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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Oct 30

Xenia Female Seminary

Posted on October 30, 2020 at 1:19 PM by Melissa Dalton

Last week we discussed the history of the Xenia Female Academy. This week, we’d like to highlight the Xenia Female Seminary (Fig 1).

Fig 1. Sketch of the Female Seminary from Greene County 1803-1908 (JPG)
Fig 1. Sketch of the Female Seminary from Greene County 1803-1908 (Greene County Archives)

The Xenia Female Seminary, located on West Third Street, opened shortly before the Civil War, and was known as “Mrs. Hanna’s Seminary”. However, it did not fare well due to the war, and closed its doors soon after (Fig 2). In 1860, Rev. John Ekin, D.D., a Presbyterian minister in the South, was told of an opportunity in the North. A fellow reverend told him of the newly built institute, and that he thought it could be a great opportunity for Ekin’s three daughters, as they were educators themselves.

Fig 2. Closure of Female Seminary due to lack of funding, Sandusky Daily Commercial Register, 11 Feb
Fig 2. Closure of Female Seminary due to lack of funding, Sandusky Daily Commercial Register, 11 Feb 1860 (Newspapers.com)

One of the sisters, Helen Ekin Starrett, provided a brief history of the school in the book titled Greene County 1803-1908, edited by the Committee of the Home Coming Association. Helen documents how she and her sisters took on the job of cleaning and preparing the three-story building for reopening. They scrubbed the floors, washed the windows, and did what they could to keep costs down while preparing the building for the admittance of students. The sisters were successful in their endeavors, and in 1861, the school opened once again (Fig 3).

Fig 3. 1855 Greene County Atlas (JPG)
Fig 3. 1855 Greene County Atlas (Greene County Archives)

The school provided education for many young women in Xenia, especially those of the Presbyterian faith (you may remember that the Xenia Female Academy was bought by the Methodist church, offering members of their congregation education that aligned with their faith and religious practices). Helen fondly remembers many of the girls that once walked the halls of the school, with one notable young lady - that of Chessie Reid, who she claims was the sister of Whitelaw Reid. We haven’t found evidence that Whitelaw had a sister, but that it may have been the daughter of his brother, Gavin. After the death of Gavin and his wife, Henrietta, Reid took his nieces in, so he was greatly involved in their lives. However, we cannot say for sure. This is another mystery maybe the Greene County Historical Society could provide some clarity! (And if you want to learn more about Whitelaw Reid, check out our two-part blog post: https://www.co.greene.oh.us/Blog.aspx?IID=230 and https://www.co.greene.oh.us/Blog.aspx?IID=231)

The seminary operated for five or six years, and offered many of the same courses that the Xenia Female Academy did, with the most notable exception being the religion courses. However, much like the Academy, the Xenia Female Seminary witnessed a decline in enrollment after the establishment of the local high school. As such, the school closed in the late 1860s. The building was later bought by the Xenia Theological Seminary (Fig 4). By the 1920s, the Seminary moved to Pennsylvania and the grounds were purchased by the United Brethren Church, and the old building was demolished to make way for a pastorage.

Fig 4. 1874 Greene County Atlas (JPG)
Fig 4. 1874 Greene County Atlas (Greene County Archives)

Until Next Time!

Sources:
Broadstone, M. (1918). History of Greene County Ohio: Its people, industries and institutions (Vol. 1). B. F. Bowen & Company, Inc.
Committee of the Home Coming Association (Ed.). (1908). Greene County 1803-1908. Aldine Publishing House.
Greene County Archives
NewspaperARCHIVE.com
Newspapers.com

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