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 29

Keeping the Peace: Greene County Lawmen

Posted on January 29, 2016 at 11:13 AM by Elise Kelly

 Keeping peace and order in communities is essential for growth, development and prosperity. The early Commissioners of Greene County understood this and promptly instituted the County's Sheriff Office. Nathan Lamme, Greene County's first Sheriff, served from 1803-1805. police
Film Still of Xenia's Police Department, 1938

When Lamme apprehended individuals for any number of legal reasons he might have felt a little apprehensive putting them in the County Jails. The jails at this time were makeshift structures that required several repairs and often times prisoners escaped. (See Below).

             Greene County Commissioners Meeting Minutes, Vol. 1, Pg. 38
"Where as it appears that the pulled Jail has been injured by certain prisoners breaking the same - it is therefore ordered that James Collier be appointed to repair the same."

During Lamme's tenure, other responsibilities included: collecting neighborhood taxes and fines. (See Below).

              Greene County Commissioners Meeting Minutes, Vol. 1, Pg. 6
"Ordered that the Sheriff be allowed two percent for collecting all fines imposed by the Court of Common Pleas."

"Mexican Dollars"

 Lamme would visit the home of one of the neighborhood's residents and collect the tax for the entire neighborhood. During these initial years silver coins were limited, but "Mexican dollars" were frequently exchanged at this time.

Both the U.S. silver dollar and the Mexican silver peso circulated in the United States until the Coinage Act of 1857.

Image to Left: "Monograph of United States cents and half cents issued between the years 1793 and 1857" courtesy of Internet Archive Book Images via Flickr

Before Lamme headed out on these trips, he made sure he had with him his saddle bag, hammer and chisel. This was important because Lamme frequently had to chisel and cut a piece of the specie of larger denominations into smaller values.

Public Defenders & Fines
Not only was it important to capture and jail criminals but it was necessary to defend those who could not afford legal representation. By 1857, the County had to determine the monetary compensation that public defenders deserved. By defending penniless paupers, public defenders were compensated based on the crime their client committed. The more severe the crime, the higher the fee was. (See Below).

             Greene County Commissioners Meeting Minutes, Vol.7, Pg. 375
                   Murder in the first degree  $100.00
                   Murder in the second degree 50.00
                   Manslaughter  15.00
                   Carnal knowledge of child under 10 years of age  20.00
                   Rape  20.00
                   Perjury  20.00
                   Arson  25.00
                   Burglary  15.00
                   Robbing  15.00
                   Grand Larceny  15.00
                   Forgery  20.00
              For the class of offences [offenses] termed "Misdemeanors"  30.00

What is troubling is that the offense of "carnal knowledge of a child under 10 years of age" seemed to be considered less heinous than arson. I guess property trumped children's long-term suffering?

Railway Lawmen

Let's draw our attention to one last organization of County lawmen - the railroad policemen. The city of Xenia was a railroad hub - several different railroad lines traveled in and out of the city everyday. Keeping the order and peace on these railway cars was imperative. Here at the Greene County Archives we have several of these railway commissions (See Below).

                                Railway Policemen Commission, 1922

Perhaps one of your ancestors or former neighbors patrolled these railroad lines?

Until Next Time!

This Week's Trivia Question: What was the Coinage Act of 1857?

Answer to Last Week's Trivia Question: Eavey & Co. moved to another location in the city of Xenia. What street was it located at? (Hint: This building still stands today). Answer: Southwest Corner of Detroit and Third Streets.

Sources: Broadstone, M.A. History of Greene County Ohio. Indianapolis, IN: B.F. Bowen & Company, 1918.


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