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.

View All Posts

Dec 04

Interweaving Tales and a Yellow Spings Christmas Tradition

Posted on December 4, 2015 at 12:29 PM by Elise Kelly

The Plot Thickens...
A couple of weeks ago we shared a tragic family story that touched on several issues such as slavery, mental illness and death. We also focused on what military life was like for African-American soldiers and their families.

Over the past few weeks we have learned about additional events concerning the Taylor family. Furthermore, we were surprised to find other relatives connected to this family. 
 Slave Freedom
Free! by H.L. Stephens, 1863 via Library of Congress

After posting the story on the Taylor family, a reader of our blog asked us if the house that Humphrey Taylor lived in still existed. We checked our tax records to verify that Taylor did own property in the City of Xenia.

Once we had that information we were able to find and pull Humphrey's deed record. Surprisingly, we discovered Wheeling Gaunt had deeded the land to Humphrey and his wife Amanda.(Wheeling Gaunt was a prominent citizen of Yellow Springs).

Deed Record 77 pg. 109
Deed Record
Notice in the record it states: "That Wheeling Gaunt and Elizabeth Gaunt his wife of the County of Greene in the State of Ohio in consideration of one dollar and natural love and affection which they have for the grantees to them paid by Amanda Taylor and Humphrey Taylor..."

Wheeling Gaunt
 Many deed records do not use the terms "natural love and affection for the grantees" unless they are relatives. Was Wheeling Gaunt related to Amanda or Humphrey Taylor?

Image to the left is of Wheeling Gaunt

Wheeling Gaunt: A Man Who Began a Holiday Tradition

Have you ever heard of the Yellow Springs holiday tradition where widows of the village receive flour at Christmas? This 101 year old tradition was started by a former slave named Wheeling Gaunt.
 Making the Cookies
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Shortly before his death in 1894, Gaunt deeded nine acres of farmland to the village of Yellow Springs with the stipulation that rent from the land be used to buy flour to give to the widows of the village at Christmas time.This tradition is still followed today. Since the 1950s the village taxpayers have sweetened the holiday tradition by adding sacks of sugar.

Map of Carroll County
Map of Kentucky - highlighting Carroll County via Wikimedia Commons
Gaunt was one of the wealthiest men in Yellow Springs and had acquired several parcels of land. However, his early years encompassed toil and hardship.
To get a better understanding of this, we have to go back to Carroll County, Kentucky in the mid 1840s.

John Gaunt was a white slave-owner living in Carroll County, Kentucky. In his 1846 will he bequeathed Wheeling, described as John Gaunt's "negro man slave"  and Louisa, described as John Gaunt's "negro woman slave" to his wife, Nancy and his two sons Alfred and John. (See Below)

                                  Carroll County, KY Will Record 1
Will Record

Wheeling and Louisa were siblings, born into slavery on John Gaunt's tobacco plantation. Gaunt allowed Wheeling to work outside the plantation to earn a little money. Over a period of thirty-two years, Wheeling managed to save $900. With that money he purchased his freedom and the freedom of his wife and son.

We are not sure when his sister Louisa was emancipated but we do know Louisa married a man with the surname of Chandler and they soon had a daughter named Amanda.

After Wheeling's emancipation, he worked as a teamster and laborer in Kentucky.

By the mid 1860s, Wheeling and his family decided to re-locate to Yellow Springs, OH.

The racial tolerance of the area and the nearby, historically black university, (Wilberforce University) motivated the family to settle in the region.
Kappa Fraternity 1922
Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity at Wilberforce University in 1922 via Wikimedia Commons

Stone remembering Gaunt
According to the 1870-1880 Yellow Springs Census Records, Wheeling worked as a "Day Laborer." The land that he owned, which was later rented out, is now known as "Gaunt Park."

Today, families have the opportunity to swim and play at the Park.

Wheeling Gaunt was a very hardworking and generous man who seemed to always think of others.
Next week we will discuss the relationship between Wheeling Gaunt and Humphrey Taylor. Readers will also learn about what happened to Humphrey after his wife, Amanda died.

But before we conclude, we would like to answer our reader's initial question of whether Humphrey Taylor's house still exists. In short, yes,we believe it does (See Below).

           Property Address -  509 E. Church Street Image
The property that this small, wood frame house (now sided) sits on was once owned by Wheeling Gaunt and was later deeded to Humphrey Taylor.

Until Next Time!

This Week's Trivia Question: During the 16th Century, what country began the tradition of decorating fir trees during Christmas?

Answer to Last Week's Trivia Question:
Name the other states that U.S. 35 runs through. - West Virginia and Indiana


You must log in before leaving your comment