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.

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Jul 28

Victims of the 1886 Xenia Flood

Posted on July 28, 2017 at 4:39 PM by Jessica Cromer


The May 12, 1886 Xenia Flood was one of Xenia’s worst disasters. At least 28 people died including entire families. Some of the sources below name these unfortunate people. Here at the Archives we can look in sources such as death records to match names, dates, and causes of death. Several images of those records will be shown here as well.

The May 15, 1886 Cincinnati Enquirer mentions seven Morris family members; a Mrs. “Lizzie” Anderson; Mr. and Mrs. William Powell and “four” children; Mrs. Sam “Cochran” (different from the Mrs. “Lydia” Anderson; five Powell children; and Mrs. Samuel “Corchoran” below). These early reports were not yet final accounts and missing people were still being determined.

May 15, 1886 Cinci Enquirer- Cropped
“Storm Flashes” The Cincinnati Enquirer, May 15, 1886.

The book Cracker Barrel Vol. I by Raymond A. Higgins (Greene County Historical Society, Xenia, OH, 1982) is a collection of Higgins’ articles from his column of the same name in the Xenia Daily Gazette. “Flood – 1886” on pages 91-93 are originally from his column in the Sat., May 17, 1958 issue. On page 92, it reads, “… The paper listed the dead finally at 28: Mr. and Mrs. Matt Evans and one child; Mrs. Samuel Corchoran and two sons; Stephen Donton; Mrs. Ed Lindsay; Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Anderson; Mrs. Angeline Casey; Mrs. Lydia Anderson; Mr. and Mrs. Orrin Morris and five children; Mr. and Mrs. William Powell and five children; Mrs. Henry Brazzleten and child.”

Higgins Vol1 p333
Cracker Barrel Vol. I
(Greene County Historical Society)

Cracker Barrel Vol. II by Raymond A. Higgins (Greene County Historical Society, 1984) contains the “Xenia’s Worst Disaster of Nature Occurred 75 Years Ago” article from the original Sat., June 10, 1961 Xenia Daily Gazette news column.

Higgins II p154 photo
Cracker Barrel Vol. II (Greene County Historical Society)

The book Greene County, Ohio – Past and Present by Arthur R. Kilner (Heritage Books, Inc., 1997) has a section called “Xenia’s Great Flood.” “Huge Funeral Procession” on pages 332-335 was reprinted with permission from the May 12, 1986 Xenia Daily Gazette but more describes the flood itself than accounting for individuals. (This source mentions eight Powell family members rather than seven but still with a total count of 28 people dead.)

Kilner p333-2
Greene County, Ohio – Past and Present

Some of the names of the people lost to the flood can be found in cemetery records, as shown here in these Woodland Cemetery, Xenia, Ohio, Register of Interments.

Woodland Cemetery Xenia Register of Interments_1 Woodland Cemetery Xenia Register of Interments_2
Woodland Cemetery, Xenia, Ohio, Register of Interments 1847-1986 (Greene County Archives Microfilm)

We also have here at the Archives Probate Court death records from 1886 where you can see the date of the flood, causes of death, and the names of the flood victims. Usually the primary cause of death is drowning but in some cases there were secondary causes, as in any situation. Keep in mind that in general, not all vital life events such as birth and death during this time period were always recorded. Records can also be easily lost to time if not preserved properly. This book that contains 1886 death records has had its pages encapsulated to slow the effects of degradation. (Encapsulation is a safe, reversible process for preserving documents. Lamination is not reversible, it is damaging, and we never want to laminate anything.) Here is a look at some of these records:

Death Record Book Cover Death Record Book Spine

Death Record 2 1881-1893 Greene County Probate Court Book Cover and Spine

Powell Family wtitle1 Powell Family wtitle2

The Powell family of seven died in the flood and are listed above with those pages enlarged below.


Powell Family x7 closeup-1

Left of page above and right of page below. (Notice the glare from the archival encapsulation sheeting.)

Powell Family closeup2

You never know what you might find in the Archives!


Until Next Time! 

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