Clock Tower

Out of the Clock Tower

Hello and welcome to the Greene County Archives' blog, "Out of the Clock Tower".  Please join us as we share information on archival issues, news, special events, and highlights from our collection.

Before the archives program began in Greene County in 1996, permanent records were stored in every conceivable space, in basements, garages, and closets. Usually they were in boxes of various shapes and sizes, although seldom adequately labeled, but occasionally they were just in loose piles of books and papers. Most notable were the old records stuffed into the clock tower of the County Courthouse, where they shared their home with pigeon droppings.

Now, there is a clean, environmentally controlled, well appointed location for the county archives, where our historical records are housed in standard sized boxes on steel shelves. We have taken note of their journey in the name for our blog.

Dec 08

Herbert Hoover: The Humble President

Posted on December 8, 2017 at 4:10 PM by Melissa Dalton

Many times when you are thumbing through archival material, you run across something that doesn’t belong.  However, sometimes that item is so intriguing that you find yourself doing research to see what you can learn.  Our intern found such an item the other day, and I’ve found myself researching ever since. 

The item we found, a Hoover-Curtis Volunteer Club card (Figure 1), is just the type of thing that piques interest!  Herbert Hoover was not a president that I know much about, and when I polled my co-workers, it appeared many of us were light on knowledge of him and his presidency.  Many know that Hoover was president when the Great Depression started, and his presidency was plagued by his inability to limit its far reaching consequences.  However, he was a man who had a humanitarian spirit and was not one to seek appraisal for his good deeds.  I hope you read on to learn a little more about this one-term president.

Hoover-Curtis Volunteer Club Card
Figure 1 – Hoover-Curtis Volunteer Club card

Herbert Hoover was born on August 10, 1874 in West Branch, Iowa.  Both his parents died before Hoover’s 10th birthday, and he went to live with relatives in Oregon.  Hoover went on to graduate from Stanford University in 1895 (part of the inaugural class), at which time he began a successful career as a mining engineer.  However, Hoover became well-known as a humanitarian during World War I, when he lead efforts to assist fleeing Americans and aided Belgium in battling famine and death that threatened their country.  In 1917, Hoover returned to the United States and was appointed by President Wilson to head the new U.S. Food Administration.   When the war ended, he returned to Europe for a year-long appointment to direct the American Relief Administration, which organized and distributed food and supplies to over twenty nations affected by the war. 

In 1921, Hoover was appointed to the position of Secretary of Commerce under President Harding and continued his post with President Coolidge.  When President Coolidge decided not to run for a second term, the ever-popular Hoover was encouraged to run as the Republican candidate.  Hoover won the nomination and went on to won the election by a landslide, receiving 58% of the popular vote and 444 electoral votes (whereas Al Smith, his opponent, only received 87) (Figure 2 & 3). 

The Evening Gazette from 7 Nov 1928 - Hoover Wins Election
Figure 2 – The Evening Gazette, November 7, 1928

1929 View of Herbert Hoover Inauguration
Figure 3 – View of Hoover’s inauguration in 1928

As soon as Hoover took office in 1929, he began implementing reforms, expanding civil service protection, canceling private oil leases on federal lands, while increasing the national parks and forests by over 2 million acres each.  Hoover’s administration also established the Federal Farm Board, pressed for dam construction in the Tennessee Valley and central California, as well as pushed for tax cuts for low-income Americans.  Additionally, he established the Veterans Administration, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and reorganized the Bureau of Indian Affairs, among many others.

Hoover voiced concern over the stock market speculation in 1925 and again after taking office, however, he was told to back off as it was not the business of the president.  When the market crashed, Hoover attempted to negate losses by urging businesses, governors, and other leaders to keep wages strong, continue with construction projects, expand public works, and urged Congress to approve a $160 million tax cut.  Even with all these efforts, the Great Depression pressed on and Hoover became the scapegoat for the decade-long recession.

Unable to recover the trust and favor of the American people, Hoover lost the 1932 election to Franklin D. Roosevelt.  After leaving office, Hoover wrote many books, gave speeches, and continued rallying for beloved causes.  In 1936, Hoover joined, and was elected chairman, of the Boys’ Clubs of America, an organization he continued working with the remainder of his life.

In 1946, President Truman and former President Hoover formed an unlikely friendship, and President Truman enlisted the help of Hoover to aid in relief efforts after World War II (Figure 4).  Hoover, at the age of 71, visited 38 nations to request food aid for WWII victims.  When he returned, President Truman requested that Hoover help again with a new effort – trim the bloat of the war from the executive branch.  Hoover obliged, and when Truman was reelected in 1948, more than 70% of Hoover's recommendations became law.  Hoover went on to work with the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations to cut spending. 

H. Hoover & H. Truman at Hoover Library dedication in 1962
Figure 4 – Former Presidents Hoover and Truman at Hoover Library, Harry S. Truman Library, Harry S. Truman Library & Museum.

Hoover worked well into his eighties, writing and consulting.  Herbert Hoover died on October 20, 1964 at the age of 90.  He was buried in Iowa near his birthplace, with a simplistic gravestone, a true testament of the humble nature of the man and former president.


[Former Presidents Hoover and Truman at Hoover Library]. West Branch, Iowa. 1962, August 10. Photograph. Harry S. Truman Library, Harry S. Truman Library & Museum.  Retrieved from

Greene County Criminal Probate Records of LeRoy Phoenix, Box 439, Case 258.

“Herbert Hoover.” Hoover Institution. Retrieved from Stanford University,

[President Hoover's inauguration, March 4, 1929]. Washington D.C, 1929. March 4. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

The Evening Gazette. 7 November 1928.  Retrieved from NewspaperArchive,


Dec 05

Joy Riding Chauffeur Wrecks Peerless by Amy Brickey

Posted on December 5, 2017 at 9:02 AM by Melissa Dalton

Robert S. Kingsbury, also known as R.S. Kingsbury, was a man about town. He was a Xenia resident, successful businessman, banker, high society member, and Irish immigrant. His grandfather, Robert Kingsbury, had emigrated from Ireland to America around the late 1840s, and was naturalized in the Greene County Court of Common Pleas on August 13, 1855 (Fig. 1). Eventually, Robert Kingsbury moved to Iowa, but Xenia must have made a great impression on him because around 1868 his son George, along with George’s pregnant wife and young children, also emigrated from Ireland to Xenia.

Fig 1_R.S. Kingsbury 1855 Immigration record
Figure 1: Robert Kingsbury's 1855 immigration record.

R.S. Kingsbury was George Kingsbury’s eldest son. R.S. Kingsbury and his son, Robert H. Kingsbury, ran the Kingsbury Company, which owned and operated two clothing stores in Xenia: The Kingsbury Co. and The Criterion. The Kingsbury Co. was originally located at 52 E. Main Street and the Criterion was located at 22 S. Detroit Street. The Kingsbury Co. focused on men’s and boy’s clothing, advertising in the 1913 Xenia City directory that they were the “exclusive agency for Stetson hats and Manhattan shirts” (Fig. 2). R.S. Kingsbury was also the Vice President of Citizens National Bank located at 116 W. Second Street.

Fig 2_1920 Kingsbury Co. Ads in 1920 Xenia City Directory
Figure 2: Advertisements for the Kingsbury Co. in the 1920 Xenia City Directory.

On June 22, 1915, R.S. Kingsbury’s day was interrupted. Greene County Juvenile Court records reveal that a young man living in the city took Kingsbury’s car, without his permission. The young man promptly crashed it. The car in question was a 1912 Peerless Motor Car, model 35, also known as the “H” model. It had 38 horsepower and was available in 6 body styles, all of which sat on a 125-inch wheelbase. Records from the court case note that Kingsbury’s car was an S-1 and was car number 131019 (this number might also correlate to the chassis number). Even though the Peerless Motor Car Company was located in Cleveland, Ohio, the New York Public Library has a number of early 1900s Peerless Motor Car Company advertising catalogues. Their catalogue for cars from 1912 lists 6 types of 38-horsepower, all of which are Model 35 (Fig. 3). The prices for these body styles ranged from between $4,000 to $5,200.

Fig 3_1912 Peerless Motor Car catalogue featuring 38 hp, 6 cylinder automobiles
Figure 3: 1912 Peerless Motor Car catalogue featuring 38 horsepower, 6 cylinder automobiles.

A newspaper clipping from the Xenia Daily Gazette reveals that the juvenile driving the car, Earl Carroll, had been Kingsbury’s chauffeur. The article states that after Carroll had driven Kingsbury to the train station, he took the car for a spin down the Bellbrook Pike. Carroll lost control of the car and drove it into a wagon transporting logs while driving at a high rate of speed. According to the newspaper, the axle was badly bent and the fender had been completely torn off.

The repairs completed on Kingsbury’s car were performed at the Xenia Garage on S. Detroit Street, close to where R.S. Kingsbury’s clothing stores were. The bills for labor from the garage (Fig. 4) and the bill for parts, printed on Criterion letterhead (Fig. 5), were included as evidence in the court case. The men took only four days to work on the car in the Xenia Garage and were only listed by their last names. The mechanics included Taylor, Jamison, Jones, Lowery, and Hunt. For all their hard work, the bill for labor came to $32.70. The total, parts and labor included, came to $82.70. An inflation chart (Table 1) details the price differences between 1912, 1915 and 2017, revealing what Kingsbury would have had to pay if he both bought his car and had his accident this year.

Fig 4_Labor bill from The Xenia Garage on S. Detroit Street
Figure 4: Labor bill from The Xenia Garage on S. Detroit Street.

Fig 5_Repair bill with the Criterion letterhead
Figure 5: Repair bill with The Criterion letterhead.





Parts & Labor




Mechanics Wages


$0.40 per hour

$9.30 per hour

Peerless Motor Car

$4,000 - $5,200


$93,800 - $121,940

Table 1: Cost differences between 1912, 1915, and 2017.

The City of Xenia has changed considerably in the last 100 years since R.S. Kingsbury’s court case. Kingsbury, along with his father, George Kingsbury, and his mother, Sarah Stevenson Kingsbury, lie at rest in Xenia’s Woodland Cemetery. The area where Kingsbury’s stores offered hats, furnishings, and clothing goods to boys and gentlemen is now situated in Xenia’s Historic District. Although they have been altered slightly over the years, the buildings that once housed the Kingsbury Co. and The Criterion still stand, and they now house Johnson’s Fine Jewelry and A-1 Bail Bonds, Inc.  


Automobile Catalogues, 1903-1915. New York Public Library.

Greene County Court of Common Pleas records. August 1855. Greene Co. Records and Archives.

Inflation calculator.

Xenia City Directory, January 1913. W.B. Chew & Son. Greene Co. Records and Archives.

Xenia Daily Gazette. 24 June 1915. S Kingsbury

Oct 05

Family History Month and More

Posted on October 5, 2017 at 4:55 PM by Jessica Cromer

It's Family History Month and more!

Last week we talked about American Archives Month which includes Ask an Archivist Day on October 4th, and Electronic Records Day on October 10th. We’ll look at these a little further this week. October is also Family History Month which pairs well with American Archives Month, so we’ll just go ahead and talk about that too!

October is American Archives Month 2015

Ask an Archivist Day (October 4th)

#AskAnArchivist Day was just on Wednesday. This is a day dedicated to utilizing Twitter to allow people to directly communicate with archivists near and far and ask questions about anything archives related. Archivists respond to everything from, “What does an Archivist do?” to “What is the coolest/oldest/weirdest thing in your collection?” and everything in between.


Electronic Records Day (October 10th)

Electronic Records Day is this Tuesday. Electronic records and their care are growing enormous rates and are an important part of most repositories. The Society of American Archivists (SAA) defines the term electronic record (also digital record), as data or information that has been captured and fixed for storage and manipulation in an automated system and that requires the use of the system to render it intelligible by a person.

A related term is machine-readable, which means, in a medium or format that requires a mechanical device to make it intelligible to humans. This is a large reason why archivists still use and like microfilm. It is eye-readable, meaning there is no need for any device or machine, or dependence on electricity to access the information it contains. 'Machine-readable' is commonly used to refer to digital computer data files, which may be stored on magnetic media or punch cards. However, phonograph records, audio cassettes, and LaserDiscs are examples of analog machine-readable formats (SAA). Technology evolves and changes so rapidly that preservation for many formats includes migrating the data from one format to another, and is a race against time. Oftentimes the formats still exist but the machine on which to access or play the information does not.
Electronic Records Day Logo 2017

Family History Month

Family History Month has been celebrated every October since 2001, when Congress first passed a resolution introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, who wrote,

"By searching for our roots, we come closer together as a human family."

(Much like when we travel, the world becomes smaller.)
Some ways you could celebrate Family History Month include creating a cookbook with family recipes, preserving your family photographs, and encouraging cross-generational conversations or even interviews. Many people enjoy scrapbooking, although archivists generally cringe at the thought because of preservation concerns.

Of course, there is also genealogy! The link below has some great additional and specific information to help with family research that detail how you can begin researching your family tree with some relatively fast and easy first steps. They include: Google your ancestors; search inside books; check your DNA; download digitized military records; request a death certificate; interview a relative; order records on microfilm; join a genealogical or historical society; watch, listen, and learn from webinars and podcasts; genealogy groups on Facebook; use the library in person or online; update and backup your family information; read blogs on the subject  ;-)

...and visit your local archives!
Family History Month_FamilyTreeMagazine

Until Next Time!