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.

Sep 13

Leaving Your Mark on the World: Whitelaw Reid's Last Will and Testament

Posted on September 13, 2019 at 9:41 AM by Elise Kelly

Last week, we featured a blog post on the life of Whitelaw Reid. We learned that he had purchased the Xenia News prior to the Civil War and later became the editor-in-chief, publisher, and owner of the New York Tribune (See Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 New York Tribune (JPG)
Fig. 1 The Tribune’s New Home (1875) (Image courtesy of Jeff Reuben via

Reid also served as a U.S. diplomat for over a decade during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. While serving as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom in 1912, Reid passed away in London at the age of seventy-five.

This week's blog post will examine Whitelaw Reid's last will and testament. According to his will, which was written in 1894, most of Reid's property was bequeathed to his wife Elisabeth Mills Reid, which included the opulent Ophir Hall located in Westchester County, New York (See Fig. 2).

Fig. 2 Ophir Hall (JPG)
Fig. 2 Ophir Hall, Purchase, New York (Image courtesy of SMU Libraries Digital Collection via

The estimated value of Reid's assests totaled $1,343,087. In today's economy, as adjusted for inflation, the amount would be over $29,000,000.

When Whitelaw Reid died, his son, Ogden Mills Reid, was living below Central Park in Manhattan. Whitelaw Reid’s will specifies that Ogden Mills Reid would receive ownership of his father's property located in Cedarville, Ohio. The Cedarville home was constructed in 1823 in the architectural manner of the Queen Anne style (See Fig. 3).

Fig. 3 House in Cedarville (JPG)
Fig. 3 Whitelaw Reid’s former home in Cedarville, Ohio (Image courtesy of Greene County GIS)

At the time Whitelaw Reid’s will was drafted, his mother was living in the home in Cedarville. Reid directed in his will that “all the expenses shall be paid for the comfortable and proper maintenance” of his mother. However, his mother, Marion Reid, passed away in 1895, seventeen years before Whitelaw Reid died. She is buried in Massies Creek Cemetery in Cedarville (See Fig. 4).

Fig. 4 Marion Reid gravemarker (JPG)
Fig. 4 Marion Reid’s gravemarker in Massies Creek Cemetery (Image courtesy of

Several decades later, Whitelaw Reid’s Cedarville home became the home of Governor Mike DeWine. The Dewines presently still own the property.

Another stipulation in Reid's will was that if Ogden Mills Reid displayed “capacity and aptitude for the work,” he should ultimately succeed control of the New York Tribune. Before his father’s death, Ogden Mills Reid attended Yale Law School and was a reporter for the Tribune. After Whitelaw Reid passed, Ogden Mills Reid became the editor and the owner of the newspaper (See Fig. 5).

Fig. 5 Will for Ogden Mills Reid highlighted (JPG)
Fig. 5 Whitelaw Reid’s 1894 Last Will and Testament (Image courtesy of the Greene County Archives)

In 1924, Ogden Mills Reid purchased the New York Herald and in 1931 he combined the Tribune and the Herald naming the newspaper the New York Herald Tribune.

An additional directive in Reid’s will included the serene property on the Upper St. Regis Lake located in the Adirondacks. Christened Camp Wild Air, the property was built on a twenty-nine acre peninsula accessible only by water. Camp Wild Air’s buildings still stand and consist of a main lodge, an eight bedroom guest cottage, two boat houses, and a recreation hall (See Fig. 6).

Fig. 6 Camp Wild Air (JPG)
Fig. 6 Camp Wild Air, c. 1902, photo taken by William Henry Jackson (Image courtesy of Historic Saranac Lake –

The property was to be bequeathed to Whitelaw Reid’s daughter, Jean Templeton Reid. However, when Whitelaw Reid died in 1912, his daughter, now Jean Templeton Reid Ward, was married to John Hubert Ward (See Fig. 7).

Fig. 7 Lady John Ward (JPG)
          Fig. 7 Lady John Ward (Image courtesy of The Library of Congress via

Ward, a British Officer who served in the Boer War, was also an Equerry (a personal attendant of a member of the Royal Family) for the British Monarch. The couple lived in St. James Square in the exclusive St. James district in the City of Westminster. Since Jean Templeton Reid Ward lived in England, Camp Wild Air was transferred to Whitelaw Reid’s wife, Elisabeth. Elisabeth enjoyed many summers at Camp Wild Air.

Later in her life, during the First World War, Elisabeth boarded a ship bound for Great Britain to visit her daughter Jean. She then went on to France to visit hospitals (See Fig. 8).

Fig. 8 Elisabeth Reid passport (JPG)
Fig. 8 Elisabeth Mills Reid’s Passport issued in 1916 (Image via

Elisabeth Mills Reid was a generous philanthropist who engaged in work with the Red Cross. Elisabeth died in 1931 and her son Ogden inherited Ophir Hall in Westchester County, New York.

As we conclude this blog post, it is interesting to reflect upon the fact that Whitelaw Reid started out in Cedarville, Ohio and owned the Xenia News, only to later become the owner of a nationally influential newspaper (New York Tribune) and a U.S. Ambassador.

Until Next Time!

Greene County Archives
Greene County GIS
Historic Saranac Lake (Camp Wild Air)

Sep 06

A Giant Among Journalists and Diplomats

Posted on September 6, 2019 at 12:15 PM by Melissa Dalton

When our volunteer ran across the file to authenticate the will of Whitelaw Reid, she brought it right to our attention (Fig 1). To be honest, I was not familiar with Mr. Reid or his work, but after reading his will, I was quite intrigued. If you are a long-time Greene County resident, or are just interested in the history of this County, you may be well-aware of Reid and his accomplishments. However, for those unfamiliar (like myself), we thought a short biography of Reid may help people better understand the man.
Fig 1. Will of Whitelaw Reid, page 1 (JPG) Fig 1. Will of Whitelaw Reid, page 2 (JPG)
Fig 1. Will of Whitelaw Reid (Greene County Archives)

Whitelaw Reid was born on October 27, 1837 to Robert and Marion Reid of Cedarville, Ohio. At the age of 16, Reid enrolled at Miami University and became heavily involved in extracurricular activities, joining the Erodelphian Society (a literary society) and the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. These early experiences helped shape Reid’s interest in public affairs. Reid graduated, with honors, from Miami University in 1856. Reid decided to continue his studies, and earned his Master’s degree in 1860 (Fig 2).

Fig 2. Whitelaw Reid as a young man (JPG)
Fig 2. Whitelaw Reid as a young man (

The Reid family purchased the Xenia News in 1858, and this is where Whitelaw got his first taste of journalism. During the Civil War, Reid became a war correspondent for the Cincinnati Gazette, and wrote under the name of “Agate”. He worked his way to becoming the Washington, D.C. correspondent, a position he held until 1868. Due to his journalism during the War, he was recruited by Horace Greeley, the editor of the New York Tribune, in 1868 as an editorial writer. Reid took full advantage of this opportunity, providing coverage of the Franco-German War and provided “antisensationalist” journalism at a time when that was uncommon. Upon the death of Greeley in 1872, Reid became the editor-in-chief and publisher of the New York Tribune.
Reid remained a bachelor for many years (Fig 3), but that changed when he met Elizabeth Mills, the daughter of prominent American banker, D. O. Mills. Reid and Mills wed in Manhattan, N.Y. on April 26, 1881. The couple had two children – son, Odgen Mills and daughter, Jean Templeton (Fig 4).

Fig 3. 1880 U.S. Census with Whitelaw Reid, and his niece, listed (JPG)
Fig 3. 1880 Census with Whitelaw Reid listed, and his niece living with him (

Fig 4. 1900 U.S. Census with the Reid family, and staff, outlined in red (JPG)
Fig 4. 1900 Census with the Reid family and staff outlined in red (

Reid was a Republican, and known for his support of the party and its policies – personally, financially, and through his journalism. This support lead to Reid being selected by President Benjamin Harrison to be the U.S. Ambassador to France, a position he held from 1889-1892. When Harrison ran for reelection in 1892, he selected Reid as his vice-presidential running mate, but the presidency was lost to Grover Cleveland (Fig 5).

Fig 5. Excerpt from the Xenia Daily Gazette dated June 11, 1892, indicating Harrison and Reid as run
Fig 5. Excerpt from Xenia Daily Gazette dated June 11, 1892 indicating Harrison and Reid as running mates (

However, Reid’s political career did not end there. In 1898, he was appointed by President William McKinley to the U.S. Peace Commission after the Spanish-American War. Reid believed in U.S. territorial expansion, and due to his influence, the U.S. was able to acquire the Philippines in the Treaty of Paris.

Reid was later appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, a position he held from 1905 until his death on December 15, 1912 at the age of 75 (Fig 6).

Fig 6. Obituary of Whitelaw Reid in the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated December 16, 1912 (JPG) Fig 6. Obituary of Whitelaw Reid in the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated December 16, 1912 (JPG)
Fig 6. Obituary of Whitelaw Red in the Xenia Daily Gazette dated December 16, 1912 (

Now that we have a bit of background on Reid, next week we will delve into his will.

Until Next Time!


Aug 30

The Debts You Leave Behind

Posted on August 30, 2019 at 12:22 PM by Melissa Dalton

Last week’s blog post featured a summary of Bishop Joshua Henry Jones’ life. This week, we are going to dig a little deeper and investigate Bishop Jones’ personal estate record. When Bishop Jones died in 1932, his personal property and assets were appraised at $49,282 (See Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 Total Assets (JPG)
Fig. 1 Bishop Joshua Henry Jones’ Estate, Probate Box 723 (Greene County Archives)

Some of his personal property included several heifers; mules; pigs; brood sows; jersey cows; cultivators; a tractor and tractor plow; several tracts of land in Xenia Township; rental properties in Columbus; hypothecated notes from Wilberforce University; and second mortgage notes from Heard Chapel A.M.E. Church in North Cambridge, Massachusetts and St. John’s Church in New York City (See Fig. 2).

Fig. 2 Mortgage (JPG)
Fig. 2 Bishop Joshua Henry Jones’ Estate, Probate Box 723 (Greene County Archives)

Unfortunately, Bishop Jones was in a large amount of debt - $73,132.50 to be exact. This amount in today’s economy equates to over a million dollars. Certain debts included Xenia back taxes that totaled $2,458 (an equivalent today of almost $46,000) and several different bank notes and loans (See Fig. 3).

Fig. 3 Partial List of Schedule of Debts (JPG)
Fig. 3 Bishop Joshua Henry Jones’ Estate, Probate Box 723 (Greene County Archives)

In order to settle the debts, the administrator of Bishop Jones’ estate, Gilbert Jones (who was also Bishop Jones’ son), sold many of the tracts of land in Xenia Township to the People’s Building & Savings Company in Xenia (See Fig. 4).

Fig. 4 Tracts of land (JPG)
Fig. 4 Bishop Joshua Henry Jones’ Estate, Probate Box 723 (Greene County Archives)

To pay the Citizen’s National Bank’s promissory notes, Gilbert Jones and Wilberforce University made a compromise in which Wilberforce University would pay $6,300 of the total promissory notes secured by Citizen’s National Bank. The Columbus properties, the agricultural assets, and Bishop Jones’ stocks were also sold.

In addition, Gilbert Jones traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Boston and Holyoke, Massachusetts, and New York City to collect money due to Bishop Jones’ estate and to examine and inspect the conditions of the properties held by Bishop Jones. Gilbert Jones had to keep a record of his travel expenses (See Figs. 5 & 6).

Fig. 5 Receipt 1 (JPG)
Fig. 5 Bishop Joshua Henry Jones’ Estate, Probate Box 723 (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 6 Receipt 2 (JPG)
Fig. 6 Bishop Joshua Henry Jones’ Estate, Probate Box 723 (Greene County Archives)

It was not until March 1947, that the final record of Bishop Jones’ estate was recorded and the balance due was zero dollars. It was well known that Bishop Jones was a very generous man that helped several churches and institutions; however, there have been claims that he was not a diligent financial record keeper. Estate records, such as Bishop Jones’, help give an account of one's life story.

Until Next Time!

Greene County Archives
Jones Tabernacle Methodist Episcopal Church