Fire won't burn records here, 1793 to present safe

By CONNIE ESHThe Wilson Post

When a fire destroyed the city hall in Celina in Clay County recently, city leaders there had to report that 50 years worth of vital records stored in the attic of the building had most likely been destroyed.

If a fire or even more serious destruction occurred in Wilson County, most if not all important records would be safe, officials said. Wilson County Register of Deeds Bev Spickard said deeds and other records which his office is responsible for are stored in duplicate in at least five places.

“We could take a direct hit by a nuclear device and our records would still be safe,” he said.

In fact, all of the deed books are in a fire proof vault in the courthouse, but duplicate records are also stored as microfilm and as computerized records in his office, in a second location nearby, in the basement of the courthouse, in the State Capitol and in a bunker in a cave in East Tennessee, Spickard said.

“Every record from 1793 to this very moment is safe,” he said. The records which go to the state, to the Register’s website and to the cave are all updated every 15 minutes, said Beth Howard, assistant to Spickard.

 Other county records such as court records, divorces and marriage licenses and minutes of government meetings are all stored in the courthouse and on microfilm at the county archives and at the state archives.

Those records are updated once a year, said Wilson County Archives Director Linda Granstaff. Also, all of those records are stored in a four-hour fire vault, meaning the vault will keep a fire from damaging the contents for up to four hours.

 Lebanon Commissioner of Finance Russell Lee said the city’s records are similarly protected.

 “All city records are backed up regularly to an off-site location,” he said. And city hall records are also stored in fire resistant areas at city hall.

Local birth and death records are kept by the State Health Department and recent ones are available at the local office, but all of those records are also stored in Nashville.

Staff Writer Connie Esh may be contacted at