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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Apr 09

The Legend of Frontiersman Simon Kenton Part II

Posted on April 9, 2015 at 4:12 PM by Elise Kelly

                                             Life after Imprisonment

Recovering from your trip back in time, you are left wondering what happened to this valiant frontiersman and soldier. You learn that Kenton was set free from Fort Detroit in 1779 and resumed his duties under George Rogers Clark.

During the next several years, Kenton lived a tranquil life managing a sprawling farm of one thousand acres in Kentucky. One of Kenton’s friends, Judge Burnet, visited the farm and observed how Kenton’s land was some of the finest in the country. Around this time, Kenton’s wife, Martha Dowden, died after giving birth. Sadly, the baby was still-born. In 1798, he remarried and moved to Ohio.
farmland 3 
The Rolling Rich Land of Kentucky
Photo courtesy of
Damian Entwistle via Flickr

The family settled near present-day Springfield in Mad River Township. At the time, Springfield was still part of Greene County as Champaign County was not established. (Clark County, which is where Springfield is presently located, was not created until 1818).  After living in Springfield for only a few years, the family gathered their things and traveled north. They settled in Urbana, Ohio. While in Urbana, Kenton was appointed Brigadier General for the Ohio Militia and fought in the War of 1812 at the Battle of the Thames in Canada. By 1820, Kenton moved one last time near the village of Zanesfield in Logan County, Ohio.

Part of the 1855 Greene County Map. When Champaign County was founded in 1805, Yellow Springs was only four miles south of Champaign County's border.

                                      Financial Troubles Follow Kenton
Unfortunately, financial burden and trouble seemed to find Kenton throughout the later years of his life. In 1809, Kenton was in debt to a man by the name of Adam Horter. According to the 1809 Greene County Common Pleas Court Record, (see below) Kenton owed Horter the sum of $223.34 with an interest of $2.95. Kenton’s total debt came to $226.29 – which was quite a lot of money during that time. Adjusted for inflation, $226.29 in 1809 is equivalent to $3,368.25 in 2015! There is no record to indicate if the debt was paid in full.
 Scan 1
After living a few years near Zanesfield, Ohio, Kenton went from being an affluent landowner to a broken pauper. At this time under the Ohio Creditors’ Law, individuals who failed to pay their debts were arrested and imprisoned. In 1823, a special bail was filed for Kenton by Colonel John Daugherty and Robert Renick in the Champaign County Court of Common Pleas.

On a side note - also in 1823, Kenton's nephew, Simon Kenton (named after his uncle) had a shop on the public square in Xenia. The County Commissioners were determined to make the Public Square “a thing of beauty.”
St. Briavel's Castle Debtor's Prison

A fence around the square was constructed emphasizing the splendor
of the public grounds.The fence also
served as a barrier – it kept the cows
that roamed the street out of the halls
of justice. (See below the Greene County Commissioner Meeting Minutes
demanding the removal).

So how could this have happened to such a worthy American pioneer and a commander in the Ohio militia? It seems that Kenton entrusted the management of his affairs to some family members who mishandled his money. This and land ownership disputes reduced him to become dependent on the aid of his son-in-law. Kenton lived out his final years in a one-room log cabin – however, according to his friend, Judge Burnet; Simon Kenton was cheerful and happy. We can imagine Simon, sitting contently, in his one-room cabin reminiscing on his great adventures!

Until Next Time!

Sources: Galloway, William Albert. Old Chillicothe: Shawnee and Pioneer History. Buckeye Press: Xenia, Ohio, 1934. Broadstone, M.A. History of Greene County Ohio: Its People, Industries and Institutions, Vol I. B.F. Bowen & Company: Indianapolis, IN, 1918. Copies of these books are located here at the archives.

*Trivia Answer From Last Week: Clifton Gorge*
*This Week's Trivia Question: The Battle of Kanawha was fought during what War?*


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