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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Oct 05

The Man Who Brought Electric Light to Farms in Greene County

Posted on October 5, 2016 at 12:10 PM by Elise Kelly

Dayton Innovations

One of the major manufacturing industries in Dayton, Ohio was the National Cash Register Company (NCR). Founded and owned by John H. Patterson, NCR was one of the first modern American companies that manufactured and sold mechanical cash registers.
National Cash Register 1904 via Wikimedia Commons

Charles F. Kettering via Wikimedia Commons
A brilliant engineer by the name of Charles Kettering worked at NCR during its early years. Kettering was in charge of NCR's laboratory. During his tenure at the company, Kettering invented the electric cash register.

In 1909, Kettering and his NCR colleague, Edward Deeds formed the Dayton Engineers Laboratory Co. (Delco).
During that year, Kettering shifted his focus to work full-time on automotive developments. By reconstructing the motor he invented for the cash register motor, Kettering invented the first electric automobile starter. The first starters were installed in the 1912 Cadillacs.

During that year, Kettering received a telegram from a Cadillac owner who informed him that he was using his car to power his cottage.

Kettering began thinking of the possibilities of this and in 1916, he started the Domestic Engineering Company to produce Delco-Light - farm electric light and power plants for rural homes and farms.
Delco-Light Newspaper Ad, 1919 via Wikimedia Commons

Electricity in Greene County

Here in Greene County, the first farm electric light plant was installed in 1913 by Oscar Pidgeon. Doing so helped meet the burgeoning demand for electric service in rural areas of the County. The modern convenience of farm electric light plants made farm chores easier.
  Electric farm equipment.jpg
                                Working on the farm in Greene County

Pidgeon, a Xenia resident was a graduate of the YMCA Automobile School of Cincinnati. He operated a battery and auto electric service station in Xenia.

Pidgeon's battery shop was located on the second floor of the Xenia Garage Company (See Below.)
                                            Oscar Pidgeon's Battery Shop
In July 1918, the entire building erupted in flames. The fire was first believed to have started from inside Pidgeon's battery shop. The recharging machine that charged Pidgeon's batteries operated all night long. However, authorities discovered that the fire started from a short circuit in the electrical wires that ran into Pidgeon's shop.

sdfs  Damages were estimated at five thousand dollars for Pidgeon and only one-fifth was covered by insurance. Ironically, Pidgeon later became an insurance and real estate agent.

He sold several properties in Xenia and Greene County. He later served as the first president of the Greene County Real Estate Board and was the first president of the Greene County Association of Insurance Agents.

We discovered this wonderful story from one of our volunteers. David Pidgeon is the great-grandson of Oscar Pidgeon. We thank David for bringing in these wonderful photos and memorabilia so that we could share them with you.

Until Next Time!

This Week's Trivia Question:
Who did Charles Kettering sell Delco to in 1918?

Answer to Last Week's Trivia Question: Does the Union Methodist Church that Frederick Bonner and several other families help establish still exist today? - Answer: Yes!


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