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 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

Feb 07

Epilepsy and Lunacy: Medical Diagnoses of the 1800s

Posted on February 7, 2020 at 11:22 AM by Melissa Dalton

In April 2019, with much hard work from archivists and records managers around Ohio (including our very own Robin Heise), House Bill 139 was passed, which eliminated the exemption for any permanently retained record 75 years after its creation. There were some exceptions, but one of the most important records that became open is lunacy records.

Lunacy records are intriguing, yet disheartening. People would be declared “lunatics” for issues or reasons that, in many cases, would not be cause for such a determination today. Menopause, menstrual derangement, grief, fright, domestic trouble, religious excitement, poverty, nostalgia, jealousy, typhoid fever, dementia, old age… we even ran across a list of reasons to be declared a lunatic at the Toledo State Hospital, with one determination for “reads too much” (Fig 1). However, one that we run across frequently is lunacy due to epilepsy.

Fig 1. 1874 Annual Report from Longview State Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio (JPG)
Fig 1. 1874 Annual Report from Longview State Hospital in Cincinnati, OH (Ohio History Connection)

Historically, epilepsy has been wrought with stigma and misconceptions. In some societies, the disease was synonymous with evil, with the popular belief that someone suffering from seizures was possessed by demons. Another false belief was that only “feebleminded” or “weak-minded” people had seizures. Due to these beliefs, those suffering from epilepsy were treated poorly in society, and often times, sent to asylums or forced into poorhouses. However, the work and research of Dr. Hughlings Jackson helped redefine the disease and how it was treated. After his research, the medical boards and legislatures began evaluating the best treatment of epileptic patients.

In 1893, Governor William McKinley (whose wife, Ida, suffered from seizures) declared the opening of a facility for the specific care and treatment of epileptics, naming it the Ohio Hospital for Epileptics, located in Gallipolis, Ohio (Fig 2). This was the first state institution of its kind in the United States. In 1890, the Ohio government established the Ohio Hospital for Epileptics in Gallipolis, Ohio. When the facility opened, it could accommodate 250 patients (Fig 3). The patients were provided medical care, food and clothing, and an education.

Fig 2. Ohio State Hospital for Epileptics, 183 (JPG)
Fig 2. Ohio State Hospital for Epileptics, 1893 (Ohio History Connection)

Fig 3. Article from the Cincinnati Enquirer, dated February 14, 1894, regarding first man from Hamil
Fig 3. Article from The Cincinnati Enquirer, dated February 14, 1894, regarding first man from Hamilton County to be admitted to institution (

We have several records for Greene County residents diagnosed with epilepsy that were institutionalized or sent to live in the County Infimary. However, this case is different as the man, Mahlon Ogle, was sent to the Ohio Hospital for Epileptics (Fig 4). The Medical Certificate for Mr. Ogle, who was 37 years old, indicates that his “attacks” started just a year prior, and he would act incoherently; however the cause was unknown. Mr. Ogle was admitted to the hospital in June 1930. Upon his arrival, medical tests were conducted, and Ogle tested positive for syphilis. Due to the timing of the onset of epilepsy, it is likely that the syphilis had progressed significantly, causing the seizures and dementia. On August 11, 1930, just two months after his admission to the hospital, Mr. Ogle died. His death certificate lists syphilis, epilepsy, and tuberculosis as the causes of death (Fig 5).

Fig 4. Medical Certificate, Inquest for Epilepsy for Mahlon Ogle, dated June 11, 1930 (JPG)Fig 4. Medical Certificate, Inquest for Epilepsy for Mahlon Ogle, dated June 11, 1930 (JPG)
Fig 4. Medical Certificate, Inquest of Epilepsy for Mahlon Ogle, June 11, 1930 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 5. Death Certificate of Mahlon Ogle (JPG)
Fig 5. Death Certificate of Mahlon Ogle (

The Ohio Hospital for Epileptics expanded greatly over the years, adding cottages for women, and increasing capacity to roughly 1000 patients. The goal or intention of the facility was altruistic in nature, although that could not be said of other institutions for the same purpose that opened throughout the country. The Hospital operated for 83 years, closing its doors in 1976. All that remains are two water towers, which are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Until Next Time…

Greene County Archives, Probate Records
Kissiov, D., Dewall, T., & Hermann, B. (2013). The Ohio Hospital for Epileptics: The first “epilepsy colony” in America. Epilepsia, 54(9), 1524-1534. doi: 10.1111/epi.12335.
Ohio History Connection: