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.

May 29

Greene County Public Health during WWII

Posted on May 29, 2020 at 1:56 PM by Elise Kelly

During these unprecedented times, Greene County Public Health (GCPH) has done an exceptional job of informing and preventing the spread of the Covid-19 virus (See Fig. 1). In addition to this commendable work, they have also been highlighting some of their history as they commemorate their 100th anniversary this year.

Fig. 1 Covid Image (JPG)
Fig. 1 Greene County Public Health Update for May 24, 2020 reported by ODH (Greene County Public Health)

The Greene County Archives houses and preserves many of GCPH’s historical material. We have scanned and shared a large amount of this material with them. We have also written two blog posts that showcase the issues and the actions taken by GCPH during the 1920s and 1930s. Today's post will illustrate what challenges GCPH encountered during World War II.

After the United States entered the war, the population in defense areas significantly increased. There was an enormous surge in employment at the Army Air Field, Wright Field (later named Wright-Patterson Air Force Base) (See Fig. 2). Consequently, the rapid increase of population in Greene County and the City of Xenia generated numerous difficulties for GCPH.

Fig. 2 Wright Field (JPG)
Fig. 2 Wright Field in 1941 (courtesy of www.nationalmuseum.af.mil)

Certain problems included: "private and public water supplies, proper garbage disposal, an increase in the number of pregnancy cases with delivery service required, and the ever present danger of epidemics" (See Fig. 3).

Fig. 3 Annual Report of Greene County-Xenia City Health Districts 1942, Pg. (JPG)
Fig. 3 Annual Report of Greene County – Xenia City Health Districts, 1942 (Greene County Archives)

In order to tackle the emergency, GCPH added several positions including a sanitarian and a part-time pediatrician. Furthermore, a “special immunization and vaccination campaign was requested by the State Department of Health and the United States Government. Diphtheria toxoid was supplied by the State Department of Health.” The U.S. Government, the State Department of Health, and the Greene County Health Department were concerned about an upsurge in infectious diseases because of the confluence of populations in defense areas.

Sanitation was a primary concern for GCPH. In 1943, a plumbing code was instituted for the County, a policy of sanitation improvement was established in Yellow Springs, and a salary increase for Greene County’s Sanitarian, William Marshall was approved (See Fig. 4).

Fig. 4 Board of Health Minutes, 1943, Pg. 36 (JPG)
Fig. 4 Greene County Board of Health Minutes, 1943, Page 36 (Greene County Archives)

In 1944, the County Public Health Department sought additional funds in order to combat the escalation of tuberculosis cases (See Fig. 5). Also, in 1944, the County’s Board of Health accepted Haines Hospital’s maternity license (See Fig 6). Formerly located in Jamestown, Haines Hospital was the only hospital in Greene County that accepted the delivery of children of military families under the Emergency Federal Program. During the war, some of the children of Greene County were welcomed into the world at Haines Hospital.

Fig. 5 Board of Health Minutes, 1944, 40 (JPG)
Fig. 5 Greene County Board of Health Minutes, 1944, Page 40 (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 6 Board of Health Minutes, 1944, Pg. 42 (JPG)
Fig. 6 Greene County Board of Health Minutes, 1944, Page 42 (Greene County Archives)

GCPH met the demands and challenges head on during World War II. They have been doing the same during the current pandemic.

Until Next Time!

Sources:
Greene County Archives
https://www.facebook.com/GreeneCoPH/
www.nationalmuseum.af.mil

May 22

The Importance of Documentation

Posted on May 22, 2020 at 1:02 PM by Melissa Dalton

Are you able to watch TV, listen to the radio, or scroll through social media without hearing or reading something about the current pandemic? I can almost guarantee that answer is a resounding “no”. We are inundated with information and updates about COVID-19 on a daily, if not hourly, basis. It’s even been ever-present within the County offices - the Greene County Commissioners are holding their meetings virtually, all County offices are closed to the public, and almost every social media account for the County has some mention of COVID-19 and information about how the department is conducting business (Fig 1).

Fig 1. COVID-19 Notice to Visitors (JPG)
Fig 1. COVID-19 Notice to Visitors (Greene County Archives)

From the beginning of this pandemic, state and federal officials have drawn parallels to the flu pandemic of 1918, which we plan to discuss in more detail in future blog posts. However, there is one glaring difference - Documentation.

When the current pandemic hit our region, Robin began looking through the newspapers from 1918-1919 to see how the flu pandemic was reported and documented. She was surprised to learn that most reporting was buried in the newspaper, and she had to scour each page to find such articles (see our Facebook page to read/see the articles).

We assumed the County records would provide a clearer understanding to how the flu pandemic affected our region. We searched the Commissioners Journals, Infirmary Commissioners Record, and Children’s Home Minutes (the Health Department records, unfortunately, do not start until 1920) - there was not a single mention of the flu. Not one. We do have some hints, though, such as the purchase of a “disinfecting machine” and an increase in population at the Infirmary and Children’s Home, but no mention of the actual pandemic (Fig 2).

Fig 2. Infirmary Commissioners Record Vol 1 p 175 (JPG)
Fig 2. Infirmary Commissioners Record Vol 1 p 179 (JPG)
Fig 2. Infirmary Commissioners Record Vol 1, pgs 175 & 179 (Greene County Archives)

So, why is that? Although we cannot say for sure, we have to keep in mind that there was an actual, physical war raging in Europe. The United States entered World War I in early 1917, so the focus was not on what was happening at home. Robin found that in every newspaper she reviewed, the war was front and center. However, it is interesting to note that the first cases of the flu were identified in military personnel in the spring of 1918. There still is speculation as to the origin of the flu, but the fact remains that the war did not help the spread.

One may ask, why does it matter? Why do we care how the flu pandemic of 1918 affected our region? There is one main reason: Understanding our past informs our future, and documentation is so vitally important to unlocking information about our past. As we think about the current pandemic, everyone has been affected in some way. Everyone has a story to tell about their experience. And, as we slowly move toward “normalcy” (what is actually normal anymore?), I encourage you to think about how your life has changed. Document it in some way – write in a diary or journal, create a blog, or post to social media (join our COVID-19 Facebook group). I can guarantee you that future generations will look back on this time and try to piece together how their ancestors dealt with such a monumental time in history, and your documentation will provide invaluable information.

Until Next Time!

Sources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov)
Greene County Archives

Mar 13

A New Car for the Sheriff

Posted on March 13, 2020 at 9:16 AM by Melissa Dalton

Do you remember your first car? Some people have fond, or not so fond, memories of their first vehicle. Perhaps it had a stick shift that you had to learn or the car did/did not have any air conditioning. In 1931, the Greene County Sheriff was looking to purchase a new patrol car (See Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 Commissioners Journal Vol. 29 Pg. 361 (JPG)
Fig. 1 Greene County Commissioners Journal, Volume 29, Pg. 361 (Greene County Archives)

In 1899, the first police car was introduced in Akron, Ohio. It was a wagon that was equipped with an electric motor. By the 1920s, a few city police departments were experimenting with installing radios in the back of a Ford Model T. By having a patrol car, the Greene County Sheriff or Deputy could cover an area that would have previously needed several officers or was an area not patrolled as often.

The Greene County Commissioners were keen on trading in the Sheriff’s 1928 Studebaker for something new. The models that were evaluated included Chevrolet, Ford, Pontiac, Studebaker, Oakland, Essex, Hudson, Willys, Plymouth, Oldsmobile, and Chrysler Sedans (See Figs. 2, 3, 4, and 5). Check out the local companies that were selling these automobiles.

Fig. 2 Commissioners Journal Vol. 29 Pg. 362 (JPG)
Fig. 2 Greene County Commissioners Journal, Volume 29, Pg. 362 (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 3 Commissioners Journal Vol. 39 Pg. 363 (JPG)
Fig. 3 Greene County Commissioners Journal, Volume 29, Pg. 363 (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 4 Ford Sedan 1931 (JPG)
Fig. 4 1931 Ford Model A Standard Fordor Sedan (courtesy of Lglswe via Wikimedia Commons)

Fig. 5 Willys_Six_97_4-Door_Sedan_1931 (JPG)
Fig. 5 1931 Willys Six 97 4-Door Sedan (courtesy of Lars-Goran Lindgren Sweden via Wikimedia Commons)

Prior to and during World War I, Willys-Overland Motors was the second largest automobile producer in the United States. However, by the economic depression, several Willys' brands began to be discontinued. During World War II, Willys-Overland Motors designed and produced military Jeeps.

Did you notice that the last car listed, a new Chrysler “6” 4-Door Sedan, included a siren, a shatterproof windshield, a heater, and a Loraine driving lamp at no extra cost? The County Commissioners decided to purchase the Chrysler at a price of $670, which would be an equivalent today as $11,426 (See Fig. 6).

Fig. 6 Chrysler_6-62_4-Door_Sedan_1931 (JPG)

Fig. 6 1931 Chrysler 6 4-Door Sedan (Courtesy of Lars-Goran Lindgren Sweden via Wikimedia Commons)

During the 1930s, this new Chrysler Sedan purchased from Ankeney Motor Sales, certainly helped the County Sheriff complete his duties.

Until Next Time!

Sources:
Greene County Archives
Wikimedia Commons