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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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.


 

1912

1915

2017

Parts & Labor

 

$82.70

$1922.00

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.  

Sources:

Automobile Catalogues, 1903-1915. New York Public Library. https://www.nypl.org/collections/nypl-recommendations/guides/auto-catalogs-vol-29.

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

Inflation calculator. http://www.in2013dollars.com/1860-dollars-in-2017?amount=1.

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

Xenia Daily Gazette. 24 June 1915. Newspapers.com.

https://www.newspapers.com/image/89582318/?terms=R S Kingsbury

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