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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Nov 16

Black Roots: Birth Locations of Ohio's Free Blacks by Amy Brickey

Posted on November 16, 2018 at 12:54 PM by Melissa Dalton

When Ohio was formed out of the Northwest Territory, it was decided that the state would be a free state, meaning Ohio would not allow the practice of slavery. As such, Ohio became somewhat of a beacon of hope for enslaved African Americans, and even for free African Americans living in the South. I have recently been working on a Story Map creation that uses census data from 1850 and 1860 to trace the birth locations of the African Americans listed on those censuses. The Story Map is an extension of my internship here at the Greene County Archives that ties into another Story Map I created for my Fellowship with the Ohio Historical Records Advisory Board (OHRAB). The counties include the eleven counties surveyed during the OHRAB Fellowship: Auglaize, Champaigne, Clark, Darke, Greene, Logan, Preble, Mercer, Miami, Montgomery, and Shelby.

The numbers for all the counties were incredible, but Greene County stood out as having the highest free Black population of all the counties for both 1850 and 1860. In 1850, 647 free African American men, women, and children were listed on the census. They had come to Greene County from places as close as Kentucky, and places as far away as Louisiana. 77% of the entire free Black population was living within the City of Xenia itself, an outstanding 500 individuals. It is possible that formerly enslaved people knew about Xenia because of Tawawa Springs, a resort where slave owners could bring enslaved women, which is the present site of Wilberforce University. There are also seven names on the 1850 census that appear in the Manumission Records here at the Archives. Those names are: James Battles, James Battles, Jr., John Battles, Wilson Battles, Agnes Brown, William Brown, and William Roberts.

The free African American population in Greene County continued to flourish, reaching 1,470 individuals by the time the 1860 census was taken. While the population had slowly spread out from the City of Xenia, birth locations were starting to become more widespread as well. People were coming from as far away as Texas, Connecticut, and the brand new state of Iowa. Perhaps the most surprising birth location recorded on the census was for a 40 year old man named James Marshall who stated he was born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. By this time, Wilberforce University had been established after being bought by the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1856, and was successfully educating much of the Black population in and around Xenia. This successful institution likely had a hand in bringing more African Americans to Greene County for permanent settlement.

If you would like to see the Story Map for yourself and read about some Black History in Greene County, as well as some surrounding counties, please feel free to visit by clicking: Thanks for reading, and remember to contact us if you have any additional questions!

Until Next Time...


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