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 11

Senseless Murder in Beavercreek Township

Posted on September 11, 2020 at 12:38 PM by Melissa Dalton

Sometimes you run across something in records that piques interest. While Elise was working to inventory some records, she happened upon an entry in the Surveyor Record Index that indicated the survey was completed for a murder that took place in Beavercreek Township in 1885. This week, we explore the records to learn exactly what happened.

George Holverstott was an older farmer in Beavercreek Township, living about five miles outside of Xenia. His neighbors, newlyweds Joseph and Elizabeth Wolf (Fig 1), were a young couple with a puppy that liked to run and chase. This dog had a habit of chasing Holverstott’s turkeys, and one Friday evening in August 1885, the old farmer had enough. Holverstott grabbed his gun and was determined to kill the dog as he insisted that it was killing his turkeys. Wolf protested, and tried to stop him – and that’s when Holverstott shot Wolf, killing him (Fig 2).

Fig 1. Marriage Record of Joseph Wolf and Elizabeth Gruber, 1885 (JPG)
Fig 1. Marriage Record of Joseph Wolf and Elizabeth Gruber, 1885 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 2. Article documenting murder of Wolf, Sandusky Daily Register, 24 Aug 1885 (JPG)
Fig 2. Article documenting murder of Wolf, Sandusky Daily Register, 24 Aug 1885 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Holverstott turned himself in for the murder; however, he was surprised to learn he would be held for an indictment of murder in the first degree and required to remain in jail until the trial. The murder of young Wolf upset many farmers and neighbors in Beavercreek Township, and a mob formed with the plan to “take care” of Holverstott themselves and hang him for the murder. Holverstott’s sons got word of the plot, and contacted the Sheriff. The lynch mob met at the Greene County Fairgrounds, and were promptly met by police and told to vacate the premises, as well as their plans, or they all would be facing a much worse fate. It was enough to subdue the mob, and they went home without incident (Fig 3).

Fig 3. Article on lynch mob to kill Holverstott, Cincinnati Commercial Gazette, 04 Nov 1885 (JPG)
Fig 3. Article on lynch mob plan to kill Holverstott, Cincinnati Commercial Gazette, 04 Nov 1885 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Holverstott attempted to get the murder charge dropped to manslaughter, but was unsuccessful. Subsequently, he pleaded not guilty to the charge of second degree murder. Holverstott’s murder case was fraught, as his attorneys also withdrew as counsel after his sons did not provide the agreed upon assistance as promised (Fig 4).

Fig 4. Holverstott's attorneys withdraw as counsel, Xenia Daily Gazette, 15 Dec 1885 (JPG)
Fig 4. Holverstott’s attorneys withdraw as counsel, Xenia Daily Gazette, 15 Dec 1885 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

The trial did not go well for Holverstott, and he was found guilty of murder in the second degree. Holverstott and his attorneys filed a petition for a new trial, and a hearing was held in January 1886. The Court overruled the petition, and Holverstott accepted the verdict, and the sentence of life in prison (Fig 5). Holverstott was taken to the Ohio Penitentiary on January 23, 1886 to serve his life term.

Fig 5. State Record No 7 p 562, Holverstott's murder case (JPG)
Fig 5. State Record No 7 p 563, Holverstott's murder case (JPG)
Fig 5. State Record No 7 p 564, Holverstott's murder case (JPG)
Fig 5. State Record No 7 p 565, Holverstott's murder case (JPG)
Fig 5. State Record No 7 p 566, Holverstott's murder case (JPG)
Fig 5. State Record No 7 pgs 562-566 documenting Holverstott’s case (Greene County Archives)


After spending twenty years in prison, Holverstott applied to the State Board of Pardons. According to one article, Holverstott stayed out of trouble in prison and even stopped another prisoner from escaping. When his case came before the Board, no one knew his name or story, and were surprised to learn that he had never applied for a pardon. The Board heard his case, and determined they would approve and grant his pardon. Holverstott was released from prison on November 30, 1906, serving twenty-one years of his life sentence (Fig 6).

Fig 6. Article on Pardon of Holverstott, Xenia Daily Gazette, 28 Nov 1906 (JPG)
Fig 6. Pardon of Holverstott, Xenia Daily Gazette, 28 Nov 1906 (Newspapers.com)

At the age of 77, Holverstott returned to Greene County to his family. The records and newspapers remain quiet on Holverstott after his release, and he lived out the remainder of his days in Greene County. Holverstott died at the Greene County Infirmary on July 3, 1922 at the age of 95 (Figs 7 & 8).

Fig 7. Obituary of George Holverstott, The Dayton Herald, 05 Jul 1922 (JPG)
Fig 7. Obituary of George Holverstott, The Dayton Herald, 5 Jul 1922 (Newspapers.com)

Fig 8. Death Certificate of George Holverstott (JPG)
Fig 8. Death Certificate of George Holverstott (FamilySearch.org)


Until Next Time…

Sources:
FamilySearch.org
Greene County Archives
NewspaperARCHIVE.com
Newspapers.com


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