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

Jun 07

The Curious Case of Richard Randolph

Posted on June 7, 2016 at 10:43 AM by Elise Kelly

This week's blog post is written by one of our interns Daniel Watts. Watts is a Graduate Student in Wright State's Public History Program.

One of the many pleasures of working with government documents on a daily basis is that every once in a while we come across some bit of information that is mind blowing or thought provoking.

Photo on the Right: Daniel creating an inventory of microfiche that has vinegar syndrome.
Daniel and Robin.jpg

In the case of Richard Randolph, however, we have both. But, before we venture too far into the abyss, some background is necessary to aid in the appreciation of the lengths that the many individuals made in the execution of Richard Randolph’s Last Will and Testament.

Imagine if you will, the 22nd of January, the year of our lord 1859 in Greene County Ohio. Richard Randolph lay in his sickbed at his home in Miami Township, surrounded by witnesses, including a dear friend named William H. Knott. Randolph owned 1000 acres in Virginia Military Survey number 611 in Miami Township. (See Image Below).

                                      Greene County 1874 Atlas

Mr. Randolph may or may not have realized that he was dying, but in a few days he would pass from the land of the living. On the 5th of February 1859, his beloved friend and named executor of his last will and testament, William H. Knott, appeared in the Greene County Probate Court presided over by the Honorable James W. Harper. While this was not a new custom or process, the content of Randolph’s Will, however, would bring a whirlwind of unexpected circumstances and would take nearly 50 more years to complete.

The Last Will and Testament of Richard Randolph starts much like many other Wills at the time. An executor, William H. Knott was assigned to look after the property both real and personal. Once the said property was sold, funeral arrangements were made, and all just debts were paid. After these stipulations were complete, Randolph's will went in a different direction, a rather curious direction.
                                          First Part of Richard Randolph's Will

Randolph diverted from the standard bequeathing of the rest of his estate  to family or friends by instead directing the rest of the proceeds to be “applied to the emancipation of slaves owned by the Randolph Family and others.” Certain slaves were directly named within the Will and will be the subject of future entries. The emancipation of slaves in a Last Will and Testament is not totally unheard of during the years leading up to the American Civil War, however, it posed a problem because of the fact that the said slaves were not owned by Richard Randolph himself, but by extended members of his family in the South.
                                   Second Part of Richard Randolph's Will

Yet, attention to this problem would have to wait because by the time that all debts were paid and a plan of action was in place, war had broken out, which made the emancipation of the said slaves nearly impossible. The outbreak of the Civil War left the final portion of Randolph’s Last Will and Testament in limbo.

Until Next Time!

This Week's Trivia Question: Name the title of the movie that is soon to come out about an armed rebellion led by a poor Mississippi farmer against the Confederacy.

Answer to Last Week's Trivia Question: Where is Col. Charles Young buried? Answer: Col. Charles Young is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.


You must log in before leaving your comment