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 14

Vandervoort Fruit Farm in Greene County

Posted on January 14, 2021 at 5:12 PM by Melissa Dalton

A few weeks ago, Joan pulled a guardianship file for Bruce B. Vandervoort. As a life-long resident of the county, Joan recognized the name as the former owner of the fruit farm just outside of Jamestown. This week, we look at the life of Mr. Vandervoort.

Bruce B. Vandervoort was born in West Virginia on December 2, 1855 to Nicholas and Esther Vandervoort. Although I wasn’t able to find much about his early life, he moved to Ohio sometime between 1870 and 1880 as he was living in Clinton County, and working as a school teacher, in 1880 (Fig 1). On June 23, 1883, B. B. married Nancy “Nannie” J. Vandervoort in Clinton County (Fig 2).

Fig 1. 1880 US Census Record, listed as boarder in Green Twp in Clinton County (JPG)

Fig 1. 1880 US Census record as boarder in Green Township of Clinton County (Ancestry.com)

Fig 2. Marriage announcement, Xenia Daily Gazette, 29 Jun 1883 (PNG)

Fig 2. Marriage announcement of B.B. and Nannie Vandervoort, Xenia Daily Gazette, 29 June 1883 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Sometime in the late 1880s/early 1890s, Vandervoort became a horticulturalist and started a fruit farm on the outskirts of Jamestown. According to one newspaper article, Vandervoort spent a month in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho to study apple production (Fig 3), and his farm was 30 acres by 1903. At the time of his death in 1941, the fruit farm had tripled in size, and was a total of 94 acres. There are several articles in the local newspapers in which Vandervoort offered advice for planting and harvesting, as well as giving updates on the farm and the expected fruit crops for the year (Fig 4).

Fig 3. Article detailing Vandervoort farm success, Xenia Daily Gazette, 6 Oct 1911 (PNG)

Fig 3. Article detailing Vandervoort Farm success, Xenia Daily Gazette, 6 Oct 1911 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Fig 4. Article from Vandervoort regarding peach crop, Xenia Daily Gazette, 16 Mar 1903 (PNG)

Fig 4. Article from Vandervoort regarding peach crop, Xenia Daily Gazette, 16 Mar 1903 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

B. B. and Nannie had five children – Ora, Clara, Mary, Herbert, and Louis. In 1923, their son, Louis, confessed to a chain of robberies in Xenia, Jamestown, Washington Court House, and Wilmington. His family did not want to believe it until he showed authorities where he hid the loot. Newspapers state that he did not sell any of the stolen materials, and that the robberies were due to a “peculiar mental twist… in search of adventure” (Fig 5). There is a bit of a story here, but we’ll leave it for another blog post.

Fig 5. Young Farmer Charged with Looting, Xenia Daily Gazette, 20 Jan 1923 (PNG)Fig 5. Young Farmer Charged with Looting, Xenia Daily Gazette, 20 Jan 1923 (PNG)

Fig 5. Young Farmer Charged with Store Looting, Xenia Daily Gazette, 20 Jan 1923 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

The Vandervoorts continued expanding their fruit farm, even into their later years. Nannie passed away on August 2, 1936, and within a month, paperwork was filed with Probate Court to assign a guardian to B. B. Vandervoort due to “advanced age and physical infirmity” (Fig 6). It was estimated at the time of filing that the personal property/life estate value was likely $30,000, real estate value of approximately $25,000, and another $4,000 in annual rents, for a total value of his estate at $55,000. Today that equates to just over $1,000,000.

Fig 6. B.B. Vandervoort (Guardianship) Box 775 Case 596 (JPG)
Fig 6. B.B. Vandervoort (Guardianship) Box 775 Case 596 (JPG)

Fig 6. Application for Appointment of Guardian, B. B. Vandervoort, Box 775 Case 596 (Greene County Archives)

The guardianship was approved by the Court, and remained in effect until B. B. Vandervoort’s death on January 23, 1941. Vandervoort was buried next to his wife in Jamestown Cemetery.

Upon Vandervoort’s death, his two surviving children, Louis and Ora, each received $11,592.26 from the life estate created by Nannie’s will ($204,156.06 today). They also were the beneficiaries of the family farm. We will explore the life of the farm after Vandervoort’s passing in a future blog post, so stay tuned!

Until Next Time!

Sources:
Ancestry.com
Greene County Archives
NewspaperARCHIVE.com

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