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.

May 14

The Bailey House Hall

Posted on May 14, 2021 at 10:54 AM by Melissa Dalton

Old advertisements can provide a glimpse into the past. They indicate what may have been important to a community, what people did for entertainment, where the community members shopped, and what they were buying (or being encouraged to buy). One particular advertisement we have in our collection is for the Star Dancing Club located at the Bailey House Hall (Fig 1).

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Fig 1. Star Dancing Club advertisement, 1883 (Greene County Archives)

The Bailey House Hall (also spelled Bailie) was located on the corner of W. Main Street and N. West Street in Xenia, Ohio, and had quite a life – from a seminary, dance club, skating rink, headquarters for the Salvation Army, gymnasium, tenements, mission school, and apartment building – all prior to being demolished to build a gas station. This week, we thought it would be interesting to give a brief history of the Bailey House, and shine some light on the rich life of the building (Fig 2).

Fig 1. Star Dancing Club advertisement, 1883 (PNG)

Fig 2. 1890 Sanborn Map (Greene County Public Library)

The Bailey House Hall was built around 1855 and originally was a seminary for the Presbyterian Church. In 1879, a new seminary was built, and the building was sold. Just a few years later, in 1883, the Star Dancing Club gave their first “public hop” at the Hall (Fig 3). The music for the hop was provided by the Xenia Orchestra, and the first dance witnessed roughly 150 people in attendance. The Bailey House Hall continued to host the Star Dancing Club, and many public dances were held, especially during the holidays.

Fig 1. Star Dancing Club advertisement (inside), 1883 (PNG)

Fig 3. Xenia Daily Gazette, 17 Oct 1883 (Newspapers.com)

In 1885, a skating rink opened at the Bailey House, and included good music, “tip-top” floors, rental skates, and a band stand (Fig 4). The dances continued during this time as well, and there are many articles in the Xenia Daily Gazette speaking to balls and local bands playing for the attendees. This same year, the Salvation Army moved its headquarters to the Bailey House (Fig 5).

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Fig 4. Xenia Daily Gazette, 16 Feb 1885 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

 
Fig 2. 1890 Sanborn Map (JPG)

Fig 5. Xenia Daily Gazette, 21 Oct 1885 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

 

In 1888, a gymnasium was opened by Professor Alonzo Day in the Bailey House, being furnished with bathrooms, a trapeze, ladders, swinging rings, hand pulleys, and dumbbells. Professor Day was a Xenia native, and the newspaper highly regarded him as an expert on “physical development” (Fig 6).

Fig 3. Xenia Daily Gazette, 17 Oct 1883 (JPG)

Fig 6. Xenia Daily Gazette, 28 Feb 1888 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Around 1897, the building was sold, and it became apartments known as the Miami Flats. According to one article, the Miami Flats had roughly 35 apartments, and there are a few notes of fights breaking out. Just a few years later, the building was sold again, but remained residential. During this time, a Mission School opened at the Flats, and had regular attendance of 70 to 100 members.

In 1911, the Miami Flats were remodeled to hold six apartments, with each having six rooms and a bath (Fig 7). It remained an apartment building until 1934, when it was decided to raze the building to make way for a new gas station (Fig 8), which eventually became a Sunoco Gas Station.

Fig 4. Xenia Daily Gazette, 16 Feb 1885 (PNG)

Fig 7. Xenia Daily Gazette, 11 Jul 1911 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

 
Fig 5. Xenia Daily Gazette, 21 Oct 1885 (PNG)Fig 6. Xenia Daily Gazette, 28 Feb 1888 (PNG)

Fig 8. Xenia Daily Gazette, 26 Jan 1934 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

The Bailey House Hall stood on the corner of Main and West streets for over 75 years and provided opportunities for worship, entertainment, physical activity, and housing. Quite a life for one building!

Until Next Time!

Sources:

Greene County Archives

Greene County Public Library

NewspaperARCHIVE.com

Newspapers.com

May 06

Social Thinker and Advocate for the Working Class: M. Thomas Tchou

Posted on May 6, 2021 at 2:37 PM by Melissa Dalton

May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI), and we would like to celebrate by highlight a couple of Greene County residents who made an impact on our region, and even globally. The first person we would like to highlight is M. Thomas Tchou (Fig 1). Fig 1. Lecturer Pamphlet, University of Iowa Libraries, 1940 (JPG)

Fig 1. Lecturer Pamphlet (courtesy of the University of Iowa Libraries, https://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/islandora/object/ui:tc_21311_21309)

Montchen Thomas Tchou was born in China in 1895. A descendent of Chinese philosopher and Confucian scholar, Chu His, Tchou became a Chinese classics master by the age of twelve. In 1908, Tchou enrolled at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, earning bachelor degrees in mechanical and civil engineering, and naval architecture. While a student, Tchou met his future wife, Jean Brown.

After earning his degrees in 1916, he and his wife, Jean, returned to China, where they began a family. They had one child, Raymond, who was born in China in 1924.

Tchou served as the private secretary to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek of the Chinese Army, and established the Officer’s Moral Endeavor Association (which was the forerunner to the New Life Movement in China). Tchou’s public service continued, and he served three years as the director of the Department of Labor and the chief representative of China at the International Labor Conferences in Geneva. During this time, he dedicated time to drafting China’s housing, factory, and child labor laws and plans.

Tchou traveled Europe and the United States, and became well-versed in politics (Fig 2). In addition to his native Chinese language, Tchou was fluent in English, French, and German. It likely isn’t surprising that Tchou was considered one of the leading social thinkers of the time – a passionate advocate for social legislation, education (especially for labor workers/working class), and improving the housing and education systems. Something else we found interesting is that he was praised as one of the foremost painters in China.

Fig 2. 1929 Passenger List for Olympic Ship (JPG) Fig 2. 1929 Passenger list for Olympic Ship bound for New York (Ancestry.com)

Tchou’s work as a social thinker and eloquent speaker gained him great notoriety. There are newspaper articles from all over the United States highlighting his lectures and praising his work (Fig 3). Fig 3. Chinese Native Speaks Monday on Rotary Institute Program, Xenia Gazette, 28 Oct 1939 (PNG) Fig 3. Waterproof Rotary News, Tensas Gazette, 17 Nov 1950 (JPG)Fig 3. Alumni Speaker Leader in China, Wilmington News-Journal, 8 Jun 1939 (JPG)

Fig 3. Articles from newspapers regarding Tchou lectures, 1939, 1950 (Newspapers.com)

He taught at universities throughout the United States, and lectured extensively. In 1946, Tchou began teaching at Oberlin College (Fig 4), and in 1952, he and his family moved to Yellow Springs. We know little as to why the family moved here, but they remained in the region. His son, Raymond, attended Antioch College, and earned a BA in electrical engineering. In 1959, Raymond married Janet Pattee in Yellow Springs (Fig 5). Fig 4. 1946 Manifest for S.S. General M. C. Meigs (JPG)

Fig 4. Ship Manifest for S. S. General M. C. Meigs, 1946 (Ancestry.com)

Fig 5. Marriage Record for Raymond Chu and Janet Pattee, 1959 (JPG) Fig 5. Marriage Record for Raymond Chu & Janet Pattee (Greene County Archives)

Montchen Thomas Tchou died on December 25, 1965 in Cleveland, Ohio at the age of 70 (Fig 6). His body was returned to Yellow Springs, and he was buried in Glen Forest Cemetery next to his wife, Jean. Fig 6. Obituary for M. Thomas Tchou, Willoughby News Herald, 27 Dec 1965 (PNG)Fig 6. Gravestone for M. Thomas and Jean (Brown) Tchou (JPG)

Fig 6. Obituary for M. Thomas Tchou (Newspapers.com) / Tchou headstone at Glen Forest Cemetery (FindaGrave.com)

M. Thomas Tchou was an exceptional man who worked diligently for equality and social measures that would better the lives of his fellow citizens. Today we are honored to recognize him as a Greene County resident.

Until Next Time.

Sources:

Ancestry.com

FindAGrave.com

Greene County Archives

Newspapers.com

University of Iowa Libraries

Apr 30

Preserving and Safeguarding Personal Collections

Posted on April 30, 2021 at 10:44 AM by Melissa Dalton

This month has been quite full of archival and records awareness initiatives! This week, we celebrated Preservation Week, and tomorrow is MayDay. As such, these are great opportunities to think about the importance of preservation of your personal and professional records and materials.

Here are some astounding numbers to help illustrate why preservation is important. A 2005 comprehensive study conducted by Heritage Preservation concluded that 4.8 billion items are held in U.S. institutions. There are countless other items held in personal collections, be it photographs, letters, manuscripts, maps, textiles, books, and film, just to name a few. Of the 4.8 billion items, 630 million are at risk due to improper care (or lack of care). Additionally, 2.6 billion items are not protected by disaster preparedness plans. And, mind you, these estimates are from 2005, making them 16 years old. These numbers also do not fully appreciate digital objects, which experience growth exponentially.
Records from the Greene County Archives collections (JPG)

You might be asking, what can I do now? All it takes is one thing, and there is nothing too small. Maybe you read about best practices and implement some into your current strategies. A great resource is the “Saving Your Stuff” sheet provided by the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS), which is a division of the American Library Association (ALA). These quick tips can guide you in protecting various media and materials, from audio, books, film, textiles, photos, and more! Even if it’s just relocating the materials to a more stable storage environment, it can make a huge difference in the life of the object.

Tomorrow is MayDay, so this also is a great time to consider disaster preparedness. Many think disaster preparedness only applies to our institutions and organizations, but it is important to think about personal collections, too! Are your collections stored in a safe location? If you had a water leak or flooding, are they at risk of damage? What about a fire? Considering all the possible scenarios can help you create a plan that will safeguard your personal collections from disaster.

MayDay logo from SAA (JPG)

Today we encourage you to do one thing to safeguard and preserve your personal collections. Check out the ALA website for webinars, tips, and other resources to guide you. And, if you have any questions, we are here to help!

Until Next Time!

Sources:

ALA. (2021). About preservation week. http://www.ala.org/alcts/preservationweek/about.

ALA. (2015). Saving your stuff. http://www.ala.org/alcts/preservationweek/howto.

SAA. (2021). MayDay: Saving our archives. https://www2.archivists.org/initiatives/mayday-saving-our-archives.