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.

Jan 14

Vandervoort Fruit Farm in Greene County

Posted on January 14, 2021 at 5:12 PM by Melissa Dalton

A few weeks ago, Joan pulled a guardianship file for Bruce B. Vandervoort. As a life-long resident of the county, Joan recognized the name as the former owner of the fruit farm just outside of Jamestown. This week, we look at the life of Mr. Vandervoort.

Bruce B. Vandervoort was born in West Virginia on December 2, 1855 to Nicholas and Esther Vandervoort. Although I wasn’t able to find much about his early life, he moved to Ohio sometime between 1870 and 1880 as he was living in Clinton County, and working as a school teacher, in 1880 (Fig 1). On June 23, 1883, B. B. married Nancy “Nannie” J. Vandervoort in Clinton County (Fig 2).

Fig 1. 1880 US Census Record, listed as boarder in Green Twp in Clinton County (JPG)

Fig 1. 1880 US Census record as boarder in Green Township of Clinton County (Ancestry.com)

Fig 2. Marriage announcement, Xenia Daily Gazette, 29 Jun 1883 (PNG)

Fig 2. Marriage announcement of B.B. and Nannie Vandervoort, Xenia Daily Gazette, 29 June 1883 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Sometime in the late 1880s/early 1890s, Vandervoort became a horticulturalist and started a fruit farm on the outskirts of Jamestown. According to one newspaper article, Vandervoort spent a month in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho to study apple production (Fig 3), and his farm was 30 acres by 1903. At the time of his death in 1941, the fruit farm had tripled in size, and was a total of 94 acres. There are several articles in the local newspapers in which Vandervoort offered advice for planting and harvesting, as well as giving updates on the farm and the expected fruit crops for the year (Fig 4).

Fig 3. Article detailing Vandervoort farm success, Xenia Daily Gazette, 6 Oct 1911 (PNG)

Fig 3. Article detailing Vandervoort Farm success, Xenia Daily Gazette, 6 Oct 1911 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Fig 4. Article from Vandervoort regarding peach crop, Xenia Daily Gazette, 16 Mar 1903 (PNG)

Fig 4. Article from Vandervoort regarding peach crop, Xenia Daily Gazette, 16 Mar 1903 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

B. B. and Nannie had five children – Ora, Clara, Mary, Herbert, and Louis. In 1923, their son, Louis, confessed to a chain of robberies in Xenia, Jamestown, Washington Court House, and Wilmington. His family did not want to believe it until he showed authorities where he hid the loot. Newspapers state that he did not sell any of the stolen materials, and that the robberies were due to a “peculiar mental twist… in search of adventure” (Fig 5). There is a bit of a story here, but we’ll leave it for another blog post.

Fig 5. Young Farmer Charged with Looting, Xenia Daily Gazette, 20 Jan 1923 (PNG)Fig 5. Young Farmer Charged with Looting, Xenia Daily Gazette, 20 Jan 1923 (PNG)

Fig 5. Young Farmer Charged with Store Looting, Xenia Daily Gazette, 20 Jan 1923 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

The Vandervoorts continued expanding their fruit farm, even into their later years. Nannie passed away on August 2, 1936, and within a month, paperwork was filed with Probate Court to assign a guardian to B. B. Vandervoort due to “advanced age and physical infirmity” (Fig 6). It was estimated at the time of filing that the personal property/life estate value was likely $30,000, real estate value of approximately $25,000, and another $4,000 in annual rents, for a total value of his estate at $55,000. Today that equates to just over $1,000,000.

Fig 6. B.B. Vandervoort (Guardianship) Box 775 Case 596 (JPG)
Fig 6. B.B. Vandervoort (Guardianship) Box 775 Case 596 (JPG)

Fig 6. Application for Appointment of Guardian, B. B. Vandervoort, Box 775 Case 596 (Greene County Archives)

The guardianship was approved by the Court, and remained in effect until B. B. Vandervoort’s death on January 23, 1941. Vandervoort was buried next to his wife in Jamestown Cemetery.

Upon Vandervoort’s death, his two surviving children, Louis and Ora, each received $11,592.26 from the life estate created by Nannie’s will ($204,156.06 today). They also were the beneficiaries of the family farm. We will explore the life of the farm after Vandervoort’s passing in a future blog post, so stay tuned!

Until Next Time!

Sources:
Ancestry.com
Greene County Archives
NewspaperARCHIVE.com

Jan 08

Staff Favorite Records, Part III: Maps

Posted on January 8, 2021 at 10:30 AM by Melissa Dalton

This week, we take a final look at the Favorite Record Series from our Newsletter! In the December issue, Melissa highlighted one of her favorite records, Maps!

The Archives holds collections that document the rich and unique history of Greene County, Ohio. Each record provides a key to unlocking and understanding a piece of our collective past, be it a tax record that indicates a family member owned property, or a marriage record illustrating a distant relative married in the County, or a birth record demonstrating that same relative started and raised a family in the County.
I review and write about a variety of these records every week, be it for the blog or a social media post. When it came my turn to write about a favorite record of the Archives, the first thing I thought of was maps.

Maps seem so general, but each week, they make an appearance in a social media post. They are full of information and help tell stories. A great example of this is using maps in conjunction with surveys. Surveys are complex; they are written using legal jargon, and many times, do not fully reveal a location. However, when you include a map, it all becomes so clear - landowners, neighbors, and property lines are evident. Maps clarify complex records or information, and provide a visual representation that may otherwise be lacking.

Our maps also demonstrate the changing landscape of Greene County over two centuries. The maps indicate development of the towns, villages, and cities of the County, as well as the highway systems, housing developments, parks, sewage systems, and even the changing election precincts as populations increased or decreased in particular areas. Some of the most interesting maps illustrate the path of the infamous 1974 Xenia Tornado, one of the worst in our nation’s history. These maps provide invaluable information to researchers in learning about the County and provide a great educational tool in the classroom to highlight local history topics. In particular, we use an 1896 Map of Osborn in a classroom activity to help students learn how to read a map, as well as some history of the village prior to moving to a new location after the 1913 Flood.

1974 Map of Path of the Xenia Tornado (JPG)
?1974 Map of the Path of the Xenia Tornado (Greene County Archives)

1896 Map of Osborn (JPG)
?1896 Map of Osborn (Greene County Archives)

If you are conducting property research or genealogy, don’t overlook or underestimate the value of maps. They may help clear ambiguities and may prove to be a valuable record.

Until Next Time!


Dec 31

Staff Favorite Records, Part II: Immigration Records

Posted on December 31, 2020 at 11:53 AM by Melissa Dalton

We had a brief hiatus of our blog, but we'd like to share the favorite records series from our 2020 Newsletters! This week, we learn about Elise's favorite record, Petition for Naturalization.

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I have had time to slow down and reflect on the things that are most valuable to me. Without a doubt, family has always been the most integral part in my life. I recently learned some information about my great-grandfather, Steven Pettas. Great-Grandfather Pettas was born in Greece, immigrated to the United States in 1911, and was naturalized a U.S. citizen in 1933. What a joy it was to hear and learn this story. Using FamilySearch.org, I find my great-grandfather’s naturalization record. Through my family’s story and this record, I have been able to develop a more emotional connection to my ancestor.

Here at the Greene County Archives, we house and preserve several Petition for Naturalization records (Fig 1). These valuable and historical resources provide a plethora of information including: the immigrant’s place of birth and year; their present nationality; their physical description; their current address; the name of the vessel they traveled on to get to the United States; their occupation; their spouse and children’s names, places of birth, and their current addresses.

Greene County Archives Naturalization Record Books (PNG)
Fig 1. Greene County Archives Naturalization Record Books

One of these Petition for Naturalization records documents the naturalization of Marie Treuer (Fig 2). Upon examination of the record, I learned that Marie was a Jewish woman from Czechoslovakia. She, her Austrian husband, Fritz Treuer, and their son, Robert left Vienna, Austria in the beginning of 1939. Nazi Germany had invaded Austria in March 1938. This Jewish family probably left Vienna in order to escape Nazi persecution. According to the petition which was dated in 1945, Marie Treuer was employed as a bookkeeper and lived with her husband in Yellow Springs (Fig 3).

Photograph of Marie Treuer (PNG)
Fig 2. Photograph of Marie Treuer

Petition for Naturalization for Marie Treuer (PNG)
Fig 3. Petition for Naturalization record for Marie Treuer


These records serve as a vital link to our past and illustrate the importance of preserving and sharing historical records. Here in Greene County we are dedicated to this service.

Until Next Time!