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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Aug 16

Determining Relationships in the Dark Ages: Genealogy Before the Internet by Amy (Brickey) Czubak

Posted on August 16, 2019 at 11:20 AM by Melissa Dalton

Before the internet, tracing genealogy was difficult past a certain point. With the passing of older generations came the realization of knowledge lost – what was the name of that fourth great-grandfather your grandmother mentioned once? No one knows now that Nana is gone. Not only was it difficult to determine relatives from the past, but it was also hard to keep track of who married who, and what children were born to whom once everyone had moved away and lost contact. Knowing descendants is just as important as knowing ancestors, especially when it comes to determining an inheritance.

An estate record from 1931 was having just that problem – they needed to do some genealogy to determine and confirm descendants for Matilda McCollum who had died after her husband. On October 2, 1931, the Greene County Probate Court received a letter from The Supreme Court of Kansas in Topeka regarding the heirs of Matilda McCollum (Fig. 1). The letter states that the persons listed are all first cousins or second cousins of “Tillie” McCollum and therefore should be considered heirs.

Fig 1. Letter from The Kansas Supreme Court in Topeka (PNG)
Fig. 1: Letter from The Kansas Supreme Court in Topeka (Greene County Archives)

Creating a crude family tree, the Greene County Probate Court was able to determine that the Henry family was, indeed, heirs of Matilda McCollum, and so too were some Carsons (Fig. 2).

Fig 2. Crude family tree for Matilda McCollum (PNG)
Fig. 2: Crude family tree for Matilda McCollum (Greene County Archives)

After heirship was determined, the court was finally able to distribute Matilda McCollum’s estate. As was customary, an ad was placed in the Xenia Daily Gazette listing the heirs, their addresses, and other details of the estate in 1933, once heirship was proven (Fig. 3).

Fig 3. Advertisement from the Xenia Gazette (PNG)
Fig. 3: Advertisement from the Xenia Gazette (Greene County Archives)

Individuals were not the only ones who had to go out of their way to do a little ancestry before the internet made finding ancestors and long-lost cousins faster and easier. Courts, too, had to go the extra mile to prove relationships in estate cases, bastardy cases, and even some criminal cases.

Until Next Time!

Greene County Archives Probate Record for Matilda McCollum


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