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.

View All Posts

Dec 21

H. H. Eavey and Eavey & Co., Part I: The Early Years

Posted on December 21, 2017 at 2:53 PM by Melissa Dalton

On December 14, 2017, we were invited, along with about 15-20 other folks, to tour the old Eavey building, located on the southwest corner of Detroit Street and Third Street. For those that may not be familiar with its history, the Eavey & Co. Wholesale Grocers was established in 1869 by H.H. Eavey as a wholesale supply house for grocery stores. However, H.H. Eavey’s story started long before he made a name for himself in the grocery business, so let’s start this journey at the beginning.

Image of H.H. Eavey from History of Greene County Ohio book
 Figure 1: H.H. Eavey

Henry H. Eavey was born on August 6, 1840 near Hagerstown, Maryland to John and Margaret (Knode) Eavey. When Henry was an infant, his family moved to a farm in Greene County, Ohio.

1850 US Census listing H.H. Eavey as 9 yr old child
Figure 2: 1850 Census

Not content with the farm life, Henry (not long after his 16th birthday) moved to Xenia to work for David Hinton, the owner of a small grocery store on East Main Street. Henry earned roughly $8 per month, and was provided board. After nine months of work, Eavey grew unhappy with the work and decided to return to farm life. However, it only took a few months for him to remember why he left the farm in the first place. But before we go any further with this story, let’s take a little side trip.

In October 1859, Henry, around the age of seventeen or eighteen, took a trip to visit relatives near the Potomac River. As he was making his way to the train station in Charlestown, VA (now Charleston, WV), he entered the town the day the raid on Harper’s Ferry started. As Henry was an unfamiliar person, he was arrested as a “suspicious character”, and only was released once he could prove his identity the following morning. Below is an article from the Xenia Daily Gazette recounting the experience.

Xenia Daily Gazette, October 22, 1909 - Fiftieth Anniversary Harper's Ferry Raid
Figure 3: Xenia Daily Gazette, October 22, 1909

Once Henry decided that farm life wasn’t for him, he returned to Xenia to give the grocery business another try. In 1859, Eavey took up employment with Daniel Dean, another grocer in Xenia. Eavey stayed with Dean’s grocery business, working as a clerk (see Figure 4: 1860 Census), until the Civil War erupted.

1860 US Census listing H.H. Eavey as a clerk at Daniel Dean's store
Figure 4: 1860 Census

On August 12, 1862, Eavey enlisted with the Union Army, as a member of Company H, Ninety-fourth Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry. On September 1, 1862, Eavey was captured near Lexington, Kentucky. During his imprisonment, Eavey sustained injuries, causing permanent disabilities. Due to these injuries, Eavey was discharged from service on October 21, 1862 and returned to Xenia.

Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, Vol. VI
Figure 5: Roster of Ohio Soldiers

Upon his return, Eavey took up his previous position at Dean’s store, which was now owned by Frank E. Arnold. Eavey stayed with Arnold until May of 1865, when he decided to open his own store on Main Street. Eavey’s grocery was a success from the start and that’s where his story really gets interesting, but you’ll have to wait until next week to read on, so stay tuned!

Broadstone, M. A. (1918). History of Greene County Ohio: Its People, Industries and Institutions. Indianapolis: B.F. Bowen & Company, Inc.
Roster Commission. (1888). Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, Vol. VII, 87th-108th Regiments-Infantry. Cincinnati: The Ohio Valley Press.
The Evening Gazette, April 19, 1918
United States Census, 1850
United States Census, 1860
Xenia Daily Gazette, October 22, 1909



You must log in before leaving your comment