Commissioner of State Lands John Thurston recently received the original Saline County seal, that was used after the establishment of the county in 1835, for temporary display in the Commissioner of State Lands office. Saline County Circuit Clerk, Dennis Milligan, presented the seal to Commissioner Thurston during a ceremony held in his state capitol office.
The official seal was used on county records from 1836 until its removal and disappearance in 1863. In 1863, the court ordered that the seal and all county documents be removed from the courthouse in Benton prior to the Union Calvary entering the area. It was feared that the Calvary would destroy the county records and could possibly use the seal to fraudulently stamp documents. Somewhere after that court order, the seal was lost, only to be recovered in 1996 by an amateur treasure hunter, Garry Smith. Mr. Smith was searching with his metal detector in an area east of Sheridan, Arkansas, where it was believed that the Union Calvary camped at prior to the battle at Jenkins Ferry. The piece was buried in about six inches of earth. In 2012, he returned the piece to the Saline County Circuit Court’s office. “Mr. Smith was very generous to give the seal back to Saline County. It is a priceless piece of history that needs to be shared with all Arkansans,” Milligan said.
The seal will be on display in the Commissioner of State Lands office, alongside the historic land records the office also has on display, until August 30. Also on display is the original court order requesting the removal of county documents in 1863, provided to us by Saline County Clerk, Doug Curtis. On August 30, Commissioner Thurston will take the seal on its final trip, back home to Saline County after its 150 year absence, to be on permanent display in the Courthouse. Thurston commented, “As Commissioner of State Lands and as a Saline County native, I am honored that the county has shared this invaluable piece of history with our office and with the citizens of this State. I hope that everyone has the opportunity to come view this piece while it is on display in the State Capitol.”
For more information on the Saline County seal, please contact the Circuit Clerk’s office at 501-303-5615 or the Commissioner of State Lands office at 501-324-9422 or visit our website at www.cosl.org.