Ten years of painstaking work pays off with a rare glimpse into the legal mess left in Missouri once the Civil War ended.
More than 11,200 court cases filed in St. Louis Circuit Court between 1866 and 1868 have been rescued, cleaned and restored thanks to a $330,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Secretary of State Robin Carnahan says the court cases run the gamut; from claims for freedom filed by slaves, to property lawsuits asking for reparations for damage done by soldiers. Carnahan noted one lawsuit in which a store owner in Iron County sought to recover losses from a Civil War raid.
"So, he turned around and filed a lawsuit against 56 people, a lot of well-known folks, including former Governor Marmaduke for claims of the loss," Carnahan said.
Documents will be available at the old St. Louis Globe-Democrat building at 710 N. Tucker Boulevard, Room 213.
"Part of what we’re doing here is the first step which is preserving documents, getting them cataloged so you can find them again, but then getting them online so anybody can take a look at them," Carnahan explained. "We’re trying to do all this in advance of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War that comes up in 2011."
The documents will be added to the thousands already on the Missouri Digital Heritage Initiative portion of the Secretary of State’s Web site, which has become an extremely popular Web site.