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f/8 and Be There
Fred Lynch

Class reports to courthouse dungeon

Posted Monday, February 6, 2017, at 12:00 AM

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Jan. 21, 1982 Southeast Missourian

SEMO State University history professor Robert White, center, instructs students in his historic preservation class on the proper method of listing county records during a Wednesday night visit to the Cape County Courthouse cellar vault. Listening to the instructions are, from left, Frank Woodson and Robert Ulrich. The class is making an inventory of old county records.

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Class to put dungeon in order

JACKSON - It's called the "dungeon" by Cape County Courthouse employees. But in reality, it's a courthouse vault containing countless old records from County Court minutes to assessment and tax records.

Some of the old, leather bound record books date back to the early 1800s. At least some County Court records date back to 1817, according to County Clerk Rodney Miller.

Inside the dusty covers of these books are documents, some of which are of historical significance. However, Miller noted, the valuable records are strewn all over the cellar, jammed in drawers, and stacked high on tables and on the floor.

Many of the records are in deteriorating condition.

But Miller said efforts are under way to catalog and inventory the records, as well as attempt to prevent further deterioration of them.

The project is being undertaken by a SEMO State University historical preservation class under the direction of Robert White, assistant professor of history.

White said he and Miller first discussed the need for such a project last year. "At that time, Rodney and I talked about what was in the dungeon and the disarray of it."

White noted the biggest problem in the cellar vault is the humidity which damages the records.

"This project is of educational value to the students who get experience working with historical documents," the instructor observed, adding it will also benefit the county.

White said he was uncertain how long it would take to inventory all the records.


Editor's Note:

The records are now kept at the Cape Girardeau County Archive Center in Jackson.

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