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

Jul 19

The Freed Families of New Jasper: The Blackburn and Ferguson Families (Part II)

Posted on July 19, 2019 at 9:27 AM by Melissa Dalton

In last week’s blog post, we discussed how Noah Spears, a slave owner from Paris, Kentucky (in Bourbon County), bought several slave families in order to ensure that the families stayed together. Spears eventually emancipated his slaves and bought roughly 400 acres of land in New Jasper Township (near Stringtown) for the families to settle on. Two of the families that we are going to highlight this week are the Blackburns and the Fergusons.

Katy Ferguson, née Blackburn was born a slave and was the daughter of David and Emily Blackburn. David Blackburn was born into slavery in 1808 in Harrison County, Kentucky. (See Fig. 1)

Fig. 1 Map_of_Kentucky_highlighting_Harrison_County (PNG)
Fig. 1 Map of Kentucky highlighting Harrison County (image via Wikimedia Commons)

He was presumed to be the son of his slave master, whose name was also David Blackburn. Upon his master’s death, David Blackburn was granted his freedom upon the condition that he pay one hundred dollars for his emancipation. At the age of forty-one, David was granted his freedom and settled as a farmer in Greene County, Ohio in 1859. He later became a reverend and preached in Xenia. According to an obituary found in the Xenia Gazette, David Blackburn was remembered as being a deeply religious man and an earnest Republican. He died in his early seventies in 1880. (See Fig. 2)

Fig. 2 Rev. David Blackburn Obituary cropped (JPG)
Fig. 2 An excerpt of Rev. David Blackburn’s Obituary, Xenia Gazette, June 21, 1880 (

Katy Ferguson's mother, Emily, was enslaved by the Spears family just south of Harrison County in Bourbon County, Kentucky. Emily passed away before Noah Spears emancipated all of his slaves. Prior to Katy settling in Greene County, she married a native Kentuckian, Edward Ferguson. They had five children and in September 1863, several months after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, the whole Ferguson Family settled in New Jasper Township. Katy and her siblings (Hannah and Harriet) were the ones who were deeded the land. Katy had to pay one dollar to Noah Spears for eighty-three and a half acres of land in Survey #1995. (See Figs. 3 & 4)

Fig. 3 Katy Ferguson Deed (JPG)
Fig. 3 Deed Vol. 41 pg. 350 (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 4 Katy Ferguson Deed pg. 2 (JPG)
Fig. 4 Deed Vol. 41 Pg. 351 (Greene County Archives)

In 1865, the Ferguson family acquired more acreage from Noah Spears. (See Fig. 5)

Fig. 5 1874 Greene County Atlas highlighted (JPG)
Fig. 5 1874 Greene County Atlas – Section of New Jasper Township (Greene County Archives)

By 1880, Edward, Katy, and some of the Ferguson children, were now living on East Market Street in Xenia. Edward worked as a plasterer and died before the turn of the twentieth century. The Ferguson Family owned the land in New Jasper Township up until 1913 when they sold it. By this time, Katy was bedridden and was being taken care of by her son, John Ferguson. Less than a year before Katy died in September 1917 (See Figs. 6 & 7), her son, John Ferguson died.

                                     Fig. 6 xenia-daily-gazette-Sep-27-1917-p-8 (PNG)
Fig. 6 Katy Ferguson’s Obituary, Xenia Daily Gazette, September 27, 1917 (

Fig. 7 Katy Ferguson Death Record (JPG)
                           Fig. 7 Katy Ferguson’s Death Record (

According to John Ferguson's obituary, he was very active in Xenia’s local government and served as an assistant court bailiff and a tax assessor. (See Fig. 8)

Fig. 8 xenia-daily-gazette-Dec-23-1916-p-8 (PNG)
Fig. 8 John Ferguson's Obituary, Xenia Daily Gazette, December 23, 1916 (

After their mother’s passing, the only living Ferguson child was Jennie Womack, née Ferguson. Jennie Womack celebrated her eightieth birthday in 1930 at the Christian Church in Xenia. At this time, she was the oldest member of the church, having been a member for sixty years. For several years, this remarkable family lived, worked, and worshipped in Greene County. Many of them are buried in Cherry Grove Cemetery in Xenia.(See Fig. 9)

Fig. 9 Katy Ferguson grave marker (JPG)
         Fig. 9 Katy Ferguson’s Grave Marker (Photographed by Amy Frederick; Image via

Until Next Time!

Greene County Archives


You must log in before leaving your comment