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.

Jan 20

The Great Blizzard of 1978

Posted on January 20, 2022 at 11:26 AM by Melissa Dalton

Greene County has endured its fair share of storms and disasters, and next week marks the 44th anniversary of the Great Blizzard of 1978. This storm was one of the worst winter storms the Ohio Valley has witnessed, closing schools, colleges/universities, businesses, and roadways for days. This week, we remember the storm and how it affected our local community.

So, what actually happened? What caused the storm system that wreaked havoc on our region from January 25-27, 1978? According to the National Weather Service, two upper level waves merged, causing an intensification of a low-pressure system moving from the Gulf to Ohio. The result was a powerful storm system that produced some of the lowest barometer readings for the region, with some so low that the readings were below the chart scale. These pressure readings were the lowest not associated with a hurricane.

The storm started with rain and fog on January 25, and temperatures were in the 30s and 40s. On January 26, the temperatures quickly dropped well below freezing, rain turned to snow, and the winds picked up, with the storm reaching blizzard conditions by the evening. Winds reached an average of 50 to 70 mph, but winds gusted reached 111 mph off of Lake Erie. Although the winds made it difficult to measure snow levels, the Miami Valley saw roughly a foot of snow (with some areas getting as much as 3 feet). Governor Rhodes declared a state of emergency on January 26. The following day, President Carter declared a federal disaster in Ohio.

The winds and snow caused widespread damage – downed powerlines, telephone lines, and trees – leaving many without power or heat, or a way to communicate their situation with authorities. The weight of the snow caused structural damage to buildings, and snow drifts as deep as 25 feet made transportation via highway, rail, and air impossible.

The severe blizzard caused 51 fatalities in Ohio, with 22 of those fatalities due to exposure to the extreme conditions after leaving a stranded vehicle or home without heat/power. The blizzard also caused huge agricultural losses, totaling $73 million in Ohio, due to loss of livestock, production, and property. Property damage totals in Ohio were at least $100 million.

However, after the storm passed, people came together to help one another. Hundreds of individuals offered to use personal 4x4 vehicles to help clear snow and provide transportation to essential personnel in Greene County. Residents with various skills and certifications stepped in to run heavy equipment. Students stuck on university campuses, such as Wilberforce, helped in cafeterias to ensure other snowed in students and staff were fed. All hospital staff worked extremely long shifts when relief couldn’t make it in due to road conditions. Grocers worked as hard as possible to keep their doors open so residents would have access to necessities. There are even stories of people opening their homes to strangers who were without power and heat. Community members worked together to get the region remobilized and back in business. And that is the important message of this disaster – the community came together and helped their fellow neighbor.

If you have memories and photographs of the 1978 Blizzard, we would love for you to share them on our Facebook page!

Until Next Time.

Front page of Xenia Daily Gazette reporting severity of blizzard, 26 Jan 1978 (JPG)Round-the-clock plowing halted, Xenia Daily Gazette, 26 Jan 1978 (JPG)

Excerpts from the Xenia Daily Gazette from 26 January 1978 as the storm hit Greene County (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Front page of Xenia Daily Gazette reporting on storm, 27 Jan 1978 (JPG)

Page 16 of Xenia Daily Gazette reporting on storm, 27 Jan 1978 (PNG)

Excerpts from the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated 27 January 1978, reporting on the storm and damage to the local region (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Front page of Xenia Daily Gazette reporting on storm, 27 Jan 1978 (PNG)

The front page of the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated 28 January 1978, reporting improvements to conditions (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Greene County Health Department after storm, Feb 1978 (JPG)

King Street in Xenia after road had been plowed (Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District)

Front page of Xenia Daily Gazette after storm, 31 Jan 1978 (PNG)

Plowed parking lot at the Greene County Health Department, February 1978 (Greene County Public Health)

1978 Lutheran Memorial Winter Outdoor Education Workshop (JPG)

King Street after roads were cleared, 1978 (JPG)

Greene County Recreation and Parks staff at the Winter Outdoor Education Workshop at Lutheran Memorial Camp in Fulton, OH after the blizzard (Greene County Parks & Trails)

Jan 13

Joshua Martin: Prominent Physician in Greene County

Posted on January 13, 2022 at 1:26 PM by Melissa Dalton

We have a volunteer indexing the fieldbooks of Washington Galloway. In one of Galloway’s fieldbooks, he noted the funeral of Dr. Joshua Martin, describing it as “the largest one ever was in Xenia” (Fig 1). From viewing this entry, it is clear that Dr. Martin was a well-liked man, and we wanted to take the opportunity to learn a bit more about him.

Fig 1. Excerpt from Galloway's Fieldbook No. 4 p 77 (JPG)

Fig 1. Excerpt from Galloway Fieldbook No. 4 p 77 (Greene County Archives)

Joshua Martin was born on March 23, 1791 to John and Lydia Martin in Loudoun County, Virginia. Martin grew up on the family farm, and his father was a well-known farmer in the area.

At a young age, Martin was profoundly interested in the study of medicine. He moved to Pennsylvania, to the small town of Waterford, and studied under a local doctor. Martin attended some lectures in Philadelphia, but completed his studies in the west.

After completing his studies, Martin emigrated to Ohio in 1813. Upon arrival to Ohio, Martin traveled the southern part of the state looking for a suitable location to open his practice. Ultimately, he settled in Xenia and opened his medical practice.

According to Robinson, there was an epidemic in the region and most physicians were unable to properly treat the disease. However, Dr. Martin, fresh from his studies, had found a successful treatment. As such, the new doctor gained great praise and people throughout the region sought out his services.

Martin briefly left the medical field to pursue a business venture with his brother in Indiana. The business proved unsuccessful, and Martin moved back to Xenia and reopened his practice (Fig 2). After returning to Ohio, Martin’s parents and sisters moved to Lebanon, Ohio.

Fig 2. Tax Assessment of Joshua Martin property, 1831 (JPG)

Fig 2. Tax Assessment of Joshua Martin property, 1831 (Greene County Archives)

On June 4, 1818, Martin wed Hester Whiteman, daughter of Benjamin and Catharine (Davis) Whiteman of Yellow Springs, Ohio. The couple had a daughter, Catherine, who died in infancy. In 1824, Martin’s father died, and his mother and four sisters moved to Xenia to live with Dr. Martin and his wife (Fig 3).

Fig 3. 1840 US Census with Martin family outlined (JPG)

Fig 3. 1840 US Census with Martin outlined (FamilySearch.org)

In 1834, Hester died at the age of 31. On April 21, 1835, Martin married Sarah Poage (Fig 4). The couple had a daughter, Sarah, in 1841. Sadly, Martin’s second wife died shortly after the birth of their daughter, leaving him to raise their infant daughter.

Fig 4. Marriage Record of Joshua Martin and Sarah Poage, 1835 (JPG)

Fig 4. Marriage Record of Joshua Martin and Sarah Poage (Greene County Archives)

Martin would travel far and wide to tend to his patients, with little concern for the conditions of weather or roads. Martin was noted as a man with great intellect, intuition, and integrity, and was revered in the community (Fig 5).

Fig 5. Portrait of Joshua Martin (JPG)

Fig 5. Doctor Joshua Martin (FindAGrave.com)

Joshua Martin died in Louisville, Kentucky on October 21, 1855. His body was returned to Xenia for burial in Woodland Cemetery. Martin was widely respected, and upon learning of his death, almost the entire community attended his funeral. Robinson spoke to Martin’s character the best: “Few men have left an impress of their own character on a community so distinctly marked as has Dr. Joshua Martin.”

Until Next Time.

Sources:

FamilySearch.org

FindAGrave.com

Greene County Archives

Newspapers.com

Robinson, G. F. (1902). History of Greene County, Ohio. The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company

Jan 07

The County Seat: A Brief History of Xenia

Posted on January 7, 2022 at 2:10 PM by Melissa Dalton

Did you know that the current Xenia charter was signed on January 1, 1918, but Xenia was originally incorporated in 1817? So, why was the charter signed over 100 years later?

When Xenia was originally founded, it was organized under a federal form of government. However, in 1918, the city adopted the commission-manager form of government. This form of government is used most frequently by local government in the United States, and combines elected officials with appointed administrators. The idea is that by having an elected body and appointed body as part of the government, it creates a system of checks and balances, and promotes transparency.

So now that we have had our government lesson, how about a little history lesson?

Greene County was one of the first counties created by the Ohio General Assembly (Fig 1). Xenia was named the county seat in 1803 and the town was laid out. The first home built in Xenia was that of John Marshall, located on the corner of West Third and South West streets. Shortly thereafter, the first business, schoolhouse, and a courthouse were constructed in town. Due to the many waterways in the region, Xenia saw many milling businesses pop up, particularly gristmills and sawmills. The town also attracted factories such as cordage and twine, paper, tobacco, shoes, and meat packing (Fig 2). Xenia also became home to many churches from various faiths and denominations.

Fig 1. 1803 Ohio County Map (JPG)

Fig 1. Map of Ohio in 1803 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 2. 1879 Map of Xenia depicting paper mill (PNG)

Fig 2. 1879 Map of Xenia depicting paper mill (Greene County Archives)

By 1817, Xenia was incorporated as a town, and gained city status in 1834. That same year, Xenia elected its first mayor, Cornelius Clark. After the Little Miami Railroad came through Xenia in the 1840s, the city witnessed great growth. The introduction of the railway allowed farmers the opportunity to ship goods instead of driving along the dirt roads (Fig 3). It also allowed businesses, such as the mills and factories, to ship products faster as they were now able to ship via rail (Fig 4).

Fig 3. 1873 Map of the 5th Ward in Xenia depicting railroad depot and roundhouse (JPG)

Fig 3. 1873 Map of the 5th Ward in Xenia, with the railroad depot and roundhouse (Greene County Archives)

Fig 4. 1922 Map of Xenia depicting schools, churches, and businesses (JPG)

Fig 4. 1922 Map of Xenia depicting schools, churches, and businesses (Greene County Archives)

In addition to the growth of businesses, other resources were made available to residents. In the 1870s and 1880s, telephone, electricity, and a water works system came to Xenia. In the early 1900s, natural gas was introduced (Fig 5), as was mass transit, making Xenia a hub for the interurban and trolleys. Additionally, Xenia opened its first public library.

Fig 5. Commissioners Journal Vol 16 p 219 (JPG)

Fig 5. Commissioners Journal Vol 16, p 219 (Greene County Archives)

Sadly, Xenia also is known for the 1974 Tornado, which killed 33 people, left 10,000 homeless, and destroyed many businesses, schools, churches, and city buildings (Fig 6). However, the city and residents of Xenia did not let the tornado destroy their spirit. The city came together and rebuilt.

Fig 6. Arrowhead and Windsor Park after 1974 tornado (JPG)

Fig 6. Arrowhead and Windsor Park neighborhoods after tornado (Greene County Archives)

The mass transit system remained for many years, but in the 1980s, the last of the railroads ceased operation in the region. As such, the railways were replaced with bike trails, creating a large bike trail system in Ohio. Today, Xenia is known as the “Bicycle Capital of the Midwest”. The city (and region) also offer some wonderful parks and recreation opportunities for residents (Fig 7).


Fig 7. Xenia Station panel from Rails to Trails online exhibit (JPG)

Fig 7. Xenia Station slide from online exhibit (Greene County Archives)

Until Next Time.

Sources:

Census.gov

Greene County Archives

Wilson, C. K. (2010). Historic Greene County: An illustrated history. Historical Publishing Network