Facebook Twitter

Tennessee man finds Polk’s will

SHARE Tennessee man finds Polk’s will

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A businessman came forward to say he has the will of President James K. Polk, which had been missing from the city's archives, and will be glad to give it back.

Buddy Killen said he found the yellowed, plastic-encased will of the nation's 11th president at a restaurant he owned about seven years ago. He also has the will of Polk's widow.

Archivist Ken Fieth said many of the archive's 5 million documents were moved during the mid-1990s to add protective covers and scan many for computer files. That's when someone asked to see Polk's will and it couldn't be found, he said.

Killen, a businessman and music industry entrepreneur, said Monday the wills came out of an old file cabinet at the Stockyard Restaurant, which he once owned.

"We certainly want to return it to the rightful owners," he told The Tennessean newspaper.

Killen said he had no idea the papers were lost from the archive until he heard of news accounts over the weekend. He was not sure how they ended up at the restaurant.

"We were always finding stuff there, so we just thought, 'Aw, it doesn't mean anything,' " Killen said.

Fieth was delighted to hear the news.

"We would be thrilled to have it back," Fieth said. "From what you have told me, it sounds like the will. I'm so relieved. It won't be going anywhere once I get it back."

Polk — who also was a congressman and Tennessee's governor — led the nation from 1845-49, when the country went to war with Mexico and gained much of the west, including California.

After his term, he returned to Nashville, where he died shortly afterward of cholera. His widow lived in their downtown home for 42 more years before her death.