well past the starting date by which the records are filed. Inclusive dates in a file are indicated in parenthesis following the full date.

Series B-IV, CRIMINAL CASE RECORDS, 1810-1845, Boxes 127-142.

Series IV consists of court documents related to criminal cases involving crimes such as assault, battery, tippling, murder, lewdness, adultery, rape, bestiality, carry arms, larceny, forgery and transporting liquor. Included among these documents are subpoenas, narratives, depositions, notices, warrants, summons, bonds, fi-fas and demurrers. The arrangement is chronological by the earliest date on the bundle of records as received. Many cases continued for a number of years, and therefore records in each packet may extend well past the starting date by which the records are filed. Inclusive dates in a file are indicated in parenthesis following the file date.

Subgroup C, CHANCERY COURT, 1830-1934, Volumes 207-229 (Including Box 1), Boxes 2-100.

Subgroup C contains the administrative records of the clerk of chancery court and legal documents submitted to or generated by the chancery court concerned with the settlement of estates, divorces, damages, debts, and delinquent taxes. The records include dockets, lists of costs, correspondence, petitions, original bills, defendant's answer, subpoenas, fiera facias, depositions, transcripts, and exhibits. This subgroup is divided into four series: Series C-I, Bound Volumes; Series C-II, Administrative Records; Series C-III, Alphabetical Files; and Series C-IV, Numerical Files. In so far as possible the arrangement reflects the filing system used by the court; but due to use prior to processing, the papers of some cases have been cross filed in both the alphabetical and numerical subseries.

Series C-I, BOUND VOLUMES, 1864-1931, Volumes 207-229 (Including Box 1).

Series C-I contains receipt dockets, cash books, rule dockets, trail dockets and appearance dockets of cases heard by the chancellor concerning the settlement of estates, debts, damages, divorce, and state suits for delinquent taxes. The volumes are divided into two subseries: Subseries C-I-A, Administrative and Subseries C-I-B, Case. The arrangement is first alphabetical by type of volume and then chronological.

Subseries C-I-A, ADMINISTRATIVE, Volumes 207-211.

Subseries C-I-B, CASE, Volumes 212, 218-223, 224, 227-230, and Box 1.

Series C-II, ADMINISTRATIVE RECORDS, 1842-1929, Box 2.

Series C-II includes the clerks notes and correspondence, docket pages and list of court costs which concern more than one case. The records are arranged chronologically by decade.

Series C-III, JUDICIAL CASE RECORDS, 1831-1934, Boxes 3-100.

Series C-III contains petitions, original bills, depositions, transcripts, opinions and exhibits to cases heard by the chancery court. The documents relate to estate settlements, divorce, debt, damages and delinquent taxes. This series is divided into two subseries: Subseries C-III-A, Alphabetical Records and Subseries C-III-B, Numerical Records.

Subseries C-III-A, ALPHABETICAL RECORDS, Box 3-80.

Subseries C-III-A contains petitions, original bills, defendant's answers, subpoenas, fiera facias, depositions, transcripts, and exhibits such as deeds, wills, receipts, indentures, contracts, and correspondence. The documents are related to cases concerning estate settlement, divorce, debt, damages, and delinquent taxes. The arrangement is alphabetical by the plaintiff's initial.

When possible, cases involvingestate settlement have been filed by the name of the defendant; however when the name of the deceased was not readily apparent, the case may have been filed by the name of the administrator or plaintiff.

Many civil suits resulted in cross-suits which were filed with the original case. Such cases have been left together. Some cross-suits may have been separated prior to processing. Researchers are advised to check the names of all persons known to have been involved in any case.

Suits pending between 1883-1911 were often assigned case numbers and may be located in Series C-III-B, Numerical Files, and researchers are advised to check for such cases in both series.

Subseries C-III-B, NUMBERICAL RECORDS, Boxes 81-100.

Subseries C-III-B, included bills, depositions, opinions, transcript, and exhibits to cases heard by the chancery court between 1883-1911. These cases were assigned individual case numbers in sequence on the date the case began and are arranged numerically by the case number in groups of one hundred. Frequently the case number was not recorded on every document related to a case; therefore, documents from these cases may have been filed in Series C-III-A, Alphabetical Files.

Subgroup D, COUNTY COURT, 1780-1949, Volumes 230-236 (Including Box 1), Box 2-101.

Subgroup D contains administrative records and legal documents generated by or submitted to the county court which functioned as a judicial body, financial administrator, and supervisor of public education and elections in Washington County. In the early nineteenth century the county court was also referred to as the court of pleas and quarter sessions. This subgroup includes election returns, poll lists, correspondence, financial reports, receipts, warrants, petitions, orders, wills, deeds, and depositions.

Subgroup D is divided into five series: Series D-I, Bound Volumes; Series D-II, Judicial Records; Series D-III, Administrative Records; Series D-IV, Education Records; and Series D-V, Election Records. In so far as possible the records have been separated according to the functions of the court and arranged to reflect the filing system used. However, due to the overlapping functions of the court and use of records prior to processing, some papers may be cross filed in the administrative and judicial series.

Series D-I, BOUND VOLUMES, 1789-1903, Volumes 230-236 (Including Box 1).

Series D-I includes accounts of insolvent estates, execution docket, federal appropriations docket, road book, and trial docket concerning the judicial and administrative functions of the court. Volumes of tax books, deeds registers, livestock and pet registers, and merchant licenses received with the court records remain in room B-3 of Sherrod Library. Due to the small number of volumes for county court, the books were not divided to reflect the functions of the court. The volumes are arranged alphabetically by type and then chronologically.

Series D-II, JUDICIAL RECORDS, 1780-1939, Boxes 2-23.

Series D-II consists of summons, subpoenas, warrants, wills, deeds, depositions and petitions concerned with civil and criminal suits. The cases involve debt, estate settlements, bastardy, assault, battery, drunkenness, malicious mischief, slander, and larceny. The records are arranged chronologically by decade.

Series D-III, ADMINISTRATIVE RECORDS, 1780-1949, Boxes 24-43.

Series D-III contains correspondence; petitions to and orders of the justices of the court; records of county expenditures including receipts and warrants; and reports of county officials covering activities and fees collected. As an administrative body the court was responsible for the supervision of the roads; maintenance of county property; regulation of businesses; and the care of the poor, orphans, and handicapped. The records are arranged chronologically by decade. (NB Tax books and receipts, privileged licenses, deed registers, livestock and pet registers, receipt books, merchant's licenses, cancelled checks, and bundles of payment warrants received with these records remain in B-3 of Sherrod Library).

Series D-IV, EDUCATION RECORDS, 1805-1936, Boxes 44-47.

Series D-IV includes attendance records, reports, contracts, census of scholastic population, receipts, payment warrants, applications, and correspondence concerning the operation of the county schools. The records are arranged chronologically by decade; the single volume of the minutes is located at the end of the series.

Series D-V, ELECTION RECORDS, 1832-1930, Boxes 48-54.

Series D-V consists of records of the elections of militia officers, municipal, county, and state officials, state judges, governors of Tennessee, United States congressmen, and electors for the office of President of the United States. The series also contains records of special elections to approve such propositions as the incorporation of a community, the calling of a state constitutional convention, the issuance of railroad stock, and the separation of Tennessee from the federal Union. The records in this series consist of election returns, lists of voters, documents authorizing certain persons to hold specific elections, documents issued by the office of the commissioner of registration in Washington County, and miscellaneous documents. The records
in this series are arranged alphabetically by geographic location, then chronologically. For each geographic location, undated records are stored after dated records.

Subgroup E, JUSTICE OF THE PEACE, 1779-1954, Volumes 237-281 and boxes 1-25.

Subgroup E contains justice dockets, subpoenas, summons, depositions, warrants, appearance and cost bonds concerning civil cases involving small debts, bastardy and misdemeanors. Justices also recorded sworn statements of witnesses for cases pending in other courts; such records could be filed in the justice's records or with the case records in the deciding court. The records are divided into series E-III, Civil/Criminal Case Records; Series E-IV, Criminal Case Records.

Series E-I, BOUND VOLUMES, 1818-1954, Volumes 237-281.

Series E-I contains the justice and magistrate dockets of cases heard by the justices of the peace in Washington County. The volumes are divided into three sub-series: A, Civil; B, Civil and Criminal; and C, Criminal. Within each subseries the volumes are arranged alphabetically by the title and then chronologically.

Subseries E-I-A, CIVIL CASES, 1818-1954, Volumes 237-256.

Subseries E-I-B, CIVIL AND CRIMINAL CASES, 1868-1954, Volumes 257-266.

Subseries E-I-C, CRIMINAL CASES, 1818-1954, Volumes 267-281.

Series E-II, CIVIL CASE RECORDS, 1789-1931, Boxes 2-3

Series E-II consists of attachments, garnishments, magistrates warrants and execution orders, and replevins related to civil cases heard by the justices or pending in other courts. The suits predominantly involved the recovery of property, collection of debts by businesses and individuals and damaged property. The files are arranged chronologically by the earliest date on the bundle of records; therefore, dates may overlap.

Series E-III, CIVIL/CRIMINAL CASE RECORDS, 1779-1948, Boxes 4-21.

Series E-III includes depositions, garnishments, summons, warrants, subpoenas and transcripts related to trial proceedings heard by the justices or pending in other courts. Cases largely concerned various misdemeanors such as drunkenness, disorderly conduct and traffic violations; bastardy; and civil suits relating to small debts and property damage. the files are arranged chronologically by the earliest date on the bundle of records; therefore dates may overlap.

Series E-IV, CRIMINAL CASE RECORDS, 1816-1950, Boxes 22-25.

Series E-IV contains depositions, warrants, subpoenas and transcripts for trial proceedings, predominantly involving public drunkenness, trespassing, assault and battery and traffic violations. The arrangement is chronologically by the earliest date in the bundle of records; therefore, dates may overlap.

Subgroup F, MISCELLANEOUS RECORDS, 1794-1944, Volumes 282-368, Boxes 305-306.

Subgroup F contains all papers and bound volumes received with the Washington County Court Records not (demonstrably) connected with court and administrative records filed elsewhere. This subgroup includes exhibits to unidentified cases as daybooks, account books and ledgers; bound volumes of the juvenile court and the jury commission; correspondence; property descriptions; ballads; and legal documents of which the court could not be ascertained. The subgroup is divided into four series; Series F-I, Juvenile Court; Series F-II, jury Commission; Series F-III, Exhibits; and Series F-IV, Miscellaneous Files.

Series F-I, JUVENILE COURT, 1916-1918, Volume 282.

Series F-I contains one trial docket scheduling cases heard by the juvenile court between April 1916 and November 1918.

Series F-II, JURY COMMISSION, 1927-1955, Volumes 283-284.

Series F-II consists of two minute books of the jury commission concerning the selection of jurors the court terms from August 1927 to June 1944.

Series F-III, EXHIBITS, 1800-1938, Volumes 285-368.

Series F-III contains business and estate ledgers, account books, daybooks, and inventories which were submitted as exhibits to cases pending in unidentified courts. An exhibit index dated 1911 is included at the first of the series. The volumes are arranged first alphabetically by company name, estate name, and type of record then chronologically.

Series F-IV, MISCELLANEOUS FILES, 1794-1938, Boxes 305-306.

Series F-IV includes correspondence, pamphlets, advertisements, news clippings, ballads, property line descriptions, notes, and legal documents not identified with one of the above Washington County courts. The papers are arranged chronologically by decade with undated papers located in front.

Non-Manuscript Material

The following photographs and negatives have been removed from the records and placed in the Archives Photographic collections under Washington County Court Records:

Six 3 1/2 x 4 1/2 negatives of WPA Anna Lea Keys;
Four 8 x 10 photographs filed as exhibits to an unidentified case in 1909;
Three 2 x 3 photographs relating to the case, state vs. Red Wilson.

OVERSIZE MATERIAL

Oversize documents have been removed from individual cases and placed in oversize folders and stored by accession number in the map cabinets. Each folder contains a list of cases included within, together with the reference indicating the box and folder which originally contained the documents.

Subgroup G, MISCELLANEOUS JUDICIAL DOCUMENTS, 1777-1928, Boxes 1-8.

Subgroup G consists of various loose legal documents, correspondence and receipts relating to civil and criminal cases herd in the County, Superior, Circuit and Chancery Courts in Washington County, Tennessee. The majority of the cases involved persons located in Washington County; however, some cases related to persons or events in surrounding counties. These records were held by Duke University from 1942 to 1987. The records were arranged chronologically with the undated items placed last. A register of individual items was completed by the staff of the State Archives.

The records have been transferred to acid-free folders and Hollinger boxes. Box and folder number which were assigned by the Tennessee State Library and Archives are recorded in brackets on the acid-free folders.

Tennessee State Library and Archives
Box and Folder No.
Archives Box No.
Boxes 1 and 2

1

Boxes 3 and 4
2

Boxes 5 and 6

3

Boxes 7 and 8

4
Box 9, Box 10, Folders 1-3
5
Box 10, Folder 4, Box 11, Box 12, Folders 1-2
6
Box 12, Folders 3-4, Box 13, Box 14, Folders 1-2
7
Box 14, Folder 3, Box 15
8

CONSTABLE BONDS

The records consist of a small number of bonds of constables elected in the 1st, 3rd, 6th, 9th and 14th civil districts of Washington County, Tennessee. The bonds were executed in April 1860.

 

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