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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Jul 23

Allison Brothers: Entrepreneurs of Greene County

Posted on July 23, 2021 at 9:27 AM by Melissa Dalton

The last highlight of our series on the men that made Allison & Townsley are the Allison brothers, James and Samuel. Although James Allison started the business, it was Samuel who took over after his death, and became quite the entrepreneur.

James Allison was born around 1816 in Pennsylvania to Samuel and Mary Allison. The family moved to Ohio in 1820 and originally settled in Warren County. A couple years later, they moved to Beavercreek Township in Greene County. Around 1834, the Allison family moved to Shelby County, but James, then about 18 years old, remained in Greene County.

James married Ann B. Corry on February 4, 1840 in Greene County (Fig 1). James and Ann had two children, Matthew and Martha (Fig 2). Within a few years of marriage, James established Allison & Townsley with Thomas Townsley, in 1846. James was the senior member of the business, and he hired his younger brother, Samuel, to work as a clerk in 1851. However, James’s life was cut short, and he died after a short illness on August 22, 1864 at the age of 47.
Fig 1. Marriage record of James Allison and Ann B. Corry, 1840 (JPG)

Fig 1. Marriage record of James Allison and Ann B. Corry, 1840 (Greene County Archives)
Fig 2. 1860 Census showing James Allison family (JPG)

Fig 2. 1860 Census with James Allison and family at top (

Samuel was born in 1836 in Shelby County and spent his early life on the family farm (Fig 3). When Samuel was a boy, his father died, leaving him and his siblings to help care for the family. That was about the time he went to work for James in Xenia. Samuel worked hard and became very knowledgeable of the business, and in 1857, he was made a partner in the business. After James’s death, Samuel became the head of the business, a position he retained until the business dissolved in 1889.

Fig 3. 1850 Census with Mary Allison living with son after death of Samuel Sr. (JPG)

Fig 3. 1850 Census with Samuel Allison, Sr. and family outlined in red (

Samuel married Julia Myers in May 1868 in Xenia, Ohio (Fig 4). The couple had four children – Louis, Kate, Albert, and Janette (birth record says Julia). All the children were born in Greene County, although I was unable to locate a birth record for Kate (Fig 5).

Fig 6. Obituary of Kate Allison, Xenia Daily Gazette, 25 May 1893 (PNG)

Fig 4. Marriage record of Samuel Allison and Julia Myers, 1868 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 5. 1880 Census with Samuel Allison family outlined in red (JPG)

Fig 5. 1880 Census with Samuel Allison and family outlined in red (

Samuel had his hands in various businesses even before Allison & Townsley closed. He became interested in the cordage industry, a business venture that made him a prominent man in the area. He was an organizer of the Xenia Twine & Cordage Company and took over operation of the Xenia Mill on Cincinnati Avenue. After a few years, he sold his interest and, along with Joseph Field, opened the Field Cordage Company in Xenia. In 1890, the factory was leased to the National Cordage Company for $45,000 a year for a five-year contract period. Additionally, Allison was paid $6,000 a year as a non-compete. However, in 1891, National Cordage bought Field Cordage for $245,000. At that time, Allison joined Hooven & Gamble Company, acting as president of the company from its inception in 1892 until 1900.

In 1892, Julia passed away and in 1893, he lost his daughter, Kate (Fig 6). Samuel remarried in 1894, marrying his sister-in-law, Mary “Louie” Myers in St. Paul (Fig 7).

Fig 6. Obituary of Kate Allison, Xenia Daily Gazette, 25 May 1893 (PNG)

Fig 6. Obituary of Katie Allison, Xenia Daily Gazette, 25 May 1893 (

Fig 7. Marriage of Samuel Allison and Mary Myers, St. Paul Globe, 26 Jan 1894 (JPG)

Fig 7. Marriage of Samuel Allison and Mary “Louie” Myers, The St. Paul Globe, 26 Jan 1894 (

In 1892, he also assisted in organizing the Northwestern Cordage Company in St. Paul, Minnesota, acting as president and general manager. The business faced many setbacks, and in 1895, Allison applied for a receivership, which was denied. As such, he sold the property to Northwestern Grass Twine Company, and much of the machinery went to Hooven & Allison in Xenia.

Allison moved his family back to Xenia around 1895, purchasing three cordage mills (and selling two of them almost immediately). He started up the Field Twine & Cordage Company in the third mill around 1898, which he ran until his death. Samuel Allison died in 1900 at the age of 64 (Figs 8 & 9).

Fig 8. Obituary of Samuel Allison, Xenia Daily Gazette, 5 Sep 1900 (PNG)Fig 8. Obituary of Samuel Allison, Xenia Daily Gazette, 5 Sep 1900 (

Fig 9. Death Record of Samuel Allison, 1900 (JPG)

Fig 9. Death record of Samuel Allison (Greene County Archives)

We hope you enjoyed learning about the entrepreneurs that started a Xenia dry-goods store.  

Until Next Time!


Greene County Archives


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