Grayson County Clerk Wilma Bush told commissioners this week that she is about to realize the completion of a project that has been 15 years in the making. Bush said the county has almost finished digitizing its land records.
Bush started working on the project shortly after she was elected Grayson County Clerk because she said the records were deteriorating and needed to be preserved for prosperity. The records available at the county go back to 1846 when Grayson was founded. Some of the pages were hard to read, Bush told commissioners back when the project first started, but she said the digital copies would all be checked as the project went along and she would stay on top of making sure the documents were as good, if not better, as the originals.
Though the project has been a substantial one, it has not cost the county’s general fund anything. The project was paid for with a designated fee attached to records that are filed in the county. By the time the whole project is completed, Bush said it will have cost over $1 million.
Bush said the project should be completed and ready for people to search, either at the county or from their own computer at home by Aug. 1. Many of the land records, however, already are available to search. The most recent round being completed is the last batch and includes the records from 1846 to 1945. The records from 1946 to present are already digitized. She said the first 60 years of the records were handwritten originally and that slowed the process of digitizing them down considerably. Some of those records, she said, are written in very pretty, neat handwriting that is easy to read, but some are not.
“It depended upon the individual clerk,” she said, explaining an individual had to read each record and make sure what was recorded in the system matched the hard copy.
Bush said she loves records like those that she is charged with maintaining and when she first took office in 2003, she laid out an archive plan that would make sure all of Grayson County’s records were preserved for the next 100 years. She said the criminal law records and the civil court records all have a life span, meaning the legislature has set a number of years for which they must be kept and then they may be destroyed.
However, the vital statistics records like birth, death, marriage and land records all must be kept permanently. Of course, she said, that doesn’t meant they will always look like they look today. Getting the digital copies that can be used with today’s technology is just one part of the bigger plan. The bigger picture is to have them in a form that can easily be updated to work with whatever new technology comes along.
At a recent commissioners meeting, Grayson County Commissioner David Whitlock said he wasn’t so sure Bush’s plan made much sense when she first started talking about it back in 2003, but he has nothing but praise for the way it has turned out.
Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said the project is an indicator of the type of difference that can be made when the county and its leaders embrace technology.
The county land records are available online at graysontx.search.kofile.com/48181/Home/Index/1.