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 06

"Pig-Iron Mike" Escapes from Workhouse

Posted on December 6, 2019 at 7:59 AM by Elise Kelly

During the turn of the twentieth century, a woman dubbed “Pig-Iron Mike” created quite the raucous in the cities of Xenia and Dayton. In 1900, the Xenia Daily Gazette reported several instances in which “Pig-Iron Mike” had downed too many shots of whiskey and howled throughout the night. During the month of May 1900, “Pig-Iron Mike” was out at Lucas Grove (which is now Kil Kare) and was picked up by Officer Dodds for drunk and disorderly conduct. She was fined almost $33.00, which in today’s economy would be over $1,000. She was also promptly sent to the workhouse in Dayton for thirty days. She is listed as a prisoner in the 1900 census record (See Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 1900 Census (JPG)
Fig. 1 1900 Federal Census Record of Dayton City Workhouse (Ancestry.com)

After twelve days at the workhouse, “Pig-Iron Mike” escaped. According to the Xenia Daily Gazette, no special effort was made to retrieve her as long as she behaved in a proper manner.
A couple of months later in September 1900, “Pig-Iron Mike,” whose real name was Lydia or Lyda Simpson, had a wild gathering at her home on South West Street in Xenia (See Fig. 2). When the police were called, Simpson dashed out of the house and made her escape. However, she was soon summoned by the authorities, but she did not go quietly. Once taken in, her former sentence was reinstated and her new sentence was added. In total, Simpson was to serve thirty-eight days in the workhouse. For her second disorderly conduct charge, Simpson was fined $29.50, which in today’s economy would be almost $900.00.

Fig. 2 City of Xenia Map (JPG)
Fig. 2 Excerpt showcasing S. West Street, City of Xenia Map, circa 1920s (Greene County Archives)

Amusingly, “Pig-Iron Mike” broke free a second time from the workhouse when she pried off one of the boards to the fence surrounding the works. Three years later, Simpson was again picked up for drunken and disorderly conduct on Christmas. The headline in the next day’s Xenia Daily Gazette read, “Too much Christmas for these persons” (See Fig. 3). We certainly can ascertain that Simpson liked her liquor a little too much. “Pig-Iron Mike” had repeated stints in Dayton’s Workhouse, one in 1910 and one in 1911. During her term in 1911, she was asked whether or not she would be attending the coronation of King George VI of the United Kingdom. She defeatedly sighed, “I wouldn’t have anything to wear anyhow” (See Fig. 4).

Fig. 3 XDG Dec. 26 1903 (JPG)
Fig. 3 Xenia Daily Gazette, December 26, 1903 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Fig. 4 Dayton Herald Jun. 20 1911 (JPG)
Fig. 4 Dayton Herald, June 20, 1911 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)


Until Next Time!

Sources:
Ancestry.com
Greene County Archives
NewspaperARCHIVE.com

Nov 27

The Ties that Bind Us: The Doss Family Criminals of Clinton County by Amy (Brickey) Czubak

Posted on November 27, 2019 at 2:13 PM by Elise Kelly

There are many times where doing historical research can lead one down a twisting, seemingly never-ending rabbit hole. The Doss family of Clinton County is exactly one of those research rabbit-holes. My first encounter with the Doss family was through a probate record for a little girl named Betty Miller. It was a dependent and neglected child case where little Betty’s mother, Clara Belle (aka Clarabelle or Clara Bell) Doss was charged with neglecting her daughter thus causing her to become dependent on the state for help. At the end of one of the court documents (Fig. 1) was a statement that read, “The Doss family has quite a criminal career. The State published a brochure on the record of this family. The mother was sentenced to Delaware 1920, paroled Sept. 1921, and returned in October 1922. He grandmother has been at Marysville at least twice. Other children in the family and the father have quite a record. They were all sentenced from Wilmington, Clinton Co.”

Fig. 1 Probate Record (JPG)
Fig 1: Probate court document concerning Doss family criminal behavior. Courtesy of the Greene County Archives

I began researching the family through newspapers and census data. Clara Belle Doss’ father was a man named George Washington Doss. George Doss married Clara Belle’s mother, Ollie (Olive) Frances Pierce in Union County on December 5, 1918. Interestingly, all of Ollie and George’s children were born before they were married. George Doss’ criminal behavior was documented in Clinton County’s newspaper, the Clinton County Democrat, on several occasions. Members of the Doss family were arrested for everything from petty larceny to arson, and from bastardy to attacking someone with a hatchet. Although their list of offenses would be too long for this blog, here are some examples:

· 27 January 1903: Henry Doss (George Doss’ uncle) appeared before the Mayor of Xenia on an assault and battery charge
· 14 April 1903: Henry Doss (same) sent to the “works” for abusing his wife
· 07 December 1903: Henry Doss (same) arrested for chasing his wife with a knife
· 07 October 1909: George Doss committed to jail for slashing someone with a hatchet
· 28 October 1909: George Doss shot the man he previously attacked with a hatchet
· 14 November 1912: Charles Doss (George Doss’ brother) sent to Mansfield for burglary and larceny
· 01 May 1913: Harvey Doss (George Doss’ brother) arrested for stealing cattle right after being paroled
· 31 August 1916: Ollie Doss (George Doss’ wife) arrested for forgery
· 06 September 1917: Ollie Doss and her sister in law, Goldie Doss (George Doss’ sister), arrested for larceny

Although George and Ollie had only been married since December 1917, George filed for divorce from Ollie on 12 July 1919 while Ollie is still in jail. The 1920 census for Clinton County reveals that Ollie and George’s children were all in the Clinton County Children’s Home as both parents had been incarcerated for various crimes (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2 Census Record (JPG)
Fig 2: 1920 census listing Ollie Doss as an inmate in the Union County Women's Reformatory

I reached out to the Clinton County Archives’ Records Manager Bobbi Hoffman, but she was unable to locate the brochure published by the state on the Doss criminal history. She did, however, inform me that Charles Doss, George’s brother, hung himself at the age of 64. Charles Doss’ son and daughter, Charles Jr. and Mary, had been arrested for theft by the age of 10. George’s father, Jesse James Doss, had to have his estate turned over to a friend when he died because none of his children were fit to handle his estate. Research rabbit-hole, indeed!

Fig. 3 Clara Belle and George Doss (JPG)
Fig. 3 Clara Belle and George Washington Doss courtesy of ancestry.com

Sources:
“Appearance.” Xenia Daily Gazette (Xenia, OH), Jan. 27, 1903.
“Arraigned.” Clinton County Democrat (Wilmington, OH), Sept. 6, 1917.
“Arrested.” Clinton County Democrat (Wilmington, OH), Aug. 31, 1916.
“Burglary at Shanks Barber Shop.” Clinton County Democrat (Wilmington, OH), Nov. 14, 1912.
“Clara Belle and George Washington Doss.” Photograph. Ancestry.com, Mar. 9, 2019.
“Cutting and Shooting Affray.” Clinton County Democrat (Wilmington, OH), Oct. 7, 1909.
Greene County Archives probate records, State of Ohio vs. Clarabelle Doss.
Hoffman, Bobbi. 'Doss Family'. Email, Mar. 6, 2019.
“Judge Mills was in Midland on Tuesday.” Clinton County Democrat (Wilmington, OH), May 1, 1913.
US Federal Census 1920, Clinton County and Union County. Heritagequest.com.
“Wife Claims Her Husband Chased Her with a Knife.” Xenia Daily Gazette (Xenia, OH), Dec. 7, 1903.

Nov 22

Mysterious Murders of Frogtown

Posted on November 22, 2019 at 10:54 AM by Melissa Dalton

This week, we conclude our report on the events of our Halloween program, Spooky Tales from the Greene County Archives, with a highlight of the murder of Lou Keys and George Koogler in Igo’s story, “The Ghosts of Frogtown.”

According to Igo’s story, George Koogler, a former soldier, had his sights set on Lou Keys, a local woman known for being a vivacious, dusky woman. George was known to sing “Oh, My Pretty Qaudroon” to Lou, his pet song. However, there was another man who fancied Lou… Andy Hunster. Andy ran an ice cream parlor across from the post office, and had lost a leg to frostbite. Andy would tell the locals that he and Lou were going to get married.

One morning, Koogler and Keys were found dead at her home. Both had been struck in the head with a blunt object, with Koogler found on the lawn, and Keys found inside on the floor. Suspicion instantly was on Andy, and he was arrested.

Andy was tried, but acquitted, not once, but twice. Shortly after his acquittal, Andy had a strange encounter. He burst into a local barber shop, telling a tale that he had just run into Lou and George! They were walking arm and arm and George was singing his signature song… then they walked right through him! The men in the barbershop thought him mad (or maybe drunk), and told Andy to just go home and forget. Andy might have gone home, but he never forgot (Fig 1).

Fig 1. The Ghosts of Frogtown by Harold Igo, published in Yellow Springs News on May 13, 1943 (JPG)
Fig 1. “The Ghosts of Frogtown” by Harold Igo, published in the Yellow Springs News May 13, 1943

So, what do we actually know? What do the records tell us?

Frogtown was a swampy part of Yellow Springs, and located along Dayton Pike, running from East Enon Road to Wright Street (was once known as Gravel Pit Road) (Fig 2). Today, you will find Antioch Midwest around this region. There were many Irish immigrants who settled in this area, and it was also home to Lou Keys.

Fig 2. Greene County Road Record of Yellow Springs area (JPG)
Fig 2. Road Record of Yellow Springs (Greene County Archives)

The key players in this story are Lou “Keys” Roberts, George Koogler, and Andy Hunster. Lou Keys, also known as Lou Roberts, was an African-American woman, about 35 years old. The newspapers claim she had an “unsavory reputation,” but do not comment further. George Koogler was 52 years old, a widowed farmer and ex-soldier, and was believed to be quite wealthy. Koogler was quite smitten with Keys, had been courting Ms. Keys. The third person in this potential love triangle is Andy Hunster. Hunster was about 40 years old, and the son of Edward and Margaret Hunster, restaurateurs in Yellow Springs (Fig 3). He was listed on the 1880 census as mulatto and “maimed, crippled, bedridden or otherwise disabled.”

Fig 3. Cincinnati Enquirer, dated December 14, 1892 (JPG)
Fig 3. Cincinnati Enquirer, dated December 14, 1892 (ProQuest Historical Newspapers)

On the night of the murder, Koogler and Keys were seen at a local restaurant, owned by Hunster’s parents. According to one news article, a “suspicion character” watched the couple while eating dinner, but no one really thought much of it at the time (Fig 4). However, the next morning, Koogler and Keys were found dead, with their heads split open. Keys was found just inside the home, and Koogler was found on the front lawn. The murder weapon was a small hammer, which was found (covered in blood) in the Keys’ coal house. There also was an icepick/dray pin found near the scene. The detectives and coroner believed it may have been a robbery as Koogler’s pockets were rifled through, and it was known that he had come to town earlier in the day to receive his pension (although it had not arrived in the post).

Fig 4. Cincinnati Enquirer, dated December 15, 1892 (JPG)
Fig 4. Cincinnati Enquirer, dated December 15, 1892 (ProQuest Historical Newspapers)

Andrew Quinn, a neighbor of Keys, reported that he heard three voices as the group returned to Keys’ home, and recognized the third voice as Hunster. Hunster was known to “hang about” Keys’ house, but the newspapers indicate that Quinn’s testimony was quickly discredited (although the reasoning is not clear) (Fig 5).

Fig 5. Xenia Gazette, dated December 14, 1892 (JPG)
Fig 5. Xenia Gazette, dated December 14, 1892 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

The case went unsolved for almost a year, but then there was a break (Fig 6). In August 1893, another man, Allen Wilson, was murdered in a similar fashion. He had received his pension the previous day, then found dead at his home with his head smashed in, and a dray pin found nearby. Not long before, another man in town, a farmer named Hoppings, was left unconscious after being struck in the head. He awoke to find William Whaley going through his pockets, and Whaley was frightened off. Whaley was hunted down and arrested. According to the newspaper, Whaley requested to make a confession. He claimed that he and John Hones (aka Friday Jones), Clifton (aka Diamond) Johnson, and Jim Sanford plotted the murder of Wilson and to steal his money. Upon hearing the confession, the three other men were arrested. However, Whaley denied murdering Koogler and Keys (Fig 7).

Fig 6. Xenia Gazette, dated December 15, 1892 (JPG) Fig 6. Xenia Daily Gazette, dated December 20, 1892 (JPG) Fig 6. Xenia Gazette, dated December 22, 1892 (JPG)
Fig 6. Various articles from Xenia Gazette in December 1892 (ProQuest Historical Newspapers)

Fig 7. Headline from Cincinnati Enquirer, dated September 9, 1893 (JPG)
Fig 7. Headline from Cincinnati Enquirer, dated September 9, 1893 (ProQuest Historical Newspapers)

Whaley was tried and convicted of the murder of Wilson, and sentenced to death by hanging (Fig 8). Although Whaley never confessed to the double murder of Koogler and Keys, many believed they died by his hands. However, their murder remains a mystery today.

Fig 8. State Record Vol 9 p 464 (JPG)
Fig 8. State Record Vol 9 p 465 (JPG)
Fig 8. State Record Vol 9, pgs 464-465

That completes this year’s recap of our Spooky Tales event! We hope everyone enjoyed learning about these stories. Next year, we plan to delve into more spooky stories of mystery and murder in Greene County, so be sure to follow us for all the details!

Until Next Week!

Sources:
Ancestry.com
Greene County Archives, State Record Vol 9
H. Igo (1943, May 13). The ghosts of Frogtown. Yellow Springs News.
NewspaperARCHIVE.com
Newspapers.com
ProQuest Historical Newspapers