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.

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May 12

Fred F. Marshall: Greene County’s Unsung Hero in Dayton’s Aviation History

Posted on May 12, 2017 at 3:50 PM by Jessica Cromer

Erix Infante, Wright State University Public History graduate student and intern
is this week’s guest blogger.

Greene County’s Unsung Hero in Dayton’s Aviation History

A resident of Greene County, Ohio for much of his life, aviation enthusiast Fred F. Marshall dedicated his life to the pursuit of flight. Born in Cedarville, Ohio in 1891, Marshall graduated from Cedarville High School, and later went on to earn degrees from Cedarville College and The Ohio State University. At the start of World War One, Marshall was eager to enlist into the armed forces to help the war efforts. Because Marshall had taken college courses in photography, he was placed into the photo section of the Signal Corps of the United States Armed Services. Prior to the war, Marshall had also developed and improved a pantographic apparatus which could be utilized in aerial mapping work. During his tenure in the Signal Corps, Marshall was sent to Columbia University to work on cinematography and photography. It was at this time that Marshall became interested in the development of the aircraft industry due to his close contact with the Army Air Corps. Marshall understood the possibilities of this new industry, and immediately upon his discharge obtained an engineering position at McCook Field in Dayton Ohio.

Marshall’s college education, military engineering training, his journalism experience, and photography skills, made him well equipped to become the creator and head editor of the field journal The Slipstream. After World War One, The Slipstream was among the nation’s first aviation journals which reached a nationwide status. Not only was he the chief editor, Fred Marshall was regarded as one of the first aviation publishers in the nation.

During the 1920s, Marshall began his lifelong fight to ensure that Dayton received the accolades she properly deserved. While working on The Slipstream, Marshall began to promote his idea of making Dayton the aviation hotspot in the United States. In honor of the 25th Anniversary of the Wright brother’s flight, Marshall began promoting the establishment of a Wright Brothers’ Memorial in Dayton instead of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Marshall had been urging U.S. Representatives from Ohio, to establish a museum at Wright Field as well as creating an Aeronautical Engineering school. These requests later resulted in the establishment of the National Museum of the United States Air Force and Air Force Institute of Technology. Aside from pursuing the creation of a museum and an institute of technology, Marshall was also an avid promoter of The Pulitzer Air Races, and having them in the Dayton area. At the time of the National Air Races, he produced a special, expanded issue of The Slipstream with a wealth of information about Dayton McCook Field, military and naval aviation, and air races in the hopes of educating the nation on Dayton’s achievements.

Being the Birthplace of Aviation, it was unthinkable and inexcusable that Dayton not promote its role in the history of flight. Marshall pointed out many times that a lack of heritage could be quite dangerous to the future of Dayton’s economy. He stated “It is important for the newspapers and citizens to become aware of the fact that there is always a present intrigue and rightful place here in Dayton, the fabulous Wright Patterson Airforce Base establishment with its tremendous payroll greatly impacts the Dayton area.” Marshall was encouraged to produce publications illustrating the timeline of the Wright Brothers’ accomplishments. “The Wright Bros. Chronology 1903-1909” was given a registered copyright by the Library of Congress. Towards the end of Marshall’s life, the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce and the McCook Field Alumni held a reunion meeting in Dayton on National Aviation Day in order to announce the personal achievements of Marshall by stating “His constant energy and devotion to aviation, and his burning desire to see the famous Wright Brothers receive further honor and recognition for their many important but sometimes little known contributions to aviation, that these historical events have been brought to light and publicized by the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce.” In addition to being an aviation enthusiast, Marshall was also a historian, a writer, a poet, and a photographer. Constantly on the go, Marshall tried his best to shed light on the many topics which he felt were important to Dayton area history.

Throughout his life, Fred F. Marshall fought not only for his country, but for what he believed was right. Was it the soldier in him which always told him to think about others before himself? Or maybe recognition was something Marshall never wanted in the first place. Marshall passed away in in December of 1974, being an unsung hero for aviation history in the Dayton area.

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Reference for Fred F. Marshall Papers at Wright State –

Marshall, Fred F. Fred F. Marshall Papers. n.p.: 1912. Wright State University Library Catalog,
     EBSCOhost (accessed March 22, 2017).


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