DOBSON — If the stars align and transportation issues are worked out, a century-old piece of history could soon be making its way back to Surry County.
And it all started with a simple comment during last week’s county Board of Commissioners meeting.
During a portion of the meeting generally reserved for mundane housekeeping issues, County Manager Chris Knopf told the board that former Register of Deeds Dennis “Bud” Cameron had approached him about the county taking ownership of a desk that was used in the courthouse that stood in Dobson from 1850-1916.
Shortly after the announcement, board Chair Eddie Harris said the board is going to do what it can to make the offer a reality.
“I don’t know that this county has many items left from the old 1850 courthouse,” he said. “This desk would be a crown jewel that could be a piece of history for all to enjoy.”
The desk in question, now in Atlanta, Ga., was purchased by now-deceased Glenn and Mildred Robertson from an antique shop in Dobson “many years ago,” Cameron said.
“Glenn was very interested in antiques, and now operates an upscale antique and silversmith shop in Atlanta,” he added. “He purchased the desk from an antiques dealer in Dobson in the late 1950s or early 1960s for (their son Harry) to use as a school desk.
“Dr. Harry Robertson received the desk after his parent’s death, and had it moved to Atlanta, where he works as an opthamologist,” he added. “Harry would like to give this desk to the county to be used in the old courthouse, to reflect the courthouse’s history in the county.”
Cameron said the desk is stored in a neighbor’s home in Atlanta.
“It needs to be moved,” he said. “Since (Harry Robertson) doesn’t have a place to put it or a need for it, he offered it to me first, since I was a close friend of his father.”
Without a place to store it, Cameron said he approached the county about whether it would be interested.
Judging by the response at Monday’s meeting, it was.
Cameron said he expects the county to take ownership in the near future.
“Harry is offering the desk at no cost to the county, but he does want the county to transport it at no cost to him,” he said. “It’s now just a matter of figuring out how to get it here.”
The desk is about five feet by two-and-a-half feet, made of walnut with maple panels.
“It was designed to be used by two people, and could have sat in the center of a room or with one end against a wall,” Cameron said.
It features an opening through the center, and on one side has eight small drawers while the other side features two doors with shelving and cubbyholes.
“It is a desk that would have been used in a courthouse of the period of the late 1800s,” said Cameron, a local historian and antique lover. “I can just see papers stored in the cubbies on one side and possibly books listing dockets or tax parcel numbers.”
Cameron said it belongs back in Surry County.
“It’s a piece of our history, and a connection to an earlier time,” he said.
Harris said Commissioner R.F. “Buck” Golding has a brother living in Atlanta, who is being approached about possibly bringing the desk with him when he comes for a family visit.
“I think this is just a wonderful opportunity to get this piece of history back into Surry County,” he said. “We’re very grateful to the family for being willing to donate it.”
And Harris said the board wants community involvement.
“We’re looking for input as to where would be the proper location for it, and are interested in hearing any ideas from the public,” he said.
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.