Polly Toole (1820-1879)

  Polly Toole, a slave of Maryville merchant James M. Toole, is credited with saving extensive local records during the Civil War. When James Toole fled southward during the war because of threats from Union sympathizers, Polly remained in Maryville with his mother, Elizabeth. In May 1864, Union soldiers took over the Blount County courthouse for living quarters and evicted county officials. Court minutes, estate records. marriage licenses, land transactions, tax assessments and wills covering 70 years were moved by County Clerk W. L Dearing to a store building owned by the Toole family across Main Street from the courthouse. Three months later some 3,000 Confederate Cavalry, commanded by Gen. Joe Wheeler, rode into Maryville and tried to retake the courthouse. When musket fire failed to move the Union men, the Confederates began burning buildings on both sides of the street to make a path for cannon shots, and the store building was threatened. Polly Toole took heroic action and managed to secure all records from the building except tax assessments and a few miscellaneous papers. It is not known how she managed to carry the heavy books or where she took them for safekeeping. Court minutes of January 1865 show that Polly Toole was awarded $20 for saving county and land records during Wheeler's raid. She was later given an annual payment until her death, at which time the county paid her burial expenses. A statue of Pooly Toole has been sculptured by Joyce McCroskey and is located in the lobby of the Blount County Courthouse.



Blount County Courthouse - March 24, 2006 - Steve Speer