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.

Sep 18

Guardianships for The Doris Duke Trust in Greene County

Posted on September 18, 2020 at 1:13 PM by Melissa Dalton

Some time ago, we published a blog on a link in Greene County to the Doris Duke Trust. Well, just a couple weeks ago, Joan came across the guardianship files for those same recipients of said trust funds. As such, we thought we’d revisit this story.

We’re sure many of you know the name… I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard or read something, and the project was sponsored or funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. If you know the name, but aren’t familiar with the story, we’ll give you a brief history of the Duke family.

Doris Duke was born on November 12, 1913, and was the only daughter of James Buchanan “Buck” Duke (Fig 1) and Nanaline Holt Inman. James B. Duke was an industrialist and philanthropist, becoming the owner of the largest tobacco company in the United States. He and his brother formed a power company as well, which later became Duke Energy.

Fig 1. James Buchanan Duke (JPG)
Fig 1. James Buchanan Duke (Wikimedia Commons)

Prior to his death in 1925, Duke established The Duke Endowment, a $40 million trust fund. This endowment would fund Duke University (formerly Trinity College), Davidson College, Furman University, Johnson C. Smith University, not-for-profit hospitals and children’s homes in the Carolinas, just to name a few. Upon his death, roughly another $67 million was added to the trust, and the remainder of his estate, roughly $100 million, went to Doris (Fig 2).

Fig 2. Doris and her father, James (JPG)
Fig 2. Doris and her then husband, James Cromwell (Wikipedia)

As part of the Trust, descendants of James B. Duke were to receive an inheritance throughout their lifetime. Doris did not have children (she had a daughter that died shortly after birth), but James’s sister, Mary Elizabeth, became a recipient, making her descendants heirs. And that’s where we find our connection.

One of my coworkers created a simplified family tree to help keep the names and relations straight for this particular lineage (Fig 3). Mary Elizabeth had a son, Edwin Buchanan. Edwin married and had a daughter, Marion. Marion is where our story picks up. Marion and her husband, General John Walker Sessums, Jr., moved to Greene County as Sessums was originally assigned to Wright Field around 1935, upon completion of Air Corps Engineering School. It is here where the couple laid roots.

Fig 4. The Duke Family Tree (JPG)
Fig 3. The Duke Family Tree (Greene County Archives)

The couple had three children – Marion (b. 1934), Jean (b. 1937), and John (b. 1940). Guardianships were established to manage the trust funds the family would receive for the care of each minor – receiving $100 per month per child (equivalent to roughly $1800 per month), and receiving up to $200 per month (looks like it may have been increased incrementally due to inflation) by the time they each reached the age of 21 (Fig 4). Once of age, guardianship was terminated.

Fig 5. Example of disbursement of funds from The Doris Duke Trust  for the Sessums children (JPG)
Fig 4. Example of funds received from The Doris Duke Trust for the Sessums children (Greene County Archives)

The monies received from the Trust allowed for the Sessums to provide some of the best schooling and services for their children. For example, they hired a private governess and nurse for the children, and once school age, the children received private education and lessons, attended camps, and expenses such as clothing, shoes, toys, medical bills, automobiles, insurance, and weddings were paid almost completely using the Trust funds (Fig 5).

Fig 6. Examples of Accounts filed in the Greene County Probate Court regarding expenses of the Trust
Fig 6. Examples of Accounts filed in the Greene County Probate Court regarding expenses of the Trust
Fig 6. Examples of Accounts filed in the Greene County Probate Court regarding expenses of the Trust
Fig 5. Examples of Accounts filed with the Greene County Probate Court regarding expenses of the Trust funds for Marion, Jean, and John, respectively (Greene County Archives)

Although we aren’t sure exactly how much each descendant received as part of their inheritance, it was surely in the millions, distributed at various points throughout their lifetime. According to a relatively recent news story on one descendant, there are hundreds of James B. Duke descendants receiving monies from the Trust today, including some in the Sessums line. So, if you find you’re related to James Buchanan Duke, it may be worthwhile to look into that a bit closer.

Until Next Time…

Sources:
Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
Duke University Libraries: https://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/uarchives/history/articles/james-buchanan-duke 
Greene County Archives
U.S. Air Force: https://www.af.mil/About-Us/Biographies/Display/Article/105651/major-general-john-walker-sessums-jr/


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


Sep 03

"Stills, Bootleggers, and Speakeasies: Greene County during Prohibition"

Posted on September 3, 2020 at 8:19 AM by Elise Kelly

Now that we have turned our calendars to the month of September, we are excited to announce our new exhibit:Stills, Bootleggers, and Speakeasies: Greene County during Prohibition. This exhibit examines what led to the Prohibition Era and how Greene County responded to the federally constituted ban on alcohol (See Fig. 1). Firstly, it is important to understand that the prohibition era would not have occurred without the work of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). The oldest WCTU chapter in Greene County was established in Xenia in 1874. During the winter of 1873-1874, this local chapter led a crusade in the city and helped shut down thirteen saloons (See Fig. 2).

Fig. 1 GC PC 3 (JPG)
Fig. 1 Greene County Probate Court, Prohibition File 1924-1931 (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 2 Washington Galloway Diary Entry (JPG)
Fig. 2 Greene County Surveyor, Washington Galloway, 1874 Diary Entry (Greene County Archives) Transcript: February Ladies are praying and singing at the door of whiskey and beer saloons. Three sallons [saloons] closed and poured their liquor into the street gutter. Phillips was one of them.

When Greene County entered the twentieth century, WCTU chapters had formed all throughout its borders. By 1907, there were nineteen chapters and 971 WCTU members in the County. The chapters assisted in lobbying for local laws to restrict alcohol and helped write anti-alcohol educational campaigns for schoolhouses all across the nation.

In 1913, members of the WCTU and the Anti-Saloon League marched on Washington, D.C. demanding for a Prohibition amendment to be added to the U.S. Constitution (See Fig. 3). On January 16, 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment was ratified and the National Prohibition Act officially became law on January 17, 1920 (See Fig. 4).

Fig. 3 The New Era 12-13-1913 (JPG)
Fig. 3 The New Era, December 13, 1913 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Fig. 4 XEG 11-9-1919 (JPG)
Fig. 4 Xenia Evening Gazette, November 3, 1919 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

For thirteen years, it was illegal to manufacture, transport, and sell alcohol. Throughout the nation, including Greene County, individuals covertly manufactured bootleg whiskey or moonshine, and beer. Illicit clubs known as speakeasies sold alcohol to patrons (See Figs. 5 & 6). Under Ohio State law, the Crabbe Act, which prohibited the sale and consumption of alcohol, also mandated the additional compensation to prohibition enforcement officials for arresting, convicting, or fining violators of the Prohibition Amendment. Many Greene County residents were arrested and tried under the Crabbe Act (See Figs. 7 & 8).

Fig. 5 GC PC 2 (JPG)
Fig. 5 Greene County Probate Court, Prohibition File 1924-1931 (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 6 GC PC (JPG)
Fig. 6 Greene County Probate Court, Prohibition File 1924-1931 (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 7 Grace Fanning Probate 2 (JPG)
Fig. 7 Grace Fanning, Greene County Probate Criminal Record, Box 692 (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 8 Grace Fanning Probate (JPG)
Fig. 8 Grace Fanning, Greene County Probate Criminal Record, Box 692 (Greene County Archives)

Recognizing that this bill could increase their income, enforcement officials cunningly extended the boundaries of their jurisdiction in order to arrest and prosecute more individuals. Recognizing the unfairness of this stipulation, the United States Supreme Court heard the case Tumey v. Ohio in 1927. The plaintiff in the case, Ed Tumey, argued that enforcement officials were more likely to arrest and convict suspects since the enforcement officials were additionally compensated. Tumey contended that this would deprive individuals their “due process of the law.” The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff and the Crabbe Act was overturned in 1927.

As illegal drinking establishments grew, support began to wane for Prohibition.The Twenty-First Amendment was passed in December 1933 and repealed the Eighteenth Amendment and ending Prohibition (See Fig. 9).

Fig. 9 Mansfield News Journal (JPG)
Fig. 9 Mansfield News Journal, December 6, 1933 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

You can view the exhibit:Stills, Bootleggers, and Speakeasies: Greene County during Prohibition on our Flickr page. We also have the exhibit displayed in the Archives.

Sources:
Michael A. Broadstone. History of Greene County, Ohio (B.F. Bowen & Company, 1918).
Greene County Archives
NewspaperARCHIVE.com
Ohiohistorycentral.org