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.

Jul 13

Jealousy and Murder: The Joshua Monroe Story

Posted on July 13, 2018 at 1:53 PM by Melissa Dalton

Jealousy is a strange thing, and people do crazy things in fits of jealous rage. That holds true in this week’s story of Joshua Monroe, who killed his lover after she professed her intent to marry another.

The year was 1863, and Joshua Monroe was a married man, albeit unhappily, and had five children by his wife. Monroe took interest in his sister-in-law, Caroline Umbenhour (also recorded as Umbenhower). According to newspaper articles, Joshua and Caroline carried on an open relationship, and Caroline had a child by him. Several articles report that the two were members of the “free love” movement in Yellow Springs, making their open relationship less surprising. However, that all changed when Caroline accepted the marriage proposal of another man (Fig 1).

Excerpt from the Xenia Sentinel, dated November 11, 1864 (JPG)
Fig 1. Excerpt of article from The Xenia Sentinel dated November 11, 1864 (

On December 8, 1863, Monroe confronted Caroline, asking to speak with her regarding her upcoming marriage. She obliged, and they walked to the cemetery at the edge of town (Glen Forest Cemetery). They talked for about an hour, and Monroe professed his love for her. He asked if she intended to marry the man, and according to the court transcript, she replied, “Yes, unless death do separate” (Fig 2). At that proclamation, Monroe immediately struck her, stabbing her nine times in the stomach and chest, killing her instantly. Upon recognizing what he had done, Monroe took the knife to his own neck, slashing it, hoping to end his own life. A passerby found Caroline and heard Monroe moaning, and went for help. Although Monroe lost a great deal of blood, the doctors were able to stop the bleeding and close the wound, and he was taken to jail.

Excerpt from the Xenia Torchlight, dated November 1864 (JPG)
Fig 2. Excerpt of article from The Xenia Torchlight dated November 1864 (Greene County Archives)

Monroe was indicted for murder in the first degree and pled not guilty to the charges. The prosecuting attorney requested the sheriff summon men from throughout the County to serve as jurors (a process known as “venire facias”). Witnesses at trial, including his sister and daughter, claimed that Monroe suffered from “spells of despondency” and “mental trouble” (Fig 3), while others spoke of his peculiarities. Reports indicate that Monroe had several incoherent outbursts throughout the duration of the trial, and appeared to be an “unbalanced” man.

Excerpt from the Xenia Torchlight, dated November 1864 (JPG)
Fig 3. Excerpt of article from The Xenia Torchlight dated November 1864 (Greene County Archives)

On November 4, 1864, almost a year after the murder, counsel delivered their closing arguments, and the jury was sent for deliberation. It took a jury of Monroe’s peers only three hours to decide his fate. Monroe was found NOT GUILTY of murder in the first degree, but GUILTY of murder in the second degree, meaning he would serve life in prison at the state penitentiary (Fig 4).

Excerpt from State Record Vol. 3, p 395 (JPG)
Fig 4. State Record Vol. 3, page 395, The State of Ohio vs. Joshua Monroe (Greene County Archives)

Monroe wrote several letters during his incarceration in the county jail. I found one in the November 25, 1864 edition of The Xenia Sentinel (Fig 5). In the letter, Monroe wrote of loving all beings, friend or foe, and that he would never hurt anyone. He further stated that he had many issues with “deep melancholy”, had full faith in God and his plan, and that the separation from his family was unfair to them and caused great hardship. The letter continues, and repeats many of the same thoughts and themes. It’s a bit of a read, but if you have a few moments, I think you will find it rather interesting.

Part 1 of Article from the Xenia Sentinel dated November 25, 1864 (JPG)
Part 2 of Article from the Xenia Sentinel dated November 25, 1864 (JPG)Part 3 of Article from the Xenia Sentinel dated November 25, 1864 (JPG)
Fig 5. Letter from Monroe given to, and published in, the Xenia Sentinel on November 25, 1864 (

Monroe was eventually transferred to the Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus, Ohio. On October 25, 1865, within a year of his transfer to the state prison, Monroe met a terrible doom. He was working with a machine in the chair shop, and a piece of his clothing got caught in the machine, and according to the Tiffin Tribune, was “whirled at a fearful rate killing him instantly, and mangling his body fearfully” (Fig 6).

Notice of Death of Joshua Monroe in the Tiffin Tribune, dated November 9, 1865 (JPG)
Fig 6. Notice in the Tiffin Tribune of Monroe’s death (

I tried to find something out about Monroe’s family after the murder and his subsequent death, but the records are silent. I couldn’t find a marriage, birth, or death certificate, and I was unable to definitively locate any of the known family members on census records. I believe much of this is due to the fact that they moved frequently, something Rosa Monroe, his daughter, alluded to during his trial. Unfortunately, without the record, the story goes silent; and so, this is where the Monroe story ends.


Greene County Archives

Jul 13

Wilson "Bert" Highwarden: The Murderous Husband x2

Posted on July 13, 2018 at 1:51 PM by Melissa Dalton

Remember when I said last Friday that there was a strange side story? Well, get ready for a crazy tale…

After Simeon Highwarden and Elizabeth Hill ran off to Canada, they did live as husband and wife. After reviewing many records, it appears Elizabeth changed her name to Elizabeth Scott after they moved (we believe Scott was her maiden name, but have been unable to confirm). Although they claimed to be married, I also was unable to find any marriage records for the two. However, the 1871 and 1881 Canada Census lists them as married and living in Ontario. As you can see, they had several children, one of which was Wilson Bertrim “Bert” Highwarden (Figs 1 & 2), whose life takes a tumultuous turn.

1871 Canada Census (JPG)
Fig 1. 1871 Canada Census (

1881 Canada Census (JPG)
Fig 2. 1881 Canada Census (

At the time of the 1881 Census, Wilson (aka “Bert”) was about 6 years old. I wasn’t able to find much until 1890, when he popped up on the voter registration list for Chicago (Fig 3). This document states he was living in Chicago for almost two years when he registered to vote, meaning he must have moved to the States around 1888 or so.

1890 Chicago Voter Registration List (JPG)
Fig 3. 1890 Voter Registration for Chicago, IL (

Sometime between 1890 and 1898, he met Mabel “Ada” Anderson of Champaign County, Ohio, and on March 30, 1898, they married and were living in Urbana Township (Fig 4). By 1900, they had two children, Donald and Raymond (Fig 5), and by 1910, they had two more children, Ethel and Grace (Fig 6).

1898 Marriage Record to Ada Anderson (JPG)
Fig 4. 1898 Marriage Record for Bert and Ada (

1900 US Census (JPG)
Fig 5. 1900 Census Record (

1910 US Census (JPG)
Fig 6. 1910 Census Record (

Ada and Bert had many problems, and Ada filed for divorce due to his drinking and abusive behavior. Bert did not take kindly to this, and he threatened her life many times – and one fateful day, he carried out his threat. Ada had returned to the home to gather some personal items, and when Bert approached her and told her to remarry him, Ada refused, infuriating him. Within an instant, Bert shot and killed her (Fig 7). Newspapers reported that after killing his wife, Bert “calmly” walked into the police station and turned himself in stating, “she got what was coming to her” (Fig 8). Highwarden was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to life in prison (Fig 9).

1911 Death Certificate of Ada Highwarden (JPG)
Fig 7. Death Certificate of Ada Highwarden (

Excerpt from The Daily Herald dated August 2, 1911 (JPG)
Fig 8. Excerpt from The Daily Herald dated August 2, 1911 (

Excerpt from The Marion Weekly Star dated January 6, 1912 (JPG)
Fig 9. Excerpt from The Marion Weekly Star dated January 6, 1912 (

This is where one would think the story ends, right? Well, sadly, it doesn’t. Highwarden only served six years (you read that right) for murdering his wife, and was granted clemency by Governor Cox in 1917. The exact reason wasn’t explicitly listed, but various articles stated it was due to good behavior and staying sober (easy to do when imprisoned) (Fig 10).

Excerpt from The Cincinnati Enquirer dated December 22, 1917 (JPG)
Fig 10. Excerpt from The Cincinnati Enquirer dated December 22, 1917 (

After being released, Highwarden returned to Champaign County, and in 1923, he married Rovilla Everett. If you look closely, the marriage records stated Highwarden had no previous marriages (Fig 11). This marriage did not go well either, and within a year of marriage, Rovilla filed for divorce. Highwarden did not approve of this, and without hesitation, shot her several times, killing her.

1923 Marriage Record for Rovilla Everett and Wilson B. Highwarden (JPG)
Fig 11. Marriage Record for Rovilla Everett and Wilson B. Highwarden (

Highwarden was arrested without incident, but told police that his wife, Rovilla, had been unfaithful. However, that claim did not help him and this time, there was no leniency or clemency. Judge Middleton, the same judge who sentenced him to life in prison for killing his first wife, sentenced him to death by electric chair. Highwarden plead for a new trial, but his request was denied (Fig 12). Highwarden didn’t have long between his trial and sentence of death, and on February 9, 1925, he paid the ultimate price for his crimes (Figs 13 & 14).

Excerpt from The News-Journal dated October 28, 1924 (JPG)
Fig 12. Excerpt from the News-Journal dated October 28, 1924 (

Excerpt from The Tribune dated February 9, 1925 (JPG)
Fig 13. Excerpt from The Tribune dated February 9, 1925 (

1925 Death Certificate of Bert Highwarden (JPG)
Fig 14. Death Certificate of Bert Highwarden (

Highwarden’s actions not only ended the lives of two women, but forever altered the lives of Ada and Rovilla’s children. Ada’s children went to live with her parents, but all of Rovilla’s children were sent to the children’s home as they had no one to provide for them.

This is a deeply sad story, and although it is not specifically Greene County, I felt it was one that should be told. I also feel that this story just illustrates what one may find when sifting through records – the buried stories of our families and communities.


Jul 06

Dr. Lewis A. Jackson: Aviation Pioneer, Educator, and Inventor by Amy Brickey

Posted on July 6, 2018 at 8:38 AM by Melissa Dalton

We recently had a “Who is it? Where is it? What is it? Wednesday” Facebook post asking people to correctly identify a picture of Dr. Lewis A. Jackson. Our commenters certainly did not let us down as they correctly guessed who he was and added extra facts about Dr. Jackson’s life and achievements. However, some people might not know about Dr. Jackson still, so this week’s blog post is all about Dr. Lewis A. Jackson (Fig 1), his commitment to Greene County, and his passion for flight, education, and experimentation.

Fig 1. Dr. Lewis A. Jackson (PNG)
Fig 1. Dr. Lewis A. Jackson

Dr. Lewis A. Jackson was born in Angola, Indiana, on December 29, 1912. Dr. Jackson seemed to always have a passion for airplanes, building model airplanes and reading all about planes in various books as a child. In 1927, when he was just 15 years old, he took his first airplane ride in a Swallow OX-5 (Fig 2). From there, Dr. Jackson designed and flew his own bi- and mono-plane hang gliders. He even purchased an incomplete Alco Sport Monoplane (Fig 3) to which he attached a motorcycle engine. Unfortunately, a wind storm destroyed the invention before Dr. Jackson could test it, but he never let that dampen his inventive spirit.
Fig 2. Swallow OX-5 (JPG) Fig 3. Alco Sport Monoplane (JPG)
Fig 2. Swallow OX-5                                             Fig 3. Alco Sport Monoplane

In 1930 Dr. Jackson began serious flight training with various instructors. From 1930 to 1932 he learned to fly in various airplanes: a Travelaire, a Waco 10, an American Eaglet, and a Curtiss Jenny. In 1932 he took his first solo flight in his own Waco 10 (Fig 4). From 1932 to 1937 Dr. Jackson traveled around Indiana and Ohio performing aeronautical stunts and flying exhibitions, also called barnstorming, in order to pay for college, and earned his Transport Pilot’s License. In 1939 Dr. Jackson received a Bachelor of Science degree from Marion College, now called Indiana Wesleyan University, in his second passion: education. In the same year, Dr. Jackson had his pilot license re-evaluated and had his license converted to a Commercial Pilot’s License with Instructor Rating.

Fig 4. Waco 10 (JPG)
Fig 4. Waco 10

In 1940 Dr. Jackson joined forces with Cornelius Coffey to open the Coffey and Jackson Flying School in Chicago at Harlem Field. After completing courses in advanced aeronautics and flight mechanics, he moved to Tuskegee to help train airmen how to fly (Fig 5). He became the Director of Training at the Army Air Corps 66th Flight Training Detachment where he taught aeronautics to pilots who would eventually fly in the 99th Pursuit Squadron.

Fig 5. Dr. Lewis Jackson as Director of Flight at Tuskegee (JPG)
Fig 5. Dr. Lewis Jackson as Director of Flight at Tuskegee

Dr. Jackson moved to Ohio after World War II and became an FAA Flight Examiner. Between 1947 and 1960 he tested over 400 pilots for flight certification, even creating an aircraft computer called NAV-KIT which many pilots used to help them obtain their licenses. In 1948 he received a Master’s Degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and in 1950 he received his Ph.D. in Higher Education from Ohio State University. True to his love of aviation, his dissertation was titled, “A Study of Aviation Courses and Facilities in Higher Education in the United States with Predictions and Future Trends.” In his spare time, he delighted in another passion, designing and building experimental airplanes. “An airplane in every garage” was Dr. Jackson’s dream. His experimental airplanes were meant to both fly and be street drivable, after which they could be folded up and stored in the common persons’ garage (Fig 6).

Fig 6. Dr. Jackson and his experimental airplanes (PNG)Fig 6. Dr. Jackson and his experimental airplanes (PNG)
Fig 6. Dr. Jackson and his experimental airplanes (PNG)
Fig 6. Dr. Jackson and his experimental airplanes

In 1967, the Greene County Commissioners approved the need for a regional airport, an upgrade from the original flying field built in the 1920s. In order to have a regional airport, however, the Commissioners needed to create a Regional Airport Authority Board. Because of Dr. Jackson’s passion, education, and skills as an aviator, he was appointed to the board and served on it for many years. During this time, Dr. Jackson also held various titles within the realm of education. He was the Acting President and Vice President for Administration at Sinclair Community College, as well as Acting President and President of Central State University. He also received many awards including: Distinguished Alumnus Award, Indiana Wesleyan University Alumni Association; Frontier Award, First Frontier, Inc.; Pioneer Achievement, Trail Blazer Award, Links, Inc.; Special Recognition, Ohio Department of Transportation, Division of Aviation and FAA; and Certificate of Appreciation, Xenia Area Development Corporation.

In the early 1990s, Dr. Jackson suffered a stroke which put an end to his flying career, but not his love of flight, education, or invention. He still tinkered and toyed with ideas and experimental planes until he passed away on January 8, 1994. One more award was still waiting in the wings for Dr. Jackson, however. Eight months after his passing, the Greene County Regional Airport was renamed the Lewis A. Jackson – Greene County Regional Airport in his honor (Fig 7). The airport even offers a scholarship called the Lewis A. Jackson Aviation Scholarship which can be used for one of three things: to introduce high school and college age students to flight training; to help a student pilot obtain a Private Pilot's License; or help a licensed pilot obtain an advanced rating.

Fig 7. Lewis A. Jackson - Greene County Regional Airport (PNG)
Fig 7. Lewis A. Jackson - Greene County Regional Airport

Dr. Jackson lived an incredible life and gave an amazing amount back to Xenia and Greene County. To further celebrate Dr. Jackson’s life, come on into the Archives and see our exhibit about both Dr. Jackson and the airport!

Until Next Time...

References: space/Aero space information page/bio/Dr LewiL Jackson.pdf
Some images courtesy of Dr. Lewis Jackson’s family
Greene County Records Center and Archives