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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Jul 11

One Name, Two Men and Two Very Different Lives

Posted on July 11, 2016 at 9:01 AM by Elise Kelly

A couple of weeks ago, one of our interns discovered an interesting lunacy record. Wanting to find out more about this man who was deemed "insane," we discovered two different men who led to different lives.

Twenty-two days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House, a slave named Henry Gaines enlisted in the U.S. Army. According to his recruitment record, he did not obtain his master's consent (See Below).

                             Henry Gaines Declaration of Recruit

Although the Emancipation Proclamation had been passed, it only banned slavery in the states in rebellion. Gaines was from Kentucky and slavery remained legal in this state as well as Missouri, West Virginia, Maryland and Delaware until the ratification of the 13th Amendment in December 1865. This is why Gaines still needed his master's consent to join the Army.

Facing long odds by March of 1865, Confederate forces also agreed to enlist black soldiers. Prior to this decision, General Lee pointed out that “We must decide whether slavery shall be extinguished by our enemies and the slaves be used against us, or use them ourselves.”

Although Lee had asked that the slaves be freed as a condition of fighting, the bill did not specify freedom for those who served. In the end, the southern states' cause for autonomy had been defeated.  sdfsdf
The Surrender of Lee and His Army to Grant via Wikimedia Commons

By the time Henry enlisted in the Union Army, the war was over. Henry Gaines defied his master and had the opportunity to return to Kentucky as a free man if he wished to.

Another Henry Gaines
Another man also by the name of Henry Gaines, enlisted in the US Army in Columbus, Ohio in 1864. Gaines was assigned to the Colored Troops Company E, 16th Regiment and was sent down to Tennessee.

                                   Henry Gaines Muster and Roll Record
He stayed in Chattanooga until he was discharged in 1866. Upon his discharge from service, Henry was paid $100. Black soldiers were paid three dollars less than white soldiers per month.

After the war, Gaines headed back up to Ohio and resided in the city of Xenia.

Surprisingly, in 1882, Henry was indicted on charges of horse stealing and grand larceny.
                       Henry Gaines' Common Pleas Court Record Box 405

Henry was found not guilty on the sole ground that he was insane at the time the alleged offense was committed. We recognized two of the jurors, O.W. Cotton and Garrett Buster. The families of these two men were former slaves at one point. They may have known Henry and knew his faculties were not as sharp as they once were.
                        Henry Gaines' Common Pleas Court Record Box 405

According to the physician's certificate, Henry was "not insane but demented." The physician presumed that dementia began in 1864 when Henry was serving in the infantry. The supposed cause was... (See Below)
      Henry Gaines' Common Pleas Court Record Box 405

Henry was committed to the infirmary in 1882.

By 1891, Gaines had been released and was living in Yellow Springs. During that year, he claimed his pension. At his examination, the medical doctor recorded that Gaines had a slight limp and was walking with a cane.

Henry lived another fourteen years in the village of Yellow Springs. He is buried at Cherry Grove Cemetery in Xenia. Below is his veteran's grave registration card.

Although these two men shared the same name they led very different lives. 

Until Next Time!

This Week's Trivia Question: The largest fortress built during the Civil War was in Tennessee for the US Army. What was the name of the fortress?

Answer to Last Week's Trivia Question: What were the two city stops on the first Pennsylvania Railroad Line? Answer: Harrisburg, PA to Pittsburgh, PA.


David Robinow
July 8, 2016 at 11:32 PM
The Emancipation Proclamation only banned slavery in those states in rebellion. Slavery remained legal in Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware until ratification of the 13th Amendment in Dec 1865. So, technically, Mr. Gaines was still a slave.
Elise Kelly
July 11, 2016 at 8:46 AM
Thank you Mr. Robinow for pointing that out. We will correct the blog post. Thank you again for your input!

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