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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Mar 29

Saves the Trees! A Fight over the Courthouse Lawn

Posted on March 29, 2019 at 9:37 AM by Melissa Dalton

When it was decided to build a new Courthouse in 1900, the community rallied behind the idea. However, once it was determined that several trees, a total of 13, would be removed from the lawn to make room for the Courthouse and sidewalk, it invoked anger in many citizens (Fig 1).

Fig 1. Excerpt from Commissioners Minutes Vol 15, p 286 (JPG)
Fig 1. Excerpt from Commissioners Minutes Vol 15, p 286 (Greene County Archives)

After workers began cutting down trees along Greene and Main streets, two citizens, Charles Darlington and W.S. Howard, requested their attorney file a petition with the Court to stop the Court House Committee from removing the trees (Fig 2). The Court granted the temporary restraining order, with a hearing to be held at a later date (Fig 3). The city council got involved, claiming they had “entire control of the sidewalks” and could stop the further destruction of the trees (Fig 4).

Fig 2. Greene County Common Pleas Appearance Docket No 35, p 283 (JPG)
Fig 2. Greene County Common Pleas Appearance Docket No. 35, p 283 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 3. Headline from the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated May 16, 1902 (JPG)
Fig 3. Headline from the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated May 16, 1902 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Fig 4. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated May 17, 1902 (JPG)
Fig 4. Article from the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated May 17, 1902 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

The story gets a little more interesting. The city of Xenia / city council filed their own injunction against the Committee (Fig 5), so the citizens decided to take a step back and allow the city to handle the situation. When the city council got involved, they decided to make modifications to the injunction, and voted to cut down at least some of the trees. The following month, a resolution was introduced, which would allow for all the remaining trees to be removed; all the council members voted to approve said resolution (Fig 6).

Fig 5. Greene County Common Pleas Appearance Docket No 35, p 289 (JPG)
Fig 5. Greene County Common Pleas Appearance Docket No 35, p 312 (JPG)
Fig 5. Greene County Common Pleas Appearance Docket No. 35, p 289, 312 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 6. Excerpt from article in Xenia Daily Gazette, dated July 12, 1902 (JPG)
Fig 6. Excerpt from article in Xenia Daily Gazette, dated July 12, 1902 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

This new development angered many, as the city council initially got involved with the purpose of saving the trees. Within days of the resolution, Darlington and Howard asked the Court to reinstate the injunction that stopped the cutting of the trees. Judge Fisher, of Eaton, heard the arguments, with Judge Shearer representing the city (Fig 7).

Fig 7. Article from the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated July 17, 1902 (JPG)
Fig 7. Article from the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated July 17, 1902 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Judge Fisher finally made a decision on the injunction roughly a month after the hearing in July. Judge Fisher claimed that it was up to the property-holder to decide what to do with the trees, and refused to interfere any further, allowing the city to continue with its plan to remove the trees for the sidewalks (Fig 8). After the ruling, the citizens filed another motion for an injunction, but it was ultimately withdrawn. On November 7, 1902, the case was dismissed (Fig 9).

Fig 8. Article from the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated August 12, 1902 (JPG)
Fig 8. Article from the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated August 12, 1902 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Fig 9. Greene County Common Pleas Journal Vol 44, p 95 (JPG)
Fig 9. Greene County Common Pleas Journal No. 44, p 95 (Greene County Archives)

Something interesting to note is that the debate over trees on the Courthouse lawn has been a point of contention. I found articles from the late 1880s, 1930s, and again in 1975 all involving the Courthouse lawn and trees. However, at least in 1975, the county was sure to let the citizens know that none of the shade trees would be removed.

Until Next Time!

Sources:
Greene County Archives
NewspaperARCHIVE.com

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