ROGERSVILLE — A plaque officially naming the Hawkins Co. Archives Building on East McKinney Avenue for County Archivist Jack H. Goins was unveiled by outgoing County Mayor Melville Bailey on Friday morning, Aug. 31.
Prior to the unveiling, Mayor Bailey spoke briefly, noting that the County Commission had passed a resolution honoring Goins and the other volunteers who worked to clean, index and microfilm historic local governmental records here.
Bailey said the records were preserved, indexed and microfilmed at “very little to no cost” thanks to the efforts of Goins and his band of volunteers.
Alana Roberts, the county’s building manager and special projects coordinator, said she appreciated everyone who had come to the ceremony.
“When he (Goins) put this group (of volunteers) together, he really did a service for Hawkins County,” Roberts said. “It’s an important part of Hawkins County government that doesn’t get recognized a lot. We do appreciate it and are grateful for all of you. We just want to dedicate this building in honor of Jack.”
Roberts then unveiled the plaque on the front exterior wall of the building that bears Goins’ name. Volunteers clapped as she did so.
Goins said he became involved with efforts to preserve the county’s early governmental records in 2004. Since then, he said, volunteers have worked to gather, clean, catalog and microfilm records that formerly languished in the basement of the Courthouse.
“We started cleaning the records in January, 2005,” Goins said. “We got all the records, cleaned them ad indexed them. They are on microfilm now. They are at the Tennessee Archives and the H.B. Stamps Memorial Library has some of them.”
He said the oldest local government records that volunteers were able to preserve and microfilm date from 1795.
“We have some Civil War items,” he said, noting that many Civil War-era records were destroyed.
Goins said his involvement in the records-preservation project began while he was writing a book about the Melungeons, the mysterious group many of whom live in Hancock County. While doing research for the book, Goins said, he searched old records stored in the basement of the Hawkins Co. Courthouse and saw the records were in great need of preservation and cataloging.
“I decided then that I would try to save them,” Goins said. He noted that former County Mayor Crockett Lee was instrumental in getting the records preservation project started.
Goins explained that he was able to obtain help in microfilming the aging records from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which sent experts from Salt Lake City, Utah, to conduct microfilming of local governmental records.
“They were here almost two years,” Goins said. He noted that two different LDS groups were involved in the project.
Also working for years to complete the preservation and copying of Hawkins County’s records were a large number of local volunteers, including Goins’ wife Betty.
Goins noted that the LDS church workers kept a copy of the records and gave the Hawkins County Archives a copy of all the microfilm.
Goins said he is currently battling an illness but noted that he hopes to continue working with other volunteers at the Archives.
Goins was born in Hancock County, but has lived for Hawkins County for many years.