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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Aug 19

"I Found It In the Archives" State Contest

Posted on August 19, 2016 at 9:08 AM by Elise Kelly

 If you have not heard the news yet, Allan Hogue and his essay, "Against the Tide" won the Greene County "I Found It In the Archives" Contest. Allan's winning essay has been submitted to the state contest. Show your support for Greene County and vote for Allan's moving essay here.

If you have not had a chance to read Allan's essay, please take a moment to read his essay below.
Allan Hogue

Against the Tide

The document was hard to read: the page was dark with age and the cursive letters were from a bygone era. In the Greene County Emancipation Record of Free Blacks, 1805-1845, located at the Greene County Archives, I found that my ancestor Frederick Bonner left Virginia for Ohio because of a, “clear conviction of the injustice and criminality of depriving my fellow creatures of their natural right.” Frederick Bonner was a devout Methodist from Tidewater, Virginia. He freed his slaves and moved to Ohio because of his religious conviction of the immorality of slavery.

“Many of Frederick Bonner’s like minded friends and neighbors in Virginia came and settled in Xenia, forming a community that has been distinctly Methodist in religion for more than one hundred years” (History of Greene County Ohio, Broadstone). The church initially met in Frederick Bonner’s home and was called the Bonner Society. After a short time, a 30’ by 30’ log church was erected and later replaced with a brick structure. The Union Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the oldest in Ohio, has served the Union Neighborhood continuously since 1809.

The conviction of that group of anti-slavery Virginians influenced events that occurred nearly a half century years later when Elias Drake built a hotel and resort a short distance north of Xenia. Mr. Drake’s resort was a health spa for water treatment called Xenia Springs (also called Tawawa Springs). “[T]he resort was popular among southern planters who arrived with their entourages of slaves and hunting dogs.... Many of the neighboring farmers were United Presbyterian Seceders, Methodists, or Quakers, all antislavery in sentiment, and ill will toward the resort naturally arose” (Hutslar & Simmons, Taking the Waters).

The Methodist Episcopal Church purchased the Xenia Springs Resort from Mr. Drake in 1855 to establish a university of higher education for “youth of color,” and that was the origin of Wilberforce University. Wilberforce University became a destination point on the underground railroad for blacks seeking freedom and “an intellectual mecca from slavery’s first rule: ignorance” (History of Wilberforce University).

What an astonishing discovery. My great-great-great grandfather had a, “clear conviction of the injustice and immorality,” of slavery and the courage to act upon it. His moral convictions along with those of his like-minded Virginians contributed to the establishment of the first African-American University in the United States. The action taken by that abolitionist community stands as a testament that, “God can use evil for good.” (Genesis, 50:20).

Show your support! Vote in the state competition.

Until Next Time!

This Week's Trivia Question: Can you name another contestant who is participating in the "I Found It In the Archives" State Contest?

Answer to Last Week's Trivia Question: What year did an explosion at Miami Powder Co. cause three workers to lose their lives? Answer: 1886.


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