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 12

The Freed Families of New Jasper: Needham and Laura Curl (Part I)

Posted on July 12, 2019 at 1:19 PM by Melissa Dalton

Several months back, we had a blog post about Loyd Curl. In that blog, we mentioned that there was little we knew about his parents, and at the time, that was true. However, while Joan was doing some research, she came across some fascinating information about the Curls, along with several other families!

Noah Spears, a slave owner from Paris, Kentucky (in Bourbon County) bought several families of slaves as to ensure the families stayed together. Spears grew up in a family that owned slaves, but he subscribed to a different view, and was influenced by the anti-slavery / abolitionist movement. Spears emancipated his slaves, and bought roughly 400 acres of land in New Jasper Township (near Stringtown) for the families to settle (Fig 1). According to Broadstone’s History of Greene County Ohio, Vol 1, there were four families that settled on the land – Curls, Smiths, Brooks, and Fergusons. However, we also learned that the Blackburn family was involved. Although we are not quite sure of the relationship, we believe the women were all sisters.

Fig 1. Excerpt from Broadstone's History of Greene County Ohio, Vol 1, p 339 (JPG)
Fig 1. Excerpt from Broadstone’s History of Greene County Ohio, Vol 1 p 339 (Greene County Archives)

As we previously wrote a blog about Loyd Curl, we wanted to highlight this family first. Needham Curl was born in Virginia around 1816. Laura, Needham’s wife, was born in Kentucky about 1819. The couple had two children, Charles (b. circa 1849) and Loyd (b. circa 1852). Many newspaper articles indicate that Needham and Laura were former slaves of Henry Clay (although one article claims they were former slaves of Cassius M. Clay).

The exact year of their emancipation is unknown (at least at this time), but Spears deeded land to these families in 1862 and 1863 (Fig 2). Needham Curl, along with Greenup Smith, were deeded 80.5 acres in Survey #1240 in 1862 (Fig 3). Then in 1863, Spears deeded another 49.75 acres in Survey #1995 (Fig 4). Both of these properties are listed as being bought for one dollar!

Fig 2. 1874 Greene County Atlas will land outlined in red (JPG)
Fig 2. Excerpt from the 1874 Greene County Atlas (Greene County Archives)

Fig 3. Greene County Deed Vol 40, p 400 (JPG)
Fig 3. Greene County Deed Vol 40, p 400 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 4. Greene County Deed Vol 41, p 350 (JPG)
Fig 4. Greene County Deed Vol 41, p 350 (Greene County Archives)

Needham and his family were well-known in the Xenia area. Needham worked as a farmer, but retired sometime in the 1870s. It turns out that Needham was one of the first black residents to serve as a juror in Greene County (in roughly 1868), and actually served on several juries throughout his lifetime (Fig 5). Laura was said to be quiet and did not spend much time out of the home unless it was related to her family or church.

Fig 5. Excerpt from March 6, 1890 issue of Xenia Daily Gazette stating Needham Curl served as juror
Fig 5. Article from May 23, 1893 issue of Xenia Daily Gazette stating Needham Curl served as juror (
Fig 5. Excerpts from the Xenia Daily Gazette about Needham Curl serving as juror (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Needham suffered from dropsy, and died on October 18, 1894 at the age of 78 (Fig 6). Laura survived him by roughly three years, but passed away in 1897 at the age of 80. The notice of her death in the Xenia Daily Gazette denotes that she was the “last” of the citizens who came to Greene County as part of the Spears settlement (Fig 7). Charles worked as a plasterer for most of his life, but died in 1910 at the age of 61 (Fig 8). Loyd passed away in 1911, and you can read more about his life by visiting our other blog post.

Fig 6. Notice in October 12, 1894 issue of Xenia Daily Gazette of illness of Needham Curl (JPG)
Fig 6. Notice in Xenia Daily Gazette of Needham Curl’s illness (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Fig 7. Obituary of Laura Curl in the July 2, 1897 issue of the Xenia Daily Gazette (JPG)
Fig 7. Death Notice of Laura Curl in Xenia Daily Gazette (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Fig 8. Obituary of Charles Curl in the October 24, 1910 issue of the Xenia Daily Gazette (JPG)
Fig 8. Death Notice of Charles Curl in Xenia Daily Gazette (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

This is an incredible story, and we plan to dig a little deeper into the history of each family. Be sure to read our future blogs to learn more!

Until Next Time!


Source:
Ancestry.com
Greene County Archives
NewspaperARCHIVE.com

Jul 02

The Gearhart Brothers of Greene County

Posted on July 2, 2019 at 10:09 AM by Elise Kelly

During these summer months, fans will fill baseball stadiums to watch their favorite teams play. Many boys in the stands will dream of making it in the big leagues and to one day play for a team like the Yankees or the Reds.

Fig. 1_Beavercreek News, June 18, 1969, Front Page (JPG)
Fig. 1 Beavercreek News, June 18, 1969 – Found in the 1969 Greene County Jail Time Capsule (Greene County Archives)

In New Lebanon, Ohio, five brothers played for Dixie High School’s baseball team during the 1920s and 1930s. One of those brothers, Lloyd Gearhart, went on to play outfield and first base for a minor league team named the Atlanta Crackers.

Fig. 2 Lloyd Gearhart (JPG)
Fig. 2 Dayton Daily News, June 19, 1945 (Newspapers.com)

In 1947, the New York Giants came calling for Gearhart and acquired him for $75,000! Gearhart was a skilled ballplayer who threw left-handed and batted right-handed. During his time in the majors, he hit a home run at the Polo Grounds in New York. Sitting in the stands that day was the Governor of New York, Thomas E. Dewey.

After Gearhart’s short but successful stint in the Major Leagues, he went on to play for minor league teams in Jersey City, New Jersey, Havana, Cuba, and Indianapolis, Indiana.

Fig. 3-1902_Indianapolis_Indians (JPG)
Fig. 3 1902 Indianapolis Indians (Image via Wikipedia Commons)

When his playing days were over, Gearhart became a scout for the New York Mets and managed a farm team for the Mets in Virginia.

By the 1970s, Lloyd Gearhart retired from baseball and settled in Greene County, where he served as Xenia’s Director of Recreation and Parks Department. He later became the Manager of Sports Activities at the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans' Home in Xenia. During Lloyd’s tenure in Greene County, his brother Russell Gearhart, served as the Greene County Clerk of Courts from 1952 up until his death in 1976.

Fig. 4 R.E. Gearhart (PNG)
Fig. 4 Russell E. Gearhart (Xenia Daily Gazette, September 23, 1976)

Prior to Russell's tenure as the Clerk of Courts, he worked at a stemmery, where he met his first wife, Mildred Fawley. A stemmery is a facility where tobacco leaves are stripped for the production of tobacco products.

Fig. 5 Marriage License Russell Gearhart (JPG)
Fig. 5 Greene County Probate Court Marriage Record Book 1931-1938 (Greene County Archives)

 After he left the stemmery, he worked for Xenia City Schools. By 1948, he began working in the County Clerk’s office and four years later, Russell Gearhart was elected the Clerk of Courts in 1952.

When Greene County’s new jail was constructed in 1969, a time capsule was placed in the building’s cornerstone. For posterity, Russell Gearhart added a couple of items in the time capsule. He included a brief biography of himself that was typed on his office’s letterhead, a School Days photograph of his son, Rickey Allen Gearhart, and an Auto Title holder with Gearhart’s portrait on the front.

Fig. 6 Auto Title holder, Russell E. Gearhart, Clerk of Courts (JPG)
Fig. 6 Russell Gearhart’s brief biography along with a photograph of his son, Rickey Gearhart. (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 7 Auto Title holder, Russell E. Gearhart, Clerk of Courts, front view (JPG)
Fig. 7 Auto Title holder (Greene County Archives)

When Russell Gearhart died at the age of sixty-six in September 1976, he was remembered as a very loyal and hardworking man. He was a member of several fraternal orders and the Spring Valley Firemen’s Association. His brother Lloyd was also fondly remembered. In 1995, Dixie High School in New Lebanon named its baseball field in his honor. Lloyd Gearhart died in 2001.

Until Next Time!

Sources:
Greene County Archives
Newspapers.com
Society for American Baseball Research
Wikimedia Commons
Xenia Daily Gazette

Jun 28

1969 Greene County Jail Time Capsule Opening!

Posted on June 28, 2019 at 10:30 AM by Melissa Dalton

Friday, June 21st was an eventful day for us here at the Greene County Archives! Our staff, along with several county officials, hosted an event for the opening of the 1969 Greene County Jail Time Capsule (Fig 1). This event took place exactly 50 years from the laying of the jail cornerstone!

Fig 1. Program from the 1969 Greene County Jail Time Capsule Opening (JPG)
Fig 1. Program from the 1969 Greene County Jail Time Capsule Opening

We had several elected officials join us for the event, including: Sheriff, Gene Fischer; Commissioners, Robert Glaser and Tom Koogler; Engineer, Stephanie Goff; Juvenile Court Judge, Adolpho Tornichio; Prosecuting Attorney, Stephen Haller; Treasurer, Kraig Hagler; and Clerk of Courts, Andrew Williams. We were honored to have former Prosecuting Attorney, Reynold Hoefflin, as our special guest! Mr. Hoefflin recited the same speech he gave during the laying of the jail cornerstone in 1969 (Fig 2). The event garnered great interest from the community, and we had roughly 100 attendees, plus over 2000 views on our live stream! To say we were happy with the event is an understatement!

Fig 2. Former Prosecuting Attorney, Reynold Hoefflin, speaking at event (JPG)
Fig 2. Former Prosecuting Attorney, Reynold Hoefflin, speaking at event

As part of the event, we emptied the time capsule, item by item, examining and identifying each as it was removed (Fig 3). In total, there were 21 items, with some having multiple components (Fig 4).

Fig 3. Archives staff removing items from Time Capsule (JPG)
Fig 3. Archives staff removing items from Time Capsule

Contents:
  1. Photograph of Ohmer Tate (GC Sheriff January 1927-January 1931)-Photograph taken by Wheeler Photography, Xenia, OH;
  2. Sheriff’s badge belonging to Ohmer Tate;
  3. Sheriff’s badge belonging to Russell Bradley;
  4. Photograph of the signing of the contract to build the jail taken April 6, 1968. Photo by Bob Burns, Xenia Gazette;
  5. Campaign fingernail file, “Re-elect Ray Durnbaugh, Greene County Commissioner”;
  6. Campaign fingernail file, “Vote James A. Ford, Sr., Greene County Commissioner”;
  7. Seed from Red Buckeye transplanted to the Court House lawn, April 1969;
  8. 1964 nickel;
  9. 1969 penny;
  10. Story of the Jail Campaign;
    1. Photographic slides of old jail (36), 1966;
    2. History of the Jail campaign, written by Roger W. Brucker, Advertising Director, 2 pages;
    3. Organization of New Jail Campaign;
    4. “Shocking Old Jail” by Greene County Council on Community Services;
    5. Facts about Greene County’s Jail by Greene County Council on Community Services, 2 pages;
    6. Jail Committee Organizational Chart and position descriptions, 14 pages, February 8, 1966;
    7. Quit Claim Deed for Greene County Jail, circa 1966;
  11. Auto Title holder, Russell E. Gearhart, Clerk of Courts;
    1.  Russell E. Gearhart’s history on Clerk of Courts letterhead, June 20, 1969;
    2. School photograph of Rickey Allan Gearhart, 1960-1961;
  12. Jail History-from the Office of the Sheriff;
    1. History of Jail #6, written by Sheriff Russell A. Bradley, 2 pages, June 21, 1969;
    2. Campaign card, “Re-Elect “Russ Bradley for Sheriff”, 1968;
    3. Deputies’ addresses and phone numbers, 1969;
    4. 1965 penny;
    5. 1969 penny;
  13. List of Greene County elected officials, 1969;
  14. Poem, “Our New Jail”, by Thomas E. Kelley, June 21, 1969;
  15. Greene County Township Trustees and Clerks, 3 pages, 1969;
  16. Reynold Hoefflin’s handwritten speech for the Laying of the Cornerstone Ceremony, 7 pages, June 21, 1969;
  17. Greene County Road Map, 1969;
  18. Jail Committee Members, 3 pages, 1965-1966;
  19. Fairborn Daily Herald, June 19, 1969;
  20. The Xenia Daily Gazette, June 20, 1969;
  21. Beavercreek News, June 18, 1969.
Fig 4. List of 1969 Time Capsule Contents

As we knew many were unable to attend the event, we held an open house Thursday and Friday of this week to allow members of the community an opportunity to view the items in person (Fig 5), and you have until 2pm today to see them!

Fig 5a. 1969 Jail Time Capsule Exhibit (JPG)
Fig 5b. 1969 Jail Time Capsule Exhibit (JPG)
Fig 5c. 1969 Jail Time Capsule Exhibit (JPG)
Fig 5d. 1969 Jail Time Capsule Exhibit (JPG)
Fig 5e. 1969 Jail Time Capsule Exhibit (JPG)
Fig 5. 1969 Jail Time Capsule Exhibit

We want to take a moment to thank all those involved, and to note that without the support from our Greene County officials and community, we could not have made this event happen.
We are in the process of uploading the images of the items to our Flickr page, so be sure to check it out! Along with the 1969 Greene County Jail Time Capsule, we’ll be adding images from the 1901 Greene County Courthouse Time Capsule as well!

Until Next Time!