by Max Brantley
A book purported to be the 1862 Jefferson County tax ledger, which the person seeking to sell it says includes “many names and their assests [sic] including slaves,” is for sale on Little Rock’s Craigslist for $100,000.
At that price, the book hasn’t been snapped up. That’s good, because it’s the property of Jefferson County, as the seller, who identified himself as Daniel Peace in an email to Jefferson County Tax Collector Stephanie Stanton last June, was informed by Stanton in a her response, asking for its return. It wasn’t returned; instead it showed up Dec. 5 on craigslist, and a sharp-eyed student of history notified his professor, who put something about the sale on the state’s Arkansas History Discussion Group listserv.
Stanton has asked the Jefferson County sheriff’s office to track down the seller, and has found her man for the searchy in Maj. Lafayette Woods Jr., a history buff who has been collecting old photographs of the county’s former sheriffs for the history portion of the office website, and appreciates the value of historical documents. (Contact the sheriff’s office at 870-541-5351 if you have such a photograph.)
Woods said the old county records are stored under lock and key at what he called a “makeshift warehouse” at 2nd and Main in Pine Bluff. They were taken there after the county courthouse burned down in 1976; Woods would like to know how the seller obtained the records.
— Leslie Newell Peacock