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 27

The Brief and Tumultuous Years of the Colonial Distillery

Posted on September 27, 2019 at 9:06 AM by Elise Kelly

Previously we featured a blog post on the massive fire that severely damaged the Colonial Distillery located in Trebeins Village (also known as Trebeins Station) in Beavercreek Twp. This week, we want to examine the history of the distillery prior to its destruction.

Built in 1901, the Colonial Distillery was one of the largest distilleries in the country. Constructed with the most modern improvements, this massive and almost entirely new facility cranked out a substantial amount of distilled liquor (See Figs. 1 & 2).

Fig. 1 Colonial Distillery (JPG)
Fig. 1 Colonial Distillery Company, Survey Record 8, P. 60 (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 2 Colonial Distillery (JPG)
Fig. 2 Colonial Distillery Company, Survey Record 8, P. 61 (Greene County Archives)

The distillery also provided work for almost one hundred men who processed 1500 to 3000 bushels of corn each day. Homes for these men and their families were to be built on eighteen acres of land near the distillery.

In order to produce such an abundant amount of liquor, the distillery was always in the market for corn (See Fig.3).

Fig. 3 Xenia-daily-gazette-and-torchlight-Nov-27-1901-p-4 (PNG)
Fig. 3 Colonial Distillery Advertisement, Xenia Daily Gazette, November 14, 1902 (NewspaperARCHIVE)

However, in order to meet such a high demand for its product, much of the company’s corn was brought in from the western states, along the Santa Fe Railroad line.

Early in the company’s history, an enormous iron hopper came loose on the grain elevator and plummeted five stories. A company employee named John Mongold was working in the hopper when it came loose and he went for a thrilling ride in the hopper as it crashed through a wooden floor, a double floor, and ended its free fall by smashing into a boxcar (See Fig. 4).

Fig. 4 Xenia-daily-gazette-Nov-14-1902-p-2 (PNG)
Fig. 4 Xenia Daily Gazette and Torchlight, November 27, 1901 (NewspaperARCHIVE)

Fortunately, Mongold survived the accident with only a couple of scratches.

Two years later in 1903, a small outbreak of small pox had infected some of the distillery’s employees. Oddly, the distillery was not quarantined since the men who were infected worked in isolation. Also during 1903, building repairs were needed throughout the distillery and warehouse. The Hoffman-Ahlers Company and the Corcoran Company, both out of Louisville, Kentucky, were hired to complete the repairs. A couple of months after the work was completed, the companies still had not received payment. Subsequently, both Louisville companies took out separate liens on the distillery on account that they were not paid a certain amount for the work done (See Fig. 5).

Fig. 5 Dayton_Daily_News_Thu__Jul_2__1903_ (JPG)
Fig. 5 Dayton Daily News, July 2, 1903 (

To counteract this argument, the Colonial Distillery claimed that the work done by the Corcoran Company was careless and had to be redone. Furthermore, the distillery asserted that the debt should be offset by the incompetent job. In regards to the lien issued by the Hoffman-Ahlers Company, Greene County Judge Thomas Scroggy ruled in favor of the Colonial Distillery and the lien was released. However, the distillery did have to make a deposit of $11,000 to abide the result of the litigation.

Misfortune struck again, when in 1904, the distillery’s dry house became engulfed in flames. With over $200,000 in damage the owner, M.S. Greenbaum, decided not to rebuild at Trebeins. Greenbaum and his family moved back to Louisville, Kentucky and it was not until the 1930s that the Miami Fertilizer Company took over the remaining buildings.

Until Next Time!

Greene County Archives


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