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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Jan 02

The Popular Custodian of Greene County

Posted on January 2, 2020 at 8:01 AM by Elise Kelly

As we begin a new year, I wanted to look back on what was happening in Greene County one hundred years ago. Flipping through Vol. 24 of the Commissioners’ Journal, I found an early 1920 entry regarding the contract renewal for the janitor of the County Courthouse (See Fig. 1). George Swartz, a life-long Xenia resident, began employment with the courthouse in 1918. His duties included repairs, taking care of the courthouse lawn, monitoring and reporting the supplies needed for the janitor, and winding the clock in the clock tower (See Fig. 2).

Fig. 1 Contract Renewal (JPG)
Fig. 1 Greene County Commissioners’ Journal Vol. 24, Pg. 268 (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 2 Agreement of employment (JPG)
Fig. 2 Greene County Commissioners’ Journal Vol. 24, Pg. 115 (Greene County Archives)

George Swartz was remembered as being a very jovial person who often sang and whistled while he worked. Swartz sang in home-town productions and even caroled a number at Xenia’s Opera House. Prior to his employment with Greene County, Swartz was the custodian for Xenia’s City Hall, beginning in the late 1890s. In 1902, while working in the City Hall Building, George Swartz and Officer Chambliss experienced quite a scare.

Officer Chambliss went down in the basement of the building to check the boiler valves and found a fire under one of the boiler’s apparatus. Officer Chambliss thought the boilers’ water had run out and that City Hall would blow at any point. Hearing of this, Swartz immediately checked the boilers and was relieved to discover that the building was not in danger. Swartz reminded Officer Chambliss that when the temperature of the boiler reached a certain point the water would stop running. If Officer Chambliss would have looked at the water gauge, he would have noticed that the water tank was half-full.

During the following year, City Hall was looking to go in a different direction with their maintenance and terminated George Swartz in 1903 (See Fig. 3). Swartz found work on the “paint gang” for the Pan-Handle railroad in southwest Ohio. However, it seems Swartz was back working as the custodian for City Hall by 1910 (See Fig. 4). There he worked until 1918, when he left and took a position with Greene County.

Fig. 3 XDG article (PNG)
Fig. 3 Xenia Daily Gazette, May 9, 1903 (

Fig. 4 1910 Census Record (JPG)
Fig. 4 1910 Federal Census Record, Xenia City (

According to Federal Census records for the City of Xenia, George Swartz moved often, living on East and West Main Streets, North Collier Street, North Whiteman Street, and Dayton Avenue (See Fig. 5). George Swartz was married twice; his first wife named Anna suffered from paralysis for many years and died after forty years of marriage, in 1933. Sometime after Anna’s death, George Swartz married Angie Ruddick.

Fig. 5 Xenia City Map 1922 (JPG)
Fig. 5 1922 Xenia City Map, showcasing Dayton Avenue and West Main Street (Greene County Archives)

Throughout the years, it was often reported in the Xenia newspapers, of the fun fishing and hunting escapades that George Swartz and his buddies went on. On one trip around the hills of New Burlington, Swartz had forgotten his hunting rifle and had to resort to hunting rabbits with stones.

In 1944, at the age of seventy-three, George Swartz retired from his custodial work for the Greene County Courthouse. According to an article that commemorated Swartz’s long duty of service, it described how Courthouse officials had a soft spot for the custodian who always had a joke to tell (See Fig. 6).
Fig. 6 xenia-evening-gazette-Jun-21-1944-p-3 (PNG)
Fig. 6 Xenia Evening Gazette, June 21, 1944 (

Four years later in January 1948, the “popular landmark of the Greene County Courthouse” died. George along with his second wife, Angie, are buried together at Woodland Cemetery in Xenia.

Until Next Time!

Greene County Archives


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