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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Nov 27

The Ties that Bind Us: The Doss Family Criminals of Clinton County by Amy (Brickey) Czubak

Posted on November 27, 2019 at 2:13 PM by Elise Kelly

There are many times where doing historical research can lead one down a twisting, seemingly never-ending rabbit hole. The Doss family of Clinton County is exactly one of those research rabbit-holes. My first encounter with the Doss family was through a probate record for a little girl named Betty Miller. It was a dependent and neglected child case where little Betty’s mother, Clara Belle (aka Clarabelle or Clara Bell) Doss was charged with neglecting her daughter thus causing her to become dependent on the state for help. At the end of one of the court documents (Fig. 1) was a statement that read, “The Doss family has quite a criminal career. The State published a brochure on the record of this family. The mother was sentenced to Delaware 1920, paroled Sept. 1921, and returned in October 1922. He grandmother has been at Marysville at least twice. Other children in the family and the father have quite a record. They were all sentenced from Wilmington, Clinton Co.”

Fig. 1 Probate Record (JPG)
Fig 1: Probate court document concerning Doss family criminal behavior. Courtesy of the Greene County Archives

I began researching the family through newspapers and census data. Clara Belle Doss’ father was a man named George Washington Doss. George Doss married Clara Belle’s mother, Ollie (Olive) Frances Pierce in Union County on December 5, 1918. Interestingly, all of Ollie and George’s children were born before they were married. George Doss’ criminal behavior was documented in Clinton County’s newspaper, the Clinton County Democrat, on several occasions. Members of the Doss family were arrested for everything from petty larceny to arson, and from bastardy to attacking someone with a hatchet. Although their list of offenses would be too long for this blog, here are some examples:

· 27 January 1903: Henry Doss (George Doss’ uncle) appeared before the Mayor of Xenia on an assault and battery charge
· 14 April 1903: Henry Doss (same) sent to the “works” for abusing his wife
· 07 December 1903: Henry Doss (same) arrested for chasing his wife with a knife
· 07 October 1909: George Doss committed to jail for slashing someone with a hatchet
· 28 October 1909: George Doss shot the man he previously attacked with a hatchet
· 14 November 1912: Charles Doss (George Doss’ brother) sent to Mansfield for burglary and larceny
· 01 May 1913: Harvey Doss (George Doss’ brother) arrested for stealing cattle right after being paroled
· 31 August 1916: Ollie Doss (George Doss’ wife) arrested for forgery
· 06 September 1917: Ollie Doss and her sister in law, Goldie Doss (George Doss’ sister), arrested for larceny

Although George and Ollie had only been married since December 1917, George filed for divorce from Ollie on 12 July 1919 while Ollie is still in jail. The 1920 census for Clinton County reveals that Ollie and George’s children were all in the Clinton County Children’s Home as both parents had been incarcerated for various crimes (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2 Census Record (JPG)
Fig 2: 1920 census listing Ollie Doss as an inmate in the Union County Women's Reformatory

I reached out to the Clinton County Archives’ Records Manager Bobbi Hoffman, but she was unable to locate the brochure published by the state on the Doss criminal history. She did, however, inform me that Charles Doss, George’s brother, hung himself at the age of 64. Charles Doss’ son and daughter, Charles Jr. and Mary, had been arrested for theft by the age of 10. George’s father, Jesse James Doss, had to have his estate turned over to a friend when he died because none of his children were fit to handle his estate. Research rabbit-hole, indeed!

Fig. 3 Clara Belle and George Doss (JPG)
Fig. 3 Clara Belle and George Washington Doss courtesy of

“Appearance.” Xenia Daily Gazette (Xenia, OH), Jan. 27, 1903.
“Arraigned.” Clinton County Democrat (Wilmington, OH), Sept. 6, 1917.
“Arrested.” Clinton County Democrat (Wilmington, OH), Aug. 31, 1916.
“Burglary at Shanks Barber Shop.” Clinton County Democrat (Wilmington, OH), Nov. 14, 1912.
“Clara Belle and George Washington Doss.” Photograph., Mar. 9, 2019.
“Cutting and Shooting Affray.” Clinton County Democrat (Wilmington, OH), Oct. 7, 1909.
Greene County Archives probate records, State of Ohio vs. Clarabelle Doss.
Hoffman, Bobbi. 'Doss Family'. Email, Mar. 6, 2019.
“Judge Mills was in Midland on Tuesday.” Clinton County Democrat (Wilmington, OH), May 1, 1913.
US Federal Census 1920, Clinton County and Union County.
“Wife Claims Her Husband Chased Her with a Knife.” Xenia Daily Gazette (Xenia, OH), Dec. 7, 1903.


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