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Weakley County Register of deeds

History of the Office

The office of Register in Tennessee can be traced back to the period when this region was part of the English colony of Carolina. The office was provided for the colonies first fundamental law, known as the "Concession and Agreement" of 1665. This office was patterned along the English model which had been in existence at least since Norman times. The Register's general duties have always been to record various types of legal instruments and transactions. The Register's office in Carolina continued under the colonies "Fundamental Constitution" of 1715. The qualified voters elected three freeholders who became candidates for the office. The governor then appointed one of these three small landowners to be the Register. The Register was to serve during good behavior.

When Tennessee became a state in 1796, the first constitution included a provision for a Register to be elected by the county court in every county. The term of office was indefinite and the Register was to serve "during good behavior." The Tennessee Constitution of 1834 provided for the popular election of the Register, reflecting the trend of the Jacksonian era. Tennessee's Constitution of 1870 retained the office of Register and made the term of office four years. The 1978 amendments to the Tennessee Constitution retained the four-year term for the Register.

The most important function of the register's office is the filing or recording of instruments which affect the legal status of real and personal property. With regard to real property, these documents include deeds, deed of trust (mortgages), financing statements called fixture filings under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), assignments, plats, court decrees, leases, liens, releases and many other instruments.

With regard to personal property, the most important documents have been financing statements under the UCC and instruments relating to financing statements, such as amendments, continuation statements, assignments, releases and termination statements; however, most of these UCC documents are now filed with the secretary of state and not with the register. Powers of attorney are often recorded in the register's office. Also, some official documents (county official bonds and certain official reports) are recorded or filed in the register's office. The register notes the time and receipt of each document in the order received and maintains indexes of the records of the office. The register must be familiar with the requirements for acceptance applicable to each document. The prerequisites for acceptance of a document vary with the type of document. It is important to remember that a register is not a notary and does not have a statutory power to take acknowledgements, as do county clerks.

The register has important revenue functions, both for the collection of fees for performing the duties of the office and collection of two state privilege taxes: the transfer tax and the mortgage tax. Currently, the state realty transfer tax is $3.70 per $1000 of value or consideration and the mortgage tax is $1.15 per $1000 or major fraction thereof over $2000 of indebtedness. The register must be knowledgeable concerning the many special rules and exceptions which apply to the collection of the realty transfer and mortgage taxes. The register must be knowledgeable about the required statements on instruments evidencing transfers of real estate or certain interests in real estate and instruments of indebtedness.


Past Weakley County Register of Deeds

William Landrum, 1836-1852
John J. Drewry, 1852-1860
Robert Irvine, 1860-1865
A.B. Charlton, 1865-1870
J.A. Lumpkin, 1870-1878
W.T. Cordwell, 1878-1879
H.A. Ross, 1879-1880
R.B. King, 1880-1886
W.J. Reavis, 1886-1890
J.W. Killebrew, 1890-1898
W.I. Simpson, 1898-1902
W.L. Barton, 1902-1906
G.T. Atkins, 1906-1910
J.B. Swaim, 1910-1916
R.B. Freeman, 1916-1922
C.L. Swinny, 1922-1930
Roy Prince, 1930-1938
R.L. House, 1938-1948
W.J. White, 1948-1954
Ray Dellinger, 1954-1962
Mason Kemp, 1962-1970
Opal Harper, 1970-1978
Houston Patrick, 1978-2002
Donna Winstead, 2002- Present