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 13

Leaving Your Mark on the World: Whitelaw Reid's Last Will and Testament

Posted on September 13, 2019 at 9:41 AM by Elise Kelly

Last week, we featured a blog post on the life of Whitelaw Reid. We learned that he had purchased the Xenia News prior to the Civil War and later became the editor-in-chief, publisher, and owner of the New York Tribune (See Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 New York Tribune (JPG)
Fig. 1 The Tribune’s New Home (1875) (Image courtesy of Jeff Reuben via

Reid also served as a U.S. diplomat for over a decade during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. While serving as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom in 1912, Reid passed away in London at the age of seventy-five.

This week's blog post will examine Whitelaw Reid's last will and testament. According to his will, which was written in 1894, most of Reid's property was bequeathed to his wife Elisabeth Mills Reid, which included the opulent Ophir Hall located in Westchester County, New York (See Fig. 2).

Fig. 2 Ophir Hall (JPG)
Fig. 2 Ophir Hall, Purchase, New York (Image courtesy of SMU Libraries Digital Collection via

The estimated value of Reid's assests totaled $1,343,087. In today's economy, as adjusted for inflation, the amount would be over $29,000,000.

When Whitelaw Reid died, his son, Ogden Mills Reid, was living below Central Park in Manhattan. Whitelaw Reid’s will specifies that Ogden Mills Reid would receive ownership of his father's property located in Cedarville, Ohio. The Cedarville home was constructed in 1823 in the architectural manner of the Queen Anne style (See Fig. 3).

Fig. 3 House in Cedarville (JPG)
Fig. 3 Whitelaw Reid’s former home in Cedarville, Ohio (Image courtesy of Greene County GIS)

At the time Whitelaw Reid’s will was drafted, his mother was living in the home in Cedarville. Reid directed in his will that “all the expenses shall be paid for the comfortable and proper maintenance” of his mother. However, his mother, Marion Reid, passed away in 1895, seventeen years before Whitelaw Reid died. She is buried in Massies Creek Cemetery in Cedarville (See Fig. 4).

Fig. 4 Marion Reid gravemarker (JPG)
Fig. 4 Marion Reid’s gravemarker in Massies Creek Cemetery (Image courtesy of

Several decades later, Whitelaw Reid’s Cedarville home became the home of Governor Mike DeWine. The Dewines presently still own the property.

Another stipulation in Reid's will was that if Ogden Mills Reid displayed “capacity and aptitude for the work,” he should ultimately succeed control of the New York Tribune. Before his father’s death, Ogden Mills Reid attended Yale Law School and was a reporter for the Tribune. After Whitelaw Reid passed, Ogden Mills Reid became the editor and the owner of the newspaper (See Fig. 5).

Fig. 5 Will for Ogden Mills Reid highlighted (JPG)
Fig. 5 Whitelaw Reid’s 1894 Last Will and Testament (Image courtesy of the Greene County Archives)

In 1924, Ogden Mills Reid purchased the New York Herald and in 1931 he combined the Tribune and the Herald naming the newspaper the New York Herald Tribune.

An additional directive in Reid’s will included the serene property on the Upper St. Regis Lake located in the Adirondacks. Christened Camp Wild Air, the property was built on a twenty-nine acre peninsula accessible only by water. Camp Wild Air’s buildings still stand and consist of a main lodge, an eight bedroom guest cottage, two boat houses, and a recreation hall (See Fig. 6).

Fig. 6 Camp Wild Air (JPG)
Fig. 6 Camp Wild Air, c. 1902, photo taken by William Henry Jackson (Image courtesy of Historic Saranac Lake –

The property was to be bequeathed to Whitelaw Reid’s daughter, Jean Templeton Reid. However, when Whitelaw Reid died in 1912, his daughter, now Jean Templeton Reid Ward, was married to John Hubert Ward (See Fig. 7).

Fig. 7 Lady John Ward (JPG)
          Fig. 7 Lady John Ward (Image courtesy of The Library of Congress via

Ward, a British Officer who served in the Boer War, was also an Equerry (a personal attendant of a member of the Royal Family) for the British Monarch. The couple lived in St. James Square in the exclusive St. James district in the City of Westminster. Since Jean Templeton Reid Ward lived in England, Camp Wild Air was transferred to Whitelaw Reid’s wife, Elisabeth. Elisabeth enjoyed many summers at Camp Wild Air.

Later in her life, during the First World War, Elisabeth boarded a ship bound for Great Britain to visit her daughter Jean. She then went on to France to visit hospitals (See Fig. 8).

Fig. 8 Elisabeth Reid passport (JPG)
Fig. 8 Elisabeth Mills Reid’s Passport issued in 1916 (Image via

Elisabeth Mills Reid was a generous philanthropist who engaged in work with the Red Cross. Elisabeth died in 1931 and her son Ogden inherited Ophir Hall in Westchester County, New York.

As we conclude this blog post, it is interesting to reflect upon the fact that Whitelaw Reid started out in Cedarville, Ohio and owned the Xenia News, only to later become the owner of a nationally influential newspaper (New York Tribune) and a U.S. Ambassador.

Until Next Time!

Greene County Archives
Greene County GIS
Historic Saranac Lake (Camp Wild Air)


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