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.

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Sep 20

Boarding the Children of Greene County

Posted on September 20, 2019 at 9:53 AM by Melissa Dalton

In the early years of our state, the rights of the poor, sick, indigent, and destitute were of little concern. However, the Ohio General Assembly recognized the poor treatment, and the need for county poor houses to care for such individuals, passing laws for the creation of such facilities throughout the state. In 1828, the Greene County Board of Commissioners purchased land for the purpose of building a poor house.

As the population of the county increased, so did the need for better accommodations. A new infirmary was constructed in 1840, with additions added in 1859. In 1869, a new facility was built, and the old building housed the “colored” indigents, and also housed the chapel and school house. However, as the population continually increased, the Commissioners knew something must be done (Fig 1). In 1880, the Board desegregated the adult residents, and moved all children into the old facility, becoming the first true Children’s Home for the County (which became mandated by the state in 1884) (Figs 2 & 3).

Fig 1. Minutes from the Board of County Commissioners regarding need for Children's Home, Vol 10 Fig 1. Minutes from the Board of County Commissioners regarding need for Children's Home, Vol 10
Fig 1. Minutes from the Board of County Commissioners regarding need for Children’s Home, Vol 10, pgs 116-117 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 2. Minutes from the Board of County Commissioners regarding need for Children's Home, Vol 10 Fig 2. Minutes from the Board of County Commissioners regarding need for Children's Home, Vol 10
Fig 2. Minutes from the Board of County Commissioners regarding new Children’s Home, Vol 10, pgs 213-214 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 3. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated November 19, 1884 (JPG)
Fig 3. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated November 19, 1884 (Newspapers.com)

This set up worked well for some time, and according to the newspapers, the facilities were meeting, if not exceeding, the standards set by the State Board of Charities (Fig 4). Unfortunately, this was not the case for long. By 1890, the Charity Committee called the Children’s Home “unworthy of Greene County” and called for a new facility to be planned immediately (Fig 5).

Fig 4. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated April 1, 1885 (JPG)
Fig 4. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated April 1, 1885 (Newspapers.com)

Fig 5. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated January 16, 1890 (JPG)
Fig 5. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated January 16, 1890 (Newspapers.com)

These conditions would continue for many years. The County made adjustments as needed, with various additions and creative use of space; however, everyone knew there was a need for a new Children’s Home. In 1907, the Greene County Board of Visitors claimed that although they thought the home was run well, the facility itself was deplorable, condemning it (Fig 6). It wasn’t until 1910 that the Board of County Commissioners approved the erection of a new Children’s Home. Construction started shortly thereafter, and it took approximately two years to complete, and cost the County roughly $30,000 (equates to about $815,000 today). Prior to completion, the local community already was noticing an improvement to the accommodations (Fig 7).

Fig 6. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated February 27, 1907 (JPG)
Fig 6. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated February 27, 1907 (Newspapers.com)

Fig 7. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated May 17, 1911 (PNG)
Fig 7. Article from the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated May 17, 1911 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

The County Commissioners created a Board of Trustees for the Children’s Home, and appointed four individuals to serve on the board. The Trustees began meeting in December 1911 to organize and hire employees for the facility (Fig 8). At the Commissioners’ Meeting on Friday, February 2, 1912, the Board of Commissioners turned the property over to the Children’s Home Board of Trustees (Figs 9 & 10).

Fig 8. Minutes of the Board of Trustees of the Children's Home, 1911-1926 (JPG)Fig 8. Minutes of the Board of Trustees of the Children's Home, 1911-1926 (JPG)
Fig 8. Minutes of the Board of Trustees of the Children’s Home, 1911-1926 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 9. Commissioners Meeting Minutes Vol 19 p 472 (JPG)
Fig 9. Commissioners Meeting Minutes Vol 19 p 472 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 10. Article from the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated January 17, 1912 (PNG)
Fig 10. Article from the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated January 17, 1912 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

The Children’s Home was in operation until 1971. After its closure, the building was used to house various County offices and departments over the next forty years. However, in 2012, due to structural issues and instability, the building was razed. Today, you can find the old stained and leaded glass windows on display in the Archives.

Until Next Time!

Sources:
Broadstone, M.A. (Ed.). (1918). History of Greene County Ohio its people, industries and institutions. Indianapolis, IN: B. F. Bowen & Company Inc.
Greene County Archives
NewspaperARCHIVE.com
Newspapers.com

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