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.

Jul 29

2021 Greene County Fair Week!

Posted on July 29, 2021 at 1:55 PM by Melissa Dalton

It’s Fair Week!! After the fair was reduced to a junior fair last year due to COVID, officials are happy to welcome back the fair to its full capacity. This year, the Greene County Fair celebrates 182 years and will run from August 2 through August 7, 2021. As such, we thought we would share a little bit about the fair’s history, and links to the events (Fig 1).

Fig 1. Greene County Fair, 1983 (Greene County Parks & Trails Collection)

The Greene County Agricultural Society was established in 1834, with the first fair being held on the Courthouse Square in 1839. After the initial success, the fair witnessed continued growth and had to move locations several times to accommodate said growth. In 1867, the current location was chosen, and just under 40 acres were purchased to build the fairgrounds (but it has grown to about 50 acres since then) (Fig 2).

Fig 2. Aerial of the Greene County Fairgrounds, 1986 (Greene County Parks & Trails Collection)

Today, our young residents have the opportunity to show what they’ve learned, and all the hard work they’ve put into preparing for the showmanship events. The fair also provides a time for people of all ages to demonstrate their various talents – be it in household arts, baking, horticulture, or floriculture.

However, the fair is more than just showmanship events; it’s also a time to gather with members of the community to celebrate our collective history and heritage. Maybe you meet family and friends for the grandstand events such as tractor pulls, drag races, harness racing, or the demo derby (Fig 3). Or, maybe you like to enjoy all the foods and rides that make a fair unique (Fig 4). No matter the reason you attend, you are supporting the community that you love!


Fig 3. Tractor pull at the Greene County Fair, 1983 (JPG)Fig 3. Tractor pull at the Greene County Fair, 1983 (Greene County Parks & Trails Collection)

Fig 4. Child riding carousel at the Greene County Fair, 1983 (JPG)Fig 4. Child riding carousel at the Greene County Fair, 1983 (Greene County Parks & Trails Collection)

As part of the week’s festivities, the Greene County Courthouse will be lit GREEN to celebrate the fair. Throughout the week, the fair will host several discount days, and you can check out the full schedule of events to learn when particular events are happening that interest you or your family. And best of all, it looks like we are going to have perfect weather! So, get out and enjoy the Greene County Fair!

Until Next Time! 

Jul 23

Allison Brothers: Entrepreneurs of Greene County

Posted on July 23, 2021 at 9:27 AM by Melissa Dalton

The last highlight of our series on the men that made Allison & Townsley are the Allison brothers, James and Samuel. Although James Allison started the business, it was Samuel who took over after his death, and became quite the entrepreneur.

James Allison was born around 1816 in Pennsylvania to Samuel and Mary Allison. The family moved to Ohio in 1820 and originally settled in Warren County. A couple years later, they moved to Beavercreek Township in Greene County. Around 1834, the Allison family moved to Shelby County, but James, then about 18 years old, remained in Greene County.

James married Ann B. Corry on February 4, 1840 in Greene County (Fig 1). James and Ann had two children, Matthew and Martha (Fig 2). Within a few years of marriage, James established Allison & Townsley with Thomas Townsley, in 1846. James was the senior member of the business, and he hired his younger brother, Samuel, to work as a clerk in 1851. However, James’s life was cut short, and he died after a short illness on August 22, 1864 at the age of 47.
Fig 1. Marriage record of James Allison and Ann B. Corry, 1840 (JPG)

Fig 1. Marriage record of James Allison and Ann B. Corry, 1840 (Greene County Archives)
Fig 2. 1860 Census showing James Allison family (JPG)

Fig 2. 1860 Census with James Allison and family at top (Ancestry.com)

Samuel was born in 1836 in Shelby County and spent his early life on the family farm (Fig 3). When Samuel was a boy, his father died, leaving him and his siblings to help care for the family. That was about the time he went to work for James in Xenia. Samuel worked hard and became very knowledgeable of the business, and in 1857, he was made a partner in the business. After James’s death, Samuel became the head of the business, a position he retained until the business dissolved in 1889.

Fig 3. 1850 Census with Mary Allison living with son after death of Samuel Sr. (JPG)

Fig 3. 1850 Census with Samuel Allison, Sr. and family outlined in red (Ancestry.com)

Samuel married Julia Myers in May 1868 in Xenia, Ohio (Fig 4). The couple had four children – Louis, Kate, Albert, and Janette (birth record says Julia). All the children were born in Greene County, although I was unable to locate a birth record for Kate (Fig 5).

Fig 6. Obituary of Kate Allison, Xenia Daily Gazette, 25 May 1893 (PNG)

Fig 4. Marriage record of Samuel Allison and Julia Myers, 1868 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 5. 1880 Census with Samuel Allison family outlined in red (JPG)

Fig 5. 1880 Census with Samuel Allison and family outlined in red (Ancestry.com)

Samuel had his hands in various businesses even before Allison & Townsley closed. He became interested in the cordage industry, a business venture that made him a prominent man in the area. He was an organizer of the Xenia Twine & Cordage Company and took over operation of the Xenia Mill on Cincinnati Avenue. After a few years, he sold his interest and, along with Joseph Field, opened the Field Cordage Company in Xenia. In 1890, the factory was leased to the National Cordage Company for $45,000 a year for a five-year contract period. Additionally, Allison was paid $6,000 a year as a non-compete. However, in 1891, National Cordage bought Field Cordage for $245,000. At that time, Allison joined Hooven & Gamble Company, acting as president of the company from its inception in 1892 until 1900.

In 1892, Julia passed away and in 1893, he lost his daughter, Kate (Fig 6). Samuel remarried in 1894, marrying his sister-in-law, Mary “Louie” Myers in St. Paul (Fig 7).

Fig 6. Obituary of Kate Allison, Xenia Daily Gazette, 25 May 1893 (PNG)

Fig 6. Obituary of Katie Allison, Xenia Daily Gazette, 25 May 1893 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Fig 7. Marriage of Samuel Allison and Mary Myers, St. Paul Globe, 26 Jan 1894 (JPG)

Fig 7. Marriage of Samuel Allison and Mary “Louie” Myers, The St. Paul Globe, 26 Jan 1894 (Newspapers.com)

In 1892, he also assisted in organizing the Northwestern Cordage Company in St. Paul, Minnesota, acting as president and general manager. The business faced many setbacks, and in 1895, Allison applied for a receivership, which was denied. As such, he sold the property to Northwestern Grass Twine Company, and much of the machinery went to Hooven & Allison in Xenia.

Allison moved his family back to Xenia around 1895, purchasing three cordage mills (and selling two of them almost immediately). He started up the Field Twine & Cordage Company in the third mill around 1898, which he ran until his death. Samuel Allison died in 1900 at the age of 64 (Figs 8 & 9).

Fig 8. Obituary of Samuel Allison, Xenia Daily Gazette, 5 Sep 1900 (PNG)Fig 8. Obituary of Samuel Allison, Xenia Daily Gazette, 5 Sep 1900 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Fig 9. Death Record of Samuel Allison, 1900 (JPG)

Fig 9. Death record of Samuel Allison (Greene County Archives)

We hope you enjoyed learning about the entrepreneurs that started a Xenia dry-goods store.  

Until Next Time!

Sources:

Ancestry.com

Greene County Archives

NewspaperARCHIVE.com

Newspapers.com

Jul 15

The Business and Life Pursuits of Thomas P. Townsley

Posted on July 15, 2021 at 10:17 AM by Melissa Dalton

After learning about the business of Allison & Townsley, I was interested in learning about the men behind the company. This week, we take a look at that life of Thomas P. Townsley, and explore how he became a successful businessman.

Like many quests into the records of the early 1800s, it can get a bit murky due to several generations recycling names. The Townsley family was no exception. Thomas Townsley’s grandfather (also named Thomas) was one of the earliest white settlers of Cedarville Township in Greene County, and almost every generation has a Thomas, George, John, and/or James. To fully delve into the family would take a bit of time, but we were able to flesh out the highlights of his life!

Thomas P. Townsley was born to George and Mary (Lowry) Townsley on May 27, 1817 in Xenia, Ohio. Thomas attended school in Xenia, and continued his education at Miami University in Oxford, graduating in 1836 (Fig 1). After graduation, Townsley returned to Xenia to pursue a business career.


Fig 1. Miami University Student Catalog, 1858 (JPG)

Fig 1. Miami University Student Catalog, 1858 (Ancestry.com)

Townsley’s early career was with the railroad company, but he also was a teacher for a period of time. However, he was keenly interested in investing in his own business, and spent close to a decade saving his earnings to have enough capital to follow his career goals. In 1847, Townsley went into business with James Allison, and opened a dry-goods business, Allison & Townsley (Fig 2).

Fig 2. 1870 Xenia City Directory (JPG)

Fig 2. Xenia City Directory, 1870 (Ancestry.com)

Townsley married Agnes Paull of Pennsylvania in 1850. The couple had several children, but only two, George L. and James B., lived to adulthood (Fig 3).

Fig 3. 1850 U.S. Census with Townsley family outlined in red (JPG)

Fig 3. 1850 U.S. Census with Townsley family outlined in red (Ancestry.com)

Townsley had other business ventures outside of the dry-good business (read last week’s blog to learn about the Allison & Townsley business). He was an organizer of the Second National Bank (along with his business partner), and was president from 1864 until his health forced him to resign his post. He also was involved in the establishment of the Field Cordage Company (another business venture with Allison).

Of interesting note, Townsley attended the William Henry Harrison convention of 1840 (who was part of the Whig Party), and later was selected to attend the constitutional convention in 1873-1874 as a representative of his district (Fig 4). Townsley was highly honored by this election, and did his duty to ensure he represented the district well.

Fig 4. Article about Harrison Convention participants, Xenia Daily Gazette, 25 Nov 1896 (JPG)

Fig 4. Article about Harrison convention participants, Xenia Daily Gazette, 25 Nov 1896 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

The Townsleys were members of the Presbyterian Church, and were highly respected members of the church, as well as the community at large. In 1896, Agnes Townsley died and was buried in Woodland Cemetery. Two years later, in 1898, Thomas Townsley died at the age of 81. He was buried with his wife in Woodland Cemetery (Fig 5).

Greene County Death Record 3, 1893-1909 (JPG)

Fig 5. Death Record of Agnes Townsley & Thomas Townsley (Greene County Archives)

Next week we will explore the life of James Allison, and where his business pursuits took him throughout his life!

Until Next Time!

Sources:

Ancestry.com

FamilySearch.org

Greene County Archives

NewspaperARCHIVE.com