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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Dec 06

"Pig-Iron Mike" Escapes from Workhouse

Posted on December 6, 2019 at 7:59 AM by Elise Kelly

During the turn of the twentieth century, a woman dubbed “Pig-Iron Mike” created quite the raucous in the cities of Xenia and Dayton. In 1900, the Xenia Daily Gazette reported several instances in which “Pig-Iron Mike” had downed too many shots of whiskey and howled throughout the night. During the month of May 1900, “Pig-Iron Mike” was out at Lucas Grove (which is now Kil Kare) and was picked up by Officer Dodds for drunk and disorderly conduct. She was fined almost $33.00, which in today’s economy would be over $1,000. She was also promptly sent to the workhouse in Dayton for thirty days. She is listed as a prisoner in the 1900 census record (See Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 1900 Census (JPG)
Fig. 1 1900 Federal Census Record of Dayton City Workhouse (

After twelve days at the workhouse, “Pig-Iron Mike” escaped. According to the Xenia Daily Gazette, no special effort was made to retrieve her as long as she behaved in a proper manner.
A couple of months later in September 1900, “Pig-Iron Mike,” whose real name was Lydia or Lyda Simpson, had a wild gathering at her home on South West Street in Xenia (See Fig. 2). When the police were called, Simpson dashed out of the house and made her escape. However, she was soon summoned by the authorities, but she did not go quietly. Once taken in, her former sentence was reinstated and her new sentence was added. In total, Simpson was to serve thirty-eight days in the workhouse. For her second disorderly conduct charge, Simpson was fined $29.50, which in today’s economy would be almost $900.00.

Fig. 2 City of Xenia Map (JPG)
Fig. 2 Excerpt showcasing S. West Street, City of Xenia Map, circa 1920s (Greene County Archives)

Amusingly, “Pig-Iron Mike” broke free a second time from the workhouse when she pried off one of the boards to the fence surrounding the works. Three years later, Simpson was again picked up for drunken and disorderly conduct on Christmas. The headline in the next day’s Xenia Daily Gazette read, “Too much Christmas for these persons” (See Fig. 3). We certainly can ascertain that Simpson liked her liquor a little too much. “Pig-Iron Mike” had repeated stints in Dayton’s Workhouse, one in 1910 and one in 1911. During her term in 1911, she was asked whether or not she would be attending the coronation of King George VI of the United Kingdom. She defeatedly sighed, “I wouldn’t have anything to wear anyhow” (See Fig. 4).

Fig. 3 XDG Dec. 26 1903 (JPG)
Fig. 3 Xenia Daily Gazette, December 26, 1903 (

Fig. 4 Dayton Herald Jun. 20 1911 (JPG)
Fig. 4 Dayton Herald, June 20, 1911 (

Until Next Time!

Greene County Archives


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