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Shelby County Register’s Office makes arrest records available on website

MEMPHIS POLICE BLOTTER 1858-1860
Shelby County Register’s Office makes arrest records available on website

The Shelby County Register’s office has placed online the Memphis Police Blotter for the years of 1858-1860. The blotter is a record police kept of people they “sent to calaboose,” which is an older term for brought into the jail. The record contains some 6000 entries. The online version displays a scan of the original blotter along with a searchable database.

The blotter includes entries of the offenders’ name, the charges, arresting officer and any note the officer may have recorded. “Two interesting aspects of the blotter are the defendants’ charges and the corresponding descriptions used by the arresting officers. Both are reflective of the times,” said Shelby County Register Tom Leatherwood. Some entries bordered on the humorous, such as Frank Tanner being charged with “drunk and riding horse in house…” and “eating pigs foot at grocery, not paying.” Others were more serious such as Barney Dunn being charged with “whipping his wife on Sunday” and, in a later arrest, “drunk; to appear for murder.”

Descriptions of the defendants are also often included. One person is described as a “low dirty vagrant; not worth nothing,” and another as a “drunken scamp lying out like a hog.”

Other exhibits available on the Shelby County Register’s website include but are not limited to Dr. Martin Luther King Investigation records, West Tennessee Historical Society Papers and Elmwood Cemetery Daily Burial Records.


Vasco A. Smith, Jr. County Administration Building • (901) 222-2300
160 North Main Street Memphis TN 38103
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