Saline County Circuit Clerk Dennis Milligan (left) and Historical Marker Committee Chairman Patrick Rhodes unveil Saline County’s Civil War Historical Marker on the law of the court house Sunday afternoon. The marker commemorates the return of the “Lost Seal” of the Saline County Circuit Clerk’s office after having been missing for 150 years.
On August.31, 1863, scouts for the Federal Army were coming into Saline County from Union-controlled Little Rock. Fearing that the Union Army would destroy court and land records in the Saline County Court House, a special court order was issued on August 31, 1863, allowing court and land records along with a few artifacts to be removed from the Saline Court House. Those items, including the county court seal, were taken to what is now Grant County for safe keeping. They were never returned.
In 1996, Gary Smith of Pine Bluff was searching a site where 500 federal troops had once camped in rural Grant County. His metal detector discovered what he thought was a silver dollar. He dug it up and discovered it was the missing seal. In 2012, Smith generously decided to donate the seal back to Saline County. In 2013, Land Commissioner John Thurston put the seal on display at the Arkansas State Capitol. He returned it to Saline count on August 31, 2013—150 years after it left the court house – where it is now on permanent display in the circuit clerk’s office.