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.

Sep 16

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Week!

Posted on September 16, 2021 at 12:08 PM by Melissa Dalton

Did you know that Greene County is home to the only Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in Ohio? Wilberforce University and Central State University are the only two in Ohio, and both have a very long history. As last week (September 5 – September 11) was National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week, we wanted to acknowledge the history and achievements of the two institutions in our region.

Wilberforce University

Wilberforce University (WU) is the oldest private HBCU in the United States. Wilberforce was founded in 1856 in the area of Tawawa Springs, during a time in our nation’s history when many African Americans were enslaved and denied the right to learn to read or write, let alone receive any sort of higher education. It was a bold endeavor, and as such, the University was named for William Wilberforce, an abolitionist, who is famously quoted as saying “we are too young to realize that certain things are impossible… So, we do them anyway.”

In 1862, shortly after the start of the Civil War, Wilberforce was forced to close. However, in 1863, Bishop Daniel Payne of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (Fig 1), negotiated for the purchase and reopening of the University. On July 10, 1863, the University was re-incorporated and Payne became the President of the University.

Fig 1. Bishop Daniel A. Payne (PNG)

Fig 1. Bishop Daniel A. Payne (from M. Broadstone's 1918 History of Greene County, Ohio)

Wilberforce University has endured, and this year marks 165 years since the original establishment of the university. Wilberforce is a four-year accredited liberal arts institution, and offers roughly twenty programs of study, as well as several extra-curricular activities for the students (Fig 2). Wilberforce continues to make its students the top priority, and last year, forgave $375,000 in student loan debt for students graduating in 2020-2021.

Fig 2. Catalogue for Wilberforce University, 1899-1900 (JPG)

Fig 2. Catalogue for Wilberforce University, 1899-1900 from the 1901 Courthouse Time Capsule (Greene County Archives)

Central State University

Central State University (CSU) had its beginnings as a part of Wilberforce University. In 1887, the Combined Normal and Industrial Department was established at Wilberforce by the Ohio General Assembly. This department was developed to provide training for teachers, as well as vocational education, and offered two-year degree programs (Fig 3).

Fig 3. 1938 Map of Wilberforce College and the Normal and Industrial Department (JPG)

Fig 3. 1938 Map of Wilberforce College, and the Normal and Industrial Department (Greene County Engineer Maps)

Although the department remained part of WU, a separate board of trustees was appointed. In 1947, the department formally split from Wilberforce and became the College of Education and Industrial Arts at Wilberforce. In 1951, the name was changed to Central State College, and fourteen years later in 1965, the institution gained university status, becoming Central State University.

Central State University is an 1890 Land-Grant Institution, which are historically black universities that were established under the Second Morrill Act of 1890. The intention of the Act was to expand research and teaching in the food and agricultural sciences, and would be open to all applicants regardless of race, sex, creed, or color.

The University saw continued growth for many years, but when the 1974 tornado hit, almost seventy percent of the facilities/buildings were destroyed. However, the spirit of the school was not lost, and students returned to classes and the university was determined to rebuild.

Fig 4. Map of the affected areas of the 1974 Tornado, with many CSU buildings destroyed (JPG)

Fig 4. Map of the affected areas of the 1974 Tornado, with many CSU buildings destroyed (Greene County Engineer Maps)

Today, Central State University remains a public institution, and offers over thirty bachelor degree programs. It has weathered many storms during its 134-year history, but continues to strive to provide quality and affordable education to all students.


Central State University:

Wilberforce University:

Greene County Archives

Sep 09

Back to School! Highlights of Greene County Educational Programs

Posted on September 9, 2021 at 10:13 AM by Melissa Dalton

School is back in session for all of our local Greene County districts, and this is a great time to highlight the educational programs and resources we have available here at the Greene County Archives!

As we are still in the grips of a pandemic, returning to in-classroom programming wasn’t much of an option. Instead, we have continued to focus on virtual programming. As you may remember, we took the opportunity last year to record all of our current educational programs, and they are available on our YouTube channel. These programs cover various local history topics, and are suitable for a range of ages. Below you will find a synopsis of our programs, along with links to the recordings and program materials.

Slavery in AmericaManumission Record (JPG)Emancipation Record for Godfrey Brown, 7 March 1820 (Greene County Archives)

Slavery is an unfortunate part of America's history and was a reality, especially in the southern states. Ohio's original state constitution (1802) banned slavery; however, by 1804, the Ohio General Assembly enacted the Ohio Black Codes to govern African Americans residing in the state. These Codes required free African Americans to register their names with their local court. This registration process required one to provide emancipation papers or witnesses that could corroborate a person's "free" status. Many free African Americans migrated to Greene County, Ohio where there was a strong abolitionist movement and cheap fertile farmland. Several families settled around the Wilberforce area and established prosperous communities.

4th – 5th Grade Program Video (via YouTube)

4th – 5th Grade Program Materials (via Archives website)

8th Grade Program Video (via YouTube)

8th Grade Program Materials (via Archives website)

High School Program Materials (via Archives website)**

**The high school program does not have a video as the students work directly with the materials, although the content in the first half on the Piper family is the same as the 8th grade program. However, as this is self-guided, please feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

Coming to AmericaGiuseppe Mazzolini Declaration of Intention (JPG)Declaration of Intention for Amos Mazzolini, 24 March 1930 (Greene County Archives)

Students will learn why many immigrants migrated to the United States during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. To correspond with this discussion, the program features a “show and tell” activity where the speaker will bring in a suitcase and discuss items that many immigrants brought with them during their long journey. We will discuss the immigrant’s journey before boarding, on the ship, and the inspection process afterward. Students will work in small groups on the activity utilizing primary resources concerning a particular immigrant. Overall, students will learn the reasons why many immigrants came to the United States, they will understand the difficult journey many of these families had to make, and the circumstances they faced once they arrived.

4th – 6th Grade Immigration Program Video (via YouTube)

4th – 6th Grade Immigration Program Activity Video (via YouTube)

4th – 5th Grade Immigration Program Materials (via Archives website)

5th – 6th Grade Immigration Program Materials (via Archives website)

The 1913 Flood and the Move of Osborn

1896 Map of Osborn (JPG)1896 Map of Osborn (Greene County Archives)

In March 1913, the state of Ohio experienced a substantial amount of flooding and damage, with the Dayton region experiencing the worst flood in its history. In order to avoid future catastrophic destruction, the Miami Conservancy District was established and the District purchased parts of land throughout Montgomery and Greene Counties to construct dams. The original town of Osborn, located in Bath Township (Greene County), was situated on a flood-prone basin of the Huffman Dam. To finish constructing the dam, the ENTIRE town of Osborn relocated two miles southeast next to the village of Fairfield. In 1950, both towns merged and became the city of Fairborn.

4th – 6th Grade Osborn Program Video (via YouTube)

4th – 5th Grade Osborn Program Materials (via Archives website)

4th – 5th Grade Osborn Program Activity Video (via YouTube)

5th – 6th Grade Osborn Program Materials (via Archives website)

5th – 6th Grade Osborn Program Activity Video (via YouTube)

A Glimpse into the Past: Using Time Capsules to Learn about Local HistoryJamestown Postmaster Stamps from 1901 Greene County Courthouse Time Capsule (JPG)Stamps from Jamestown Post Master deposited into 1901 Courthouse Time Capsule (Greene County Archives)

Time capsules are containers designed to hold items that inform future generations about the history of today. They provide a snapshot of everyday culture and society, and are usually created at an important time – maybe the building of a structure, creation of an organization, or during a period of great change. This program looks at two time capsules from Greene County and explores why certain items were selected, as well as what the viewer may learn about that time by the contents of each capsule. Students then discuss what items are important to them and to think about what they think their life will be like at different stages. This discussion will lead to the selection of items for their own class time capsule, with a description of why those items were selected. The final product will be a class time capsule to be opened at a time designated by the teacher.

4th Grade Time Capsule Program Video (via YouTube)

4th Grade Time Capsule Program Materials (via Archives website)

5th – 6th Grade Time Capsule Program Video (via YouTube)

5th – 6th Grade Time Capsule Program Materials (via Archives website)

Other Resources

In addition to our educational programs, we also have several resources and activities put together by us and other organizations, and all are available on our Educator’s Resources page. For younger children, we have activities on our Student Resources page, including a word search, coloring book, crossword puzzle, and digital puzzles. We also have three activity packets on learning about maps, genealogy, and biographies, which can be downloaded as a PDF and printed.

Lastly, we would like to invite you to look beyond our educational programs as you may find something of interest in our other resources! Over the past year, we have recorded several virtual public programs (which cover a variety of local topics), as well as virtual tours of our facility, recordings of the 1925 Victrola, and genealogy how-to videos. All these resources are available on our YouTube Channel. We hope you will take advantage of some of our many resources, and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Sep 02

Preserving History: The Greene County Infirmary and Greenewood Manor

Posted on September 2, 2021 at 9:39 AM by Elise Kelly


Fig. 1 1977 Aerial View of Greenewood Manor (Greenewood Manor Collection)

This past July, after forty-four years, Greenewood Manor (a County-run nursing and rehabilitation center), closed its doors for the last time. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Greenewood Manor struggled to gain and hold residents. For the County, it was no longer economically feasible to operate. To commemorate the history and service of Greenewood Manor, we have created a new online exhibit that chronicles Greenewood Manor and its predecessor, the Greene County Poor House/Infirmary/County Home. 

In 1816, the state of Ohio ratified a bill permitting all Ohio counties the right to establish poor houses in order to meet the needs of the increasing state population. By 1828, the Commissioners of Greene County purchased about one-hundred acres of land in Xenia Township for the purposes of erecting a one-story building for the County's indigent and destitute (See Fig. 2). Stays could be short if the person was able to find work and get back on their feet. Lodging was sparse and minimal.


Fig. 2 Greene County Commissioners' Journal 5, Page 126 (Greene County Archives)

As the years progressed, the poor house began to outgrow its simple structure. By the mid-nineteenth century, the County replaced the building with a two-story structure that included a wing for the mentally ill. By this time, the poor house was also operating as an infirmary. Residents or "inmates," as they were referred to, suffered from disabilities, and physical/mental illnesses. The County's Poor House/Infirmary outgrew its capacity and in 1869 and a grand, three-story structure was built (See Figs. 3 & 4). Included on the plat of land was a farm that the residents worked on (See Fig. 5). In addition, residents were assigned housekeeping duties. All of the residents had to follow a set of strict rules (See Fig. 6). 


Fig. 3 Blueprint of 1869 Greene County Infirmary/Poor House/County Home (Greene County Archives)


Fig. 4 Blueprint of 1869 Greene County Infirmary/Poor House/County Home (Greene County Archives)

01Fig. 5 Exterior view of the Greene County Infirmary/Poor House/County Home and the farm (Greene County Archives)


Fig. 6 The Greene County Infirmary Rules (Greene County Archives)

The daily administrative records reveal the financial accounts, admissions, and discharges of the institution (See Figs. 7, 8, & 9). Conditions were satisfactory according to the visitor's register and a visiting medical doctor. Since its inception, the Poor House/Infirmary/County Home, was governed by a director who was responsible for administrative duties including, examining the conditions of the "inmates" and the manner in which they were fed and clothed. In 1913, these administrative duties were reassigned to the County Commissioners.


Fig. 7 Greene County Poor House/Infirmary/County Home Day Book, 1829-1891 (Greene County Archives)


Fig. 8 Greene County Poor House/Infirmary/County Home Day Book, 1829-1891 (Greene County Archives)


Fig. 9 Greene County Infirmary/County Home Admissions and Discharges Ledger, 1840-1907 (Greene County Archives)

In 1977, after one hundred and eight years, the building could no longer properly house people and was torn down (See Figs. 10 & 11). In November 1975, Greene County voters approved a tax levy for the purpose of constructing a new and modern care center. Construction was completed in 1977 and Greenewood Manor was established (See Fig. 12). Greenewood Manor provided its residents with excellent care and services including: health care; activity programs; dietary and social services; and financial assistance (See Figs. 13 & 14).


Fig. 10 Exterior of Greene County Infirmary/County Home (Greene County Archives)


Fig. 11 Exterior of Greene County Infirmary/County Home being torn down (Greene County Archives)

Exterior of Greenewood Manor (JPG)

Fig. 12 Exterior view of Greenewood Manor (Greenewood Manor Collection)


Fig. 13 Former residents and staff of Greenewood Manor (Greenewood Manor Collection)


Fig. 14 Interior view of Greenewood Manor (Greenewood Manor Collection)

If you would like to see this new exhibit in its entirety, please check out our Flickr page

Until Next Time!

Broadstone, M.A. History of Greene County, Ohio, Volume I. Indianapolis, IN:B.F. Bowen & Co., 1918.
Greene County Commissioners’ Journal 5Greene County Board of Commissioners. Welcome to Greenewood Manor: A Guide for Residents and their Families. 1981.Greene County Records Center & Archives – “Life Among the Lowly: An Early View of an Ohio Poor House.”