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 03

New Online Exhibit

Posted on December 3, 2020 at 9:10 AM by Elise Kelly

We have created a new online exhibit entitled, “Overcoming Hardship: Life in Greene County during the Great Depression” (See Fig. 1). This exhibit captures life during the Great Depression and showcases how the people of Greene County, Ohio persevered and helped one another through such a difficult time.

First Image for Great Depression Exhibit (JPG)
Fig. 1 Chicago Soup Kitchen, 1931 (image via FLICKR)

The Great Depression began during the last year of the ‘Roaring 1920s’ when the New York Stock Exchange plummeted in late October 1929. The GDP took a nosedive, which ushered in a devastating worldwide economic depression. People’s savings were lost as thousands of banks were shuttered and poverty climbed sharply.

Like many communities throughout the world, Greene County experienced local bank liquidations, high unemployment, and eventual relief aid. Local banks including – the Commercial & Savings Bank of Xenia, the Exchange Bank of Cedarville, and the Bowersville Bank were liquidated (See Figs. 2 & 3). To provide relief for Greene County residents, the Yellow Springs Exchange was established in 1932. Set up as a barter system, people would barter “what they had, for what they needed” (See Fig. 4). Charity events were also organized in Greene County to help raise funds for those who were unemployed (See Fig 5).

Bowersville Bank Comm, Jrnl 30 pg. 382 (JPG)
Fig. 2 Greene County Commissioners' Journal Vol. 30, page 382 (via Greene County Archives)

bowersville bank xenia-evening-gazette-Nov-29-1934-p-1 (PNG)
Fig. 3 Xenia Evening Gazette, November 29, 1934 (via www.newspaperARCHIVE.com)

YS Exchange (PNG)
Fig. 4 Yellow Springs Exchange Credit Coupon (image via www.OhioMemory.org) 

unemployment fund xenia-evening-gazette-Dec-29-1931-p-5 (PNG)
Fig. 5 Xenia Evening Gazette, December 29, 1931 (via www.newspaperARCHIVE.com)

In 1933, the federal government stepped in to help provide relief and aid to the country. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration was established and the Greene County Commissioners appointed Karl Babb, former Xenia Mayor, as the County Relief Director of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (See Fig. 6). Relief funds helped needy families procure groceries, shoes, coal, and medicine.

Vol. 30 pg. 266 (2) recolored (JPG)
Fig. 6 Greene County Commissioners' Journal Vol. 30, page 266 (via Greene County Archives)

After the Federal Emergency Administration program ended in 1935, the Works Progress Administration took its place. Between the years 1935-1943, this federal program employed 8.5 million Americans, many of them being unskilled laborers. Several Works Progress Administration projects were conducted in Greene County including: repairing the Central High School in Xenia, making improvements to Bryan High School in Yellow Springs, adding a hospital wing to the County Infirmary, and transcribing maps of Greene County cemeteries showing Veterans’ graves (See Figs. 7 & 8).

Vol. 31 pg. 214 (JPG)
Fig. 7 Greene County Commissioners' Journal Vol. 31, page 214 (via Greene County Archives)

xenia-evening-gazette-Jan-24-1938-p-5 wpa projects (PNG)
Fig. 8 Xenia Evening Gazette, January 24, 1938  (via www.newspaperARCHIVE.com)

A further federal project that had local participation was the Civilian Conservation Corps. Camp Greene was established as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935 (See Fig. 9). This program provided manual, outdoor work for young, unemployed, single men. Camp Greene operated for three and a half years and was located two miles west of Xenia on Upper Bellbrook Road. Projects that Camp Greene workers completed during the program’s tenure included: planting trees during the winter months, constructing temporary dams, building fences, and timber stand improvement.

xenia-evening-gazette-Dec-13-1935-p-2 ccc camp (PNG)
Fig. 9 Xenia Evening Gazette, December 13, 1935  (via www.newspaperARCHIVE.com)

Often throughout the Depression, even in the face of great adversity, Greene County residents carried on with resilience, ingenuity, and compassion. This is a relevant lesson in our modern world. Please note that this blog post briefly touches on some segments of this online exhibit. To see the entire exhibit, please visit our FLICKR page.

Until Next Time!

Sources:
Greene County Records Center & Archives
www.newspaperARCHIVE.com
www.archives.gov
www.livingnewdeal.org
www.ohiomemory.org

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