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

Jul 26

The Curious Case of Richard Randolph: The Family

Posted on July 26, 2016 at 3:02 PM by Elise Kelly

In early June, we featured a post written by one of our interns, Daniel Watts. Watts briefly introduced a story about how a Greene County will record stated that the money acquired from the sale of Richard Randolph's land be used to emancipate the slaves owned by several of his family members who were living in the south.

Today Daniel will discuss the extended Randolph family - some were very influential in our nation's history.

 Understanding the relationship between the two Randolph families is no small task. The family is vast and includes prominent individuals such as: President Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Congressman John Randolph of Roanoke, Chief Justice John Marshall and none other than Pocahontas.
John Randolph of Roanoke via Wikimedia Commons

Fortunately, a considerable amount of research has already been done regarding this impressive family. This research can be found in the book The Randolphs of Virginia.

The entire Randolph family can trace its lineage back to William Randolph, who immigrated to the United States in 1674. William married a woman named Mary Isham in 1680 in Virginia. The couple had 9 children; William, Thomas, Isham, John, Richard, Elizabeth, Mary, Edward, and Henry, each of whom had a countless amount of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

To put the size of the family in perspective, the book previously mentioned contains over 400 pages filled with the names and dates of family members. Utilizing this book along with records held at the Greene County Records Center & Archives, we are able to deduce which of the nine Randolph patriarchs that Richard Randolph of Greene County came from. Below is the Randolph Family Genealogy circa 1865.

Randolph Family Genealogy, ca. 1865, Accession #8937-a, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA.

After locating what cemetery Richard was buried in, I ventured out to examine his headstone. Found near some trees in the Clifton-Union Cemetery, I noticed on the stone it was written Richard Randolph Junior.


According to The Randolphs of Virginia, there are only fourteen Randolphs who bear the first name Richard. Of the fourteen, ten can be disregarded because they would have not been born within the time frame that Richard Randolph’s grave stone indicates.

The remaining four could be the Richard we are looking for. Two of the Richard Randolphs were married. We know that our Richard was not married and did not have any children. We can rule those two out. The third Richard in question was not married but his father’s name was Brett Randolph not Richard. This leaves us with the final one. This Richard Randolph was the son of Richard, who was son of Richard, who was the son of Richard, who was the fifth child of William Randolph, which would make Richard Randolph of Greene County Richard Randolph the fourth. Got all that?

In order to understand the magnitude of the fact that these slaves were set free, we first had to obtain an understanding of the prominent lineage of the Randolph family. As mentioned earlier, Richard Randolph of Greene County, was a second cousin to the wealthy, slave owning U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson.

 He was also first cousins to John Randolph of Roanoke - a Virginia slave owner who, ironically, opposed the theory of slavery. When John Randolph died, he emancipated his slaves in his will. They actually settled near Piqua in Miami County, Ohio.
Perhaps John's actions greatly influenced his cousin Richard, to the chagrin of the other Randolph family members.

Stay tuned for the elaboration of how Richard Randolph acquired land here in Greene County.

Until Next Time!

This Week's Trivia Question: John Randolph of Roanoke had an intense dislike for a certain U.S. Representative. At one point, they even got into a heated argument and began throwing tableware at each other. Name this U.S. Representative.

Answer to Last Week's Trivia Question: One of the essays mention a former slave owner who migrated to Greene County and advocated against slavery. What was his name? Answer: Frederick Bonner


You must log in before leaving your comment