Marion County Dumps History
Marion County Commissioners ordered priceless documents dumped without notification to anyone, but now those books have turned up. Or at least they think so. No one seems sure what was dumped, but hopefully the books they thought were lost are now found and will be taken of. Thanks to all of you who voiced your concern.
If you are not aware of what the fuss is all about, you can read the following. But remember, this is what was reported – things are better now!
Background information from e-mail sent by others –
Please forward the news of this Marion County, West Virginia travesty to every genealogy group or historical society that you belong to. Also, if you have any media contacts or government contacts please forward this information to them.
Let’s make Cody Starcher infamous!
From: Pam Mullinax E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fairmont — Leatherbound books recording transactions between 1842 to 1880 have been important to local genealogist, but now the historical books are gone – buried with the five bins of trash the Marion County Commission hauled away from the Jacob’s building last week.
Along with books were, boxes and files of papers dating back to Marion County’s inception in 1942. There were five floors that had books, boxes and files to be removed.
Some of the books were Wills; others were Justice of the Peace books. There may have been other records, but the article didn’t say what all had been destoyed, because they didn’t know. The article was a large article for the paper. The historical and genealogical societies were NOT notified that the county had planned to discard the handwritten record books, files and other etcs.
It seems the decision was made by the county commissioners (namely, Cody Starcher) to clear out several floors from the Jacobs building (scheduled for renovation) in which these historical documents were stored. They decided on their own that no one would want to go through all the files to separate out the salvagable and so decided to not tell anyone. They then had the local garbage collectors come and clear out the books and documents.
The story about the above first appeared in the Times West Virginian (Fairmont, WV)Sunday,June 21, 1998. On Thursday, June 25, 1998 the below follow-up story was published.
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Dump off limits to historians
By Theresa Haynes Times West Virginian Staff Writer
Genealogists who wanted to dig through the landfill in search of the county’s discarded pre-Civil War record books will not be allowed to excavate the dump. Ron Chrislip, a local historian who has researched Marion County’s past for more than 30 years, said he and four other people were prepared to go to the Meadowfill Landfill in Bridgeport to search for the record books tossed last week.
But landfill officials halted the group’s plans at the request of the Marion County Commission.
The day books dating back to 1842 were among several tons of outdated files, books and papers the commission removed from the historic Jacob’s building, which is undergoing renovation.
said he and other genealogists wanted to dig up the historically valuable record books when they learned the books had been hauled away to the dump, but the landfill told them there were confidential files among the garbage.
Commissioner Cody Starcher said in an interview last week that the county had received special permission from the state to include old juvenile records in the six BFI Dumpster trash bins hauled to the dump.
“We are allowed to throw the juvenile records away after 20 years,” he said. “But they usually have to be shredded and burned.”
Now local historians are concerned they will never see the priceless, handwritten books again. “I don’t see how they will be retrieved,” Chrislip said. “As a historian I have to be realistic. Now hopefully the county will preserve what is left.”
Chrislip said the leather-bound books were particularly valuable because they recorded everything from the county clerk’s office.
“Record keeping then was a very different process,” he said. “We were still in Virginia and documents like that are very, very rare.”
The historian said the records gave insight into a lifestyle long gone. “There is no oral history from that time, no photography and very little written history. Through the day books we had a great deal of information to interpret history,” he said.
Chrislip agrees with the county commission that the books had no monetary value, but he said the county has lost something culturally valuable.
He said 20 years ago he had searched for day books like the ones thrown away and was told they did not exist. Years later he learned they were in existence, but in “dead” storage.
The historian said he and other people interested in genealogy would have liked to have been given access to the books before they were discarded.
County Commission President James Sago and Starcher were not available for comment Wednesday evening.
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