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

Oct 01

To Thee I Wed: Marriages of Greene County

Posted on October 1, 2015 at 10:02 AM by Elise Kelly

As we begin to turn the corner and enter the month of July, I've been reflecting on what has happened this past month. The Cleveland Cavaliers were ALMOST crowned NBA Champs, two convicts escaped from an Upstate New York Prison, and young adults all throughout the country graduated from high school.

Image courtesy of Werner Wittersheim via Flickr
 One other thing I noticed throughout the month were the numerous weddings taking place. Almost every weekend I have seen long flowing white gowns, vibrant flowers being tossed in the air and “Just Got Married” signs hitched to the back of cars. Apparently, June is the most popular month to get married.

While working here at the Greene County Archives, I have come across some fascinating marriage records, a gorgeous wedding dress and a snapshot of an elated bride before she walks down the aisle. All of these items uniquely 
capture the marriages that took place in Greene County. 

Quaker Weddings
One of the most simple and beautiful wedding ceremonies that I have learned about are the wedding rituals of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Buried in a Miscellaneous Record Book from the Recorder's Office, my co-worker discovered the record of a Quaker marriage.What exactly happens at a Quaker Marriage?

First, the couple announce their intentions at a local Society of Friends Meeting. Following the couple's announcement, the members discuss the marriage and either approve or disapprove. Below we see that William M. Smith of Cedarville and Flay McDorman of Clark County made their intentions known before a Monthly Meeting held at Green Plain. The members gave their blessing for these two to join as husband and wife.

1904 Marriage Record

Flay was to become Mrs. William Smith. On the day of the ceremony, members of the Society gathered at the home of Flay's father, W. A. McDorman. The ceremony began by gathering for silent worship. The couple sat in front of the congregation and exchanged "promises." Let's take a look at the promises William and Flay exchanged. FYI - Quaker marriage vows are simple, short and egalitarian.

Location of Marriage and William's Vows

Flay's Vows

In Quaker Society, there are no clergy. No one "married" Flay and William. According to Quaker tradition, they were married by God and declared their intentions before God. Below is the couple's marriage pronouncement.

Pronouncement of Marriage

The marriage record lists the members that attended the wedding. These people were recorded as witnesses. I recognized several of the names listed in the record. They include many Greene County Family Names such as: Dinnwiddie, Taggart, Jobe and Carpenter.

Wedding Dresses
What do you think Flay wore at her wedding? I presume she wore something simple and practical. If you are interested in wedding dresses, we have a beautiful and elegant wedding dress that we store here at the archives for the Yellow Springs Historical Society.

The dress was owned and worn by Ms. Harriet Carr. Carr was joined in matrimony to Frank Neibel in 1906. Part of the lace sewn into the wedding dress is from a garment worn at a governor's ball held in Cuba! Harriet's daughter's, Margaret and Dorothy, both wore their mother's wedding dress when they were married. Here we see Dorothy happily posing in front of the mirror before her big day in 1947.

Part of Yellow Springs Historical Society's Collection
Part of Carr/Botsford/Brewster Family Photo Collection - Yellow Springs Historical Society

Parent's Consent
In the State of Ohio, individuals who are younger than 18 must have their parent's consent to marry. Here at the archives we have many letters from parents notifying the court of their consent. One mother, from the territory of Hawaii, (before it was a state) had difficulty addressing the court. (See Below)


Her daughter Pam, was a young seventeen year old student at Antioch College who planned to marry a fellow student. Eventually the consent form was ratified and Pam married her college sweetheart.

A Labeled Marriage 
One last record that I want to highlight is a 1914 marriage certificate. Ms. Lulu Mae Johnson, a Music Teacher from Yellow Springs, and Mr. James Arthur Dunn, an Architectural Draftsman from Kentucky, are applying for a marriage license.

What I found perplexing about this marriage certificate were the small handwritten letters "Col" written in the margin. Paging through the 1914 marriage book, I found the same entry written in the margins numerous times. I presumed it meant "Colored." Why did the race of these couples matter? Why did they have to record that? It is very poignant to come upon this record now, as our country mourns the loss of nine African Americans, who were gunned down because of the color of their skin.

Until Next Time!
This Week's Trivia Question: Name a township in Greene County that had one of the oldest Society of Friends organizations?
Last Week's Trivia Answer: The Family Tree of __________ has been maintained for over 2,500 years and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest extant family tree. Name this family. - Confucius.


You must log in before leaving your comment