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.

Feb 27

Finding Freedom in Greene County

Posted on February 27, 2020 at 8:19 AM by Elise Kelly

To commemorate Black History Month, the Greene County Archives hosted a program entitled, “Finding Freedom in Greene County” (See Fig. 1). Members from the community had the opportunity to learn about the interesting lives of a slave family who were emancipated and brought to Greene County (See Fig. 2).

Fig. 1 Finding Freedom (JPG)
Fig. 1 Part of the Archives’ “Finding Freedom in Greene County” Presentation (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 2 Crowd (JPG)
Fig. 2 Photo taken during the program (Greene County Archives)

In order to tell this unique story, we wove together many primary resources. A census record and a slave schedule were examined as well as a deed, survey map, will record, and death register. The slave schedule was a method to account for the number of slaves a slave owner had during the time of the census. In 1860, Philip Piper was a slave owner in Catahoula Parish (See Fig. 3). Piper owned sixteen slaves, the youngest was two months old and the oldest was fifty-two years old. Notice that in the slave schedule, the names of the slaves are not notated.

Fig. 3 Slave Schedule (JPG)
Fig. 3 1860 Slave Schedule, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana (

These unnamed individuals were Philip Piper’s “property.” We do know that one of Philip’s slaves was named Nellie. She bore several children who were fathered by Philip. In 1859, Philip emancipated Nellie and her children. Their freedom papers are found in one of the Greene County Deed Record books (See Fig. 4). According to their freedom papers, the family is settling in Greene County and are paying $1,000 for their freedom.

Fig. 4 Deed Record (JPG)
Fig. 4 Nellie and her children’s freedom papers recorded in Greene County Deed Book (Greene County Archives)

Even though Ohio’s Constitution made slavery illegal that did not mean slaves or freed black people were treated as equals. In 1804, Ohio passed a series of laws called “The Black Laws” (See Fig. 5). These required that all blacks and mulattoes (using historical context) had to furnish certificates of freedom from a court in the United States before one could settle in Ohio.

All black residents had to register and provide the names of their children. In addition, they had to pay a fee per person. In 1807, the laws were made even stricter. Now they had to find at least two people who would guarantee a surety of $500 for the person’s good behavior. Blacks were also limited on their ability to marry whites and own guns.

Fig. 5 Black Laws (JPG)
Fig. 5 The Spirit of Democracy (Woodsfield, Ohio), August 29, 1846 (

Nellie and her children settled in Greene County, near Wilberforce. This was an area that had a strong abolitionist community with cheap, fertile, farmland. Freed blacks were welcomed by these communities and many of the freed slaves were able to purchase their own land. Their children could also attend Wilberforce University, which was established as an institution for freed blacks (See Fig. 6).

Fig. 6 1874 Greene County Map (JPG)
Fig. 6 1874 Greene County Atlas, Xenia Township (Greene County Archives)

What is most surprising about this story is that Philip Piper abandoned his life as a slave owner in Louisiana and settled with Nellie and their children in Greene County. Since it was illegal for a biracial couple to marry in Ohio, Philip and Nellie had to travel to Pennsylvania to get married. For eighteen years, Philip and Nellie lived as husband and wife in Greene County.

In 1879, Philip died. Philip Piper is listed in the Greene County Death Register book (See Fig. 7). Notice that Philip is listed as “colored.” How ironic, Philip Piper was a white, former slave owner, whose children were previously his slaves. Philip Piper's children inherited their father’s entire estate. Nellie lived a long life in Greene County and is buried with Philip at Massies Creek Cemetery in Cedarville, Ohio (See Fig. 8).

Fig. 7 Death Record (JPG)
Fig. 7 Greene County Register of Deaths, Pg. 116 (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 8 Images of Gravemarkers (JPG)
Fig. 8 Philip and Nellie Piper’s grave markers in Massies Creek Cemetery (Greene County Archives)

On behalf of the Greene County Archives, we would like to thank all who came to hear this incredible story.

Until Next Time!

Greene County Archives

Feb 21

FamilySearch Imaging Project Complete!

Posted on February 21, 2020 at 9:38 AM by Melissa Dalton

Roughly three years ago, FamilySearch approached our office about imaging some of our records. We viewed this partnership as an opportunity to have some of our most widely used records imaged/digitized, providing us with digital copies and making them more readily available to the public through the FamilySearch website.

If you are not familiar with FamilySearch, it is a nonprofit organization that focuses on making family history and genealogical records available to its members through digitization efforts carried out by contract employees. They are a subsidiary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and offer these resources through a free membership to their website (, and various Family History Centers throughout the world.

During the imaging process, FamilySearch provided a contractor, David, who worked tirelessly to get the records imaged. He spent three years with us, and finished the last box last week, terminating his time with us. Over the last few years, David had become part of our small Archives office, participating in our special events and celebrations. Needless to say, it has been strange not having him around, but we wish him all the best in his next adventure.

David from Family Search imaging records (JPG)
David imaging records for Family Search (Greene County Archives)

Although it can take a bit of time to learn the ins and outs of using the FamilySearch website, they provide tutorials and a help center to assist members in navigating the site. If you are interested in viewing any of our records, you can find them on their website, and we’ve provided a list of imaged records below. They may not have them all indexed yet, but with the proper navigation and search terms, you should be able to find most of them!

Imaged by FamilySearch:
• Enumeration of white, unmarried youth, 1831-1833
• Sale of School Land, 1836-1872
• Auditor’s Duplicates, 1800-1900
• Abstract of Real & Personal Property, 1825
• Personal Property Tax Lists, 1830, 1841
• Real Estate Tax Lists, 1806-1820 and 1807
• Virginia Military District/Congress Lands Tax Lists, 1821-1824
• Virginia Military Survey Record, 1792-1847
• Civil War Pension Claims Applications, 1889-1892
• Minutes of Soldiers Relief Commission/Soldiers Relief Records, 1886-1982
• Naturalizations, 1898-1951
• Naturalizations Index, 1845-1861
• Common Pleas Court Chancery Record, 1821-1854
• Common Pleas Court Civil Minutes, 1804-1813
• Common Pleas Court Index to Final Record, 1882-1887
• District Court Minute Book, 1852-1885
• Superior Court Appearance Docket, 1871-1876
• Superior Court Final Record, 1871-1875
• Superior Court General Index D/R, 1871-1875
• Superior Court Minutes, 1871-1875
• Supreme Court Chancery Record, 1824-1851
• Supreme Court/District Court General Index D/R, 1803-1873
• Supreme Court/District Court Record, 1803-1860
• Supreme Court Minutes, 1810-1818
• District Court Appearance Docket, 1852-1885
• District Court Record, 1861-1873, 1882-1884
• Supreme Court Execution Docket, 1871-1878
• Probate Court Estate/Case Files, 1832-1935
• Marriage Records, 1968-2012
• Marriage Certificate Returns, 1930-2006
• Mother’s Pension Case Files, 1914-1936
• Naturalizations Index List, 1861-1906
• Determination of Heirs, 1932-1963
• Probate Court, Miscellaneous Index, 1806-1950

Until Next Time!
Feb 13

Public Health during the Great Depression

Posted on February 13, 2020 at 8:10 AM by Elise Kelly

On October 28, 1929, also known as “Black Friday, “the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted by nearly thirteen percent. The U.S. stock market lost $30 billion in value and the United States experienced the devastating impact of the Great Depression for nearly a decade. This economic downturn significantly affected medical care and treatment. Individuals and families would often forego medical assistance and would suffer at home (See Fig.1). Unfortunately, a substantial increase in deaths from cancer, heart disease, and infections soared during this time period.

Fig. 1 Fight Tuberculosis (JPG)
Fig. 1 The Next to Go: Fight Tuberculosis (

Before 1938 when the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was instituted, vaccines did not have to be tested or licensed. Some cases of polio were actually caused by trials of vaccines. Despite the difficulties during the Great Depression, advances were made in anesthetics and antibiotics. Under President Franklin Roosevelt’s Administration, agencies of the New Deal provided voluntary medical insurance and assistance for the disabled. Furthermore, these agencies sanctioned the enhancement of public health (including sanitation) campaigns (See Fig. 2).

Fig. 2 Public_Health_nursing (GIF)
Fig. 2 Public Health Nursing (

In 1931, the Greene County Board of Health reported that eight schools in the county had sanitary and safe water supplies and six schools had adequate lavatory facilities, including individual or paper towels. Forty-two schools were using outdoor toilets and six schools had adequate ventilation (See Fig. 3). Fortunately, as time progressed, more County schools became equipped with adequate lavatory facilities and safe water supplies. In addition, the Greene County District Board of Health distributed monthly bulletins to all teachers with suggested health and hygiene outlines.
Fig. 3Greene County Board of Health Annual Report 1931 Pg. 15 (JPG)
Fig. 3 Greene County Board of Health Annual Report, Pg. 15, 1931 (Greene County Archives)

During the Depression in 1933, a case of scarlet fever occurred in a dormitory on Antioch College’s campus. The Greene County Health Commissioner advised the Dean of the college to instruct the campus’ doctor to report the case to the Board of Health (See Fig. 4).

Fig. 4 Greene County District Board of Health Minutes Apr. 1933 (JPG)
Fig. 4 Greene County District Board of Health Minutes, April 1933 (Greene County Archives)

One way of spreading scarlet fever was to consume unregulated, raw milk. Outbreaks of diphtheria that infiltrated farm animals aided the spread illnesses like scarlet fever (See Fig. 5).

Fig. 5 Poster Regulation of the Milk Supply (JPG)
Fig. 5 FDA Regulation of the Milk Supply (

According to Greene County’s Board of Health Annual Report of 1934, milk regulation was under the guidance of the Ohio Milk Marketing Commission (See Fig. 6). Most people followed the Commission’s guidelines, but not all. According to this report, the Health Commissioner and Nurse were not instructing food and dairy handlers on personal hygiene.

Fig. 6 Greene County Combined Health Annual Report 1933 - Pg. 18 (JPG)
Fig. 6 Greene County Combined Health Annual Report, Pg. 17, 1934 (Greene County Archives)

Fortunately, children who had contracted scarlet fever, were frequently visited by the Health Commissioner and were quarantined (See Figs. 7 and 8). In October 1935, it was reported that five-hundred school children were immunized for scarlet fever by the County Health Board’s nurse. These immunizations and the annual public health fairs were important methods of controlling the spread of infectious diseases during such troublesome times.

Fig. 7 Greene County Combined Health Annual Report 1934 - Pg. 8 (JPG)
Fig. 7 Greene County Combined Health Annual Report, Pg. 8, 1934 (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 8 Greene County Combined Health Annual Report 1934 - Pg. 9 (JPG)
Fig. 8 Greene County Combined Health Annual Report, Pg. 9, 1934 (Greene County Archives)

Until Next Time!

Greene County Archives – National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health