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 24

Women Take To The Streets!

Posted on April 24, 2015 at 3:38 PM by Elise Kelly

                      The Legendary Crusade of 1874
On a cold February morning, 135 Greene County women, divided into seven groups, marched through the town of Xenia on a mission to close the city’s saloons. The first saloon they came upon was “Shades of Death” (what a bleak name for a place to enjoy spirits). The bundled up women stood on the snow covered sidewalk outside the “Shades of Death” and sang hymns, recited prayers and pleaded with Stephen Phillips (the saloon owner) to close his doors forever.

A popular temperance hymn was "Song of the King" by Mary Lowe Dickinson. The fourth verse poignantly illustrates the women's vocation.


"Our march is forward ever, with weapons gleaming bright; Our warfare is with sin and wrong; our watchword For the right."

After several hours of singing and praying, Phillips opened his doors and succumbed to the women of prayer. They were so convincing that Phillips decided to quit selling alcohol right then and there. He welcomed all the women into the saloon to help him pour out the whiskey from the bottles and destroy all the cases of liquor.

Below is Washington Galloway's, (Greene County Surveyor) diary account of the events that unfolded that day.
Diary Transcript
1874 Washington Galloway
Ladies are praying and singing at the door of whiskey and beer saloons. Three sallons [saloons] closed and poured their liquor into the street gutter. Phillips was one of them.

Much to the ladies' chagrin, Phillips did not keep his saloon doors closed for too long. According to the 1880 Census Record, Phillips was listed as a saloon keeper.


Back to the March

For the next three weeks in 1874, these women trudged up and down the streets of Xenia singing and praying in hopes that other saloon owners would fold up shop. Many of their prayers were answered when thirteen saloons closed in just three weeks.

Similar efforts were carried out by other temperance groups across the state of Ohio. These campaigns served as one of the catalysts for establishing the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement (WCTU) in Cleveland in 1874. Just two weeks after the WCTU formed, the Xenia temperance union was established.

The abuse of alcohol was a problem not only in Greene County but throughout the nation. Alcohol played a major factor in social problems such as domestic violence, divorce and poverty.

Below is an 1871 Common Pleas Divorce Record that states the reason  why Mrs. William Drummond was seeking a divorce. Sadly, Mr. Drummond's troubling addiction seemed to be a factor for the couple's problems.


During the year of the Crusade, there were forty-three saloons in Xenia alone. There were also numerous people who sold liquor illegally. Combing through the Greene County 1874 Common Pleas Criminal Records, I found numerous cases of persons selling liquor, selling liquor to minors, selling liquor to drunkards, and using their residences as saloons. A man by the name of Dennis Carroll was charged over a dozen times for  selling liquor and using his residence as a saloon. Below is one of Carroll's court cases.

The Temperance Campaign really took off in Ohio, especially in Yellow Springs. By 1875, there were temperance marches in more than 130 communities across the state. As the nation entered the the twentieth century, temperance groups became more politically involved. In 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment was passed which outlawed the production and sale of alcohol in the United States.

Some temperance women went on to advocate for other social reform issues including women's rights, labor and public health reforms. We do owe our thanks to these early suffragettes.

"Annie Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst"
by Unknown (English Suffragettes) 

Until Next Time!

Last Week's Trivia Answer: Colonel Robert Gould Shaw
This Week's Trivia Question: Name the nationally known leader in the temperance movement who edited the Temple Visitor - a Good Templar magazine. (Hint: Her personal papers are located at Wright State University's Special Collections and Archives )

Sources: Broadstone, M.A. History of Greene County Ohio: Its People, Industries and Institutions, Vol I. B.F. Bowen & Company: Indianapolis, IN, 1918.
Trolander, Imogen Davenport, ed. Women of Greene County. Women's History Project of Greene County, Inc.: Greene County, OH, 1994.
Copies of these books are located here at the archives.


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