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.

Aug 23

From Humble Beginnings to Wilberforce University President

Posted on August 23, 2019 at 12:06 PM by Melissa Dalton

Wilberforce University, the first college to be owned and operated by African Americans, was established in 1856 (See Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 University Hall - Wilberforce (JPG)
Fig. 1 University Hall – Wilberforce University, Wilberforce University Catalogue 1899-1900 (Greene County Archives)

During that same year, a South Carolinian slave named Sylvia, gave birth to a son named Joshua Henry Jones. Jones would later become the president of Wilberforce University at the turn of the twentieth century. At the young age of fourteen, he became a Sunday school teacher and by the age of nineteen, he became an ordained minister and was married. In 1885, Jones received his bachelor’s degree from Claflin University in South Carolina. Sadly that same year, he lost his wife while she was giving birth to their fourth child.

Not long after, Jones left his four children in the care of his brother-in-law, in order to obtain his divinity degree from Wilberforce University (See Fig. 2).

Fig. 2 Wilberforce University 1899-1900 Catalogue cover page (JPG)
Fig. 2 Wilberforce University Annual Catalogue 1899-1900 (Greene County Archives)

Upon graduation in 1887, he married a music teacher named Augusta Clark. Jones settled with his new wife and children in Providence, Rhode Island, but later moved to Columbus, Ohio. For eight years, he served as the pastor of St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church in Columbus. In 1892, he became the first African American elected to the Columbus Board of Education. In 1893, Jones accepted the Secretary of the Industrial Department  position at Wilberforce University. Seven years later in 1900, he became Wilberforce University’s president (See Fig. 3).

Fig. 3  Rev. Joshua H. Jones (JPG)
Fig. 3 Rev. Joshua H. Jones, Wilberforce University Annual Catalogue 1899-1900 (Greene County Archives)

While serving as president for eight years, Jones made it a priority to procure long-term financial security for the University. To increase Wilberforce’s reserves, he purchased several tracts of land using university dining hall funds, in order to make the university more self-sufficient. Using his own money, he also purchased a large amount of land for $10,000. Jones paid himself six percent interest for this investment of which the trustees disapproved. Jones was however, well liked with many of Wilberforce's students.

In 1912, Jones was elected as a Bishop for the A.M.E. Church, and by this time he had become quite a wealthy man. He was known for being very generous, especially with churches that were in financial need. During the 1920s, he again helped Wilberforce University alleviate their financial debt by raising $40,000. By the late 1920s, Jones was assigned to the very financially strapped First Episcopal District which he helped raise funds for some of the churches in the district. In 1934, at the age of seventy-eight, Bishop Joshua Henry Jones died of a diabetic comma. Along with many other notable African Americans of Greene County, Bishop Jones is buried at Massies Creek Cemetery in Cedarville. In next week’s blog post, we will examine Jones’ personal estate records.

Fig. 4 Cemetery Marker (JPG)
Bishop Joshua Henry Jones' Gravemarker (image courtesy of Warrick L. Barrett via FindAGrave)

Until Next Time!

Greene County Archives
Jones Tabernacle Methodist Episcopal Church

Aug 16

Determining Relationships in the Dark Ages: Genealogy Before the Internet by Amy (Brickey) Czubak

Posted on August 16, 2019 at 11:20 AM by Melissa Dalton

Before the internet, tracing genealogy was difficult past a certain point. With the passing of older generations came the realization of knowledge lost – what was the name of that fourth great-grandfather your grandmother mentioned once? No one knows now that Nana is gone. Not only was it difficult to determine relatives from the past, but it was also hard to keep track of who married who, and what children were born to whom once everyone had moved away and lost contact. Knowing descendants is just as important as knowing ancestors, especially when it comes to determining an inheritance.

An estate record from 1931 was having just that problem – they needed to do some genealogy to determine and confirm descendants for Matilda McCollum who had died after her husband. On October 2, 1931, the Greene County Probate Court received a letter from The Supreme Court of Kansas in Topeka regarding the heirs of Matilda McCollum (Fig. 1). The letter states that the persons listed are all first cousins or second cousins of “Tillie” McCollum and therefore should be considered heirs.

Fig 1. Letter from The Kansas Supreme Court in Topeka (PNG)
Fig. 1: Letter from The Kansas Supreme Court in Topeka (Greene County Archives)

Creating a crude family tree, the Greene County Probate Court was able to determine that the Henry family was, indeed, heirs of Matilda McCollum, and so too were some Carsons (Fig. 2).

Fig 2. Crude family tree for Matilda McCollum (PNG)
Fig. 2: Crude family tree for Matilda McCollum (Greene County Archives)

After heirship was determined, the court was finally able to distribute Matilda McCollum’s estate. As was customary, an ad was placed in the Xenia Daily Gazette listing the heirs, their addresses, and other details of the estate in 1933, once heirship was proven (Fig. 3).

Fig 3. Advertisement from the Xenia Gazette (PNG)
Fig. 3: Advertisement from the Xenia Gazette (Greene County Archives)

Individuals were not the only ones who had to go out of their way to do a little ancestry before the internet made finding ancestors and long-lost cousins faster and easier. Courts, too, had to go the extra mile to prove relationships in estate cases, bastardy cases, and even some criminal cases.

Until Next Time!

Greene County Archives Probate Record for Matilda McCollum

Aug 07

The Golden Harp Player of Greene County

Posted on August 7, 2019 at 8:46 AM by Elise Kelly

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, residents living in Greene and Montgomery Counties had the wonderful opportunity to hear Rocco Satalia play his large, golden harp (See Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 Rocco Satalia business card (JPG)
Fig. 1 Rocco Satalia, Probate Box 734, Case #561, Guardianship of Incompetent (Greene County Archives)

Satalia played at balls, private parties, picnics, and weddings. For hours, he would play Italian operas and Viennese waltzes, usually in front of someone’s staircase or a bay window. Satalia even furnished “high class” music for the Xenia Meat Market Co. and the Conkle Cloak House in Dayton (See Figs. 2 & 3).

Fig. 2 Xenia Daily Gazette, Dec. 18, 1925 (JPG)
Fig. 2 Xenia Daily Gazette, December 18, 1925 (

Fig. 3 The Dayton Herald, Oct. 11, 1898 (JPG)
Fig. 3 The Dayton Herald, October 11, 1898 (

In July 1884, he composed and published an original piece titled Italian Polka (See Fig. 4 & Fig. 5).

Fig. 4 Italian Polka composed by Rocco Satalia (JPG)
Fig. 4 Italian Polka, composed and published by Rocco Satalia (Image via Library of Congress –

Fig. 5 Italian Polka composed by Rocco Satalia page 2 (JPG)
Fig. 5 Italian Polka, composed and published by Rocco Satalia, page 2 (Image via Library of Congress –

Born in 1854 in the Province of Naples (southern Italy), Rocco Satalia came to the United States in 1863. For more than thirty years, Satalia waited to be naturalized as a U.S. citizen. Ultimately in October 1900, Satalia renounced his allegiance to the Emperor of Germany and the King of Italy and became a citizen of the United States (See Fig. 6).

Fig. 6  U.S. Citizen Declaration (JPG)
Fig. 6 Rocco Satalia’s Naturalization Record (

It is interesting that this document notes that Satalia had to renounce his allegiance to the Emperor of Germany. The reason for this is because Italy joined the Triple Alliance in 1882, which was an agreement between Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. Each member of the alliance guaranteed support and assistance if any of them were attacked by an outside power.

Rocco Satalia moved often and resided in several towns including Dayton, Lebanon, Xenia, and Jamestown. According to the 1930 Xenia City census record, Satalia who was eighty-seven, was still transporting his harp around to play at local soirees. By 1932, he had purchased a tract of land on North Church Street in Jamestown for thirty-five dollars (See Fig. 7).

Fig. 7 Deed Vol. 159 Pg. 389 underlined (JPG)
Fig. 7 Deed - Volume 159, Page 389 (Greene County Archives)

While living in Jamestown, Satalia became critically ill. At the age of ninety-six in 1938, he was admitted to the Greene County Infirmary (See Fig. 8).

Fig. 8 Rocco Satalia Infirmary page 1 with red circle (JPG)
Fig. 8 Greene County Infirmary Register of Admissions/Discharges 1907-1951, page 216 (Greene County Archives)

Sadly the next year, Rocco Satalia passed away in the infirmary. He was buried at St. Brigid Cemetery in Xenia. Unfortunately, he has no grave marker. For many years following Rocco Satalia’s death, his harp playing was cherished and often remembered by many. The love ballad “Silver threads among the Gold” was a favorite.

Until Next Time!

Greene County Archives
Library of Congress –