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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May 17

Severely Wounded WWI Soldier Finds No Luck at Home

Posted on May 17, 2019 at 8:58 AM by Melissa Dalton

On the morning of Tuesday, October 10, 1939, Charles Oberschlake was driving a team of horses along Grange Hall Road in Beavercreek Township when he was struck by a Pennsylvania Railroad train at a grade crossing. The Beavercreek farmer was severely injured and was taken to the hospital at the Soldiers Home. Surprisingly, Oberschlake’s team of horses escaped uninjured.

Subsequently, because of Oberschlake’s serious injuries, he filed a $30,000 lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Railroad Company.

Fig. 1 Journal 72 Pg. 448 - Charles Oberschlake (JPG)
Fig. 1 Greene County Common Pleas Journal 72, Pg. 448 (Greene County Archives)

In today’s economy that would be an equivalent of over $500,000. The case was eventually transferred to the U.S. Federal District Court in Dayton.

Fig. 2 Case Transferred (JPG)
Fig. 2 Greene County Appearance Docket (Greene County Archives)

We have not been able to determine the outcome of this case because the record is being held with the U.S. National Archives & Records.

Two years later, forty-eight year old Oberschlake was again seriously injured when he was struck by a bolt of lightning while atop a hay mound at his home on Grange Hall Road.

Fig. 3 xenia-evening-gazette-Jul-17-1941-p-5 Oberschlake (PNG)
Fig. 3 Xenia Daily Gazette, July 17, 1941 (Newspapers.com)

He tumbled off the wagon and suffered significant injuries. His face was badly burned and he was treated at Miami Valley Hospital. Unfortunately, lightning struck twice when in 1943, an electrical storm walloped the Oberschlake’s home, now near Yellow Springs. Chimneys were knocked down, windows were broken and the electrical power was cut off. Thankfully, none of the Oberschlake family members were harmed.

Fig. 4 xenia-evening-gazette-Jul-15-1943-p-5-1 edited (PNG)
Fig. 4 Xenia Evening Gazette, July 15, 1943 (Newspapers.com)

Incredibly, Charles Oberschlake experienced even greater misfortune much earlier than these three instances. Oberschlake, a native Iowan, joined the National Guard in 1916 as an infantryman. During the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, Sgt. Oberschlake of the American Expeditionary Forces (the formation of the United States Army on the Western Front) was severely wounded in action in September 1918.

Fig. 5 Meuse-Argonne Offensive (JPG)
Fig. 5 Saratoga Springs, New York National Guard Soldiers of the 165th Infantry at Landres-et-St. Georges in October 1918. Photo By: New York State Military History Museum (NationalGuard.mil)

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive stretched along the entire Western Front and was the deadliest campaign in American history.

Fig. 6 Colliers 1921Meuse-Argonne Offensive (JPG)
Fig. 6 Map of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, Collier’s New Encyclopedia (Wikimedia.org)

It resulted in over 26,000 soldiers being killed in action. One of Oberschlake’s eyes was considerably damaged during the Offensive and he permanently lost sight in the eye.

Fortunately, even after sustaining multiple injuries throughout his life, Oberschlake went on to live till the age of seventy-one. This stalwart Greene County farmer, veteran and father of three died in his home in April 1962. Charles Oberschlake is buried at Mount Zion Shoup Cemetery alongside his wife, Mottie.

Until Next Time!

Sources:
- Greene County Archives
- Newspapers.com
- NationalGuard.mil
- Wikimedia.org
- Archives.gov

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