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 23

1913 Dayton Flood and the Creation of Fairborn

Posted on March 23, 2018 at 1:17 PM by Melissa Dalton

This week marks the 105th anniversary of the 1913 Dayton Flood. This storm had devastating effects to the region due to the culmination of a melting snow, overly saturated earth, and heavy rain storms. This week’s blog recounts the events leading up to the flood, and its consequences, especially to one small village in Greene County.

The Miami Valley experienced a freak windstorm on Good Friday, March 21, 1913, and temperatures fell rapidly. Heavy rains began to fall on Easter Sunday, dropping 8 inches to 12 inches of rainfall, causing the Great Miami River to reach its highest point for the average year. The ground was so saturated that 90% of the rain became runoff, contributing to the rising Great Miami and its tributaries. On Tuesday, March 25, 1913, the police and other city officials were warned that the levees were weakening and the river overflowed its banks at a rapid rate. Not long after, the southside levees failed, and flood waters poured into the streets and entered downtown (Fig 1). The flood waters continued to rise, and on Wednesday, March 26, 1913, the water crested downtown at 20 feet (Figs 2-4). The flood waters damaged a gas line around 5th and Wilkinson, causing the line to rupture and explode. Due to the flooding, the fire and rescue were unable to get to the fire, and almost an entire city block was lost to fire.

1913 Flood: Springfield Street in Dayton under water (JPG)
Fig 1. Springfield Street in Dayton under water (Wright State University, DDN Collection)

1913 Flood: 4th Street looking toward Main St (JPG)
Fig 2. 4th Street looking towards Main Street (Wright State University, DDN Collection)

1913 Flood: photo taken at the INN on west 2nd street (JPG)
Fig 3. View of West Second Street (Wright State University, DDN Collection)

1913 Flood: NCR Boat helping people during the flood (JPG)
Fig 4. NCR Rescue Boat assisting those stranded (Wright State University, DDN Collection)

The storm was catastrophic. More than 360 people lost their lives, 20,000 homes were destroyed, and about 70,000 people were left homeless (Dayton’s population at the time was 116,000). Additionally, about 1,400 horses perished, as well as almost 2,000 other domestic animals.

The citizens of Dayton, led by John H. Patterson, were determined to make sure this never happened again. Hydrological engineer, Arthur Morgan, was hired to conduct a series of studies of the watershed. Upon completion of the studies, Morgan recommended that several dams be constructed, as well as altering the channel of the river through Dayton. Ohio’s Governor, James Cox, approved of this plan and Morgan was commissioned to write the Ohio Conservancy Act, which allows the state to establish watershed districts, and tax the districts to raise funds for improvements. Although the Act was challenged as to its constitutionality, the Act was passed in 1914, and in 1915, the Miami Conservancy District (MCD) was created.

The MCD began construction of the five dams – Englewood, Huffman, Germantown, Taylorsville, and Lockington – in 1918, with the project being completed in 1922. Of the five dams, one is located in Greene County, Huffman Dam (Fig 5). Huffman Dam regulates the flow of the Mad River into the Great Miami River. However, due to the location of one small village, Osborn, it was going to be flooded if there was ever another major event. This was reason enough for the village, with a total population of roughly 1,000 residents, to be relocated. Osborn was acquired by the MCD, and since there was no imminent risk, they allowed the homeowners to stay until they could figure out the best way to remove the structures. It was during this time that residents, led by the mayor and city attorney, decided to take a stand and created the Osborn Removal Company. The formation and incorporation of this company was to allow the citizens to keep their homes and purchase new property outside of the flood basin, next to the town of Fairfield. The Osborn Removal Company bought the properties back from the MCD, and the original owners were given the opportunity to buy their homes back for a fair price, and move them to the new town.

Constructing Huffman Dam (JPG)
Fig 5. Construction of Huffman Dam (Miami Conservancy District)

The move of Osborn began in 1922, and took about two years, with nearly 200 houses moved (Fig 6). Additionally, the town was platted, graded, and streets and sidewalks were completed, all within this two year time frame. LaPlant-Choate Manufacturing Co. even moved many shade trees and replanted in new Osborn (Fig 7).

Zeller Family moving their home (JPG)
Fig 6. Zeller Family preparing to move house to new Osborn (Routt)

Aerial of New Osborn (JPG)
Fig 7. Aerial view of New Osborn (Routt)

Osborn and Fairfield co-existed from 1924 to 1950, at which time they decided to merge. The two towns took portions of their names, creating what is now Fairborn (Fig 8). However, what makes this story so inspiring is the power of the human spirit. The citizens of Osborn worked together to come up with a solution to the problem. They made sure homeowners were given a fair shake and made it so the new village of Osborn was even better than the original. The tenacity and resolve of the citizens is a reminder that we can accomplish great things if we are willing to put aside differences and work together.

1950 Engineer Map of the City of Fairborn (JPG)
Fig 8. 1950 Engineer Map of the newly formed City of Fairborn (Greene County Archives)

Until Next Time…

Greene County Archives
J. David Rogers, University of Missouri-Rolla, Natural Hazards Mitigation Institute: Flood-Updated.pdf
Miami Conservancy District
Routt, Allan, Early Views of Fairfield & Osborn Ohio, 2010.
Wright State University

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,