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.

Dec 03

New Online Exhibit

Posted on December 3, 2020 at 9:10 AM by Elise Kelly

We have created a new online exhibit entitled, “Overcoming Hardship: Life in Greene County during the Great Depression” (See Fig. 1). This exhibit captures life during the Great Depression and showcases how the people of Greene County, Ohio persevered and helped one another through such a difficult time.

First Image for Great Depression Exhibit (JPG)
Fig. 1 Chicago Soup Kitchen, 1931 (image via FLICKR)

The Great Depression began during the last year of the ‘Roaring 1920s’ when the New York Stock Exchange plummeted in late October 1929. The GDP took a nosedive, which ushered in a devastating worldwide economic depression. People’s savings were lost as thousands of banks were shuttered and poverty climbed sharply.

Like many communities throughout the world, Greene County experienced local bank liquidations, high unemployment, and eventual relief aid. Local banks including – the Commercial & Savings Bank of Xenia, the Exchange Bank of Cedarville, and the Bowersville Bank were liquidated (See Figs. 2 & 3). To provide relief for Greene County residents, the Yellow Springs Exchange was established in 1932. Set up as a barter system, people would barter “what they had, for what they needed” (See Fig. 4). Charity events were also organized in Greene County to help raise funds for those who were unemployed (See Fig 5).

Bowersville Bank Comm, Jrnl 30 pg. 382 (JPG)
Fig. 2 Greene County Commissioners' Journal Vol. 30, page 382 (via Greene County Archives)

bowersville bank xenia-evening-gazette-Nov-29-1934-p-1 (PNG)
Fig. 3 Xenia Evening Gazette, November 29, 1934 (via

YS Exchange (PNG)
Fig. 4 Yellow Springs Exchange Credit Coupon (image via 

unemployment fund xenia-evening-gazette-Dec-29-1931-p-5 (PNG)
Fig. 5 Xenia Evening Gazette, December 29, 1931 (via

In 1933, the federal government stepped in to help provide relief and aid to the country. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration was established and the Greene County Commissioners appointed Karl Babb, former Xenia Mayor, as the County Relief Director of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (See Fig. 6). Relief funds helped needy families procure groceries, shoes, coal, and medicine.

Vol. 30 pg. 266 (2) recolored (JPG)
Fig. 6 Greene County Commissioners' Journal Vol. 30, page 266 (via Greene County Archives)

After the Federal Emergency Administration program ended in 1935, the Works Progress Administration took its place. Between the years 1935-1943, this federal program employed 8.5 million Americans, many of them being unskilled laborers. Several Works Progress Administration projects were conducted in Greene County including: repairing the Central High School in Xenia, making improvements to Bryan High School in Yellow Springs, adding a hospital wing to the County Infirmary, and transcribing maps of Greene County cemeteries showing Veterans’ graves (See Figs. 7 & 8).

Vol. 31 pg. 214 (JPG)
Fig. 7 Greene County Commissioners' Journal Vol. 31, page 214 (via Greene County Archives)

xenia-evening-gazette-Jan-24-1938-p-5 wpa projects (PNG)
Fig. 8 Xenia Evening Gazette, January 24, 1938  (via

A further federal project that had local participation was the Civilian Conservation Corps. Camp Greene was established as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935 (See Fig. 9). This program provided manual, outdoor work for young, unemployed, single men. Camp Greene operated for three and a half years and was located two miles west of Xenia on Upper Bellbrook Road. Projects that Camp Greene workers completed during the program’s tenure included: planting trees during the winter months, constructing temporary dams, building fences, and timber stand improvement.

xenia-evening-gazette-Dec-13-1935-p-2 ccc camp (PNG)
Fig. 9 Xenia Evening Gazette, December 13, 1935  (via

Often throughout the Depression, even in the face of great adversity, Greene County residents carried on with resilience, ingenuity, and compassion. This is a relevant lesson in our modern world. Please note that this blog post briefly touches on some segments of this online exhibit. To see the entire exhibit, please visit our FLICKR page.

Until Next Time!

Greene County Records Center & Archives
Nov 23

Brief History of Thanksgiving as a US Holiday

Posted on November 23, 2020 at 2:19 PM by Melissa Dalton

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, it’s important, especially this year, to think about why we come together on this holiday. This year, the holidays are going to look very different for many people. Instead of large family gatherings, many are scaling back and only celebrating with those that live in their household. Others are taking their gatherings virtual so that they still can see family, even if they cannot gather in person. I’ve also heard that there are several people skipping the cooking, and ordering from local restaurants!

The concept of “thanksgivings”, or traditions of giving thanks and celebrating a healthy harvest, are noted throughout history. Many cultures celebrated victories in war, successful harvest, and even the end of drought. Variations of thanksgiving have been celebrated nationally in the United States since the Revolutionary War, but it wasn’t until the Civil War that it became more common. President Lincoln, in an attempt to give thanks during a difficult time, proclaimed that Thursday, November 26, 1863 be celebrated as Thanksgiving Day. Since this act, the holiday has been observed annually, although the traditions varied regionally.

Harpers Weekly, 29 Nov 1862 (JPG)

Harper’s Weekly, 29 November 1862 (Greene County Archives)

Harpers Weekly, 13 Dec 1862 (JPG)

Harper’s Weekly, 13 December 1862 (Greene County Archives)

Most presidents succeeding Lincoln declared the final Thursday of November as Thanksgiving. However, 1939 had five Thursdays, and Franklin D. Roosevelt declared the fourth Thursday as Thanksgiving. Some historians claim that he did this to allow for an additional week of holiday shopping during the Great Depression. His break from tradition didn’t sit well with everyone, and not all states followed his lead. In 1940 and 1941, Roosevelt continued this break with tradition, declaring the third Thursday Thanksgiving. Due to this, Congress decided to pass a joint resolution to permanently fix Thanksgiving – making it the fourth Thursday of November. It passed both the House and Senate, and on December 26, 1941, Roosevelt signed the bill into law.

Today, many of the traditions we see have a long history. Two of the most notable are the Thanksgiving Day Parade and Football! What we now know as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was started in 1924, with the oldest parade associated with the holiday being the Philadelphia’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which started in 1920. Another well-known Thanksgiving Day tradition is football. This tradition dates back to just a few years after Lincoln’s declaration, with Yale and Princeton playing on the day. Thanksgiving later became the day for collegiate championship games. As such, when the professional football league, what is now called the National Football League (NFL), was established in 1920, they immediately adopted the day for themselves – with the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys playing on Thanksgiving each year.

No matter what your plans for this Thanksgiving Day, we wish you all a happy and safe holiday!

Until Next Time!

Nov 19

Jobe E. Lyon - WWII Soldier and POW

Posted on November 19, 2020 at 11:16 AM by Melissa Dalton

I am not a World War II history buff. I know the basics, but I didn’t take any history courses specific to the War. But, when Joan sent me a copy of a letter from the War Department notifying a father of his young son’s death, I couldn’t help but want to learn more. This week, we share the little we learned about Jobe Elbert Lyon’s life before the war, but also what he likely experienced as a soldier and POW.

Jobe Elbert Lyon was born on February 23, 1925 to Jobe E. Lyon (Sr.) and Mary (Shank) Lyon. As he shared a name with his father, the family called him Elbert. Mary’s family, the Shanks, were from Beavercreek Township, but the young couple made their home in Dayton as Jobe worked as an electrician for Delco. When Elbert was only 10 years old, his mother died after a brief illness (Fig 1). After Mary’s death, her father, George, named Elbert as a beneficiary of his trust. George Shank died on December 6, 1938, and as such, Elbert was to receive $1500 at the age of 21 (Fig 2).

Fig 1. Obituary for Mary A. Lyon (PNG)

Fig 1. Obituary for Mary A. Lyon (

Fig 2. Will of George Shank (JPG)

Fig 2. Will of George Shank (Greene County Archives)

Elbert was a 1943 graduate of Stivers High School in Dayton, Ohio and worked as a meter reader for the Dayton Power & Light Co. On March 19, 1944, Elbert, like many young men of his time, enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was assigned to Company G, 422nd Infantry Regiment, 106th Division, known as the Golden Lions (Fig 3).

Fig 3. Registration Card for Jobe E. Lyon (JPG)

Fig 3. Registration Card for Jobe E. Lyon (

The 422nd Infantry Regiment arrived at the Schnee Eifel area of Germany on December 10, 1944 to relieve the 2nd Infantry Division, and were joined by the 423rd Infantry Regiment. This area was in the Ardennes Forest and was a supposedly quiet front, which was thought to be ideal for the young and green regiments. However, on December 16, 1944, just days after arrival, the regiments were attacked by the Germans. The battle, commonly known as the Battle of the Bulge, ensued for four days, and the regiments were surrounded and cut off from the other units and supplies. As such, on December 19, 1944, Colonel Descheneaux of the 422nd and Colonel Cavender of the 423rd, surrendered their regiments to the Germans. Among the captured was PFC Lyon.

After the Battle of the Bulge, many of the captured Americans were taken as prisoners of war (POWs) to various German prison camps. In particular, thousands were imprisoned at Stalag IV-B (not far from Dresden), which is where PFC Lyon was taken. The WWII POW Data Files from the National Archives provides some details about Lyon and his time in the POW camp. Elbert and his fellow American POWs likely arrived in late December 1944. We aren’t sure of Elbert’s condition upon arrival to the POW camp (we aren’t sure if he was injured during battle or not), but there were many instances of frostbite, starvation, and brutality at the camp. Sadly, PFC Lyon died as a POW on February 25, 1945, just two days after his 20th birthday. His father was notified by the War Department on September 4, 1945 (Fig 4), and had a headstone erected on the family plot at Beavercreek Cemetery to memorialize his son and his ultimate sacrifice (Fig 5).

Fig 4. Letter from the War Department to Jobe E. Lyon, Sr. (JPG)

Fig 4. Letter from the War Department to Jobe E. Lyon, Sr. (Greene County Archives)

Fig 5. Headstone Memorial for PFC Jobe E. Lyon at Beavercreek Cemetery (JPG)

Fig 5. Headstone for PFC Jobe E. Lyon at Beavercreek Cemetery (

In 1949, Elbert’s body was returned to the United States through the WWII Dead Program (now the Defense MIA/POW Accounting Agency). PFC Jobe E. Lyon was buried in Arlington Cemetery on July 28, 1949. Today, we honor his memory and sacrifice (Fig 6).

Fig 6. Interment form for PFC Jobe E. Lyon at Arlington National Cemetery (JPG)

Fig 6. Interment form for PFC Jobe E. Lyon at Arlington National Cemetery (

If you are interested in learning more about the 106th Division and the Battle of the Bulge, I read an informative article on the National WWII Museum’s website, written by a top WWII historian, Dr. Robert Citino:

Until Next Time.


Greene County Archives

The National WWII MuseumFig 1.