A newly-appointed Clerk of Court in Franklin County, North Carolina, discovered stacks and stacks of books, boxes, loose papers, ledgers, and more in the basement of the county courthouse. The records were from approximately 1840's to the 1960's. The records included Chattel Mortgages from the 1890's, court dockets from post civil war to prohibition, delayed birth certificate applications with original supporting documents (letters from Grandma, bible records, birth certificates, etc), county receipts on original letterhead from businesses long extinct, poll record books, original school, road and bridge bonds denoting the building of the county, law books still in their original paper wrappings, and much, much more.
The records were strewn everywhere. There was obvious mold in the back section and evidence of water damage. Some records had been ruined by the mold, but most were completely viable.
After extensive political wrangling, the county destroyed all the records on December 6, 2013.
You can read all the details in an article by Diane Taylor Torrent of The Heritage Society of Franklin County, NC at http://goo.gl/vnak1s.
My thanks to newsletter reader Sloan Mason for telling me of the sad news.
Comment: I am not an attorney and not qualified to give legal advice. However, I do find it interesting that the North Carolina General Assembly web site shows the following from its "enacted legislation" section at http://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/BySection/Chapter_121/GS_121-5.html:
§ 121-5. Public records and archives.
(a) State Archival Agency Designated. - The Department of Cultural Resources shall be the official archival agency of the State of North Carolina with authority as provided throughout this Chapter and Chapter 132 of the General Statutes of North Carolina in relation to the public records of the State, counties, municipalities, and other subdivisions of government.
(b) Destruction of Records Regulated. - No person may destroy, sell, loan, or otherwise dispose of any public record without the consent of the Department of Cultural Resources, except as provided in G.S. 130A-99. Whoever unlawfully removes a public record from the office where it is usually kept, or alters, mutilates, or destroys it shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor and upon conviction only fined at the discretion of the court.
When the custodian of any official State records certifies to the Department of Cultural Resources that such records have no further use or value for official and administrative purposes and when the Department certifies that such records appear to have no further use or value for research or reference, then such records may be destroyed or otherwise disposed of by the agency having custody of them.
When the custodian of any official records of any county, city, municipality, or other subdivision of government certifies to the Department that such records have no further use or value for official business and when the Department certifies that such records appear to have no further use or value for research or reference, then such records may be authorized by the governing body of said county, city, municipality, or other subdivision of government to be destroyed or otherwise disposed of by the agency having custody of them. A record of such certification and authorization shall be entered in the minutes of the governing body granting the authority.
The North Carolina Historical Commission is hereby authorized and empowered to make such orders, rules, and regulations as may be necessary and proper to carry into effect the provisions of this section. When any State, county, municipal, or other governmental records shall have been destroyed or otherwise disposed of in accordance with the procedure authorized in this subsection, any liability that the custodian of such records might incur for such destruction or other disposal shall cease and determine.