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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May 06

Social Thinker and Advocate for the Working Class: M. Thomas Tchou

Posted on May 6, 2021 at 2:37 PM by Melissa Dalton

May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI), and we would like to celebrate by highlight a couple of Greene County residents who made an impact on our region, and even globally. The first person we would like to highlight is M. Thomas Tchou (Fig 1). Fig 1. Lecturer Pamphlet, University of Iowa Libraries, 1940 (JPG)

Fig 1. Lecturer Pamphlet (courtesy of the University of Iowa Libraries, https://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/islandora/object/ui:tc_21311_21309)

Montchen Thomas Tchou was born in China in 1895. A descendent of Chinese philosopher and Confucian scholar, Chu His, Tchou became a Chinese classics master by the age of twelve. In 1908, Tchou enrolled at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, earning bachelor degrees in mechanical and civil engineering, and naval architecture. While a student, Tchou met his future wife, Jean Brown.

After earning his degrees in 1916, he and his wife, Jean, returned to China, where they began a family. They had one child, Raymond, who was born in China in 1924.

Tchou served as the private secretary to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek of the Chinese Army, and established the Officer’s Moral Endeavor Association (which was the forerunner to the New Life Movement in China). Tchou’s public service continued, and he served three years as the director of the Department of Labor and the chief representative of China at the International Labor Conferences in Geneva. During this time, he dedicated time to drafting China’s housing, factory, and child labor laws and plans.

Tchou traveled Europe and the United States, and became well-versed in politics (Fig 2). In addition to his native Chinese language, Tchou was fluent in English, French, and German. It likely isn’t surprising that Tchou was considered one of the leading social thinkers of the time – a passionate advocate for social legislation, education (especially for labor workers/working class), and improving the housing and education systems. Something else we found interesting is that he was praised as one of the foremost painters in China.

Fig 2. 1929 Passenger List for Olympic Ship (JPG) Fig 2. 1929 Passenger list for Olympic Ship bound for New York (Ancestry.com)

Tchou’s work as a social thinker and eloquent speaker gained him great notoriety. There are newspaper articles from all over the United States highlighting his lectures and praising his work (Fig 3). Fig 3. Chinese Native Speaks Monday on Rotary Institute Program, Xenia Gazette, 28 Oct 1939 (PNG) Fig 3. Waterproof Rotary News, Tensas Gazette, 17 Nov 1950 (JPG)Fig 3. Alumni Speaker Leader in China, Wilmington News-Journal, 8 Jun 1939 (JPG)

Fig 3. Articles from newspapers regarding Tchou lectures, 1939, 1950 (Newspapers.com)

He taught at universities throughout the United States, and lectured extensively. In 1946, Tchou began teaching at Oberlin College (Fig 4), and in 1952, he and his family moved to Yellow Springs. We know little as to why the family moved here, but they remained in the region. His son, Raymond, attended Antioch College, and earned a BA in electrical engineering. In 1959, Raymond married Janet Pattee in Yellow Springs (Fig 5). Fig 4. 1946 Manifest for S.S. General M. C. Meigs (JPG)

Fig 4. Ship Manifest for S. S. General M. C. Meigs, 1946 (Ancestry.com)

Fig 5. Marriage Record for Raymond Chu and Janet Pattee, 1959 (JPG) Fig 5. Marriage Record for Raymond Chu & Janet Pattee (Greene County Archives)

Montchen Thomas Tchou died on December 25, 1965 in Cleveland, Ohio at the age of 70 (Fig 6). His body was returned to Yellow Springs, and he was buried in Glen Forest Cemetery next to his wife, Jean. Fig 6. Obituary for M. Thomas Tchou, Willoughby News Herald, 27 Dec 1965 (PNG)Fig 6. Gravestone for M. Thomas and Jean (Brown) Tchou (JPG)

Fig 6. Obituary for M. Thomas Tchou (Newspapers.com) / Tchou headstone at Glen Forest Cemetery (FindaGrave.com)

M. Thomas Tchou was an exceptional man who worked diligently for equality and social measures that would better the lives of his fellow citizens. Today we are honored to recognize him as a Greene County resident.

Until Next Time.

Sources:

Ancestry.com

FindAGrave.com

Greene County Archives

Newspapers.com

University of Iowa Libraries

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