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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Oct 12

Murder of William "Billy" Fletcher

Posted on October 12, 2018 at 3:07 PM by Melissa Dalton

Are you ready for the next ghost story? We thought so! Harold Igo (1943) wrote a series of ghost stories, which were compiled and published by the Yellow Springs Historical Society, and we have a good one for you. This story starts with a haunting, and ends in murder…

Igo’s story begins in 1866, after the Civil War has ended. Many people fell on hard times after the war, and according to his story, George Folk (Folck) was no different. He was having difficulties keeping his farm afloat, and had 10 children and a wife to care for. Life became too hard for him, and one night, he drank himself to death (Fig 1).

Fig 1. Harold Igo's story, No. 13 Hamlet Ghost in Osborn (JPG)
Fig 1. Harold Igo’s story, No. 13 Hamlet’s Ghost in Osborn (Greene County Archives)

His wife (who remains unnamed in the story), struggled to survive, and all her children were doing what they could to save the farm and family. Then one day, a young man named Billy Fletcher, came to the rescue. Within a year of him coming into their lives, he saved the family farm, and won the heart of the (much older) widow Folk. Fletcher and Folk were married, much to the dismay of the Folk children.

The Folk boys (and in-laws) were so unhappy with the union that they decided to take matters into their own hands. They started “haunting” Billy Fletcher with the ghost of their late father, attempting to scare Fletcher with ghostly figures and whispers. However, Fletcher was unnerved. The boys were displeased with his lack of response to these hauntings, and one son-in-law, Will Pettigrew, decided he had enough. One night, Pettigrew drew Fletcher out of his house to the barn. Fletcher barely made it to the barn when he was shot dead. Pettigrew turned himself in for the murder, but claimed that Fletcher tried to kill him. Although authorities found that Fletcher never fired his gun, they “winked” and never revealed this information. The story concludes that Pettigrew was found “not guilty” of murder, and hoisted on shoulders and paraded out of the court, with a committee gifting him a new suit and sack of flour.

Although Igo’s story is a good one, there are many inaccuracies. First, names in this story are incorrect. This story actually is about the Jacob Folck family, not George. Jacob Folck married Elizabeth Frick on December 2, 1819 in Greene County, Ohio (Fig 2). Jacob and Elizabeth had several children (some records indicate upwards of 10 children, but we haven’t been able to confirm that).

Fig 2. Marriage License of Jacob Folck and Elizabeth Frick (JPG)
Fig 2. Marriage Certificate of Jacob Folck and Elizabeth Frick (JPG)
Fig 2. Marriage Record of Jacob Folck and Elizabeth Frick (Greene County Archives)

The Folck families and Frick families all owned a great deal of land in Bath Township, and bought, sold, and willed to family members (Fig 3). However, the plots of most interest for this story are in Section 31 Township 3 Range 8 AND Section 7 Township 3 Range 8. Jacob owned parts in both, and in Section 31, he bought the land from his step-son, Henry Wilson. Wilson’s great-grandfather, Henry Landis, left him the land in his will. Henry sold the land to Jacob Folck in 1840, but when Jacob died in 1866, his will left all land to his wife, and then in equal shares to his legal heirs. So, where does that leave Henry and his rights to the land, over 200 acres, he sold to Jacob?

Fig 3. 1874 Greene County Atlas with Folck/Frick Property oulined (JPG)
Fig 3. 1874 Greene County Atlas with two plots of land outlined (Greene County Archives)

Not long after the death of Jacob Folck, William “Billy” Fletcher entered the picture. Records indicate that Billy and Elizabeth married in April 1868 (Fig 4). Stories abound that the Folck children were angered with the marriage, especially considering Elizabeth was close to 20 years his senior, and in her 70s.

Fig 4. Marriage Record of Elizabeth Frick and William Fletcher (JPG)
Fig 4. Marriage Record of Elizabeth Folck and William Fletcher (Greene County Archives)

One fateful night in July, just months after the marriage of Billy and Elizabeth, Billy was shot and killed by Henry Wilson, Elizabeth’s oldest son, in what Henry reported as self-defense. Henry’s statement indicated that Billy shot him first, and he returned fire. After realizing Billy was dead, Henry walked straight to the authorities and turned himself in.

The authorities came out of the farm and investigated. Washington Galloway was called to map the crime scene (Fig 5) to allow them to better understand what happened. However, Henry’s story just didn’t match up. The investigation proved that Billy’s gun was never fired and Henry was indicted for murder in the first degree (Fig 6). The trial went as expected, and on April 12, 1869, Henry was found guilty of the crime. Henry filed a motion for a new trial, which was granted. The second trial was heard, and on November 30, 1869, Henry was found not guilty, and told to “go home without day [delay].”

Fig 5. Washington Galloway map of the Fletcher crime scene (JPG)
Fig 5. Washington Galloway map of the Fletcher crime scene (Greene County Archives)

Fig 6. State Final Record 4, pg 491 (JPG)
Fig 6. State Final Record 4, pg. 491 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 7. State Final Record 4, pg 497 (JPG)
Fig 7. State Final Record 4, pg. 497 (Greene County Archives)

So, why do you think Henry killed Billy? Did you think it was in self-defense? Or, do you think Henry just didn’t like Billy and questioned his intentions? Do you think Henry was worried Billy would try to take the family land? Whatever the reason, we may never know…

Until Next Time…

[Side note: We will delve deeper into the Folck/Frick story and family history in a later blog post. It’s too good of a story to not tell!]

Greene County Archives
Igo, Harold. (1943). Haunted Houses: Spooky Tales of Yellow Springs. Yellow Springs Historical Society.


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