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.

Apr 07

Greene County VIP - Sol Arnovitz

Posted on April 7, 2022 at 10:05 AM by Melissa Dalton

Our next Greene County VIP was a prominent Xenia business owner and civic leader, Sol Arnovitz. Does anyone remember shopping at Sol's in downtown Xenia? Have you ever fished at Sol Arnovitz Park in Xenia? (See Fig. 1)

Fig. 1 Sol Arnovitz Park (JPG)

Fig. 1 View of Sol Arnovitz Park photo via https://www.theoutbound.com

Solomon Arnovitz was born in Poland in 1906. He immigrated to the United States and married Sara Lee Engilman on March 18, 1931 (See Fig. 2). The couple settled on King Street in the City of Xenia and had two children, Beverly and Theodore. Sol owned and operated the retail clothing operation, Sol’s Store at 29 East Main Street in downtown Xenia. A successful businessman, Sol also operated the real estate holding companies, Mercury Realty, Inc. and later Solar, Inc. He owned several properties throughout Xenia. Furthermore, Arnovitz was the founder and director of the Fairborn Farmers and Merchants Bank for several years.

Fig. 2 Sol and Sara Marriage Record (JPG)

Fig. 2 Sol and Sara Arnovitz's 1931 marriage record via Greene County Records Center and Archives

Arnovitz was an instrumental civic leader, serving as a member of the Board of Directors for the Xenia/ Greene County YMCA. He also helped launch the Greene County Joint Vocational School District. Sol and his wife Sara, donated twenty-five acres of land for the Joint Vocational School. Besides his business commitments, Solomon Arnovitz was a member of several organizations including, Eshcol Lodge 55; B’nai B’rith (Jewish Service Organization) of Dayton; Xenia Elks Lodge; Fraternal Order of Police Associates; Xenia’s Rotary Club; and several masonic groups. 

On May 18, 1967, Solomon Arnovitz died from a heart attack leaving his beloved wife and children. He is buried at Beth Abraham Cemetery in Montgomery County, Ohio (Fig. 3). As the Greene County Records Center and Archives, we hold and preserve estate records - including Sol Arnovitz's. Below we have included some features from his estate record.

Fig. 3 Arnovitz Gravemarker (JPG)

Fig. 3 Sol Arnovitz's grave marker in Beth Abraham Cemetery. Photo taken by Gravehuntermary - Mary Downing-Mahan via findagrave.com

 Estate Application (JPG)

Fig. 4 Sol Arnovitz's Estate Record, 12076 via Greene County Records Center and Archives

Last Will and Testament 1 (JPG)

Fig. 5 Sol Arnovitz's Estate Record, 12076 via Greene County Records Center and Archives

Last Will and Testament 2 (JPG)

Fig. 6 Sol Arnovitz's Estate Record, 12076 via Greene County Records Center and Archives

Last Will and Testament 3 (JPG)

Fig. 7 Sol Arnovitz's Estate Record, 12076 via Greene County Records Center and Archives

Until Next Time!

Sources:
https://www.theoutbound.com
findagrave.com
https://www.newspapers.com/image/39494862/?terms=sol%20arnovitz&match=1
Greene County Records Center and Archives
 


Feb 02

Greene County VIP: Arthur E. Morgan

Posted on February 2, 2022 at 10:10 AM by Melissa Dalton

Our next Greene County VIP is well known in the region as the engineer of the Miami Conservancy District (MCD) flood control project and his commitment to Antioch College. Today, we highlight Arthur E. Morgan (Fig 1).

Fig 1. Last Will and Testament of Arthur E. Morgan, page 1 (JPG)

Fig 1. Last Will and Testament of Arthur E. Morgan, page 2 (JPG)

Fig 1. Last Will and Testament of Arthur E. Morgan, page 3 (JPG)

Fig 1. Last Will & Testament of Arthur Ernest Morgan (Greene County Archives)

Arthur Ernest Morgan was born on June 20, 1878 in Cincinnati, Ohio to John and Anna Morgan. John, an engineer, moved the family to St. Cloud, Minnesota shortly after Arthur was born. Morgan always had an inquiring mind and was eager to learn. After graduating high school, Arthur set out on his own, traversing the Mississippi River and making his way west to Colorado. Morgan always enjoyed being outdoors, and along the way, sought out odd jobs that afforded him the opportunity to work outside. Arthur also took some college courses while in Colorado. It was at this time that he learned more about engineering, specifically hydraulic engineering.

After three years on his own, Morgan returned home and entered into business with his father, forming Morgan & Morgan. He honed his skills while working as an apprentice to his father. Morgan was ambitious, and willing to take on challenging problems. In 1904, at the age of 26, Morgan offered to draft the statewide standards for drainage control for Minnesota. Morgan’s proposal was adopted and he was offered a job as the state engineer (which he declined).

In 1904, Morgan married Urania Tamar Jones, and their son, Arthur Ernest Morgan, Jr., was born the following year. Sadly, Urania died just months after the birth of their son. In 1910, at the age of 32, Morgan established his own engineering firm, Morgan Engineering Company in Memphis, TN. In 1911, Morgan married Lucy Griscom and the couple had two children, Griscom and Frances.

After the 1913 flood, Morgan was called on to assist the Miami Valley region in devising a flood prevention plan as his expert knowledge of drainage control and hydraulic engineering made him the perfect man for the job. Within days of the flood, Morgan came to Dayton to assess the damage and create a plan. The MCD was established, and the Miami River Flood Control Project was underway. Ultimately, five dams were constructed along the tributaries of the Great Miami River (Fig 2).

Fig 2. Consulting engineers visiting Lockington Dam, 1919 (JPG)

Fig 2. Consulting Engineers visiting Lockington Dam, 1919 (Miami Conservancy District)

Morgan was active in the Unitarian Church, and was the vice-president of the American Unitarian Association. The beliefs and ideals of the church influenced his work, and Morgan had utopian dreams of society. In 1919, Morgan was appointed as a trustee of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The college was failing, and the following year, Morgan was appointed President. Morgan spent the next sixteen years rebuilding the school, and focused on turning out well-rounded individuals (Fig 3). As such, students were required to take coursework in the humanities, sciences, personal finance, health, and physical education. Morgan also instituted a work-study program, allowing students the opportunity to gain valuable work experience during the course of their studies. Morgan also was known for taking long walks in Glen Helen on the weekends, and had an open invitation for students and faculty to join him.

Fig 3. 1930 US Census with Morgan family outlined (JPG)

Fig 3. 1930 US Census with Morgan family outlined (Ancestry.com)

In 1933, Morgan was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to direct the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the first large scale regional planning program in the United States. Morgan saw this as an opportunity not only to provide resources and development to a region ravaged by the Great Depression, but also to change the standard of living for Americans (Fig 4). He believed that small communities were vital to society, and used this opportunity to breathe life into small towns in Tennessee. However, Morgan was not in unison with his fellow board members on many issues, but did see success in many of his early projects. In 1938, tension between the members reached a breaking point, and Morgan was removed from the agency after he publicly voiced his criticism of the program.

Fig 4. Arthur E. Morgan during tenure as a member of the TVA (JPG)

Fig 4. Arthur E. Morgan as member of the TVA (Library of Congress)

Morgan returned to Yellow Springs, but stayed active and committed to his work in engineering and the future of small communities. In particular, in 1940 he founded the Community Service Inc. in Yellow Springs to study the future of small communities. Lucy Morgan died in 1972 and three years later in 1975, Arthur Morgan died at the age of 97 (Fig 5). To pay homage to the great educator and engineer, in 1976, Lucy and Arthur’s ashes were reinterred at the entrance of Glen Helen and a large boulder was placed over the site (Fig 6). Today it stands as a memorial to man of great resilience and fortitude.

Fig 5. Obituary of Arthur E. Morgan (JPG)

Fig 5. Obituary of Arthur E. Morgan (Ancestry.com)

Fig 6. Arthur and Lucy Morgan Memorial at Glen Helen Nature Preserve (JPG)

Fig 6. Memorial for Arthur and Lucy Morgan at Glen Helen Nature Preserve (FindAGrave)

Sources:

Ancestry.com

FindAGrave.com

Greene County Archives

Library of Congress

Miami Conservancy District

Jan 28

David Mitchell: Early Settler of Greene County

Posted on January 28, 2022 at 11:17 AM by Melissa Dalton

It never ceases to surprise us when we come across a record that opens up a story. This week, we have an indenture record that was originally recorded in Fayette County, Kentucky, and subsequently, recorded in Greene County upon the arrival in Ohio.

For those unfamiliar with indenture records, these records were legal agreements between two parties, in which the skilled master of a trade provided a child an apprenticeship in said trade, along with shelter, food, and usually some basic education. These contracts name both parties, and the terms of the indenture agreement – including length of contract and the conditions/provisions of contract.

Indenture records were fairly common in the 18th and early 19th centuries. In the below example, the child was found to have no other means, and his overseer believed an apprenticeship was his best option. This particular indenture record was recorded on 30 November 1807 in Greene County Deed Vol 1 page 414 (Fig 1). It reads:

This indenture made this seventeenth day of January in the hear of our lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety. Witnesseth that whereas by an order of the worshipful Court of Fayette County October 1790 directing me the overseer of the poor to take certain children within my presents for whom there does not appear to be competent provision made and bind them to certain persons that want them whose names were mentioned in the court and approved of in order to have them educated and brought up in an industrious Christian like manner, I do therefore in obedience to said order and compliance with my duty as overseer of the poor hereby put and bind one of the said children William Underwood of the age of four years to David Mitchell of the county aforesaid and with him to stay and faithfully serve for and during the term of 17 years that is to say from the day of the date hereof until he arrives at the full age of twenty one years during all which time he the said apprentice his master will and faithfully shall serve and all his lawful commands do and obey and the said master in consideration of said apprentices services shall learn to read and write and cypher to the rule of three also learn him the business or occupation of a farmer during all which time he the said master shall allow said apprentice sufficient meat drink washing and lodging and all other necessaries for him also at the expiration of his time to give him besides his comfortable wearing apparel the sum of three pounds ten shillings or the value thereof in other clothing. In witness whereof we have here unto set our hands and seals the day and year first above written.

Teste

John Maxwell                                                    John McDowell (seal)

Thos Clark                                                        David Mitchell (seal)

Recorded and Ex’nd

November 30th 1807                                        John Paul Recorder for Greene County

Fig 1. Greene County Deed Vol 1 p 414 (JPG)

Fig 1. Greene County Deed Vol 1 p 414 (Greene County Recorder)

You may notice a few things about this record. First, it doesn’t provide the state, but we believe it must be Fayette County, Kentucky as Fayette County, Ohio was yet to be established (as was the state of Ohio). You also may be surprised that the child, William Underwood, was only four years old. That’s very young, but we have found indenture records for children as young as two years old. Additionally, if you are a long-term Greene County resident, the name David Mitchell likely rings a bell. David Mitchell was one of the original colonial settlers of Xenia. If you aren’t as familiar with Greene County history, here’s what we know about David Mitchell.

David Mitchell was born in Ireland in 1737, and Mitchell immigrated to the United States around 1760 with his wife, Margaret, settling in Pennsylvania. The couple had five children – Elizabeth, James, Margaret, Sarah, and Ruth.

Mitchell served as part of the Lancaster County, PA militia during the Revolutionary War, serving with various regiments and battalions throughout the war (Fig 2). After the war, Mitchell and his family relocated to Fayette County, Kentucky, near Lexington. Mitchell joined the Presbyterian Church under Adam Rankin, and followed him to the Associate Reform church. However, they left this congregation due to its tolerance of slavery, and joined Rev. Robert Armstrong’s Associate Presbyterian Church.

Fig 2. David Mitchell headstone indicating service during Revolutionary War (JPG)

Fig 2. David Mitchell headstone indicating service during Revolutionary War (FindAGrave)

When Rev. Armstrong emigrated to Greene County, Ohio, many of his church members followed to assist in the establishment of a new church, including David Mitchell. Mitchell arrived in Greene County around 1803, and lived on land near Clark’s Run (purchased by his son-in-law, David Laughead) in what later became Cedarville Township. David and Margaret lived the remainder of their lives on this land. David died on June 10, 1817 and was buried in Massie’s Creek Cemetery (also known as Stevenson’s Cemetery). Margaret died on February 4, 1825 and was buried with David in Massie’s Creek Cemetery (Fig 3).

Fig 3. Last Will & Testament of David Mitchell (JPG)

Fig 3. Last Will & Testament of David Mitchell (Greene County Archives)

In Mitchell’s will, he left all his real and personal property to his wife and children. Additionally, he left his two grandsons, David Mitchell Small and David Mitchell Kyle, land in Township 5 Range 8 Section 6 and Section 12, in what later became Clark County. This was part of a land patent, and after his death, his heirs filed the patent to establish rights to land (Fig 4).

Fig 4. Land Patent for the Heirs of David Mitchell, 1819 (JPG)

Fig 4. Land Patent for the Heirs of David Mitchell, 1819 (Bureau of Land Management)

I wish we could tell you we learned just as much about Mitchell’s apprentice, William; but sadly, we were unable to locate any records that proved/disproved who he was or what happened to him once his indenture contract ended. We know William was born around 1786, likely in Fayette County, Kentucky. We also know he emigrated to Ohio with Mitchell as they recorded the indenture record with the local government. But, we don’t have census records for Greene County until after Mitchell’s death. Many indenture agreements were between family, so it is possible that William was related to David or Margaret in some way.

I know we have many followers, and many of you are far more familiar with the families of Greene County. Does anyone know anything about the Mitchell family and their connection to William Underwood? If so, we would love to hear it!

Until Next Time.

Sources:

Ancestry.com

Dills, R. S. (1881). History of Greene County. Odell & Mayer.

FindAGrave.com

Greene County Archives

Overton, J. (Ed.) (1995). Revolutionary War Veterans of Greene County, Ohio. Greene County Chapter, Ohio Genealogical Society.

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

U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management