One Comment That Deserves Special Attention (re; the Franklin County Debacle)

keep-calm-and-comply-sheepleThis evening I received the following comment in reply to my 12/23/2013 post “Franklin County Hot Potato Toss – New Developments”. I approved this reader’s comment, but I feel that his concerns need to be addressed front and center.

From “SammyJ”

“i must admit that I am enjoying this work of fiction on your behalf. You have provided the genealogical/historical societies sides in-depth and fact beyond question, while calling into question every response you have received from government officials. The State’s responsibility is to preserve the records that have permanent value. To determine which records meet that criteria, they work with county officials and apply professional standards.

At the end of the day, the decision resides with county officials. To continuously lay the blame for the destruction at the feet of the State Archives despite numerous explanations that the final decisions to destroy the records resides with county officials make it seem as you have an axe to grind with them (the fact that you include all of their full email addresses above while masking yours also smells of the same). No public records in North Carolina can be destroyed without the permission of the creating agency, State County, or Municipality.

The State Archives can make recommendations, but nothing happens without the creator making the decision. In this case, Franklin County officials made that decision. Please, from this time forward, report the unbiased facts so that an open dialogue can begin which may prevent a similar event in the future.

And since you have so graciously posted all of the State Archives’ staff’s email addresses, please post yours so that you may fall under the same public scrutiny as the undoubtedly have”

SammyJ, in one respect you are correct that I have provided the Franklin County Historical Society’s point of view, in depth. I have called into question the State Archive’s AND the Franklin County Government’s role in this incident. The folks at the State Archives, in the person of Sarah Koonts (Director, Division of Archives and Records), have responded to my inquiries and answered most of my questions. The one question that remains unanswered to MY (and others) satisfaction, is WHY Ms. McGee-Langford felt she had the authority to recommend specifically “No other disposition is advised, including donation of the records to a non-government entity for any reason.” (Her words, in her report, October 29, 2013, to the Franklin County Clerk of Court, Ms. Patricia Barnette Chastain.)

No one at the State Archives has answered this question – or addressed the issue as to why the State advised – in such strong terms – that these records were not to be handed over to any other “entity” for “any reason”.

If the State leaves it up to the County, and if the State saw no value in the records, then why was Ms. McGee-Langford so very authoritative, and so very specific about NOT giving the records to the Historical Society, “for any reason”?

I does lead one to conjecture. I’m the first to admit it. So help me get an answer that is reasonable. I haven’t seen one yet.

You are also correct that at the end of the day the decision to destroy the records was left up to the County. I would LOVE to be able to report the County’s side of this story – but so far all I have from that side is the overwhelming sound of cricket’s. No response from either Angela Harris (County Manager), or Patricia Chastain (Clerk of Court.)

If they want their side of the story aired fairly, I am RIGHT HERE. Multiple attempts to get them to provide their perspective in writing or otherwise have gone unanswered. Beyond my attempts so far, I might be accused of stalking. We wouldn’t want that.

As far as email addresses go, the email addresses of EVERY person posted in these articles are State Employees, whose addresses appear online – publicly. They are not secret. I Googled them. You can go to the State Archives site and find them yourself.

MY email address is also available to anyone who cares to look for it. (See my About page.) I’m not “masking” anything. I am not hiding. GTF over yourself and stop accusing me of being duplicitous. (Go look it up.)

I believe that your assessment that the Franklin County Government officials made the call to destroy the records is correct. This is the conclusion I have come to after many conversations with the involved parties (the ones willing to speak to me.) My opinion has evolved over time, and I have updated this site with new information that has informed this evolving opinion. I would STRONGLY encourage you to read (and then re-read if it doesn’t “take” the first time), all of my posts. If you do so, you may come to a better understanding of the issue, and why so many people are outraged at what happened in Franklin County.

The bottom line is that the folks at the State Archives;
1] Didn’t dig any deeper into what was in that basement other than looking in a few cartons removed from it by well-meaning local researchers, intent on preserving the material (at their own expense),
2] They looked at the very incomplete inventory (provided by that same group), and determined that whatever was left in the basement, must be worthless. (How convenient.)
3] And then, they went to great lengths to coerce the Franklin County Clerk of Court NOT to turn over these so-called worthless, duplicate, or dangerously contaminated documents to any “entity”, “for any reason”. (And I am sorry, but hiding behind the fear of privacy issues and medical information is simply lame. These records contained information on people who were mostly dead by 1960, if not a century earlier. It doesn’t float. And it sure doesn’t float when you consider that the “chain of custody” was broken by the very people who raised that red herring and tried to use it against the Historical Society.)

SammyJ – “from this time forward”, as you request, I will give all the facts as I find them. I’ve been doing that since I learned of this story and I do not plan to do anything differently.

I don’t know who you are – what your affiliations are – but you will not bully me on my own blog. I can push back as hard as I’m pushed – at least intellectually. In fact I’m pretty sure on that field of play, I’m the heavier hitter.

Learn to read and think critically, and stop swallowing the pre-digested crap that bureaucrats are so effectively trained at spouting and tossing to the sheep (that’s you) to keep them fat, happy, and quiet.

And while I’m thinking of it; learn to use correct grammar when you can. Proper punctuation, spelling, matched tenses – these things go a long way toward making a person seem reasonably intelligent (even if they’re not.) NOT taking advantage of these convenient rules of Basic English Grammar make you look like an uneducated troll who is probably trying to score points with the boss. Not that I would ever think that.

Just a suggestion.


10 responses to “One Comment That Deserves Special Attention (re; the Franklin County Debacle)

  • dbombe

    You are completely right on questioning the motives of this group. This is totally disgusting that public record is disposed of this way. It is just another self interested group covering up the true past by the documents that covered it.

  • lauraphareswilson

    Hi, I am a Radio Talk Show Host and would love to have you as a Guest on my program to talk about this atrocity. Please contact me: I am a lover of history and genealogy and am literally outraged at this criminal act of destruction. Please contact me. Laura Wilson

    • Grace

      Hi Laura & thanks for your post and your interest. This story is not about me. It’s about what happened in Franklin County. If you’ll check out my posts on the incident, you’ll have all the names and dates, details, & etc. you need to start following up and contacting the people who are directly involved. You can feel free to quote my work (just please give credit where due) and if anything’s seems hinky, check with me. This story is developing quickly and I may have new information that contradicts an earlier posting.

  • janwilkinson

    Grace, thank you for your work on this incident!! Shame on the actors in this debacle! There are so many ways the county could have prevented this from happening. Can’t believe this could happen in 2013!!

  • aggieben

    I’m following this saga with great interest, as my mother has spent thousands of hours on our family history, including traveling to inspect county courthouse records just like Franklin’s. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn – if it weren’t sadly impossibly – that the destroyed records contains records relevant to my own family.

    Anyway, do you have a twitter account? I haven’t been able to find one for you. If not, is there a hashtag people have been using for this topic? I’d like to follow, but I’m afraid I just won’t remember to come back to the blog.

    • Grace

      Thanks for your comment and interest. Unf., I don’t do twitter. Don’t know how. Feel free to educate me or better yet, set one up and tell me what to do. I’ll take advantage of it to the best of my ability.

      • 2rodgee

        My personal feeling for this is that I feel twittering would be a waste of your time. You are limited to 140 characters. For something with this much detail to disperse, unless it was used for “hey, there’s something new @ wordpress” it would be pretty useless.
        RE: This entire saga… I believe we are now at the “pass the buck and avoid scrutiny” stage for the various “official offices” involved. sad sad sad…..

    • nada62

      Aggieben, I am one who is very involved with this situation, and directly affected. I put out the original tweet on Dec. 6th about this, and have added more since, but I wasn’t using a particular hashtag. However, I think the time for that is now, so I’ve just tweeted this post, and used the hashtag, #losthistory. So, that will be it, for now. You can also read my post about this on my blog, “Into the LIGHT” at

      Grace, thank you for your interest, and for your excellent observations of the situation. And, thank you for so eloquently and forcefully responding to the “bully” on your blog. I’m proud of you. 🙂

      Unfortunately, I was already reeling from the loss of one family member when all of this happened (which is why I was in Louisburg on the day of devastation), and I’ve since lost my mother, so I haven’t been able to be actively focused on this as I’d like. However, I am keeping up with things via FB, Twitter, the news, and other blogs. Let’s not let this travesty go unpunished. MY HISTORY WAS LOST ON DECEMBER 6TH. No matter what, we cannot bring back what was destroyed.


      • Grace

        Thanks so much Renate!

        I was very sorry to hear about the loss of your Mother.I cannot imagine…

        I’m not a twitter user, but if you want to drop me a note at: jones (dot) c (dot) hall (at) gmail (dot) com, with a brief how-to, I will do my best to “tweet” things as they come to me.

        And thanks for the support on the bully. Usually I just ignore stuff like that but I have a terrible toothache (dentist tomorrow!) and he caught me in the foulest of all possible moods.

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