Submitted to Claiborne County Progress, July 20, 2006 by Secretary, CCHGS - Joe Payne
Congratulations are in order to the Claiborne County
Historical and Genealogical Society because it now holds the deed to the
historical Old Jail located in Tazewell located on what was once a back street
of the town of Tazewell but now is main State Highway 33. The Old Jail next to Century Bank sits
unoccupied and in bad need of renovation and repair.
The announcement came by Patricia Brooks, President of
the CCHGS at the July meeting of the Society and she and the Society would like
to express their thanks to County Mayor Virgil Harrell and the County
Commissioners who worked to see that the Old Jail would be saved for future
generations of Claiborne County residents and non-residents to learn more of the
County’s historic past. This news
comes almost in perfect unison with the opening of the newest of Claiborne
County’s facilities, the new Jail and Detention Center located on Straight
From Goodspeed’s History of Claiborne County-- “The first jail was completed at about the same time as the courthouse - 1804. It was used until 1819, when Josiah C. Ramsey, John Evans, William Graham, William Renfro, Robert Crockett, David Rogers and Reuben Rogers were appointed commissioners to erect a new jail. It was built with a double wall, the outside being rock and the inside frame.” The architecture is described as follows in The Peoples History of Claiborne County - Vol II - "Originally, the stone foundation level served basically as the entry with stairs leading to the "Second" floor (brick section) which was the main facility. In the center of this floor was a single cell ("bull pen") with steel bars; an open hallway was on each of the four sides. A jailer had a bed in one corner. The cell has apparently been removed."
One story that was told to me by my mother Betty Phillips Payne came when my Grandfather Lafayette G. Payne was Sheriff of Claiborne County. The time period he was High Sheriff 1914 - 1918 there was a jail in Lone Mountain that John Kivett referred to as the “Calaboose” in his article “Down on the Creek” during 1994. The main Jail was located in the Tazewell Courthouse but Chief Deputy Newt Mink, who later himself was elected Sheriff, occupied this Old Jail. During my Grandfathers term as County Judge 1918-1924, he would come to “town” on business with his two young twins Fate and Al. (Al was my father). The twins were known to wander if not supervised so my grandfather would ask Newt to keep an eye on them while he attended to business at the County Court House. Newt knew just what to do with the two rambunctious twins, he locked them in a cell. My Dad would roll laughing when she told us the story.
The Claiborne County Historical and Genealogical Society would ask that all concerned readers please help in the restoration efforts that will soon be underway lead by the CCHGS. This can be by individual donations to the Old Jail Project specifically or by joining the Society and contributing with your attendance and ideas of how this and other projects concerning preservation of County historical landmarks can be accomplished. Funding and support of these efforts are of utmost importance.
You can send your contributions to the CCHGS, P.O Box
32, Tazewell, Tennessee 37879 and look for our booth at the upcoming Claiborne
County Fair in August.
The annual dues of the Society are $12.50 for single, $15.00 for family and $1.00 for students. Prospective members should contact the Treasurer Patricia Brooks, e-mail email@example.com or Bill or Carolyn Lambert e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website http://www.rootsweb.com/~tnccths/ for more membership information.
I drew up a brochure for the Claiborne County Historical Society which has old information but will serve to help anyone that might like to either join or contact present or past members. It can be found by CLICKING HERE