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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Dec 02

The First Printer & Publisher of the Northwest Territory

Posted on December 2, 2016 at 10:05 AM by Elise Kelly

Have you ever biked the Creekside Trail (which runs parallel to US 35 in Beavercreek) and passed this marker?
Image courtesy of The Historical Marker Database - photograph by Rev. Ronald Irick, Dec. 8, 2015.

This monument was dedicated to William Maxwell who was the first printer and publisher in the Northwest Territory. The monument was originally erected and dedicated in 1941 by the Dayton Club of Printing House Craftsmen. It was located next to Dayton-Xenia Road approximately five hundred feet southeast of the current site pictured above.

In 2003, the Beavercreek Township Trustees; the Greene County Commissioners; the Greene County Park District; the Greene County Engineering Department; the Greene County Historical Society; the Dayton Club of Printing House Craftsmen and Dodds Monuments rededicated the monument.

Who was this man who printed the first newspaper in the Northwest territory?

William Maxwell was quite the pioneer. According to an account by his granddaughter, Maxwell crossed the Allegheny Mountains in 1788 with his printing equipment strapped to the backs of his pack of horses. He ventured into Kentucky.

  While in Lexington, Maxwell worked as the state printer. 
Allegheny Mountains via Wikimedia Commons

In 1792,  Maxwell journeyed north and settled in Cincinnati. In Cincinnati, (which at the time was a village of about two hundred people), Maxwell started printing The Centinel, a weekly publication. The Centinel was the first paper published in the Northwest Territory (See Below).

The type page of the first issue of the four page "The Centinel of the North-Western Territory." An original copy is in the library of the Ohio History Connection.

In addition to printing and publishing the newspaper, Maxwell printed books and was a postmaster. These latter duties occupied most of his time and in 1797, Maxwell sold The Centinel to Edmund Freeman.

Two years after selling the paper, Maxwell  and his family settled near the Little Miami River (what is now known as Beavercreek Township) in 1799. Near Trebein, Maxwell raised cattle. In 1803, he was active in the state legislature and helped establish Greene County.

During that same year, Maxwell became an Associate Greene County Judge (See Below).

"Ordered that the Treasurer pay William Maxwell Esq 10 dollars for his attendance as an associate judge." Greene County Commissioners' Meeting Minutes, Vol. 1 Page 5

He resigned his position in December 1803 and was elected the county sheriff, serving two terms (See Below).
"William Maxwell high Sheriff of Green [Greene] County together with James Popenoe Esquire and Major William Buckles his securities declared into and acknowledged their bond in the penalty of four Thousand dollars for the faithfull [faithful] performance of said officer." Greene County Commissioners' Meeting Minutes, Vol. 1 Page 8

In 1804, Maxwell was commissioned as a Captain in the Ohio State Militia. He retired as a Lieutenant-Colonel in 1806. The last few remaining years of his life were spent on his farm in Beavercreek. Maxwell died in 1809 in his log cabin. He was buried on a hill near his home. The log cabin was still standing when Charles Galbreath took a photo of it in 1903. Here is a drawing of Maxwell's home based on Galbreath's photograph.
                       Image courtesy of William Maxwell by August Brunsman

The cabin and the hill where Maxwell is buried is located today on a private farm just off North Valley Road.Here is the private lane that leads to the hill. 

                                   Private Lane off of North Valley Rd.

Remember, if you're ever on the Creekside Bike Path, take a moment to check out the Maxwell memorial that appropriately pays homage to this Greene County pioneer.

Until Next Time!

This Week's Trivia Question: Name one of the books William Maxwell printed.

Answer to Last Week's Trivia Question:
What U.S. President tried to move Thanksgiving back a week in order to boost Christmas sales? - Answer: Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Source: Brunsman, August. A Brief Monograph on the Life and Works of William Maxwell. 1993.


December 5, 2016 at 5:39 PM
This article is a significant boost to my genealogical search as it names "Maj. William Buckles" as a surety for the new sheriff in 1803 (Vol. 1 of the County Commissioner's Meetings). Unsourced family records have shown this William as "General" and records of service in the War of 1812 do not distinguish between father and son. However, the son William was born in 1797, so could not have entered into any transaction at age 6!

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