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 03

"Stills, Bootleggers, and Speakeasies: Greene County during Prohibition"

Posted on September 3, 2020 at 8:19 AM by Elise Kelly

Now that we have turned our calendars to the month of September, we are excited to announce our new exhibit:Stills, Bootleggers, and Speakeasies: Greene County during Prohibition. This exhibit examines what led to the Prohibition Era and how Greene County responded to the federally constituted ban on alcohol (See Fig. 1). Firstly, it is important to understand that the prohibition era would not have occurred without the work of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). The oldest WCTU chapter in Greene County was established in Xenia in 1874. During the winter of 1873-1874, this local chapter led a crusade in the city and helped shut down thirteen saloons (See Fig. 2).

Fig. 1 GC PC 3 (JPG)
Fig. 1 Greene County Probate Court, Prohibition File 1924-1931 (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 2 Washington Galloway Diary Entry (JPG)
Fig. 2 Greene County Surveyor, Washington Galloway, 1874 Diary Entry (Greene County Archives) Transcript: February Ladies are praying and singing at the door of whiskey and beer saloons. Three sallons [saloons] closed and poured their liquor into the street gutter. Phillips was one of them.

When Greene County entered the twentieth century, WCTU chapters had formed all throughout its borders. By 1907, there were nineteen chapters and 971 WCTU members in the County. The chapters assisted in lobbying for local laws to restrict alcohol and helped write anti-alcohol educational campaigns for schoolhouses all across the nation.

In 1913, members of the WCTU and the Anti-Saloon League marched on Washington, D.C. demanding for a Prohibition amendment to be added to the U.S. Constitution (See Fig. 3). On January 16, 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment was ratified and the National Prohibition Act officially became law on January 17, 1920 (See Fig. 4).

Fig. 3 The New Era 12-13-1913 (JPG)
Fig. 3 The New Era, December 13, 1913 (

Fig. 4 XEG 11-9-1919 (JPG)
Fig. 4 Xenia Evening Gazette, November 3, 1919 (

For thirteen years, it was illegal to manufacture, transport, and sell alcohol. Throughout the nation, including Greene County, individuals covertly manufactured bootleg whiskey or moonshine, and beer. Illicit clubs known as speakeasies sold alcohol to patrons (See Figs. 5 & 6). Under Ohio State law, the Crabbe Act, which prohibited the sale and consumption of alcohol, also mandated the additional compensation to prohibition enforcement officials for arresting, convicting, or fining violators of the Prohibition Amendment. Many Greene County residents were arrested and tried under the Crabbe Act (See Figs. 7 & 8).

Fig. 5 GC PC 2 (JPG)
Fig. 5 Greene County Probate Court, Prohibition File 1924-1931 (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 6 GC PC (JPG)
Fig. 6 Greene County Probate Court, Prohibition File 1924-1931 (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 7 Grace Fanning Probate 2 (JPG)
Fig. 7 Grace Fanning, Greene County Probate Criminal Record, Box 692 (Greene County Archives)

Fig. 8 Grace Fanning Probate (JPG)
Fig. 8 Grace Fanning, Greene County Probate Criminal Record, Box 692 (Greene County Archives)

Recognizing that this bill could increase their income, enforcement officials cunningly extended the boundaries of their jurisdiction in order to arrest and prosecute more individuals. Recognizing the unfairness of this stipulation, the United States Supreme Court heard the case Tumey v. Ohio in 1927. The plaintiff in the case, Ed Tumey, argued that enforcement officials were more likely to arrest and convict suspects since the enforcement officials were additionally compensated. Tumey contended that this would deprive individuals their “due process of the law.” The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff and the Crabbe Act was overturned in 1927.

As illegal drinking establishments grew, support began to wane for Prohibition.The Twenty-First Amendment was passed in December 1933 and repealed the Eighteenth Amendment and ending Prohibition (See Fig. 9).

Fig. 9 Mansfield News Journal (JPG)
Fig. 9 Mansfield News Journal, December 6, 1933 (

You can view the exhibit:Stills, Bootleggers, and Speakeasies: Greene County during Prohibition on our Flickr page. We also have the exhibit displayed in the Archives.

Michael A. Broadstone. History of Greene County, Ohio (B.F. Bowen & Company, 1918).
Greene County Archives


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