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.

View All Posts

Jun 14

Attorney and Writer, William A. Paxson

Posted on June 14, 2019 at 9:06 AM by Melissa Dalton

One of our volunteers ran across the Estate for William A. Paxson while processing the probate records. His estate sparked interest, and we all felt that the name rang a bell, but could not place it. After going through Broadstone’s History of Greene County Vol II, we realized what it was - he wrote a poem for the 1901 Courthouse Time Capsule (Fig 1)! Since we are gearing up for the 1969 Greene County Jail Time Capsule Opening next week, we thought it might be fun to dig a little deeper, and learn a bit about the author of this poem.

Fig 1. Untitled poem by William A. Paxson, 1901 (JPG)Fig 1. Untitled poem by William A. Paxson, 1901 (JPG)
Fig 1. Untitled Poem by William A. Paxson, 1901 (Greene County Archives)

William Alpha Paxson was born on July 6, 1850 in Beavercreek Township, and was raised on the family farm. Paxson received his early education in the local schools, and later, attended Ohio Wesleyan University. He began studying law with J. A. Sexton in Xenia, and attended the Cincinnati Law College to gain his formal education. Paxson graduated in 1874, and was admitted to the bar the same year. He married Rebecca C. Rankin of Fayette County in 1875 (Fig 2), and they had five children (although three died in infancy/childhood). The two surviving children were Frostie L. and William Stanley.

Fig 2. Marriage recrod for William A. Paxson and Rebecca C. Rankin (JPG)
Fig 2. Marriage record for William A. Paxson and Rebecca C. Rankin (Greene County Archives)

In 1876, Paxson started his own law firm in Jamestown, which is where he stayed the remainder of his career (Fig 3). His son, William, was an outstanding student, and followed in his father’s footsteps, even studying law under his father and later founding his own firm in Cincinnati.

Fig 3. 1880 U.S. Census with Paxson family outlined in red (JPG)
Fig 3. 1880 U.S. Census with Paxson family outlined in red (Ancestry.com)

Although Paxson was a well-known attorney in the area, he had other passions that fostered notoriety in the region. Growing up on a farm, he had a connection to the land, and owned hundreds of acres of farming land in Greene and Fayette counties. However, he may be best known in the region as writer and poet. He wrote on a variety of topics, but most focused on agriculture and politics. In 1901, he published a story of life in rural Ohio titled “A Buckeye Baron”. He also wrote another book that went unpublished, titled “Karomana”. Paxson also occasionally contributed his poems to the local papers (Fig 4).

Fig 4. Paxson poem titled "Come Home" published in the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated September 23
Fig 4. Paxson poem titled “Come Home” published in the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated September 23, 1913 (Newspapers.com)

Rebecca Paxson died in November of 1918 of an abscess of the lungs. Five years later, in 1923, Paxson married Mary A. Gray. Due to Mary having “considerable property of her own”, they decided to only bequest $2000 to one another in their individual wills. This meant that the remainder of each estate would go to others as assigned. It is evident in Paxson’s will that he was passionate about his writing and what happened to those precious items after his death. Paxson bequested his manuscripts and writings, as well as his typewriter, typewriter desk, and private library, to his children and grandchildren. Also of interest is that Paxson made it clear that his daughter, Frostie, was to get more out of his estate because she did not receive as much from her mother’s. Paxson felt it was only fair that she get an equal share as her brother, so he left her an additional sum (Fig 5).

Fig 5. Last Will and Testament of William A. Paxson (JPG)
Fig 5. Last Will and Testament of William A. Paxson (Greene County Archives)

William A. Paxson passed away on January 16, 1933 at the age of 82 (Fig 6). He was buried in the Old Silvercreek Cemetery next to his first wife, Rebecca, and their three deceased children (Fig 7).

Fig 6. Obituary of William A. Paxson in the Xenia Daily Gazette (JPG)Fig 6. Obituary of William A. Paxson in the Xenia Daily Gazette (JPG)
Fig 6. Obituary of William A. Paxson in the Xenia Daily Gazette (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Fig 7. Headstone for William and Rebecca Paxson, and their three children (JPG)
Fig 7. Headstone for William and Rebecca Paxson, and their three children (FindAGrave.com)

Until Next Time!

Sources:
Ancestry.com
FindAGrave.com
Greene County Archives
NewspaperARCHIVE.com
Newspapers.com

Comments

You must log in before leaving your comment