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.

Mar 13

A New Car for the Sheriff

Posted on March 13, 2020 at 9:16 AM by Melissa Dalton

Do you remember your first car? Some people have fond, or not so fond, memories of their first vehicle. Perhaps it had a stick shift that you had to learn or the car did/did not have any air conditioning. In 1931, the Greene County Sheriff was looking to purchase a new patrol car (See Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 Commissioners Journal Vol. 29 Pg. 361 (JPG)
Fig. 1 Greene County Commissioners Journal, Volume 29, Pg. 361 (Greene County Archives)

In 1899, the first police car was introduced in Akron, Ohio. It was a wagon that was equipped with an electric motor. By the 1920s, a few city police departments were experimenting with installing radios in the back of a Ford Model T. By having a patrol car, the Greene County Sheriff or Deputy could cover an area that would have previously needed several officers or was an area not patrolled as often.

The Greene County Commissioners were keen on trading in the Sheriff’s 1928 Studebaker for something new. The models that were evaluated included Chevrolet, Ford, Pontiac, Studebaker, Oakland, Essex, Hudson, Willys, Plymouth, Oldsmobile, and Chrysler Sedans (See Figs. 2, 3, 4, and 5). Check out the local companies that were selling these automobiles.

Fig. 2 Commissioners Journal Vol. 29 Pg. 362 (JPG)
Fig. 2 Greene County Commissioners Journal, Volume 29, Pg. 362 (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 3 Commissioners Journal Vol. 39 Pg. 363 (JPG)
Fig. 3 Greene County Commissioners Journal, Volume 29, Pg. 363 (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 4 Ford Sedan 1931 (JPG)
Fig. 4 1931 Ford Model A Standard Fordor Sedan (courtesy of Lglswe via Wikimedia Commons)

Fig. 5 Willys_Six_97_4-Door_Sedan_1931 (JPG)
Fig. 5 1931 Willys Six 97 4-Door Sedan (courtesy of Lars-Goran Lindgren Sweden via Wikimedia Commons)

Prior to and during World War I, Willys-Overland Motors was the second largest automobile producer in the United States. However, by the economic depression, several Willys' brands began to be discontinued. During World War II, Willys-Overland Motors designed and produced military Jeeps.

Did you notice that the last car listed, a new Chrysler “6” 4-Door Sedan, included a siren, a shatterproof windshield, a heater, and a Loraine driving lamp at no extra cost? The County Commissioners decided to purchase the Chrysler at a price of $670, which would be an equivalent today as $11,426 (See Fig. 6).

Fig. 6 Chrysler_6-62_4-Door_Sedan_1931 (JPG)

Fig. 6 1931 Chrysler 6 4-Door Sedan (Courtesy of Lars-Goran Lindgren Sweden via Wikimedia Commons)

During the 1930s, this new Chrysler Sedan purchased from Ankeney Motor Sales, certainly helped the County Sheriff complete his duties.

Until Next Time!

Greene County Archives
Wikimedia Commons

Mar 06

Ohio Statehood Day!

Posted on March 6, 2020 at 12:04 PM by Melissa Dalton

On Wednesday, February 26th, Robin and I attended Statehood Day at the Ohio Statehouse. This annual event is an opportunity for history professionals to come together to advocate for our field(s) and organizations. Registrants have the opportunity to meet with state legislators regarding joint initiatives, network with other history professionals, and learn what other organizations are doing to promote their missions.

This year, Governor Mike DeWine was presented with the Ohio History Leadership Award for his continued support of history, the Historic Preservation Fund, and the state historic preservation offices (Fig 1).

Fig 1. Governor Mike DeWine accepting Ohio History Leadership Award (JPG)
Fig 1. Governor Mike DeWine accepting Ohio History Leadership Award

The 2020 Legislative Priorities focused on three main initiatives – support funding in the state capital budget for Ohio’s historical and cultural assets; support legislation to better protect unmarked burial places and inactive and abandoned cemeteries (historic and prehistoric); and enact legislation to designate Poindexter Village a state historic site (Senate Bill 192). Although all are encouraged to discuss these priorities with their legislators, it also is a great opportunity to discuss your organizational needs and why supporting local history is important (Fig 2).

Fig 2. Todd Kleismit introducing 2020 Legislative Priorities (JPG)
Fig 2. Todd Kleismit introducing 2020 Legislative Priorities

The lunch program usually involves a keynote speaker; however, this year, the committee decided to host a panel discussion on the centennial of women’s suffrage and achievements. The panelists were Dr. Treva Lindsey, Associate Professor of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at the Ohio State University; Jen Miller, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio; and Megan Wood, Director of Cultural Resources Division at the Ohio History Connection. The panel was moderated by Ann Fisher, Host of All Sides with Ann Fisher at WOSU Public Media. The panelists discussed the history of national women’s suffrage movement, but also the local implications. It was a fascinating discussion, and brought to light disparities and inequalities within the movement, and how the movement continued after the passage of the 19th Amendment to gain the right to vote for all women (Fig 3).

Fig 3. Panelists discussing Womens Suffrage and Achievements (JPG)
Fig 3. Panelists discussing Women’s Suffrage and Achievements

After the panel discussion, they announced of the Ohio History Fund Grant recipients (total of eight this year). If you are unfamiliar with the grant, the Ohio History Fund is a competitive matching grant program that is one of six “tax check-off” funds on Ohio’s income tax forms. It is made possible through Ohio taxpayers’ voluntarily contributions, as well as the sales of the Ohio History “mastodon” license plate. To learn more about the program, check out

Until Next Time!
Feb 27

Finding Freedom in Greene County

Posted on February 27, 2020 at 8:19 AM by Elise Kelly

To commemorate Black History Month, the Greene County Archives hosted a program entitled, “Finding Freedom in Greene County” (See Fig. 1). Members from the community had the opportunity to learn about the interesting lives of a slave family who were emancipated and brought to Greene County (See Fig. 2).

Fig. 1 Finding Freedom (JPG)
Fig. 1 Part of the Archives’ “Finding Freedom in Greene County” Presentation (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 2 Crowd (JPG)
Fig. 2 Photo taken during the program (Greene County Archives)

In order to tell this unique story, we wove together many primary resources. A census record and a slave schedule were examined as well as a deed, survey map, will record, and death register. The slave schedule was a method to account for the number of slaves a slave owner had during the time of the census. In 1860, Philip Piper was a slave owner in Catahoula Parish (See Fig. 3). Piper owned sixteen slaves, the youngest was two months old and the oldest was fifty-two years old. Notice that in the slave schedule, the names of the slaves are not notated.

Fig. 3 Slave Schedule (JPG)
Fig. 3 1860 Slave Schedule, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana (

These unnamed individuals were Philip Piper’s “property.” We do know that one of Philip’s slaves was named Nellie. She bore several children who were fathered by Philip. In 1859, Philip emancipated Nellie and her children. Their freedom papers are found in one of the Greene County Deed Record books (See Fig. 4). According to their freedom papers, the family is settling in Greene County and are paying $1,000 for their freedom.

Fig. 4 Deed Record (JPG)
Fig. 4 Nellie and her children’s freedom papers recorded in Greene County Deed Book (Greene County Archives)

Even though Ohio’s Constitution made slavery illegal that did not mean slaves or freed black people were treated as equals. In 1804, Ohio passed a series of laws called “The Black Laws” (See Fig. 5). These required that all blacks and mulattoes (using historical context) had to furnish certificates of freedom from a court in the United States before one could settle in Ohio.

All black residents had to register and provide the names of their children. In addition, they had to pay a fee per person. In 1807, the laws were made even stricter. Now they had to find at least two people who would guarantee a surety of $500 for the person’s good behavior. Blacks were also limited on their ability to marry whites and own guns.

Fig. 5 Black Laws (JPG)
Fig. 5 The Spirit of Democracy (Woodsfield, Ohio), August 29, 1846 (

Nellie and her children settled in Greene County, near Wilberforce. This was an area that had a strong abolitionist community with cheap, fertile, farmland. Freed blacks were welcomed by these communities and many of the freed slaves were able to purchase their own land. Their children could also attend Wilberforce University, which was established as an institution for freed blacks (See Fig. 6).

Fig. 6 1874 Greene County Map (JPG)
Fig. 6 1874 Greene County Atlas, Xenia Township (Greene County Archives)

What is most surprising about this story is that Philip Piper abandoned his life as a slave owner in Louisiana and settled with Nellie and their children in Greene County. Since it was illegal for a biracial couple to marry in Ohio, Philip and Nellie had to travel to Pennsylvania to get married. For eighteen years, Philip and Nellie lived as husband and wife in Greene County.

In 1879, Philip died. Philip Piper is listed in the Greene County Death Register book (See Fig. 7). Notice that Philip is listed as “colored.” How ironic, Philip Piper was a white, former slave owner, whose children were previously his slaves. Philip Piper's children inherited their father’s entire estate. Nellie lived a long life in Greene County and is buried with Philip at Massies Creek Cemetery in Cedarville, Ohio (See Fig. 8).

Fig. 7 Death Record (JPG)
Fig. 7 Greene County Register of Deaths, Pg. 116 (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 8 Images of Gravemarkers (JPG)
Fig. 8 Philip and Nellie Piper’s grave markers in Massies Creek Cemetery (Greene County Archives)

On behalf of the Greene County Archives, we would like to thank all who came to hear this incredible story.

Until Next Time!

Greene County Archives