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.

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Mar 02

Check, Please! by Amy Brickey

Posted on March 2, 2018 at 9:08 AM by Melissa Dalton

Receipts. Those little slips of paper that no one wants, given in exchange of purchases, which get wadded up into little balls and thrown into the trash. Nowadays, people can opt out of getting paper receipts simply by signing up for digital receipts, which are sent via email or text message. People might not put too much thought into receipts, but those little slips of paper contain a wide array of information. Sure, the prices of the items and the total cost of the purchase are listed, but so much more can be derived from receipts, especially historical ones. The cost of living and the graphic styles of the period, the name, location, and sometimes pictures of the establishment, the type of environment such as agricultural versus industrial, changes in business over time, and slogans used by and types of work performed by the receipt giver can be found in the details of these little slips of paper.

The first few historical receipts shown are from Xenia. S. B. LeSourd & Co. (Figs. 1 & 2) was founded in 1878 as McGervey & LeSourd. They offered life, fire, and cyclone insurance. The receipt in Fig. 2 features a beautiful drawing of the Steele Building, of which McGervey & LeSourd were the first to occupy, that was destroyed in the Xenia tornado of 1974. Incidentally, the insurance providers are still in business in Xenia on North Monroe Street, and now offer a much wider variety of insurance coverage.

Fig 1. Receipt from S. B. LeSourd & Co., 1909
Fig 1. Receipt from S. B. LeSourd & Co., 1909

Fig 2. Receipt from S. B. LeSourd & Co., 1910
Fig 2. Receipt from S. B. LeSourd & Co., 1910

A set of receipts for the Xenia Gazette from 1911 were also tucked into the record. Fig. 3 shows that D.G. Romspert, guardian of B.F. Romspert, purchased a year’s subscription for the paper, which amounted to $2.00. Fig. 4 is a receipt for an advertisement posted in the paper. The cost for the ad, a notice listing the sale of B.F. Romspert’s personal property, only amounted to a quarter. A year’s subscription to the Gazette today would cost somewhere around $171.00, depending on where the paper was being delivered. Placing a notice varies in cost depending on how many words are used.

Fig 3. Receipt for a year's subscription to the Xenia Gazette, 1911
Fig 3. Receipt for a year's subscription to the Xenia Gazette, 1911

Fig 4. Receipt for a sale notice in the Xenia Gazette, 1911
Fig 4. Receipt for a sale notice in the Xenia Gazette, 1911

Popular leisure activities of an individual can also be pulled from historic receipts. Below, a receipt for membership dues (Figs. 5a & 5b) to a Xenia Odd Fellows group was found in a probate record for Mr. J.H. Thomas. His guardian paid $6.40 for Thomas’ membership from September 28, 1915 until January 1, 1916.

Fig 5a. Front side of an Odd Fellows receipt for membership dues, 1915-1916
Fig 5a. Front side of an Odd Fellows receipt for membership dues, 1915-1916

Fig 5b. Back side of an Odd Fellows receipt for membership dues, 1915-1916
Fig 5b. Back side of an Odd Fellows receipt, 1915-1916

The next set of receipts (Figs 6-9) show the vast changes that have happened in Greene County over the years. Although agriculture is still prevalent in the county, farm-centered stores, general stores, family-owned stores, and small businesses are now a rarity (outside of Yellow Springs, that is). These receipts not only document small business owners in the early 1900s, but they also document two towns that now exist as one: Fairfield and Osborn.

Fig 6. A receipt from S.M. Powers & Son in Osborn, Ohio, 1910.
Fig 6. A receipt from S.M. Powers & Son in Osborn, Ohio, 1910.  S.M. Powers & Son were dealers in lumber and provided a saw and planing mill, brick and Portland cement, lath and shingles.

Fig 7. A receipt from F.C. Massey in Osborn, Ohio, 1911
Fig 7. A receipt from F.C. Massey in Osborn, Ohio, 1911.  Massey was a dealer in hardware, stoves, tin and woodenware, paints, oils, glass, harnesses (equine and other), tin and sheet-iron work, roofing, and spouting.

Fig 8. A receipt from Harry E. Frahn in Osborn, Ohio, 1914
Fig 8. A receipt from Harry E. Frahn in Osborn, Ohio, 1914.  Frahn was a dealer in grain, seeds, coal, flour, oil, meal, foods, and other general merchandise and foodstuffs.

Fig 9. A receipt from Henry Lipp of Fairfield, Ohio 1913
Fig 9. A receipt from Henry Lipp of Fairfield, Ohio, 1913.  Lipp provided well drilling as well as pump repairing of all kinds.  Fixing Mr. Romspert's pump and cleaning the cistern and sink hole came at a cost of only $3.50.

The next time you get a receipt from the store, think about the information it can tell future generations. Will the store still be around 20, 50, 100 years from now? What will the cost of living be like? Will the town in which I shop even exist? Receipts are great sources of information from historians to economists! If you are interested in seeing some historic receipts, please stop by the Greene County Records Center and Archives, where we have a small exhibit highlighting these lovely documents.

Sources:
Greene County Archives (various probate records)
Lesourdinsurance.com
Xeniagazette.com


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