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 24

A Brief History of Osborn, Ohio

Posted on January 24, 2020 at 8:22 AM by Melissa Dalton

If any of you follow the local newspapers, or are familiar with the local history, Fairborn is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. Throughout 2020, we will highlight the creation of the city, starting with the establishment and history of the original towns/villages that later became Fairborn. This week, we start with “old” Osborn.

Osborn was established in 1851 and was situated in northwestern Greene County, along the Mad River, and near the border with Clark County (Fig 1). The village wasn’t very big, and at its height, had roughly 1000 residents. Although it was a small community, the residents had all they needed in their village. There were several mills, grocery stores, appliance shops, blacksmith, wagon shop, tannery, distillery, tavern, schoolhouse, post office, grave yard, many churches, and a meeting house (Fig 2). Additionally, with the railroad running through the center of the village, it provided a great way to transport goods in and out for the businesses, especially the mills.

Fig 1. 1855 Atlas of Greene County (JPG)
Fig 1. 1855 Atlas of Greene County (Greene County Archives)

Fig 2. 1855 Map of Osborn (JPG)
Fig 2. 1855 Map of Osborn (Greene County Archives)

This little village was rather advanced for their size and time as well. Not only did they have their own water supply, but they also had an electric facility (Fig 3). The village continued to thrive, but after the 1913 Flood, that all changed (Fig 4).

Fig 3. Photograph of Front Street in Osborn (JPG)
Fig 3. Photograph of Front Street in Osborn. Can see fire hydrant on corner, with a horse and buggy in front of store (Alllan Routt, Early Views of Fairfield & Osborn Ohio)

Fig 4. 1896 Map of Osborn (JPG)
Fig 4. 1896 Map of Osborn (Greene County Archives)

The destruction and aftermath of the 1913 Flood caused the citizens and government to look for ways to insure that such a disaster never happened again. Hydrological engineer, Arthur Morgan, was hired to conduct a series of studies of the watershed. Upon completion of the studies, Morgan recommended that several dams be constructed, as well as altering the channel of the river through Dayton. Ohio’s Governor, James Cox, approved of this plan and Morgan was commissioned to write the Ohio Conservancy Act, which allowed the state to establish watershed districts and tax the districts to raise funds for improvements. Although the Act was challenged as to its constitutionality, the Act was passed in 1914, and in 1915, the Miami Conservancy District (MCD) was created.

The MCD began construction of the five dams – Englewood, Huffman, Germantown, Taylorsville, and Lockington – in 1918, with the project being completed in 1922. Of the five dams, one is located in Greene County, Huffman Dam (Fig 5). Huffman Dam regulates the flow of the Mad River into the Great Miami River, but the surveys indicated that if there was ever another major event like the 1913 Flood, because of Osborn’s proximity to the Mad River, the entire village would be flooded. Due to this realization, it was determined that Osborn would need to be relocated.

Fig 5. Construction of Huffman Dam (JPG)
Fig 5. Construction of Huffman Dam (Miami Conservancy District)

Osborn was acquired by the MCD (as were many of the properties around the river), and since there was no imminent risk, they allowed the homeowners to stay until they could figure out the best way to remove the structures (Fig 6). It was during this time that residents, led by the mayor and city attorney, decided to take a stand and created the Osborn Removal Company. The formation and incorporation of this company was to allow the citizens to keep their homes and purchase new property outside of the flood basin, next to the town of Fairfield, roughly two miles southeast of the current village. The Osborn Removal Company bought the properties back from the MCD, and the original owners were given the opportunity to buy their homes back for a fair price, and move them to the new town (Fig 7).

Fig 6. Map of lands acquired by the Miami Conservancy District after the 1913 Flood (JPG)
Fig 6. Map of lands acquired by the Miami Conservancy District after the 1913 Flood (Greene County Archives)

Fig 7. Image from The Dayton Journal, dated May 3, 1925 (JPG)
Fig 7. Image from the Dayton Journal, dated May 3, 1925 (Early Views of Fairfield and Osborn Ohio)

The move of Osborn began in 1922, and took about two years, with nearly 200 houses moved, as well as a few wood-framed businesses. Additionally, the town was platted, graded, and streets and sidewalks were completed, all within this two year time frame. LaPlant-Choate Manufacturing Co. even moved many shade trees and replanted in them new Osborn. The move was completed in 1924, and Osborn had a new home.

We’ll continue this story over the coming year, so we hope you stay tuned!

Until Next Time!

Early Views of Fairfield and Osborn Ohio by Allan Routt (2010)
Greene County Archives
Miami Conservancy District


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