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.

Aug 07

Murder of Earl McDufford

Posted on August 7, 2020 at 9:12 AM by Melissa Dalton

A couple weeks ago we told you the story of Albert McDufford and his many struggles. While doing the research for that blog, we learned a great deal about his family, and realized we have quite a story. From the murder of his brother, attempted murder of another brother, and freak death of another, this family witnessed great tragedy throughout their lives. However, it seemed to really begin with the murder of Earl.

Earl Layton McDufford was born around 1894 in Adams County, Ohio, and was the youngest of five children (Fig 1). Although it is unknown when Earl ended up in Greene County, he had made his way here by the early 1910s. Earl married Nellie Jane Cummins on November 12, 1912 in Greene County, Ohio when Nellie was 16 years old (Fig 2). But here is an interesting twist. Nellie is the daughter of Sallie Radish (or Reddish),, the future wife of Albert (married in 1914)! One would assume that Albert likely met Sallie because of his sister-in-law.

Fig 1. 1900 US Census for Adams County, Ohio with McDufford family outlined in red (JPG)
Fig 1. 1900 Census with McDufford family outlined in red (FamilySearch.org)

Fig 2. Marriage record of Earl McDufford and Nellie Cummins (JPG)
Fig 2. Marriage Record of Earl McDufford and Nellie Cummins (Greene County Archives)

Earl and Nellie had their first child, Walter, on July 11, 1915. Earl was working as a horse trader, and the young family seemed to be doing well. Sadly, that would change within a few months.
On December 7, 1916, Earl McDufford was murdered. According to the newspaper accounts, a group of men was traveling home from a party. One of the men threw a stone at a wagon on the property of Henry McDufford, Earl’s brother. Henry Cummins (we believe it is Nellie McDufford’s father) and his wife were sleeping in the wagon, and when awoken, fired a shot in the air to scare the men away. This action apparently had the opposite effect; it actually angered the men, and they went back to the home of one of the men and got a gun. The group returned to argue with Henry Cummins. Henry and Earl McDufford were both in the house, and went to break up the argument. Henry addressed the men and told them to move along. They started to leave, and Henry went back into the house. Earl stepped out the door to see what was going on, and after seeing everyone walking away, turned to walk back in the house without speaking a word to anyone. Frank Curl was still angry and turned his gun on Earl. With Earl’s back to him, Frank shot him. Earl died shortly after of his wounds (Fig 3).

Fig 3. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette dated 08 December 1916 (JPG)
Fig 3. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette dated December 8, 1916 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Frank Curl and his three companions – Luther Curl, Walter Stoffer, and Samuel Johnson – were all charged with murder in the first degree. Each admitted to drinking too much and that things got out of control. Frank and Luther Curl both pleaded guilty to the charges and were sentenced to life in prison at the Ohio Penitentiary. Samuel Johnson was sentenced to not more than 20 years in the Mansfield Reformatory. Walter Stoffer was all but exonerated by the testimony of the other three, and was released from custody (Fig 4).

Fig 4. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette dated 10 March 1917 (JPG)
Fig 4. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette dated March 10, 1917 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

This story is sad on many levels. Earl was an innocent bystander. He did not provoke the men. He did not even utter a word to them. What makes it even more heartbreaking is that Earl’s wife was pregnant with their second son and he would not live to see him born. Additionally, four young men, all in their early 20s, made a horrendous mistake that altered the course of their lives and the lives of so many others. If everyone would have just walked away from the altercation, how different could this situation have ended…

UNTIL NEXT TIME.

Sources:
Greene County Archives
FamilySearch.org
NewspaperARCHIVE.com

Jul 24

Life and the Struggle After Loss

Posted on July 24, 2020 at 11:31 AM by Melissa Dalton

We all have faced situations in life where we believed we would handle it one way, but when it actually happened, we were tested more than we anticipated. Many have faced that reality with the 2019 tornadoes, and while still trying to get lives back together, the COVID-19 pandemic hit our region. Lives have been uprooted once again, and it can be incredibly difficult to find one’s way back. This week, we look at the life and struggles of Albert McDufford, a man who experienced such trials in life.

Albert McDufford was born on July 15, 1887 to George and Rhoda McDufford of southeast Ohio (there is some conflicting information, but we believe either Pike or Adams County). Albert had four brothers – Thomas, Carey, Henry, and Earl (Fig 1). Albert moved to Xenia sometime before 1910, and it is clear that his brothers were living in the region soon thereafter (Fig 2).

Fig 1. 1900 US Census for Adams County, Ohio with McDufford family outlined in red (JPG)
Fig 1. 1900 US Census for Adams County, Ohio with McDufford family outlined in red (FamilySearch.org)

Fig 2. 1910 US Census for Greene County, Ohio with McDufford outlined in red (JPG)
Fig 2. 1910 US Census for Greene County, Ohio with McDufford outlined in red (FamilySearch.org)

Records indicate that Albert married Sarah (Sallie) Reddish on February 14, 1914 in Wayne, Indiana. Sarah had been married once before, and had a teenage daughter, Nellie. Not long after getting married, tragedy struck the McDufford family. Strangely, I happened upon an article on Ancestry that stated Earl, Albert’s youngest brother, was shot and killed in Xenia in 1916. Earl was only 21, and according to the various newspaper articles, it was unprovoked (definitely a story for another blog!) (Fig 3).

Fig 3. Article from the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated 08 Dec 1916, on the murder of Earl McDufford (JPG
Fig 3. Article from the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated 8 December 1916, on the murder of Earl McDufford (Newspapers.com)

It’s unclear if Albert was living in Indiana for a brief period, but he was back in the area by at least 1918 as he and Sallie are listed in the Xenia Directory for that year (Fig 4). Albert and Sallie did not have any children, and Albert worked as a general laborer most of his life. The 1922 Xenia City Directory indicates that Albert and his brothers, Henry and Carey, were all living in the city (Fig 5). By the 1930 Census, Albert and Sarah were living on Jamestown Pike, and Albert was working as a teamster doing general hauling.

Fig 4. 1918 Xenia City Directory (JPG)
Fig 4. 1918 Xenia City Directory (Ancestry.com)

Fig 5. 1922 Xenia City Directory (JPG)
Fig 5. 1922 Xenia City Directory (Ancestry.com)

Sadly, tragedy struck the family again just a couple of years later. In June 1932, Albert began experiencing some mental health issues. His wife and brothers agreed that he needed more help than they could provide. As such, Albert was admitted to the Dayton State Hospital on the 21st of June of that year (Fig 6). However, Sallie’s health was failing, and Albert was released on a trial basis on August 15, 1932, and she passed away the same day at the age of 49 (Figs 7 & 8). Unfortunately, we have no idea if Albert made it home in time to see his wife before she passed.

Fig 6. Affidavit-Lunacy for Albert McDufford, Greene County Probate Court, Box 720 (JPG)
Fig 6. Affidavit-Lunacy, Greene County Probate Court (Greene County Archives)

Fig 7. Death Certificate of Sarah McDufford (JPG)
Fig 7. Death Certificate of Sarah McDufford (FamilySearch.org)

Fig 8. Obituary of Sarah McDufford, Xenia Daily Gazette, dated 16 Aug 1932 (JPG)
Fig 8. Obituary of Sarah McDufford (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Albert did not handle his wife’s death well, and he was readmitted to the Dayton State Hospital on August 18, just days after her burial. Albert remained in the Hospital for roughly 10 more days, and was released for another trial basis. He appeared to be doing well with the second trial. Then in May 1933, a tornado razed the east side of Xenia and Albert’s home and property were severely damaged (Fig 9). The Superintendent of the Dayton State Hospital was contacted to see if Albert could return to the institution for some help. As he had not be formally discharged (the last time was still a trial basis), they would readmit him. He stayed at the Hospital for 3 months, and was discharged as “recovered” on August 31, 1933 (Fig 10).

Fig 9. Article on 1933 Tornado, Xenia Evening Gazette, dated 13 May 1933 (PNG)
Fig 9. Article on 1933 Tornado, Xenia Evening Gazette, dated 13 May 1933 (NewpaperARCHIVES.com)

Fig 10. Letters to and from Dayton State Hospital regarding Albert McDufford, Greene County Probate Fig 10. Letters to and from Dayton State Hospital regarding Albert McDufford, Greene County Probate
Fig 10. Letters to and from Dayton State Hospital regarding Albert McDufford, Greene County Probate Fig 10. Letters to and from Dayton State Hospital regarding Albert McDufford, Greene County Probate
Fig 10. Letters to and from Dayton State Hospital regarding Albert McDufford, Greene County Probate
Fig 10. Letters to and from Dayton State Hospital regarding Albert McDufford (Greene County Archives)

I tried to find more about Albert after his discharge, but all I found was his name listed as a survivor after his brother, Carey, died in 1943. After that, he disappears. Albert and his family saw their fair share of tragedy, and I hope the remainder of his life was peaceful.

Until Next Time.

Sources:
Ancestry.com
FamilySearch.org
Greene County Archives
NewspaperARCHIVE.com
Newspapers.com

Jul 16

West Wing Expansion!

Posted on July 16, 2020 at 3:24 PM by Melissa Dalton

We learned sometime last year we were acquiring some additional space in another part of the building, and were very excited for the opportunity to expand and have more archival storage space. We were well into our planning stages, having scheduled the move and installation of mobile shelving (another department was removing it to better accommodate equipment storage, so it was offered to us!), then COVID-19 hit. Our plans were sidelined, and we really weren’t sure when (and even if) this project would move forward. However, around the middle of June, we got the good news that the project was a go! Needless to say, we were ecstatic.

So, what all did/do we have to do to complete this project? First, our County Services department had to remove a couple of walls in the new space, and create an entryway between our current storage area and the new area (Fig 1). Once that process was complete, Quality Installation Services, LLC came in to move the mobile shelving. This part of the project was done in two phases. First, the crew dismantled the shelving from one space, and moved it piece by piece into our space (Fig 2). Once completely dismantled and staged, they were able to start the rebuild! The rebuild required laying the floor and tracks (Fig 3), and building the shelving units (Fig 4). In all, the crew worked a total of about six days to get the job done! We are so pleased with their work (Fig 5).

Fig 1. Original space in the West Wing (PNG)Fig 1. Entryway between old space and new space (PNG)Fig 1. New space with walls removed (PNG)
Fig 1. Current space, new entryway, and new space with walls removed

Fig 2. Staging of shelving prior to installation (PNG)Fig 2. Staging of shelving prior to installation (PNG)
Fig 2. Staging of shelving prior to installation

Fig 3. Installation of floors and tracks (JPG)Fig 3. Installation of floors and tracks (JPG)
Fig 3. Installation of floors and tracks

Fig 4. Units being rebuilt by crew (JPG)Fig 4. Units being rebuilt by crew (JPG)
Fig 4. Units being rebuilt by crew

Fig 5. Mobile shelving complete (JPG)
Fig 5. Mobile shelving complete (JPG)
Fig 5. Mobile Shelving Complete!

The next phase is to move the boxes that are currently housed in our non-archival storage space onto the “new” mobile shelving, so our County Services folks can remove the wooden shelves. However, before we can do anything, we have to spend some time cleaning the shelves on the newly installed unit. We hope to get most of that done next week.

Once the old shelves are out, we’ll be able to move in other shelving units. So far, the plan is to install roller shelving and rotating cabinets (Fig 6). These shelving units will allow us to store some of our books and journals that are not used as frequently, and open up space in our main storage area.

Fig 6. Roller shelves will be similar to this (JPG)Fig 6. Rotating cabinet will be similar to this (PNG)
Fig 6. Roller shelving and rotating cabinets will be similar to the above

We know this is going to be a long project, but we are looking forward to creating more space, and providing the records in our possession the best possible storage conditions to ensure they are around for future generations.

Until Next Time!