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.

Nov 08

Betrayal and Murder: The Turbulent Life of Senator Arthur Brown

Posted on November 8, 2019 at 8:41 AM by Elise Kelly

In last week’s blog post, we reported on the events of our Halloween program, Spooky Tales from the Greene County Archives. The post featured Harold Igo’s ghostly story “The Senator Walks at Midnight.” Today and next week, we would like to present and distinguish between the facts and fictions of this mysterious account of Senator Brown.

According to Igo, at the young age of nineteen, Arthur Brown graduated from Antioch College in 1862. Being an ambitious man, Brown announced to his classmates at graduation that one day he would be a United States Senator (See Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 Arthur Brown (JPG)

Fig. 1 Portrait of Senator Arthur Brown circa 1895 (Image courtesy of United States Senate Historical Office via Wikimedia Commons)

Almost thirty years later, Brown returned to Yellow Springs accompanied with his supposed wife, Mrs. Kathryn Brown, originally from Utah. Claiming to be an heir of the Mercers, Arthur Brown was in town to settle the Mercer estate, which included a beautiful stone house. Arthur Brown promised his wife that this house located in Byron would soon be their home (See Fig. 2).

Fig. 2 Wolf House (JPG)
Fig. 2 1594 Dayton Yellow Springs Rd. (Greene County GIS)

Upon settling their business in Ohio, the couple left for the nation’s capital. However, shortly after their arrival, Mrs. Brown shot her husband in his hotel room (See Fig. 3).

Fig. 3 Xenia Daily Gazette, Dec. 13, 1906 (JPG)
Fig. 3 Xenia Daily Gazette, December 13, 1906 (

Surprisingly, Kathryn Brown was not actually married to Arthur Brown and her real name was Anne Bradley (See Fig. 4). Bradley had found out that Arthur Brown was currently married and had a family living in Utah. She also realized that she would never be living in the grand house along Dayton Yellow Springs Road. Enraged, Bradley fired a pistol at Arthur Brown severely injuring him. The bullet wound eventually killed Arthur Brown.

Fig. 4 Anne Bradley (JPG)
Fig. 4 Anne Bradley (Image courtesy of HWA via

Astonishingly, Anne Bradley was acquitted on all charges and returned to Utah. Igo reports that about a decade later, a farmer returning home one night, spotted a man and woman walking along Dayton Yellow Springs Road. He gave them a ride to the stone house because they had mentioned they were interested in looking at it and possibly purchasing the property. When the driver arrived he turned to the couple and to his surprise, they disappeared. The driver described what the couple looked like to some folks and they had claimed that it must have been “Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Brown.”

In order to determine what really happened, we looked at maps, census, deed, will and estate records and newspaper articles.

Found in deed and estate records, as well as an 1896 Greene County map, the house had been owned by the Wolf family since it was built in the early 1800s. It was not until recently that the house was sold to someone outside the Wolf family. In addition, census records do not indicate that any Mercers lived in the Byron area at the time (See Figs. 5 & 6).

Fig. 5 Map of Byron colored (JPG)

Fig. 5 Map of Byron in Bath Township, 1896 Greene County Atlas (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 6 Deed Record (JPG)
Fig. 6 Deed Record of Wolf Property in Byron (Greene County Archives)

We also know that Arthur Brown did attend Antioch College and later obtained a law degree from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. In 1872, he married a Ms. Lydia Coon and they had a daughter named Alice. However, only a few years later, Arthur Brown (who was still married), met and fell in love with a Ms. Isabel Cameron. Newspaper articles indicate that his wife, Lydia found out about the affair and tried to shoot her husband, Arthur. Lydia missed and Arthur filed for divorce.

Arthur Brown then moved with Isabel to Utah and the couple were married in 1879. In 1882, their son, Max was born. In 1896, Arthur Brown and Frank J. Cannon were elected as Utah’s first U.S. senators. Unfortunately, Arthur had a roving eye and began an affair with Anne Bradley during his political career. In 1902, Arthur’s wife Isabel, who was back home in Utah, read in local newspaper articles that her husband Arthur had brought Anne Bradley to Yellow Springs. She learned that he had introduced Anne Bradley as his wife. Again, Arthur wanted to file for divorce but Isabel had Arthur and Anne arrested for adultery.

Following Arthur and Anne’s arrest, what occurs next is straight out of a soap opera. Next week, we will learn about how Arthur met his lover and killer, Anne Bradley.

Until Next Week!

Greene County Archives
Wikimedia Commons

Nov 01

Spooky Tales from the Greene County Archives!

Posted on November 1, 2019 at 12:21 PM by Melissa Dalton

Yesterday was Halloween and we held our inaugural Spooky Tales from the Greene County Archives program! We had a wonderful turnout (Fig 1), and would like to thank everyone that braved the dreary, albeit fitting, weather. For those unable to attend, here’s a bit about the program, and what you can expect for future events…Yes, you read that right! We plan to make this an annual Halloween program!

Fig 1. Melissa telling the Hamlet's Ghost in Osborn story (JPG)
Fig 1. Melissa telling the Hamlet’s Ghost in Osborn story

Spooky Tales follows Harold Igo’s ghost stories, which were published in the Yellow Springs News in the 1940s. Igo interviewed residents to learn the various legends and stories that spread throughout the Greene County region. The Yellow Springs Historical Society compiled the stories and published them in 2001.

For this event, we examined four stories: No. 6, House of the Fiery Ferns; No. 13, Hamlet’s Ghost in Osborn; No. 15, The Ghosts of Frogtown; and No. 20, The Senator Walks at Midnight. We read Igo’s story, and then dug into the details (Fig 2). We used census, cemetery, deed, court, will, and estate records to learn what really happened. In many instances, the “real” story is even more intriguing than Igo’s!

Fig 2. Robin relaying The Ghosts of Frogtown Story (JPG)
Fig 2. Robin relaying The Ghosts of Frogtown story

The first, House of the Fiery Ferns, is about the murder of a Yellow Springs resident, Denman Duncan (Fig 3). We published a blog about this story in October 2018, so if you are unfamiliar with the story, check it out to learn all the details!

Fig 3. Elise telling the House of the Fiery Ferns story (JPG)
Fig 3. Elise telling the House of the Fiery Ferns story

The second, Hamlet’s Ghost in Osborn, is about the murder of Billy Fletcher and the subsequent acquittal of the killer (who happened to be his step-son). This is another story in which we published a blog, and this story has many parts, so you definitely need to read about it.
As for the remaining two stories, we have not published any blogs. However, you can read both of Igo’s stories below (Figs 4 & 5), and we’ll work to get our findings published in some upcoming blogs!

Fig 4. No. 15 The Ghosts of Frogtown by Harold Igo (JPG)
Fig 4. No. 15 The Ghosts of Frogtown by Harold Igo (JPG)
Fig 4. No. 15 The Ghosts of Frogtown by Harold Igo

Fig 5. No. 20 The Senator Walks at Midnight by Harold Igo (JPG)
Fig 5. No. 20 The Senator Walks at Midnight by Harold Igo (JPG)
Fig 5. No. 20 The Senator Walks at Midnight by Harold Igo

As part of this program, we displayed records and newspaper articles for each story to allow the attendees to see what we used to separate the fact from fiction (Fig 6). And, of course, you cannot have a Halloween program without some Halloween treats (Don’t worry, our Archives friends! We made sure the treats were in a separate location from the records).

Fig 6. Attendees reviewing the records used in our fact-finding mission for each story (JPG)
Fig 6. Attendees reviewing the records used in our fact-finding mission for each story

As stated above, we do plan to make this an annual event, so if you have heard any interesting or juicy spooky tales of Greene County, we’d love to hear them! Maybe they will be featured in the future.

Until Next Time!

Oct 25

Gesundheit! Cold/Flu Season and the Greene County Infirmary

Posted on October 25, 2019 at 2:59 PM by Melissa Dalton

Cold and flu season is upon us, and throughout our records, especially probate records, we find various advertisements for “cures.” Additionally, we recently received some items from the old Infirmary. As such, we thought it might be interesting to combine these for a new exhibit, “Gesundheit! Cold/Flu Season and the Greene County Infirmary”.

This new exhibit looks to some of the bizarre and antiquated remedies of the 1800s. We found this ad for Dr. Bull’s Cough Syrup (Fig 1). The ad doesn’t come out and say it cures consumption (aka, tuberculosis), but it sure implies it! Or how about this one? Hagee’s Cordial of Cod Liver Oil – “The greatest remedy for all affections of throat and lungs ever discovered by medical science” (Fig 2).

Fig 1. Dr. Bull's Cough Syrup (JPG)
Fig 1. Dr. Bull’s Cough Syrup ad (Greene County Archives)

Fig 2. Hagee's Cordial of Cod Liver Oil (JPG)
Fig 2. Hagee’s Cordial of Cod Liver Oil (Greene County Archives)

Washington Galloway also contributed some of his own remedies for ailments associated with cold and flu. He offers a cure for asthma in his recipe book (which can flare up this time of year) (Fig 3). After we read the ingredients and instructions, none of us were too interested in trying it.

Fig 3. Washington Galloway Field Book 33 p 20 (JPG)
Fig 3. Washington Galloway Fieldbook 33, page 20 (Greene County Archives)

We’re not sure how successful any of these remedies were, but there were times that people needed more advanced intervention. Although many may not realize it, the Greene County Infirmary provided such services for residents. So, how about a little bit of history of the Infirmary?

The Greene County “Poorhouse” was established in 1829 on land on Dayton-Xenia Road, after the Ohio General Assembly passed a law requiring counties to provide assistance for the poverty-stricken residents of their county. In 1850, the General Assembly required all poorhouses to be reconstituted as infirmaries. These infirmaries weren’t just for the destitute or homeless, but also served as a hospital and a place for the sick and mentally ill.

As the county’s population increased, so did the need for additional space. In 1840, a new building was constructed, which was two stories and measured 40 x 100 feet. An addition was built, a spring house, in 1859 and they constructed a separate building in 1861 as a “house for the insane.”

Even with the additions, it was evident by 1867 that a larger structure was necessary. The Board of Commissioners approved the construction of a facility, which was three stories and increased the footprint to 150 x 50 feet, and had 150 beds available (Fig 4).

Fig 3. Plans for the 1869 Greene County Infirmary (JPG)

Fig 3. Plans for the 1869 Greene County Infirmary (JPG)
Fig 3. Plans for the 1869 Greene County Infirmary (JPG)
Fig 4. Plans for the 1869 Greene County Infirmary building (Greene County Archives)

The new Greene County Infirmary was opened in 1869, and was a fully-functioning farm and was almost a self-sustaining facility. They had gardens and livestock, and the majority of the residents worked various jobs/completed daily tasks in order to keep the facility running.

The Infirmary was open for over a century. However, as state laws changed, and the facility aged, the problems seemed almost insurmountable. The residents were not allowed to provide manual labor in return for their lodging and food, and the building was falling into disrepair. It finally reached a point where the County knew they could not sustain the facility.

In 1975, a levy was approved by voters, and a new building was constructed. Greenewood Manor opened in 1977, and the remaining residents from the Infirmary were moved to the new nursing home (Fig 5). The Board of Commissioners determined the Infirmary was beyond repair, and several floors were condemned. By the mid-1980s, the County decided to have the building razed (Fig 6). Today all that remains is the barn.

Fig 5. Aerial of the Greene County Infirmary and Greenewood Manor, 1979 (JPG)
Fig 5. Aerial of the Greene County Infirmary and Greenewood Manor (Greene County Archives)

Fig 6. Greene County Infirmary being razed (JPG)
Fig 6. Greene County Infirmary being razed (Greene County Archives)

If you are interested in seeing the exhibit, stop by the Archives! It will be up through the end of the year.

Until Next Time!

Greenewood Manor Collection
Parks & Trails Photographic Collection
Greene County Archives