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.

Jun 18

2021 Greene County History Week!

Posted on June 18, 2021 at 4:20 PM by Melissa Dalton

We have had fun this week celebrating Greene County History Week with all our followers. We love having the time dedicated to highlighting the rich history of our county, as well as the records and resources we hold. As all the activities were virtual, we wanted to use the blog this week to share all the links and resources in one place! We also invite you to post any lingering questions you may have.

2021 Greene County History Week logo (JPG)
2021 Greene County History Week logo 

During the shutdown, we spent a great deal of time reviewing our records to determine what we could do to provide better access while closed to the public. Most of the activities and resources discussed this week were developed during this time. In particular, we were able to digitize a number of records, aa well as create some how-to guides on locating a number of our records available on FamilySearch. This past week, we took a few of those how-to guides and created tutorials on how to locate some of our most widely requested records, such as marriage records, tax records, deed records, naturalization records, and estate/guardianship records. If you missed any of them, you can follow the link to view them on YouTube. Another project during the shutdown was to create virtual tours of our facility. All tours have been uploaded to YouTube, and you can learn more about what we hold and why. The tours include the reading room, stacks, map room, and microfilm vault.

Example of Greene County Marriage Record from the Genealogy Program (JPG)
Example of marriage record from the Greene County Archives records

As we continued with virtual programming for the 2021 Greene County History Week, we decided to share some of our past programs. Last year Fairborn celebrated its 70th anniversary, and we commemorated that anniversary during the 2020 Greene County History Week with our program “The 1913 Flood, the Move of Osborn, and the Creation of Fairborn”. It was a highly attended program, and we received great feedback on it. We also shared our program “How to Use Greene County Records in Genealogy Research”. This program provides researchers an opportunity to learn about our facility, the types of records we hold, and how the records may be beneficial in genealogy research

A project we started a few years ago was to conduct oral histories with former Greene County employees. This week we shared the oral histories of Gillian Hill, the first Records Manager/Archivist of Greene County, and Charles “Ed” Dressler, former Director of Parks & Trails (formerly known as Recreation and Parks), who served Greene County for 38 years. These are really great interviews, and we highly encourage you to check them out!

Gillian Hill in the Archives, 2009 (JPG)Ed Dressler at the 1984 River Festival (JPG)

Gillian Hill (left); Charles “Ed” Dressler (right)

Lastly, we would like to spotlight our online exhibits on Flickr, and our VIP project! Our online exhibits feature a range of topics that have ties to the local community. Our VIPs of Greene County project provides an opportunity to feature individuals that have helped shape Greene County in some way, and allows us to make their estate files available online. If you have suggestions on an exhibit topic, or someone you believe would be great to feature in our VIP project, please feel free to let us know!

We hope you’ve enjoyed all our programming this week, and be sure to share our Facebook page with all your friends! We’re getting close to our 1700 likes ??

Until Next Time!

Jun 11

Summer Fun! Greene County Community Swimming Pools

Posted on June 11, 2021 at 3:19 PM by Melissa Dalton

Although I did not grow up in Greene County, I was fortunate to live in a community that had a pool for the residents. It was my summer hangout, and some of my favorite memories are from my time at the pool. For over thirty years, Greene County Parks & Trails (formerly Recreation & Parks) ran two great pools in Greene County – Mullins Memorial Pool in Xenia and the Community Pool in Fairborn – and they both closed about ten years ago. As we are now into the summer months, we thought it would be nice to celebrate and reminisce on all the good memories of the Greene County pools.

When Ed Dressler became the Director of the Recreation and Parks department (now Parks & Trails) in the early 1970s, he was tasked with creating a master plan for the parks in Greene County. Part of his master plan was the establishment of community swimming pools (Fig 1). It was determined that two pools would be built – one in Xenia and one in Fairborn. The thought was that these two locations would provide the greatest access to Greene County residents, and each would have additional outdoor recreation facilities on-site.

Fig 1. Pool and Bathhouse Design completed by Thomas, Moll and Klose Architects (JPG)

Fig 1. Pool and Bathhouse Design completed by Thomas, Moll and Klose Architects (Greene County Archives)

In 1974, the county broke ground at the two locations and the sites had dedication ceremonies and grand openings the following year (Fig 2). The first year of operation, more than 80,000 people visited the pools from around the region. Each pool featured an Olympic size swimming pool, children’s pool, night lighting, large grass areas, paved parking, and programming. That year, the Recreation and Parks received an award from the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association for the pool projects (Fig 3).

Fig 2. Groundbreaking ceremonies at pools, Xenia Daily Gazette, 8 Jun 1974 (PNG)

Fig 2. Groundbreaking ceremonies for pools, Xenia Daily Gazette, 08 Jun 1974 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Fig 3. County Cited, Xenia Daily Gazette, 25 Nov 1975 (JPG)

Fig 3. County Cited, Xenia Daily Gazette, 25 Nov 1975 (Greene County Archives)

For the next thirty or so years, the pools operated under the Recreation and Parks department. Each year, programming was a key aspect of operation, providing water exercise, swim lessons, competitive swimming and diving, scuba diving, water ballet, teen splash parties and birthday parties, rentals, and other various special programming such as the doggie dash (Figs 4-11).

Fig 4. Competitive swimming event, 1977 (JPG)

Fig 4. Competitive swimming event, 1977 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 5. Recreational swimming, 1978 (JPG)

Fig 5. Recreational swimming, 1978 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 6. Swim lessons, 1981 (JPG)

Fig 6. Swim Lessons, 1981 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 7. Boys diving at Mullins Memorial Pool, 1986 (JPG)

Fig 7. Boys diving at Mullins Memorial Pool, 1986 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 8. Girls at teen night at pool, 1986 (JPG)

Fig 8. Girls at teen night at pool, 1986 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 9. Fairborn Pool 20th Anniversary Celebration, 1995 (JPG)

Fig 9. Fairborn Pool 20th Anniversary Celebration, 1995 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 10. Teen event at pool, 2006 (JPG)

Fig 10. Kid/teen event at pool, 2006 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 11. Doggie Dash at Mullins Memorial Pool, 2006 (JPG)

Fig 11. Doggie Dash at Mullins Memorial Pool, 2006 (Greene County Archives)

In 2009, the pools did not open for the season due to budget cuts in the county. The revenue from the pools did not cover the cost of operation, and it was determined that it would save the county roughly $100,000 to keep both facilities closed for the season. The following year, the county and city of Fairborn agreed that the Fairborn Community Pool should be demolished as it (and the Xenia pool) would likely remained closed indefinitely – a fate which was correct (Fig 12).

Fig 12. No Lifeguard on Duty, Xenia Gazette, 10 Feb 2009 (PNG)

Fig 12. No Lifeguard on Duty, Xenia Gazette, 10 Feb 2009 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

While interviewing Ed Dressler in 2018, I asked him about what he viewed as some of his major projects/accomplishments. He claimed that the creation of the swimming pools was a highlight of his career. Ed believed the pools and recreation centers helped develop Xenia and Fairborn, especially the park systems, all while promoting community outreach and providing recreation and fun for the youth of our county. We think Ed was right – we can focus on all the good memories of these pools, and what they provided for the local community during their more than thirty years!

If you have any memories, please feel free to share! We’d love to hear them!

Until Next Time!

Sources:

Images and plans from the Greene County Parks & Trails Photograph Collection, Greene County Archives

Newspaper articles from NewspaperARCHIVE.com

Ed Dressler Oral History, Greene County Archives

Jun 04

VIP of Greene County: John Bryan

Posted on June 4, 2021 at 9:03 AM by Melissa Dalton

Our next Greene County VIP is John Bryan. I’m sure many of you know the name, but less is known about the man. He was a private individual, but when he had a point to be made, he wasn’t shy about making his opinion known. However, he is mostly widely known for the bequeath of his property, Riverside Farm, to the state of Ohio. We now know that property as John Bryan State Park.

John Bryan was born on August 18, 1853 in Auglaize County, Ohio to John and Minerva Besse Bryan. Bryan grew up to be quite the inventor, and when recognizing a tool, device, or appliance (especially electrical) didn’t meet his needs, he would rework and reinvent. While living in New York, Bryan made a great deal of his fortune through his inventions, although it is said that he never patented anything himself. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Bryan made his fortune through the invention of medicated soap, which he sold to a Cincinnati soap company.

Bryan also was a poet, author, and avid naturalist. He was truly passionate about writing fables. There actually is an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer from March 24, 1918 in which Bryan published a classified for a lost manuscript “nearly ready for publication”, which illustrates his commitment to his writings (Fig 1).

Fig 1. Classified ad for lost book, Cincinnati Enquirer, 24 Mar 1918 (JPG)Fig 1. Classified ad for lost book, Cincinnati Enquirer, 24 Mar 1918 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

While visiting a friend in Yellow Springs in 1896, Bryan fell in love with Miami Township, and particularly the Yellow Springs area. Later that year, he purchased over 300 acres along Clifton Gorge and named it Riverside Farm. On the farm, Bryan built the largest barn in the state (some even claim the world), that included a system of pens and gates “devised to allow the cattle to be turned from any side to the other side” and there was an area large enough to turn a four-horse team with a load of hay.

In 1907, Bryan married Fredericka Murphy, a young woman roughly 25 years his junior (Fig 2). Bryan was known for his lack of religiosity, and he and his bride traveled to St. Louis, MO to get married due to less restrictive marriage laws. In particular, he had the words “obey” and “holy” removed from the ceremony and vows (Fig 3). John and Fredericka never had children.

Fig 2. Marriage Record for John Bryan and Fredericka Murphy (JPG)
Fig 2. Marriage Record for John Bryan and Fredericka Murphy, Hamilton County, Ohio (Ancestry.com)

Fig 3. Article on marriage of Bryan and Murphy, New-York Tribune, 19 May 1907 (JPG)
Fig 3. Article on marriage of Bryan & Murphy, New-York Tribune, 19 May 1907 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

In 1918, while visiting Cincinnati, Bryan became seriously ill, and died just days later while staying at the Palace Hotel. According to the death certificate, he died of pneumonia (Fig 4). Some other sources claim it was the flu as it was the height of the 1918 Flu Epidemic, so it is possible it was a contributing factor. John Bryan was buried at Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati.

Fig 4. Death Certificate for John Bryan (JPG)
Fig 4. Death Certificate for John Bryan (Ancestry.com)

Upon his death, Bryan bequeathed his Riverside Farm to the state of Ohio to “be cultivated by the state as a forestry, botanic and wildlife reserve park and experiment station” (Fig 5). He included another provision that the park could not be used for any sort of religion services, and if it was, the property would revert back to the estate. Eventually the State Legislature determined that the provision was unconstitutional, and accepted the gift. In 1949, John Bryan State Park was transferred to the newly established Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which still manages the park today.

Fig 5. Will of John Bryan, 1 of 3 pages (JPG)
Fig 5. Will of John Bryan, 2 of 3 pages (JPG)
Fig 5. Will of John Bryan, 3 of 3 pages (JPG)
Fig 5. Last Will & Testament of John Bryan (Greene County Archives)

To learn more about the park, visit the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, or just make the drive to beautiful park today! You won’t be disappointed.

Until Next Time!

Sources:

Ancestry.com

Greene County Archives

NewspaperARCHIVE.com

Ohio Department of Natural Resources