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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Nov 04

Spirits Ran High in Greene County's Distilleries

Posted on November 4, 2016 at 10:35 AM by Elise Kelly

The distillery and craft beer scene has certainly experienced a resurgence in America. Breweries and distilleries have been popping up throughout small town America.

Craft beer and distilled spirits have become tremendously popular.
"Mill Street Distillery in Utica, OH" - photo courtesy of Mark Spearman via Flickr

However, homegrown brewing is not a new fad. The American colonists brought with them the craft of distilling. Thousands of small distilleries were scattered throughout the eastern United States in the early nineteenth century.

M.A. Broadstone, in his History of Greene County, Ohio (1918), wrote that the early pioneer, James Galloway Sr., erected a distillery along a small stream which formerly crossed Yellow Springs Pike (now Route 68) during the early nineteenth century.

During these early years, distilling in Greene County became a profitable  alternative for local corn farmers. Galloway’s distillery was one of at least fourteen distilleries operating in Greene County during the nineteenth century.

James Galloway Sr. owned land across from the Miami Powder Mill Co. (which was located at Goes Station on U.S. 68 North). Perhaps his distillery was near either of these small streams just left of the railroad tracks (what is known today as the Little Miami Bike Path).
       1855 Greene County Atlas (Galloway's Distillery is already gone at this point).

By 1850,according to the agriculture census, three hundred and twenty people made their living as distillers in the county.
                    Distillers in Miami County, 1850. They were producing whiskey.

The Harbine Distillery operated in Beavercreek Township. According to the 1850 census, the distillery produced 7.7 barrels of whiskey per day.
                            1855 Greene County Atlas - Harbine Distillery

Declining Rural Producers
During the Civil War, rural distilleries took an economic hit with the increase in taxes. The taxes that were levied went from twenty cents to $2.00 per gallon. Due to the high increase in taxation, the Harbine Distillery did not survive after the Civil War.

In addition, the Temperance Movement helped close down many distilleries throughout the nation. In 1802, there were 22,000 rural distilleries in the United States. In 1909, there were only 613. By 1910, the last distillery closed down its operation in Greene County.

Washington Galloway, Greene County Surveyor between the 1840s-1880s, made diary entries about the temperance movement's demonstrations in Greene County. The first page in his 1874 diary records how many saloon owners in Xenia closed their doors after several women sang songs of protest outside their saloons.
Transcript: 1874 Washington Galloway   February
Ladies are praying and singing at the door of whiskey and beer saloons. Three saloons closed & poured their liquor into the street gutter. Phillips was one of them.

In Miami County, the Staley Distillery operated for many years after the Civil War. This distillery was very productive; during the 1830s, the distillery produced 30 to 35 barrels of whiskey per day.
                                                  Staley Distillery

Although the Staley Distillery is no longer operating today, it has been preserved exceptionally well. The distillery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is “arguably the most well-preserved rural milling and distilling complex in the country (The Distiller’s Tale, 11).

The Distilling Process
The four steps involved with distilling drinkable liquors included: 1. Mashing; 2. Cooling; 3. Fermenting; 4. Distilling. Fermenting could take up to fourteen days. Popular drinks were beer, whiskey, and applejack (a brandy distilled from cider).
                                     Gillespie's Improved Steam Still

If you’re starting to get thirsty, check out these local distilleries in Greene County. Try an “apple pie moonshine” at the S & G Artisan distillery in Yellow Springs or a straight bourbon whiskey at the Stillwrights Distillery in Fairborn. Enjoy the spirits of Greene County!

Until Next Time!

This Week's Trivia Question:
In 1805, William Gordon opened a small brewery where in the county?

Answer to Last Week's Trivia Question:
October is also heritage month for _______ Americans. Answer: Italian.

Sources: Broadstone, M.A. History of Greene County, Ohio. Indianapolis: B.F. Bowen & Company, Inc., 1918.
Gary & Pape, Inc. The Distiller's Tale.


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