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 01

Crimes & Misdemeanors in Greene County: Bootleg Liquor & Gambling During the 1930s

Posted on September 1, 2015 at 8:50 AM by Elise Kelly

 During the Great Depression, people across America were reading about the criminal exploits of gangsters like Bonnie and Clyde, "Pretty Boy" Floyd and George "Machine Gun" Kelly.

At the time, the country was in economic turmoil and thousands of Americans were jobless and hungry. To make ends meet, some people bent the law and operated illegal gambling and liquor establishments.
Bonnie & Clyde DOJ ID by FBI via Wikimedia Commons

The Belmont Club
The Belmont Club - located on Shakertown Pike [Road] in Beavercreek, was suspected of being a gambling establishment. Greene County Sheriff John Baughn believed that gambling devices were housed and used inside The Belmont Club. Greene County Common Pleas Judge, R.L. Gowdy, issues an affidavit for a search warrant and makes clear when the search should be carried out and what should be done (See Below).

                                1935 Affidavit for Search Warrant

When Sheriff Baughn exercised the search, he would have shown "John Doe" - owner of the property, the search warrant in order to gain access. According to the document, the club was not a bona fide private residence. Perhaps John Doe was tipped off about the suspicious sheriff because according to the Return of Warrant document..... (See Below)

                                          1935 Search Warrant
Bootleg Liquor
Possessing and selling bootleg liquor were both common crimes committed during Prohibition and the Great Depression. Ms. Minnie Hamilton of Yellow Springs possessed and concealed several intoxicating liquors. Let's take a look at this Common Pleas Court Record. As the property owner, perhaps Minnie set up a little tavern for folks traveling along Yellow Springs - Fairfield Road. (Minnie lived on this road).

                1937 Greene County Common Pleas Court - Affidavit

John A. Massie and others of 217 High Street in Xenia were suspected of unlawfully holding and possessing intoxicating liquor (See Below).

                              1938 Affidavit for Search Warrant

Notice how it states "317 High Street." Looking through the 1937-1938 City of Xenia Directory, John A. Massie lived at 217 High Street. (See Below - circled is area where Massie lived).

                                  1931 Fire Insurance Sanborn Map

I wonder if the police got the right house? Perhaps  Massie and the others had a place to "stash" their spirits at 317 High Street. It would be unfortunate if Massie's residence served as an illegal saloon considering there was a public school nearby (See Map Above).

Court records are fascinating resources. They help illustrate history in unique and surprising ways.

Until Next Time!

This Week's Trivia Question: This 1930s gangster committed bank robberies throughout the state of Ohio. What was his name?

Last Week's Trivia Answer:
Can you name the architect who designed the Greene County Courthouse? (Hint: Check out our previous blog post "Greene County Courthouse - Where it all Began." - Samuel Hannaford & Sons.


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