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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Aug 07

The Golden Harp Player of Greene County

Posted on August 7, 2019 at 8:46 AM by Elise Kelly

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, residents living in Greene and Montgomery Counties had the wonderful opportunity to hear Rocco Satalia play his large, golden harp (See Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 Rocco Satalia business card (JPG)
Fig. 1 Rocco Satalia, Probate Box 734, Case #561, Guardianship of Incompetent (Greene County Archives)

Satalia played at balls, private parties, picnics, and weddings. For hours, he would play Italian operas and Viennese waltzes, usually in front of someone’s staircase or a bay window. Satalia even furnished “high class” music for the Xenia Meat Market Co. and the Conkle Cloak House in Dayton (See Figs. 2 & 3).

Fig. 2 Xenia Daily Gazette, Dec. 18, 1925 (JPG)
Fig. 2 Xenia Daily Gazette, December 18, 1925 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Fig. 3 The Dayton Herald, Oct. 11, 1898 (JPG)
Fig. 3 The Dayton Herald, October 11, 1898 (Newspapers.com)

In July 1884, he composed and published an original piece titled Italian Polka (See Fig. 4 & Fig. 5).

Fig. 4 Italian Polka composed by Rocco Satalia (JPG)
Fig. 4 Italian Polka, composed and published by Rocco Satalia (Image via Library of Congress – loc.gov)

Fig. 5 Italian Polka composed by Rocco Satalia page 2 (JPG)
Fig. 5 Italian Polka, composed and published by Rocco Satalia, page 2 (Image via Library of Congress – loc.gov)

Born in 1854 in the Province of Naples (southern Italy), Rocco Satalia came to the United States in 1863. For more than thirty years, Satalia waited to be naturalized as a U.S. citizen. Ultimately in October 1900, Satalia renounced his allegiance to the Emperor of Germany and the King of Italy and became a citizen of the United States (See Fig. 6).

Fig. 6  U.S. Citizen Declaration (JPG)
Fig. 6 Rocco Satalia’s Naturalization Record (Ancestry.com)

It is interesting that this document notes that Satalia had to renounce his allegiance to the Emperor of Germany. The reason for this is because Italy joined the Triple Alliance in 1882, which was an agreement between Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. Each member of the alliance guaranteed support and assistance if any of them were attacked by an outside power.

Rocco Satalia moved often and resided in several towns including Dayton, Lebanon, Xenia, and Jamestown. According to the 1930 Xenia City census record, Satalia who was eighty-seven, was still transporting his harp around to play at local soirees. By 1932, he had purchased a tract of land on North Church Street in Jamestown for thirty-five dollars (See Fig. 7).

Fig. 7 Deed Vol. 159 Pg. 389 underlined (JPG)
Fig. 7 Deed - Volume 159, Page 389 (Greene County Archives)

While living in Jamestown, Satalia became critically ill. At the age of ninety-six in 1938, he was admitted to the Greene County Infirmary (See Fig. 8).

Fig. 8 Rocco Satalia Infirmary page 1 with red circle (JPG)
Fig. 8 Greene County Infirmary Register of Admissions/Discharges 1907-1951, page 216 (Greene County Archives)

Sadly the next year, Rocco Satalia passed away in the infirmary. He was buried at St. Brigid Cemetery in Xenia. Unfortunately, he has no grave marker. For many years following Rocco Satalia’s death, his harp playing was cherished and often remembered by many. The love ballad “Silver threads among the Gold” was a favorite.

Until Next Time!

Sources:
Ancestry.com
FamilySearch.com
Greene County Archives
Library of Congress – loc.gov
NewspaperARCHIVE.com
Newspapers.com

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