George Lee Gibbs has been in charge of taking care of all of the historical records of Hancock County for 35 years now. He types, indexes, and keeps the records safe, preserved and organized; as well as assisting the researcher. “We’re just here to help the people. I feel like we’ve done a good job at that, because everybody keeps coming back,” he said.
The records at the Archives date back as far as 1829. They have worked, over the years, at compiling them and getting them indexed. Any of the documents before 1973 can be found there, and documents after ’73 are stored in the new courthouse.
They have been working their way through the original batch of historical documents, and indexing them. “The marriages, we’re done with those. It’s 113 boxes, and we’ve done them all. They’re all typed up,” he said. “I typed up every bit of Minute Book 1 (Hancock County, Kentucky Histories – Minute Book 1) as well,” he added. The early court clerks kept Minute Books to record all transactions.
They are currently in the process of typing up all of the funeral records, which have never been indexed until now, and start in the 1860s. They will be available for people to come in to the Archives and get copies, for 15 cents per copied page.
“We’ve been to every one of the cemeteries that we put in there. We had a guy come in here about 6 months ago, and he was looking for a cemetery, and couldn’t find it. I said, ‘I’ll just take you right to it.’ So, we drove right out there, went across this big field, and it’s up on a hill (Lamar Cemetery in Hancock County). He was really pleased with it, because I took the time to take him out there,” George said.
“There are books on the shelves with family histories. A lot of history there. The family names are on the books, such as: Newton and Bruner. There is a whole sack of Bruner books. Mr. Bruner brought his up and L.T. Newton brought some of his,” he said. “Those are really good, the best we’ve got.”
If someone comes in and can give them the name, they can go right to the documents. If someone calls and wants information on, for instance, a court case, they have it on a drive and can put that in and bring it right up. “I have all of the court cases that we’ve got indexed. Some of it starts at 1829.”
“There are a lot of Forgotten Pathways books here, that we did. I was editor for 3 or 4 years. There is a lot of information that was in these historical records, that are in those books. People are welcome to look through those. It was a quarterly that we did, and was started by someone else, and then I took over as editor of it for awhile,” George said.
“There’s a lot of history in them. It’s Hancock County history, and some Breckinridge and Daviess County history.” They contain family histories, bible records, church records, cemetery records, and maps. “Really interesting things in there. The first book is 1985-1986, that is when it was started. They were done by year and there were 4 per year.” The last Forgotten Pathways book they have at the Archives, was completed in 1999. The Rice Cemetery and Nichols Cemetery are a couple that are included in the books. Hancock County position of lands with maps – from 1847 to 1928 are in them, as well as marriage records from 1902 to 1925. “There are some really interesting things in these books, you just have to take the time and look through them and see. That’s going to change soon, because there’s going to be an index to those as well.” They will be typing all of those up in the near future.
Hancock County and Kentucky history is preserved in the Archives, such as: papers and books with recorded events, minutes, manuscripts, photographs, military records, correspondence, directories, family histories & files, cemetery listings, and maps. There are loose case documents, such as for: marriage, divorce, lawsuits, deeds and many other types of court documents. Most of the Archival records are available to the public for research. “People can come in and look at just about everything we’ve got here,” he said. “Each one has a folder.”
George is 74-years-old, and he and his wife, Mary, have been the Hancock County Archivists since 1987. They both love the job and plan to continue for as long as they are able. “I’ve got plenty of time yet. I haven’t gotten to the hundred mark yet,” he said. “I love what we do. We love it, we really do. We just fell in love with the records. I even do some things at home. When I’m home, I’ll talk to people and get some information from them and they’ll help me with a few things, and I put it into my computer there. We make a good time out of it.”
They, along with a Book Committee, and help from the Historical Society and the Clarion, also put together a book titled: Hancock County, Kentucky: Pictorial History, 1829-2014. They started it in 2012 and finished in 2014. It was published by The Acclaimed Press, in Morley, Missouri.
The Archives are located on the first floor of the Old Court House in Hawesville. If you’re interested in doing some research, call ahead a day or so in advance. They are usually there on Monday-Friday, from 8:00 to 4:00. The phone number is: 270-927-8095. The email is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jennifer Wimmer