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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Jun 12

A Brief History of the Village of Fairfield

Posted on June 12, 2020 at 8:18 AM by Melissa Dalton

Next week is Greene County History Week, and we have a presentation planned on the 1913 Flood, the move of Osborn, and the creation of Fairborn. As a way to introduce our readers and registrants (you can still register!), we would like to provide a brief history of the two villages that became one! We did a blog on Osborn a few months ago, and so we’d like to take some time today to tell you a bit about the sometimes forgotten, or at least overshadowed, village of Fairfield.

Fairfield was first settled in 1799, making it the oldest village in Bath Township and the third oldest in the county (Fig 1). The village was platted in 1816 by Joseph Tatman, Samuel Casad, and William Casad, all of whom were early settlers of Fairfield. It was a small village, roughly three miles wide by five miles long, and was centrally located in the township with the streets running north/south and east/west. In Dills’ 1881 history of the County, he provides a brief description of the village, noting its beauty, with fertile lands, streams, and woodlands. The village had the essential businesses – dry goods store, drugstore, grocery, wagon shop, blacksmiths, public house, grist-mill, and three churches (Fig 2). There was a local attorney as well as three physicians.

Fig 1. Map of the village of Fairfield, 1855 (JPG)
Fig 1. Map of the village of Fairfield, 1855 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 2. General Store on NE corner of Main St and Xenia Dr, 1910 (JPG)
Fig 2. General Store on NE corner of Main St and Xenia Dr, 1910 (Greene County Archives)

The early history of the village isn’t well known, but there are some documented fires. The first was in 1868 when the IOOF building on the southwest corner of Dayton and Xenia streets burned for reasons unknown. It was rebuilt, but burned again in 1934. On March 24, 1922, almost an entire block of the village was destroyed by fire, with an estimated total loss of $20,000 (Fig 3).

Fig 3. Article from Xenia Evening Gazette, March 24, 1922 (PNG)
Fig 3. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette, March 24, 1922 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

According to Broadstone, Fairfield experienced little growth in the early years and the placement of the Mad River railroad was a contributing factor. Growth typically happens along transportation routes, and at that time, railroads were one of the main modes of transportation of goods and businesses. So, when the railroad was established in Osborn, which was only a couple of miles away, it squashed any hopes of Fairfield reaping benefits of the railroad. However, that would all change after the 1913 Flood.

As you may recall from our blog on Osborn, the 1913 Flood would undoubtedly change the landscape of Greene County, but more specifically, Bath Township. With the planned construction of Huffman Dam and levees along the Mad River, Osborn was ultimately doomed due to its location in the newly established floodplain (Fig 4). The railroad tracks would need to be moved, and all the businesses and residents of Osborn would need a new home, and the little village of about 350 residents was about to experience quite the boom.

Fig 4. Construction of Huffman Dam, 1919 (JPG)
Fig 4. Construction of Huffman Dam, 1919 (Miami Conservancy District)

It’s important to note other factors affecting growth of Fairfield. In 1917, the Miami Conservancy District leased approximately 2000 acres to the Army for the establishment of Wilbur Wright Airfield (now known as Area B of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base). So, although there was growth potential due to the move of Osborn and establishment of the air field, the village itself was confined by the borders (Fig 5).

Fig 5. Map of Fairfield and Osborn, 1922 (JPG)
Fig 5. Map of area containing Fairfield, New Osborn, Miami Conservancy District lands, and US Government land, 1922 (Greene County Engineer Maps)

After the completion of the move of Osborn, Fairfield and “New” Osborn co-existed as neighbors, with just a road dividing them. As time pressed on, both villages realized that they may benefit by merging their villages, which would combine costs and services, but also allow for expansion. In 1949, each village voted, and the merger passed (although according to some sources, it was a close vote). In 1950, they completed the merger, and to preserve a bit of history of the two villages, they combined their names – “Fair” for Fairfield and “born” for Osborn – creating their own unique town of Fairborn.

Until Next Time!

Sources:
Broadstone, M. A. (1918). History of Greene County, Ohio: Its people, industries and institutions (Vol. 1). B. F. Bowen & Company, Inc.
Dills, R. S. (1881). History of Greene County, together with historic notes on the Northwest and the state of Ohio. Odell & Mayer.
Routt, A. (2010). Early Views of Fairfield & Osborn, Ohio.

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