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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Sep 06

A Giant Among Journalists and Diplomats

Posted on September 6, 2019 at 12:15 PM by Melissa Dalton

When our volunteer ran across the file to authenticate the will of Whitelaw Reid, she brought it right to our attention (Fig 1). To be honest, I was not familiar with Mr. Reid or his work, but after reading his will, I was quite intrigued. If you are a long-time Greene County resident, or are just interested in the history of this County, you may be well-aware of Reid and his accomplishments. However, for those unfamiliar (like myself), we thought a short biography of Reid may help people better understand the man.
Fig 1. Will of Whitelaw Reid, page 1 (JPG) Fig 1. Will of Whitelaw Reid, page 2 (JPG)
Fig 1. Will of Whitelaw Reid (Greene County Archives)

Whitelaw Reid was born on October 27, 1837 to Robert and Marion Reid of Cedarville, Ohio. At the age of 16, Reid enrolled at Miami University and became heavily involved in extracurricular activities, joining the Erodelphian Society (a literary society) and the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. These early experiences helped shape Reid’s interest in public affairs. Reid graduated, with honors, from Miami University in 1856. Reid decided to continue his studies, and earned his Master’s degree in 1860 (Fig 2).

Fig 2. Whitelaw Reid as a young man (JPG)
Fig 2. Whitelaw Reid as a young man (

The Reid family purchased the Xenia News in 1858, and this is where Whitelaw got his first taste of journalism. During the Civil War, Reid became a war correspondent for the Cincinnati Gazette, and wrote under the name of “Agate”. He worked his way to becoming the Washington, D.C. correspondent, a position he held until 1868. Due to his journalism during the War, he was recruited by Horace Greeley, the editor of the New York Tribune, in 1868 as an editorial writer. Reid took full advantage of this opportunity, providing coverage of the Franco-German War and provided “antisensationalist” journalism at a time when that was uncommon. Upon the death of Greeley in 1872, Reid became the editor-in-chief and publisher of the New York Tribune.
Reid remained a bachelor for many years (Fig 3), but that changed when he met Elizabeth Mills, the daughter of prominent American banker, D. O. Mills. Reid and Mills wed in Manhattan, N.Y. on April 26, 1881. The couple had two children – son, Odgen Mills and daughter, Jean Templeton (Fig 4).

Fig 3. 1880 U.S. Census with Whitelaw Reid, and his niece, listed (JPG)
Fig 3. 1880 Census with Whitelaw Reid listed, and his niece living with him (

Fig 4. 1900 U.S. Census with the Reid family, and staff, outlined in red (JPG)
Fig 4. 1900 Census with the Reid family and staff outlined in red (

Reid was a Republican, and known for his support of the party and its policies – personally, financially, and through his journalism. This support lead to Reid being selected by President Benjamin Harrison to be the U.S. Ambassador to France, a position he held from 1889-1892. When Harrison ran for reelection in 1892, he selected Reid as his vice-presidential running mate, but the presidency was lost to Grover Cleveland (Fig 5).

Fig 5. Excerpt from the Xenia Daily Gazette dated June 11, 1892, indicating Harrison and Reid as run
Fig 5. Excerpt from Xenia Daily Gazette dated June 11, 1892 indicating Harrison and Reid as running mates (

However, Reid’s political career did not end there. In 1898, he was appointed by President William McKinley to the U.S. Peace Commission after the Spanish-American War. Reid believed in U.S. territorial expansion, and due to his influence, the U.S. was able to acquire the Philippines in the Treaty of Paris.

Reid was later appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, a position he held from 1905 until his death on December 15, 1912 at the age of 75 (Fig 6).

Fig 6. Obituary of Whitelaw Reid in the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated December 16, 1912 (JPG) Fig 6. Obituary of Whitelaw Reid in the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated December 16, 1912 (JPG)
Fig 6. Obituary of Whitelaw Red in the Xenia Daily Gazette dated December 16, 1912 (

Now that we have a bit of background on Reid, next week we will delve into his will.

Until Next Time!



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