© 2002-2017 Leona L. Gustafson
The Columbus Evening Dispatch
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Monday, February 3, 1879
THE FIRE INVESTIGATION
Meeting of the Committee—Investigation to be Private—Nothing Done Today—Gossip About the Conflagration and its Results—Nothing Serious Likely to Come out of it Says a Distinguised Member of the Bar.
The County Commissioners appointed C. H. Frisbe, T. Ewing Miller, J. H. Outhwaite, B. F. Bowen and Frederick Beck “to make a thorough examination of the vault and surrounding premises and the condition of the books damaged. They shall, if they deem best,” says the resolution, “examine witnesses and get all the information that can be found and report their findings and conclusions in writing to the Board of County Commissioners as soon as the same can be done.”
Messrs. Frisbie, Beck and Miller met this morning, and adjourned until 2 P. M. Mr. Bowen was not present on account of a surveying engagement made prior to his appointment as a member of the committee. He said he would be at liberty to attend meetings of the committee after 12N, to-day. Mr. Miller said it was very doubtful whether he could serve. His private business demands attention. He had not decided upon the course he would pursue, at noon.
A DISPATCH reporter inquired of Mr. Frisbie whether the examination would be private. “If it is to be private,” added the reporter, “I don't want to hang around the Court House; I have other business to attend to.’ Mr. Frisbie replied: “This committee does not want to divulge anything until the proper time. Then we will give you what we think is right. You needn't fool away your time around here.” Mr. Frisbie further stated that Mr. Cole had locked the vault and that no one would be admitted until the committee had concluded its examination.
While this confab was going on, Mr. Henry O. Noble came in with a bundle of certified land records which he had obtained for use in court, and tendered the use of them to the County Commissioners, free of charge. He said he was surprised that the Commissioners did not place galvanized iron shelving in the fault instead of wood.
Mr. Beekey—We supposed fire could not get inside the vault.
Conversation turning upon copies of the records made by various persons, Mr. Noble said: “It will take legislation to make copied records
legal. You (addressing the remark to Mr. Beekey) will have to get legislation to replace what is lost. While getting that, go farther, and get legislation making it incumbent upon all persons who are permitted to take copies of county records to place the same at the disposal of the county, in case of accident, free of charge. That will take away the motive for destroying county records.” Some other suggestions were made touching the custom that has prevailed in this county for many years, of allowing everybody and anybody to go into the vaults of the Recorder and Clerk to examine books and papers.
Mr. Noble said the loss was not irreparable—not as damaging as if the completed records of the Clerk's office had been burned. There is nothing original in the Recorder's office. It is all copied. In the Clerk's office, wills that are there in cases under investigation, and completed records, are of great importance.
The Ross county record is down in Ross county. Mr. Noble was of the opinion that the loss of the early land records, up to 1820, were of little importance. Before that date there was but comparatively little subdivision of lands in Franklin county, nearly all of which could be covered by deeds and other papers in existance.
Those present were of the opinion that inasmuch as the county officers had extended to abstractors if titles facilities for copying records free of charge, even furnishing room, and fuel, and light, and water, at one period of the work, the fair thing for the abstractors to do would be to give the county a similar favor—at least permission to copy. Legislation would the be necessary to make the work valid. Mr. Noble said if the Legislature did not pass such a law as the Commissioners desired, if he was in their place he would make an order that the records were not to be handled by any except the persons employed in the office. The officers should in each case, charge what the law allows. In New York the city makes this a matter of revenue. Public officers are not in competition with abstractors.
In 1859 and 1860, when General C. C. Walcutt was county surveyor, he and Samuel M. Miles prepared a complete index, with records of ddeds, up to May, 1820. They worked at it more than a year. General Walcutt says the chain of title is very complete; that the work was carefully done as far as it wnet. He has the books stored away in his house. They will be valuable in making competition in supplying the missing link.
It was not Mr. W. A. Krumm who was the “Co.” in Poste & Co., [See previous story] but Samuel Crumm, with a C instead of a K.
T. Ewing Miller, at a meeting of the committee this afternoon, consented to serve. Mr. Outhwaite, who was engaged in Court, siad he would be at liberty to begin work to-morrow.
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