The charred remains of two large volumes contain thousands of names and precious bits of information that provide a wonderful insight to Bristol history in the mid to late 1800s.
In January 2013, the Sullivan County Department of Archives and Tourism began a new phase of records preservation - preserving the Bristol (TN) Chancery Cases. Chancery suits often contain supporting pieces of evidence that pre-date the cases themselves by many years.
In recent weeks, during the preservation process, Sullivan County Archives volunteer, Joan Eller, discovered two old, rather large Shelby Lodge Masonic records books stuffed away in one of the boxes. The books were rolled up in old newspapers, and were accompanied by an old handwritten card that read, "Burned in the C&M's Ofc [Clerk & Master's Office], 30 May 1893, 1 AM." Although the edges of the pages are badly burned, all of the pages are intact and largely preserve the history of Shelby Lodge No. 162 from 1865 to 1899.
Archives staff have carefully placed each of the pages in acid-free sleeves, now comprising seven volumes in total. The Archives is planning to digitize the collection sometime in the future as staff and funding become available. The digitized copies will be made available for public viewing.
The Sullivan County Department of Archives and Tourism is open from 8 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday-Friday. Preservation of Sullivan County records is an ongoing process. Volunteers are welcome, and anyone interested may contact the Sullivan County Archives at 423.323.4660.