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.

Mar 16

A Brief History of Colonel Charles Young

Posted on March 16, 2018 at 5:35 PM by Melissa Dalton

On Thursday, March 15, 2018, we honored and celebrated the 154th birthday of Col. Charles Young at the National Afro-American Museum & Cultural Center (hosted by the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument). Today, I'd like to honor him and remember a man who overcame adversity and racism and became a leader of his time.

Charles Young was born into slavery on March 12, 1864 to parents Gabriel and Arminta Young in Kentucky. Shortly after his birth, Gabriel Young escaped and joined the 5th Regiment of the U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery, and soon after, moved his family to Ripley, Ohio. Charles was an exceptional student, and in 1881, graduated with academic honors from an integrated high school. After graduating, Charles taught at an African-American elementary school, but knew he wanted more (Fig 1).

1880 U.S. Census
Fig 1. 1880 Census showing Young Family in Ripley, Ohio (

In 1883, with the encouragement of his father, Young took the entrance exam for the United States Military Academy at West Point. Young scored the second highest on the exam, but was not granted admittance; however, the following year the highest scoring candidate dropped out, opening up the opportunity for Young. In 1884, Young became only the ninth African-American to attend the Academy.

Young's first year was abysmal, facing isolation and racial discrimination from instructors and cadets alike. His grades suffered, but he repeated his first year, overcoming the adversities, and completed the remaining four years. Young graduated and received his commission from West Point in 1889, becoming only the third African-American to do so (Fig 2).

1900 U.S. Census
Fig 2. 1900 Census listing Charles Young as a Soldier (

Young continued to face injustices in his military career. Since African-American officers were not permitted to command white troops, Young waited several months before receiving an assignment as a 2nd Lieutenant of the 9th Cavalry (aka "Buffalo Soldiers") at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. The assignment was not a good fit, and he transferred to Fort Duchesne, Utah, an environment and command that was more accepting and welcoming. It was here at Fort Duchesne that Young flourished.

In 1894, Young received a detached assignment to teach Military Sciences & Tactics courses at Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio. By the time Young departed in 1898, he had built the program to over 100 cadets, and due to his passion for music, aided in establishing the University's marching band. Although his assignments led him away from Wilberforce, it was here that Young called home. He was established in the community and university and returned frequently (Fig 3).

Home of Colonel Charles Young in Wilberforce, Ohio
Fig 3. Home of Charles Young in Wilberforce, Ohio (Library of Congress)

Prior to the establishment of the national parks system, the U.S. Army was assigned the task of managing, protecting, and patrolling the parks. In 1903, Captain Young was assigned to Sequoia National Park and became the first African-American Superintendent of a national park (Fig 4).

Display about the Buffalo Soldiers at the National Afro-American Museum & Cultural Center (NAAMCC)
Fig 4. Display about the Buffalo Soldiers at the National Afro-American Museum & Cultural Center (NAAMCC)

In 1904, Captain Young had yet another first - becoming the first Military Attaché (an army officer serving with an embassy or attached as an observer to a foreign army) to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and the only African-American of the 23 other officers to serve in these posts under Theodore Roosevelt's administration.

Captain Young rose in the ranks during his assignment as a military attaché to Liberia from 1912 through 1916, being promoted to major in 1912 and lieutenant colonel in 1916 (Fig 5). However, in July of 1917, Young was medically discharged and promoted to colonel. At 54, Col. Young fought the retirement and made the 500-mile trek from Wilberforce, Ohio to Washington, D.C. on horseback to prove he was fit for service. Unfortunately, the decision was not overturned; but that did not stop him from continuing his service (Fig 6).

Major Charles Young (sometime between 1912 and 1916)
Fig 5. Major Charles Young (Library of Congress)

Exhibit displays at the 154th Birthday Celebration of Charles Young at the NAAMCC
Fig 6. Exhibit display at the 154th Birthday Celebration of Col. Charles Young at the NAAMCC

During WWI, Col. Young was sent to Ohio by the War Department to muster and train African-American soldiers. Shortly after the war ended, the State Department requested Col. Young's services again as a military attaché in Liberia. Col. Young arrived in Monrovia in February 1920, but this would prove to be his last assignment. While visiting Nigeria, Col. Young took ill and passed away in a British hospital in Lagos on January 8, 1922 (Fig 7). Although originally buried in Nigeria, Young's remains were exhumed and transported back to the United States. Col. Young's remains were laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery on June 1, 1923, being only the fourth soldier honored with a funeral service at the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater prior to interment (Fig 8).

Select Military Registers for Col. Young
Fig 7. Select Military Registers listing the military career of Col. Charles Young (

Headstone of Colonel Charles Young
Fig 8. Col. Charles Young Headstone at Arlington National Cemetery (

This is by no means a comprehensive history of this distinguished man. Col. Charles Young was a champion and leader, never allowing racism and discrimination to stop him from obtaining his goals. He persevered, he fought long and hard for his promotions, and never gave up. He is truly a hero and will continue to be remembered for his fight for the rights of all African-American soldiers.

Sources: U.S., Select Military Registers, 1862-1985 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013
Arlington Cemetery:
Library of Congress
National Park Service:
National Afro-American Museum & Cultural Center
The White House:

Mar 09

The Indentured Children of Bath Township

Posted on March 9, 2018 at 4:19 PM by Melissa Dalton

While researching the children of Jesse and Fanny Ransbottom, we learned that one of their children, David, was living with another family, most likely as a farmhand. This sparked a conversation in the office about what it meant to be an indentured child in Greene County in the early/mid-1800s.

When one thinks of apprenticeship today, we think of someone learning a particular trade or craft, usually under the supervision of a labor union or organization. Most apprenticeships include classroom instruction, along with hands-on training, usually over the course of several years. However, hundreds of years ago, an apprenticeship was much different. More times than not, an apprenticeship was a form of indentured servitude.

Indentured servants were common when our country formed. The employ of indentured servants was seen as a convenient solution. The indentured person was given free passage to the colonies, room and board, and at the end of their service, many times they were given a small tract of land and money. The master gained an assistant, someone who could help with the business or act as a farm hand. However, there was a dark side to the practice as well. Children, many poor and/or orphaned, were contracted and bound as indentured servants because parents could not afford to care for them or the children were destitute. These children were forced to work until they reached legal age (dependent on the state), at which time, they were to be released from service. Some children were treated well and welcomed as part of the family; others were not.

Ohio law stated that it was the responsibility of the township to care for the poor of their districts. Greene County had a poor house, which during this particular time period (1830-1850), housed children and adults alike. However, it also was the duty of the township to obtain contracts for indentured servitude and apprenticeships for children. This was an act that many did reluctantly. Here at the Greene County Archives, we have records from Bath Township that document these type of contracts. These were contracts signed by the parties involved (township trustees, parents, and masters), there was a defined time frame of the apprenticeship, and it was stated in each what was expected of the master. All the contracts I have read in our records indicate that the master was responsible for the indentured person and would provide them food, drink, lodging, and apparel, as well as minimal education (reading, writing, and basic arithmetic). At the end of the term, the master would provide the indentured person with clothing, usually a new bible, and sometimes a small amount of money or some personal items such as bedding or trunks (Fig 1).

Excerpt of Indenture record of David Osborn, January 1838
Fig 1. Excerpt from David Osborn Indenture record illustrating responsibility of master to indentured servant (Greene County Archives)

Ages ranged, but records indicate that at least one child, Daniel Shingledecker, was as young as 2 years old when he was contracted as an indentured servant (Fig 2). In August 1839, young Daniel was bound to Jacob Synip to “learn the art or occupation of a farmer” and the term period for the contract was supposed to be 18 years. However, in April 1840, the contract was dissolved and Daniel was returned to his father, Nathaniel Shingledecker (Fig 3).

Indenture record of Daniel Shingledecker, August 1839Indenture record of Daniel Shingledecker, August 1839
Fig 2. Indenture record of Daniel Shingledecker in August 1839

Dissolution of Indenture contract of Daniel Shingledecker, August 1840
Fig 3. Dissolution of indenture contract of Daniel Shingledecker in April 1840

In June 1841, at the age of 4, Daniel Shingledecker again was indentured to learn the art of a farmer, but this time he was bound to Jonathan Cost. This contract also was dissolved and Daniel again was returned to his father in February 1842 (Figs 4 & 5).

Indenture record of Daniel Shingledecker, June 1841Indenture record of Daniel Shingledecker, June 1841Indenture record of Daniel Shingledecker, June 1841
Fig 4. Indenture record of Daniel Shingledecker in June 1841

Dissolution of Indenture contract of Daniel Shingledecker, February 1842
Fig 5. Dissolution of indenture contract of Daniel Shingledecker in February 1842

Temperance Young, age 10, was another child for whom we found several indenture contracts. Her parents, Ruth and Benjamin Young, were unable to support her and she was considered “destitute.” Her first contract was to David Mayer in April 1839, as a “spinster” (i.e. spin wool) and she was to be bound to him until she was 18 (Fig 6). However, her contract was ended, although I was unable to find the dissolution of the contract in the records. In September 1840, she was bound to Madison Brake to learn “the art and craft of a spinster and also the occupation of sewing, knitting, and all kinds of house work” (Fig 7). Madison Brake, her master, was “removed” from Bath Township, so in January 1841, Temperance was bound to George Brake (Figs 8 & 9).

Indenture record of Temperance Young, April 1839Indenture record of Temperance Young, April 1839
Fig 6. Indenture record of Temperance Young in April 1839

Indenture record of Temperance Young, September 1840Indenture record of Temperance Young, September 1840
Fig 7. Indenture record of Temperance Young in September 1840

Indenture record of Temperance Young, January 1841
Fig 8. Dissolution of Indenture contract of Temperance Young to Madison Brake, in January 1841

Indenture record of Temperance Young, January 1841Indenture record of Temperance Young, January 1841
Fig 9. Indenture contract of Temperance Young in January 1841

There are many more indenture records, but these two give one an idea of what we found. Reading these records can be heartbreaking, but at the same time, one can glean that the parents were doing what they thought was best for their children – providing them an opportunity to learn a trade, and hopefully, lead them down a better path in life.

Until Next Time…

Greene County Archives, Bath Township Records, April 16, 1934 to December 15, 1948

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, trails/Feb.2003_Indentured Servants and Apprenticeships of Green Creek Twp2.pdf

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries,

Mar 02

Check, Please! by Amy Brickey

Posted on March 2, 2018 at 9:08 AM by Melissa Dalton

Receipts. Those little slips of paper that no one wants, given in exchange of purchases, which get wadded up into little balls and thrown into the trash. Nowadays, people can opt out of getting paper receipts simply by signing up for digital receipts, which are sent via email or text message. People might not put too much thought into receipts, but those little slips of paper contain a wide array of information. Sure, the prices of the items and the total cost of the purchase are listed, but so much more can be derived from receipts, especially historical ones. The cost of living and the graphic styles of the period, the name, location, and sometimes pictures of the establishment, the type of environment such as agricultural versus industrial, changes in business over time, and slogans used by and types of work performed by the receipt giver can be found in the details of these little slips of paper.

The first few historical receipts shown are from Xenia. S. B. LeSourd & Co. (Figs. 1 & 2) was founded in 1878 as McGervey & LeSourd. They offered life, fire, and cyclone insurance. The receipt in Fig. 2 features a beautiful drawing of the Steele Building, of which McGervey & LeSourd were the first to occupy, that was destroyed in the Xenia tornado of 1974. Incidentally, the insurance providers are still in business in Xenia on North Monroe Street, and now offer a much wider variety of insurance coverage.

Fig 1. Receipt from S. B. LeSourd & Co., 1909
Fig 1. Receipt from S. B. LeSourd & Co., 1909

Fig 2. Receipt from S. B. LeSourd & Co., 1910
Fig 2. Receipt from S. B. LeSourd & Co., 1910

A set of receipts for the Xenia Gazette from 1911 were also tucked into the record. Fig. 3 shows that D.G. Romspert, guardian of B.F. Romspert, purchased a year’s subscription for the paper, which amounted to $2.00. Fig. 4 is a receipt for an advertisement posted in the paper. The cost for the ad, a notice listing the sale of B.F. Romspert’s personal property, only amounted to a quarter. A year’s subscription to the Gazette today would cost somewhere around $171.00, depending on where the paper was being delivered. Placing a notice varies in cost depending on how many words are used.

Fig 3. Receipt for a year's subscription to the Xenia Gazette, 1911
Fig 3. Receipt for a year's subscription to the Xenia Gazette, 1911

Fig 4. Receipt for a sale notice in the Xenia Gazette, 1911
Fig 4. Receipt for a sale notice in the Xenia Gazette, 1911

Popular leisure activities of an individual can also be pulled from historic receipts. Below, a receipt for membership dues (Figs. 5a & 5b) to a Xenia Odd Fellows group was found in a probate record for Mr. J.H. Thomas. His guardian paid $6.40 for Thomas’ membership from September 28, 1915 until January 1, 1916.

Fig 5a. Front side of an Odd Fellows receipt for membership dues, 1915-1916
Fig 5a. Front side of an Odd Fellows receipt for membership dues, 1915-1916

Fig 5b. Back side of an Odd Fellows receipt for membership dues, 1915-1916
Fig 5b. Back side of an Odd Fellows receipt, 1915-1916

The next set of receipts (Figs 6-9) show the vast changes that have happened in Greene County over the years. Although agriculture is still prevalent in the county, farm-centered stores, general stores, family-owned stores, and small businesses are now a rarity (outside of Yellow Springs, that is). These receipts not only document small business owners in the early 1900s, but they also document two towns that now exist as one: Fairfield and Osborn.

Fig 6. A receipt from S.M. Powers & Son in Osborn, Ohio, 1910.
Fig 6. A receipt from S.M. Powers & Son in Osborn, Ohio, 1910.  S.M. Powers & Son were dealers in lumber and provided a saw and planing mill, brick and Portland cement, lath and shingles.

Fig 7. A receipt from F.C. Massey in Osborn, Ohio, 1911
Fig 7. A receipt from F.C. Massey in Osborn, Ohio, 1911.  Massey was a dealer in hardware, stoves, tin and woodenware, paints, oils, glass, harnesses (equine and other), tin and sheet-iron work, roofing, and spouting.

Fig 8. A receipt from Harry E. Frahn in Osborn, Ohio, 1914
Fig 8. A receipt from Harry E. Frahn in Osborn, Ohio, 1914.  Frahn was a dealer in grain, seeds, coal, flour, oil, meal, foods, and other general merchandise and foodstuffs.

Fig 9. A receipt from Henry Lipp of Fairfield, Ohio 1913
Fig 9. A receipt from Henry Lipp of Fairfield, Ohio, 1913.  Lipp provided well drilling as well as pump repairing of all kinds.  Fixing Mr. Romspert's pump and cleaning the cistern and sink hole came at a cost of only $3.50.

The next time you get a receipt from the store, think about the information it can tell future generations. Will the store still be around 20, 50, 100 years from now? What will the cost of living be like? Will the town in which I shop even exist? Receipts are great sources of information from historians to economists! If you are interested in seeing some historic receipts, please stop by the Greene County Records Center and Archives, where we have a small exhibit highlighting these lovely documents.

Greene County Archives (various probate records)