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.

Feb 25

Ohio Statehood Day!

Posted on February 25, 2021 at 5:19 PM by Melissa Dalton

Did you know that Monday, March 1, 2021 will mark the 218th anniversary of Ohio gaining statehood? As such, we’d like to share a brief history of Ohio, and also provide you information about the annual Ohio Statehood Day event (which will look a bit different this year).

State Flag of Ohio (PNG)

State Flag of Ohio

After the Revolutionary War, the Land Ordinance of 1785 was established to survey and divide land in what was referred to as Ohio Country (composed of modern-day Ohio, eastern Indiana, western Pennsylvania, and northwestern West Virginia). In 1787, the Confederation Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance, creating the Northwest Territory, which created a pathway for the creation of three to five states (now what are Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and part of Minnesota). In 1803, Ohio was the first state to be carved out of the Northwest Territory, becoming the 17th state within the United States of America.

Every year, we join other history lovers at the Ohio Statehouse to advocate the importance of Ohio’s history. This is an opportunity to stress to our state legislators that the work of our historical and cultural institutions must be a priority, and that we need to continue to support and provide access to our incredible resources.

On Monday, March 1, 2021, from 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM, we will join our fellow history advocates to commemorate the birthday of Ohio! However, due to the pandemic, instead of meeting at the Ohio Statehouse, the event will be virtual. Typically, there is a fee to attend, but this year it is free, but advanced registration is required.

2020 Ohio Statehood Day (JPG)

2020 Ohio Statehood Day program

The theme and panel discussion for this year is “The Power of History During Historic Times” (definitely fitting considering our current situation). The panelists are:

  • Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, president of the Congressional Black Caucus
  • Chancellor Randy Gardner, Ohio Department of Higher Education
  • Jane Campbell, president & CEO of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society in DC (former Cleveland mayor and Ohio state rep)
  • Christie Weininger, executive director of the Hayes Presidential Museums & Library
  • Moderator: Ben Garcia, Ohio History Connection Deputy Director


2020 Ohio Statehood Day Panelists (JPG)

2020 Ohio Statehood Day Panelists

Each year, the committee also puts together a list of Legislative Priorities to discuss with the state representatives. This year, those priorities include:

  • Support Ohio history and hard-hit tourism and cultural industries in the state’s FY 2022-23 operating budget
  • Create a Task Force to Study How to Better Protect Human Burial Grounds
  • Establish an Ohio initiative for the upcoming America 250 commemoration
  • Support legislation to add Poindexter Village as the state’s newest addition to the Ohio History Connection site network
  • Continue to Support the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit

This is a great event every year, so if you will have some time on Monday, go ahead and register! Also, if you are as passionate about Ohio history as we are, we encourage you to contact your representatives in support of your Ohio history institutions!


Feb 19

A Brief History of the Life of Martin Robison Delany

Posted on February 19, 2021 at 7:26 AM by Melissa Dalton

Last week, Robin gave me an article she found in some Parks & Trails boxes. This article discussed the life of Martin Robison Delany, a Civil War veteran and advocate for African American rights. I wasn’t familiar with Major Delany, but after a little bit of research, became fascinated with his life and achievements.

Martin Delany was born a free person on May 6, 1812 in Charles Town, Virginia (now part of West Virginia). Although Delany’s father was enslaved, under Virginia slave laws, the child took on the status of the mother. As his mother was free, Delany was also free. Delany’s grandparents were all born in Africa, the oral tradition of the family claimed that his parents were of royal descent.

When Delany was about ten years old, he and his family moved to Pennsylvania after it was discovered that his mother was teaching herself and her children to read (which was prohibited under Virginia law). He was only afforded an education through elementary school, but continued his own studies through reading. Delany had a thirst for knowledge, and at the age of nineteen, made his way to Pittsburgh, and began taking classes through the AME Church. Around 1832, Delany secured an apprenticeship with a white physician, and studied fiercely for medical school.

In 1843, Delany married Catherine Richards of Pittsburgh, and the couple had eleven children. In the same year, Delany founded a black newspaper called The Mystery. Delany’s work was revered, and he was often reprinted in other publications, including the well-known abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator. In 1847, Delany met Frederick Douglass, and the two later founded the North Star (Fig 1). This publication provided African Americans an opportunity to tell their stories in their own voices.

The North Star Newspaper, 8 March 1850 (JPG)
Fig 1. The North Star, 8 March 1850 (Library of Congress)

Delany continued his medical studies, and in 1850, was accepted into Harvard Medical School, along with two other black men. However, within a few weeks, he and his fellow black students were dismissed due to protests of white students and staff. This event only increased Delany’s cynicism of the future of African Americans in the United States. In his 1852 book The Condition, Elevation, Emigration and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States Politically Considered, Delany argued that African Americans may be better off emigrating to Canada, South America, or Africa.

Delany actually moved his family to Canada in 1856 and worked as a conductor in the Underground Railroad (Fig 2). In 1859, Delany traveled to Liberia in the hopes of locating a place for the relocation of African Americans. He was unsuccessful in securing land, and upon returning to the United States, decided to work towards the emancipation of slaves.

1861 Canada Census (JPG)

Fig 2. 1861 Canada Census (Ancestry.com)

In 1863, Delany began working to recruit black men to serve as part of the 54th Regiment of the U.S. Colored Troops. In 1865, Delany met with President Lincoln and proposed a unit of black soldiers led by black officers. Lincoln was impressed, describing Delany as “a most extraordinary and intelligent man.” As such, Delany was commissioned as a Major, becoming the only black officer to receive said rank in the Civil War (Fig 3).

Image of Martin Robison Delany (JPG)

Fig 3. Martin Robison Delany (FindAGrave.com)

The Delany family moved from Canada to Wilberforce, Ohio in 1864 to provide better education opportunities for their children. However, Delany stayed in Charleston after the war to assist in the Reconstruction efforts, and continued his political pursuits. He supported black farmers, traveled and supported the Colored Conventions Movement, worked as a trial judge, and ran for various elected offices. In 1880, Delany began practicing medicine again to help support two of his sons with tuition at Wilberforce University.

On January 24, 1885, Martin R. Delany died of tuberculosis at the age of 72. Delany was buried in Massies Creek Cemetery. Catherine died on July 11, 1894 and was buried next to Delany, as were three of their children. The graves were unmarked for over a century, besides a small marker for Delany. However, in 2006, funds were raised to erect a monument of African granite for the grave site for Delany and his family (Fig 4).

Headstone for Delany and his family (JPG)

Fig 4. Gravestone for Martin Delany and family (FindAGrave.com)

Delany achieved more than many men of his day, gaining titles such as abolitionist, journalist, physician, soldier, writer, and judge. He dreamed big, fought for the rights of all. Martin R. Delany truly was an extraordinary man.

Until Next Time!

Sources:

Ancestry.com

FindAGrave.com

Greene County Archives

Library of Congress

Feb 12

Celebrating Black History Month

Posted on February 12, 2021 at 1:29 PM by Melissa Dalton

In celebration of Black History Month, we would like to review records, programs, and exhibits that highlight African Americans in our county.

Some of the most historically valuable records we hold here at the Archives are the Emancipation and Manumission records. These records were created as part of the Ohio Black Codes, which required persons of color to register with the local court prior to settling in the state. These records documented the freedom status of the individuals, and required a surety of five hundred dollars as a guarantee of “good behavior”. These records provide details such as names, physical descriptions, place of birth, and names of former owners.

Godfrey Brown Emancipation Record (JPG)

Godfrey Brown Emancipation Record

In Greene County, these records can be found among Common Pleas Court records and Recorder’s Deed records, but these records could have been recorded anywhere. There wasn’t a consistent place these registers were recorded, and each county could record wherever they deemed proper. Today, the Archives houses the original records, but they have been digitized and can be viewed online. The digital versions are available on Flickr and Preservica, and transcripts are available on our website.

Amy Czubak, a former intern, created an exhibit, Early African Americans in Greene County, to showcase and share the stories of Greene County's early African American community. Some of these individuals were formerly enslaved and emancipated from bondage; whereas, others were born free. Each of these men and women helped shape Greene County into the vibrant community it is today.

Early African Americans in Greene County exhibit (JPG)

Early African Americans in Greene County exhibit

On February 24, 2021 at 2:00 PM, we will host a special virtual program titled, Finding Freedom in Greene County. During this program, we will explore and examine the lives of freed slaves that settled in Greene County in 1859, using various records held at the Archives, including emancipation and manumission records. After the program, there will be a question and answer session. Registration is required to attend this event. Once registration is complete, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Manumission Record for Nellie Piper and children, Deed Vol 37 p 554 (JPG)

Manumission Record of Nellie Piper and children, Deed Volume 37, p 554

We also have educational programs that discuss slavery in America, with programs appropriate for 4th grade through high school. These programs allow students the opportunity to use primary resources to learn more about the lives of former slaves and their journey to Greene County. All programs and materials are accessible via our website.

Wheeling Gaunt panel from exhibit (JPG)

Wheeling Gaunt from exhibit

Lastly, many institutions are hosting their own programs and events, so we highly recommend you check with your local museums, libraries, and other cultural institutions to learn what they have planned for Black History Month. And, as always, if you have questions regarding any of our programs or events, please feel free to contact the Archives!

Until Next Time!