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Hawkins County Archive to be named for its founder, Jack Goins

Jeff Bobo • Apr 15, 2018 at 6:00 PM

ROGERSVILLE — A man who spent the past 12 years preserving Hawkins County history will soon have his name preserved on the Rogersville building where people from across the country come to trace their family roots.

Jack Goins founded the Hawkins County Archive in 2006 after the Hawkins County Commission decided to relocate all the paper records dating back to the 1700s that had been stored in the courthouse basement.

On Monday, the Hawkins County Commission’s Buildings Committee voted unanimously in favor of renaming the building located at 951 E. McKinney Ave. across from Rogersville Middle School “the Jack Goins Archive.”

County Buildings Manager Alana Roberts told the committee Monday that the Public Records Committee had requested the building dedication.

Committee Chairman Darrell Gilliam said Goins “took the archive to heart.”

“He’s made amazing things happen,” Gilliam said. “That door don’t need grease on it because it’s used so much. It would be very nice to do that for him.”

Goins was undergoing a medical procedure and wasn’t available to comment on the honor.

Archive volunteer Regenia Koger told the Times News Friday that the archive wouldn’t exist without Goins’ efforts.

“Mr. Goins has volunteered his time and energy to this and he has done a really good job,” Koger said. “I think a lot of archivists (in other counties) are paid. We don’t receive any money. We’re all volunteer. Jack has really put in time and effort and money out of his own pocket to keep it going. This is really a great thing that he’s done for Hawkins County.”

Founded in 2006, the Hawkins County Archive is a hub for county and regional genealogy research.

Goins was appointed county archivist in 2005 and formed a group of volunteers known as Friends of the Hawkins County Archive Project.

This group was created to restore, organize and digitize the old county records.

In 2006, the Friends group was chartered by the state as a nonprofit organization and was awarded “Society of the Year” by the East Tennessee Historical Society.

Today, the archive is among the biggest tourist attractions in the county, drawing people from across the country who have ancestral connections to the area for genealogy research. It’s also a valuable resource for attorneys researching old deeds and surveys.

“Most people come here looking for their ancestors who were here in the 1700s and 1800s,” Goins told the Times News in 2017. “We’ve got a name index to look and see if they’re there. They can look up a marriage, or a will, or land records — stuff like that. We also have quite a few surveyors who get old maps out of the Chancery Court, but mostly it’s folks searching for their ancestors.”

When the archive opened, volunteers sorted through, copied and cataloged documents stored in the Hawkins County Courthouse basement dating back to 1787.

It’s been long believed that records stored in the courthouse basement were pilfered over the years and robbed of old documents with valuable signatures. But the thief didn’t find everything.

While digitizing the old courthouse records, Goins and his volunteers saved and preserved many rare documents, including land grants signed by Presidents Andrew Johnson from 1867 and James Madison from 1822; documents signed by early Tennessee governors including John Sevier, Willie Blount and Joseph McMinn; and the original Rogersville town charter.

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