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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Feb 23

The Hanging of Jesse Ransbottom: Part III

Posted on February 23, 2018 at 12:40 PM by Melissa Dalton

This week marks the final installment of our Ransbottom story. We know for sure that Fanny and Jesse had two children – the child Fanny was carrying when she was murdered, and David, the child that was boarding with another family (and visited his father the day of the execution). Although we cannot say definitively that the people discussed below are the children of the Jesse and Fanny Ransbottom, all evidence points to them being so.

According to the court transcript, David Ransbottom was boarding/working with the Sheley family prior to the murder. Additionally, he is listed on the 1850 Census (Fig 1) as still living with the Sheley family. In the 1860 Census, David is a day laborer, living with the Elson family in Miami County (Fig 2). Sometime after moving to Miami County, David met Margaret Ann Cooper, and on November 11, 1860, they married (Fig 3).

1850 Census showing David living with Sheley Family1860 Census showing David living with Elson Family
Figs 1 & 2: 1850 Census showing David living with Sheley Family in Greene County, Ohio / 1860 Census showing David living with Elson Family in Miami County, Ohio (

David Marriage
Fig 3: Marriage License of David Ransbottom and Margaret Ann Cooper (

David joined the Army and was a member of the 11th Regiment, Company B, of the Ohio Infantry. This regiment was organized and stationed at Camp Dennison from April until June 1861. The unit reorganized in June, but the “three months’ men” were discharged. It appears that David was a part of the men mustered out, because he joined the 36th Regiment, Company G, of the Indiana Infantry on October 22, 1861. David was captured during the Battle of Chickamauga, a campaign fought September 18-20, 1863. We are unsure of his whereabouts (prisoner of war, etc.) after being captured, but he died in Baltimore on March 17, 1865 (Figs 4-6). David Ransbottom was buried in Loudon Park National Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland (Fig 7).

36th Indiana Infantry List
Pension file for DavidPension file for David
Figs 4-6: Various Military Records of David Ransbottom ( /

Headstone of grave of David Ransbottom
Fig 7: Headstone of grave of David Ransbottom (

Howard was merely a toddler when his parents died. According to the Greene County Infirmary Admission and Discharge records, Howard was admitted on June 22, 1849, just two days after his mother was brutally murdered. The 1860 Census lists him as living in the poor house (Fig 8). The Admission/Discharge records indicate that he was discharged in 1860 (Fig 9). However, there also is a possibility that Howard may have, if only briefly, lived with a Shaker family in the Watervleit Shaker Community around 1857 (Fig 10), but the Admission/Discharge records do not make any reference to him being discharged prior to 1860. It appears that Howard was in and out of the Infirmary as a teenager, mostly with a condition of “weak” or “diseased” eyes, between 1860 and 1862 (Figs 11-12). Howard joined the Union Army as part of the 113th Regiment, Company I, of the Ohio Infantry in early 1862.

1860 Census listing Howard as living in poor house
Fig 8: 1860 Census listing Howard as living in poor house (

Excerpt from Admission/Discharge Records for Greene County InfirmaryFig 9: Greene County Infirmary records indicate that Howard was admitted June 22, 1849 and discharged April 16, 1860 (Greene County Archives)

Excerpt from Shakers of OhioMap of Watervleit Shaker Community in Montgomery County
Fig 10: Excerpt from Shakers of Ohio / Map of Watervleit Shaker Community in Montgomery County, Ohio

Howard admitted to Infirmary in 1860
Excerpt from Admission/Discharge Records for Greene County Infirmary from 1862
Figs 11-12: Various Admission/Discharge Records showing Howard in and out of Infirmary between 1860 and 1862 (Greene County Archives)

Also in 1862, we ran across something interesting in the Admission/Discharge records – the birth of Howard Ransbottom II – born October 20, 1862. Although the mother is never listed, each time, Howard II is admitted and discharged at the same time as Rowena Seldomridge. Young Howard appears many more times, but the last admission was 1865, when he was five years old. The record is silent after that (Figs 13-16). [As a side note: it is quite possible that Howard was unaware of the birth of his son. He joined the military prior to the birth and wasn’t discharged until 1865. His military records indicate he was single/unmarried and had no family or relatives.]

Birth of Howard Ransbottom II
Howard II and Rowena Seldomridge admitted when Howard is still baby
Howard II and Rowena admitted again when Howard is a toddler
Last time records indicate that Howard II and Rowena were admitted to Infirmary
Figs 13-16: Various Greene County Infirmary Admission and Discharge Records for Howard II and Rowena Seldomridge (Greene County Archives)

Howard (Sr.) fought in the Civil War and was discharged in 1865 after his service term expired, and he was recorded as a disabled soldier. According to the record found from the National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers (in Dayton), Howard was disabled due to “inflammation in both eyes.” Howard lived the remainder of his life in the Dayton Soldiers Home and died on February 2, 1907, being buried in the Dayton National Cemetery. The record indicates the cause of death was syphilis, which might explain his lifelong battle with diseased eyes (Figs 17-19).

Howard's record from the US National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers1880 Census showing Howard living in Soldiers Home
Grave Registration Card for Howard
Figs 17-19: Various Military Records for Howard Ransbottom ( /

The Ransbottom boys had a rough life. Their story is tragic and I hoped for something good to happen to the boys, but David died in the Civil War and Howard fought illness and homelessness his entire life. I wished to learn something more of Rowena Seldomridge and poor little Howard, but to no avail. So sadly, this is where the story ends.

Until Next Time…

Greene County Archives
J.P. MacLean, PhD., Shakers of Ohio, Fugitive Papers Concerning the Shakers of Ohio, with Unpublished Manuscripts, The F. J. Heer Printing Co., Columbus: OH, 1907
Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Indiana: Vol. 5, Samuel M. Douglass, Indianapolis: IN, 1866


Terry Dalton
February 24, 2018 at 7:50 PM
Very interesting. Good to see the old records are being salvaged and put to good use. Although I live in Montgomery county, I spent a number of my younger years in Greene County.

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