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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Sep 16

The Potter's Field at Cherry Grove Cemetery

Posted on September 16, 2016 at 1:19 PM by Elise Kelly

In June of this year, New York City officials allowed a film crew to film New York’s potter’s field - one of the largest in the United States.

A potter’s field is a burial ground for individuals and families who could not afford to be buried in a private lot in a cemetery.
"A Trench at the Potter's Field" Hart Island, Circa 1890 by Joseph Riis via Wikimedia Commons
The county or city would pay  the cemetery lot fees for those helpless individuals.

Hart Island is located on the right. The Potter's Field is located in the northern part of the island. 800,000 corpses are buried there. Pelham Bay Park Aerial View via Wikimedia Commons
 New York’s potter’s field is located on Hart Island which is off of The Bronx Borough in the Long Island Sound. An unmarked stone that rests atop mass graves indicates where one plot ends and another begins.

The bodies are of the poor, the unknown and the unclaimed dead.

Here in Xenia, several lots were purchased for some of the “paupers” who died at the Greene County Infirmary. In 1873, the County Commissioners purchased lots 97, 98, 99, and 100 in Section C of the Cherry Grove Cemetery. The plots were purchased for twelve dollars each.

Transcript: Greene County Commissioners' Meeting Minutes Vol. 9 Page 276. "On motion of G. Snyder to purchase from the trustees of Cherry Grove Cemetery, lots 97,98,99, 100 no. Sec. C. in said cemetery at twelve dollars each, for the burial of paupers who die at the County Infirmary -- the yeas and nays being called resulted -- yeas, Snyder, Steel, and Rodney Mays, none[.] The County Auditor is directed to issue an order to said trustees for the amount due for said lots, when the proper certificate of sale is filed."
 Cherry Grove Cemetery has been located along West Second Street in Xenia for over 150 years. It was originally an African American burial site.  sdfs
             Entrance to Cherry Grove Cemetery

Looking back at the 1861-1878 Infirmary Admission/Discharge Record Book, we do know that one African American female woman died at the infirmary during the year 1873 (See Below).

          Greene County Infirmary Board of Directors Journal 1861-1878 - Page 115

It is unclear if any other African Americans died at the Infirmary that year. The administration did not record the race of the individuals who died during the following months in their record book.

During the year of 1873, sixteen people died at the infirmary (See Below).
             Greene County Infirmary Admissions/Discharges Record 1850-1876

Notice on the discharge document, under the column "present conditions," the reasons for why individuals needed to stay at the infirmary included: "no one to care for him," "not able to take care of himself," "poor parents," "froze feet exposure." The list of the conditions are heartbreaking and some of the individuals could not survive in the infirmary. I believe it is fair to assume that some of them were buried at Cherry Grove Cemetery.

Fortunately, the County helped provide a final resting place for the destitute and underprivileged.

Until Next Time!

This Week's Trivia Question: What was built over a nineteenth century potter's field in Cincinnati, Ohio?

Answer to Last Week's Trivia Question:
What day in October does Ask An Archivist Day fall on? - Answer: Monday, October 3, 2016


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