Volume 34, Number 4, Spring 1995
The Douglas County courthouse fire of 1886 destroyed thousands of local records. Recently, William Merritt, Douglas County Clerk, made available to the Missouri Local Records Program a number of charred documents that had escaped destruction.
These papers, c. 1878-1886, originated in several offices. They include a miscellany of assessments, county, circuit and probate court, death records, wills, and various land records (e.g., warranty, quit claim, and sheriffand filings of original homestead patents).
The Local Records Program did a "salvage micro-filming" of these papers, i.e., they were filmed as is with no organization or index and returned to Douglas County for redeposit with the county clerk.
Considering the unique circumstances surrounding these documents, the chaotic condition of the records, and the fact that many old family names are represented in the documents, local historical society members may want to volunteer their services to the county clerk. In order to reasonably access information in these records, they need intensive processing, that is, someone needs to sort the paper according to office of origin and in chronological sequence. There is no doubt that the work would take several weeks.
If historical society members took this challenge, Linda Myers-Phinney would provide a training workshop and the state would provide acid-free folders and records center boxes.
Once the processing was accomplished, the Local Records Program would re-film the records returning the originals and a copy of the film to Ava making the information available.
Anyone interested in this project should contact clerk Bill Merritt or recorder Tom Roberts at the courthouse.
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