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 22

Highlights of Xenia's Irishmen

Posted on March 22, 2019 at 9:27 AM by Melissa Dalton

Last weekend many families, friends and communities celebrated their Irish heritage. Some used their great-grandmother’s recipe to bake Irish soda bread, others listened to traditional Irish music while having a green beer, and some watched Irish lassies dancing at a fish fry.

Here in Xenia, several Irish immigrants and their descendants settled in and around the city and are buried at St. Brigid’s Cemetery.

Fig 1. Aerial photo of St. Brigid Cemetery in 1973 (JPG)
Fig. 1 Aerial photo of St. Brigid Cemetery in 1973 (Greene County Archives)

These families includes the Donovans; the Cullens; the Walshs; the Ryans; the O’Donnells; the Touheys; the O’Connors; the Kennedys, etc.

One such family buried at St. Brigid’s includes the Leaheys. Michael Leahey and his wife, Bridget, emigrated from Ireland to America in the 1880s and eventually settled in Xenia. Michael found work helping to construct and assist with the Dayton-Xenia traction line. This transit-car system was a convenient and reliable way to get to and from cities in southwestern Ohio.

According to the census record of 1910, Michael and Bridget had already welcomed nine children in their home. The family lived at 14 South Miami Avenue close to the railroad line where other Irish families lived.

Fig 2. 1910 U.S. Census Record of Leahey family (JPG)
Fig. 2 1910 Greene County Census Record (FamilySearch.org)

Two of the Leahey children, Michael and Frank, served during World War I and worked like their father, on the traction line.

Fig 3. Veterans' Graves Registration Card for Michael Leahey (JPG)
Fig. 3 Veterans’ Graves Registration Cards (Greene County Archives)

Another family buried at St. Brigid’s were the Cullens. Found in the early Probate Court Minutes are several naturalization records, including Michael Cullen’s. As a native of Ireland, he was naturalized in Xenia a year prior to the start of the Civil War. According to a death notice written in the Xenia Daily Gazette and Torchlight, Cullen worked as a foreman for the railroad. He passed away at his home on Spring Hill in 1900 due to “the bursting of a small blood vessel in his brain” (Xenia Daily Gazette and Torchlight, 1900). Spring Hill Park is between Home Avenue and South Detroit Street but sits along Ormsby Drive.

Fig 4. Greene County Probate Court Minutes, Book C, 1857-1861 (JPG)
Fig. 4 Greene County Probate Court Minutes Book C 1857-1861 (Greene County Archives)

One final highlight of Xenia’s Irish community is Patrick Henry Flynn. Flynn was the child of Irish immigrants and in 1890, he became the president of the Xenia Shoe Manufacturing Company. During the company’s heyday, they “employed 300 employees and produced 1,500 pairs of shoes daily” (Xenia Daily Gazette, 1983). Flynn was the father of five children and when he died in 1934, he bequeathed his estate to his surviving wife and children. The assets of his estate totaled $113,608.35. Today, this would be the equivalent of over $2,000,000. Patrick Henry Flynn certainly had the luck of the Irish.

Fig 5. Patrick Henry Flynn, Estate Record Case 2704, Box 751 (JPG)
Fig. 5 Patrick Henry Flynn, Estate Record Case 2704 Box 751 (Greene County Archives)

Until Next Time!

Sources:
FamilySearch.org
Old Resident of Xenia Died on Saturday Morning, Xenia Daily Gazette and Torchlight, July 21, 1900.
Rita Alwell, Shoe Industry Once Thrived Here, Xenia Daily Gazette, September 13, 1983
.


Mar 15

The Stained Glass in the Courthouse

Posted on March 15, 2019 at 7:37 AM by Robin Heise

When it was decided to build a new courthouse in Xenia at the turn of the century (the 20th century), there was a great deal of work put into the design and building of the structure (Fig 1). The Commissioners’ Minutes illustrate just how much time and energy went into the building, all the way down to the wall hangings and room furnishings (Figs 2 & 3). There are copies of contracts scattered throughout the minutes, and it appears not one item was left to question. However, in April 1902, those contract details were tested.

Fig 1. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette about the decision to build a new courthouse, dated March 5, Fig 1. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette about the decision to build a new courthouse, dated March 5,
Fig 1. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette about the decision to build a new courthouse, dated March 5, 1900 (Newspapers.com)

Fig 2. Greene County Commissioners' Minutes, Vol 15, p 238 (JPG)
Fig 2. Excerpt from Greene County Commissioners’ Minutes, Vol 15, pg 238 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 3. Greene County Commissioners' Minutes, Vol 15, pgs 246-247 (JPG)
Fig 3. Excerpt from Greene County Commissioners’ Minutes, Vol 15, pgs 246-247 (Greene County Archives)

The courthouse was to have a beautiful bell tower, and fine art/stained glass window, both of which were items of admiration within the community as construction continued on the building. On Friday, April 25, 1902, Xenia and the surrounding area experienced a windstorm. Xenia has had its fair share of crazy weather, and this storm pelted the region. As the wind continued, it rattled the unfinished courthouse. By Saturday evening, the beautiful stained glass window could no longer withstand the winds, and shattered into thousands of pieces, leaving only the outer portion of the window intact (Fig 4).

Fig 4. Article from the Xenia Daily Gazette and Torchlight about the destruction of the fine art win
Fig 4. Article from the Xenia Daily Gazette and Torchlight about the destruction of the fine art window, dated April 28, 1902 (Newspapers.com)

The window, which cost roughly $450 in 1902 (equivalent to just over $13,000 today) would have to be replaced. Seeing as this seemed to be a noted event within the newspapers, we went to the Commissioners’ Minutes to see what they had to say about it. Well, it turns out, nothing. It appears this little bump was not considered noteworthy, and it might have been because of their contract.
As stated earlier, the County was sure to design a fairly tight contract, detailing the finer points. While glancing through, the section below was spied (Fig 5). It states: “The Contractor shall be fully responsible for safety and good conditions of work and material in his contract until the completion of his contract… The Contractor shall also be fully responsible for any damage that may accrue to the property or other contractors or any portion of the structure, that in any wise results from the neglect or acts of his employees.”

Fig 5. Excerpt from the Greene County Commissioners' Minutes, Vol 15, p 229 (JPG)
Fig 5. Excerpt from the Greene County Commissioners’ Minutes, Vol 15, pg 229 (Greene County Archives)

The stained glass window was replaced without further incident, and still exudes its beauty today (Fig 6). The window is on the second floor of the Courthouse, on the north side of the building, which faces E. Market Street.

Fig 6. View of stained glass window from inside the Courthouse (JPG)
Fig 6. View of stained glass window from inside the Courthouse (Greene County Archives)

Until Next Time…

Sources:
Greene County Archives
Newspapers.com

Mar 08

A Return to Greene County

Posted on March 8, 2019 at 10:48 AM by Melissa Dalton

Hello, Greene County blog readers! I would like to re-introduce myself in this blog post. My name is Elise Kelly and between the years 2015-2017, I served as the Public Outreach Coordinator for the Greene County Archives. During my tenure, I wrote many blog posts, visited several classrooms teaching children about our local history, and assisted the general public with research and reference services.

Fig 1. Elise presenting the Slavery in America program to Warner Middle School (Xenia) 8th Graders (
Fig. 1 Elise presenting the Slavery in America program to Warner Middle School (Xenia) 8th Graders (Greene County Archives)

In 2017, I took a position elsewhere but have happily returned to what I consider my “second home.” I am now serving as the Multimedia Archivist/Assistant Public Outreach Coordinator for the Greene County Archives.

As the Multimedia Archivist/Asst Public Outreach Coordinator, I am responsible for the appraisal, transfer, preservation and access of Greene County’s multimedia public records that are transferred to the Archives for long-term preservation. One important aspect of this is the data entry of all of the multimedia records into our records management system. This aids in tracking, inventorying, and controlling all the material stored both in the archival and non-archival storage areas.

Fig 2. Mutlimedia records (JPG)
Fig. 2 Multimedia records (Greene County Archives)

In addition to these responsibilities, I provide research and reference services for our county departments and the general public; I assist our Public Outreach Coordinator with our department’s public outreach program; and I coordinate the transfer of master microfilm.

Prior to coming to Greene County in 2015, I worked at the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston and lived in a former whaling town named New Bedford. I studied at the University of Dayton and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious Studies and Art History. In addition, I have a Master of Arts degree in Public History from Wright State University. On a more personal note, I love spending time outdoors, especially hiking and cycling the Greene County and Five Rivers Metroparks’ trails.

Fig 3. Greene County Parks & Trails Indian Reserve Cedar Cliff Falls (JPG)
Fig. 3 Greene County Parks & Trails Indian Reserve Cedar Cliff Falls (Greene County Archives)

It is wonderful to be back serving all who (physically and remotely) visit the Greene County Archives and I look forward to hearing from some of you through our social media outlets.

Until Next Time!