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 28

David Mitchell: Early Settler of Greene County

Posted on January 28, 2022 at 11:17 AM by Melissa Dalton

It never ceases to surprise us when we come across a record that opens up a story. This week, we have an indenture record that was originally recorded in Fayette County, Kentucky, and subsequently, recorded in Greene County upon the arrival in Ohio.

For those unfamiliar with indenture records, these records were legal agreements between two parties, in which the skilled master of a trade provided a child an apprenticeship in said trade, along with shelter, food, and usually some basic education. These contracts name both parties, and the terms of the indenture agreement – including length of contract and the conditions/provisions of contract.

Indenture records were fairly common in the 18th and early 19th centuries. In the below example, the child was found to have no other means, and his overseer believed an apprenticeship was his best option. This particular indenture record was recorded on 30 November 1807 in Greene County Deed Vol 1 page 414 (Fig 1). It reads:

This indenture made this seventeenth day of January in the hear of our lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety. Witnesseth that whereas by an order of the worshipful Court of Fayette County October 1790 directing me the overseer of the poor to take certain children within my presents for whom there does not appear to be competent provision made and bind them to certain persons that want them whose names were mentioned in the court and approved of in order to have them educated and brought up in an industrious Christian like manner, I do therefore in obedience to said order and compliance with my duty as overseer of the poor hereby put and bind one of the said children William Underwood of the age of four years to David Mitchell of the county aforesaid and with him to stay and faithfully serve for and during the term of 17 years that is to say from the day of the date hereof until he arrives at the full age of twenty one years during all which time he the said apprentice his master will and faithfully shall serve and all his lawful commands do and obey and the said master in consideration of said apprentices services shall learn to read and write and cypher to the rule of three also learn him the business or occupation of a farmer during all which time he the said master shall allow said apprentice sufficient meat drink washing and lodging and all other necessaries for him also at the expiration of his time to give him besides his comfortable wearing apparel the sum of three pounds ten shillings or the value thereof in other clothing. In witness whereof we have here unto set our hands and seals the day and year first above written.


John Maxwell                                                    John McDowell (seal)

Thos Clark                                                        David Mitchell (seal)

Recorded and Ex’nd

November 30th 1807                                        John Paul Recorder for Greene County

Fig 1. Greene County Deed Vol 1 p 414 (JPG)

Fig 1. Greene County Deed Vol 1 p 414 (Greene County Recorder)

You may notice a few things about this record. First, it doesn’t provide the state, but we believe it must be Fayette County, Kentucky as Fayette County, Ohio was yet to be established (as was the state of Ohio). You also may be surprised that the child, William Underwood, was only four years old. That’s very young, but we have found indenture records for children as young as two years old. Additionally, if you are a long-term Greene County resident, the name David Mitchell likely rings a bell. David Mitchell was one of the original colonial settlers of Xenia. If you aren’t as familiar with Greene County history, here’s what we know about David Mitchell.

David Mitchell was born in Ireland in 1737, and Mitchell immigrated to the United States around 1760 with his wife, Margaret, settling in Pennsylvania. The couple had five children – Elizabeth, James, Margaret, Sarah, and Ruth.

Mitchell served as part of the Lancaster County, PA militia during the Revolutionary War, serving with various regiments and battalions throughout the war (Fig 2). After the war, Mitchell and his family relocated to Fayette County, Kentucky, near Lexington. Mitchell joined the Presbyterian Church under Adam Rankin, and followed him to the Associate Reform church. However, they left this congregation due to its tolerance of slavery, and joined Rev. Robert Armstrong’s Associate Presbyterian Church.

Fig 2. David Mitchell headstone indicating service during Revolutionary War (JPG)

Fig 2. David Mitchell headstone indicating service during Revolutionary War (FindAGrave)

When Rev. Armstrong emigrated to Greene County, Ohio, many of his church members followed to assist in the establishment of a new church, including David Mitchell. Mitchell arrived in Greene County around 1803, and lived on land near Clark’s Run (purchased by his son-in-law, David Laughead) in what later became Cedarville Township. David and Margaret lived the remainder of their lives on this land. David died on June 10, 1817 and was buried in Massie’s Creek Cemetery (also known as Stevenson’s Cemetery). Margaret died on February 4, 1825 and was buried with David in Massie’s Creek Cemetery (Fig 3).

Fig 3. Last Will & Testament of David Mitchell (JPG)

Fig 3. Last Will & Testament of David Mitchell (Greene County Archives)

In Mitchell’s will, he left all his real and personal property to his wife and children. Additionally, he left his two grandsons, David Mitchell Small and David Mitchell Kyle, land in Township 5 Range 8 Section 6 and Section 12, in what later became Clark County. This was part of a land patent, and after his death, his heirs filed the patent to establish rights to land (Fig 4).

Fig 4. Land Patent for the Heirs of David Mitchell, 1819 (JPG)

Fig 4. Land Patent for the Heirs of David Mitchell, 1819 (Bureau of Land Management)

I wish we could tell you we learned just as much about Mitchell’s apprentice, William; but sadly, we were unable to locate any records that proved/disproved who he was or what happened to him once his indenture contract ended. We know William was born around 1786, likely in Fayette County, Kentucky. We also know he emigrated to Ohio with Mitchell as they recorded the indenture record with the local government. But, we don’t have census records for Greene County until after Mitchell’s death. Many indenture agreements were between family, so it is possible that William was related to David or Margaret in some way.

I know we have many followers, and many of you are far more familiar with the families of Greene County. Does anyone know anything about the Mitchell family and their connection to William Underwood? If so, we would love to hear it!

Until Next Time.


Dills, R. S. (1881). History of Greene County. Odell & Mayer.

Greene County Archives

Overton, J. (Ed.) (1995). Revolutionary War Veterans of Greene County, Ohio. Greene County Chapter, Ohio Genealogical Society.

Robinson, G. F. (1902). History of Greene County, Ohio. The s. J. Clarke Publishing Company.

U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management


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