Welcome to the Greene County Archives new blog!

In 2015 the Archives unveiled our weekly blog, “Out of the Clocktower”. The name of the blog represents the journey that many of our records made when the Archives was founded in 1996. The first Archivist of Greene County, Gillian Hill, spent countless hours moving records from garages, basements, and even the clocktower of the courthouse. Since 1996, county offices have had a clean, organized, and environmentally controlled space to properly store their historical records. 

Since the inception of our blog, we have published nearly five hundred posts telling the stories of the people who have shaped Greene County throughout its history.  The blog was on hiatus during 2022, but we’re back and on a new platform!

While the blog has moved to a new platform, we still intend to continue sharing Greene County’s rich and diverse history and the records that tell those stories. We hope that you’ll follow us as we share news, special events, and highlights from our collection. You never know what we’ll find in the Archives!


The Legend of Frontiersman Simon Kenton Part I

Imagine you are transported back to the early years of our country; 1778 to be exact, to Old Chillicothe (which is now Oldtown, located 3 ½ miles north of present-day Xenia.). Old Chillicothe was Shawnee territory.

Dressed as a Native American and making your way through prairie meadows and woodlands, you realize you’re part of Simon Kenton’s scout team. Kenton and his team have been instructed by Colonel John Bowman of the Virginia Militia to locate a Shawnee settlement. Colonel Bowman’s intention is to attack the village. You begin to ask yourself…”Why Me??”…. “I’m not prepared for this!”

Below Image: Driving out to Oldtown

Not exactly a meadow but near where Simon Kenton stole the horses
Luckily, because of Kenton’s superior knowledge of the land, the scouting party discovers the Shawnee village without being noticed. Turning back, traveling northeast from the settlement, you and the team stumble upon a lush meadow where seven horses are peacefully grazing.

Taken in by the beauty of this virgin land, you are suddenly jolted to your senses by Kenton and the others who are preparing to take the horses belonging to the settlement tribe. Charging ahead towards the Ohio River trying to flee the area, you, Simon Kenton and two other members of the scouting team, are attacked by the Shawnee Indians. You and Kenton are captured while Richard Montgomery, a team member, is killed. The other scouting member, George Clark, escapes.
You are terrified, wondering what punishment awaits you at the hands of the Shawnee. Aghast by the scene in front of you, which includes 600 Shawnee men lined up in several rows. All of them are gripping different types of weapons in their hands getting ready to attack. You and Kenton are forced to RUN THE GAUNTLET! Nine times both of you are made to run through the ¼ mile gauntlet. At one point, Kenton’s arm and collarbone are broken. gauntlet
CC Image courtesy of George Pankewytch via Flickr
 gauntlet stone.jpg  
Stone Marker of Kenton’s Gauntlet
    Motel sign.jpg
   Stone marker used to sit below this highway motel sign along Route 68
Miraculously, you both survive, but as a last resort, the Shawnee decide to burn you at the stake! Somehow, Simon Girty, also known as Katepacomen, comes to your rescue. Girty is a fierce American colonial who serves as a liaison between the British and their Native American allies.

Just when you think things are looking up, Kenton and you are sent to Fort Detroit as part of a prisoner trade agreement with the British.

As a scout for the U.S. Government, Simon Kenton led a dangerous life. What happened to Kenton after his imprisonment at Fort Detroit? Next week we will explore how this daring frontiersman became penniless and found himself in debt to several people of Greene County.
girty 2

Simon Girty aka Katepacomen

Source: Galloway, William Albert. Old Chillicothe: Shawnee and Pioneer History. Buckeye Press: Xenia, Ohio, 1934. A copy of this book is located here at the archives.

What is An Archivist?

What does an Archivist do?

Have you ever wondered what an archivist does? Does it involve preserving ancient documents such as The Diamond Sutra (the oldest surviving printed book in the world – 868AD)? What about arranging/organizing collections such as the John F. Kennedy, Presidential Papers? 

Frontispiece of The Diamond Sutra of 868 AD

Or does it entail providing reference services to the public? All three of these things archivists do and yet there are a plethora of additional duties/responsibilities.

Archivists work in a variety of settings. Some include: Presidential Libraries, National, State and County Government Archives, State and Local Libraries and University, Corporate and Archdiocesan Archives.

Archival Repositories

Greene County Archives Intern – Heather Webb
An archivist’s duties at a local library can entail appraising, acquiring, arranging, describing and preserving historical collections. An impressive example of this is the Dayton Metro Library’s Dayton Remembers Image Collection.

Another responsibility maybe to research and write a grant in order to fund an educational program for the local library’s archives.

The duties of a county archivist can encompass performing outreach to schools, managing the county records and making them accessible to county employees and the public. Here at the Greene County Archives we help many patrons with genealogy and historical property research.sdfs
Inside the Greene County Archives Map Room
Image courtesy of Kennedy Library via Flickr
 The responsibilities of a digital archivist consists of digitizing and providing accessibility to a variety of media including: oral history transcripts and recordings, photographs, and film clips. Wright State University has digitized their 1913 Flood Survivors Oral Histories Collection (MS-296)

An archivist’s job can be exciting, demanding, rewarding, and challenging. There is always something new to learn and that is one of the rewards the profession offers.

Recently, I was challenged on Twitter to come up with five words that describe an archives  – #archivesin5words. Racking my brain I came up with: “Learn, Recall, Reflect, Retrieve, Preserve.” After learning about what an archivist does, what five words can you come up with?

Until Next Time!

The Road to Freedom: Godfrey Brown and the Brown Settlement

We hope you were able to join us this week for the program on the life and legacy of Godfrey Brown! If not, we wanted to take some time today to tell his story.

Godfrey Brown was born into slavery in 1768 in Brunswick County, Virginia. We don’t know much about his early life, but do know his enslaver, John T. Bowdoin, allowed Brown to hire himself out to earn money. This was a bit unusual as it was against the law in Virginia to allow an enslaved person to do so, and Brown risked being captured and sold. However, it was only through this work that Brown would be able to earn and save enough money to purchase his freedom, and that of his family members.

Map of Virginia with Brunswick County highlighted in red (Wikimedia Commons)

Godfrey Brown worked for over twenty years to earn money, and is it estimated that he was able to save close to $7,000. Today, that is the equivalent of close to $160,000!

On March 27, 1820, Godfrey Brown purchased his freedom and was emancipated. According to Virginia law, Brown was required to leave the Commonwealth within twelve months of his emancipation or he would forfeit his freedom and be sold “for the benefit of the poor.”

Register of Freedom for Godfrey Brown, March 27, 1820 (Greene County Archives)

Just under two years later, on January 26, 1822, Brown purchased the freedom of his wife, children, and grandchildren, and paid a total $5,650 for their freedom. One inflation calculator estimates that today that is roughly $127,000.

The emancipation record for his family indicates the names of each individual being freed, as well as an effective date for each. Accordingly, his wife, Chancy Brown, was emancipated immediately. His children over 21 – Sally, Moses, Samuel, and Bibannah, were to be emancipated on January 1, 1823. His children under 21 years old were to be emancipated by their twenty-first birthday; with Richard being emancipated in 1823, Godfrey Jr. in 1825, Myles in 1829, Elizabeth in 1831, Polly Edwards in 1833, and Joseph in 1837. He also emancipated two grandchildren – Julia, to be emancipated in 1838 and Agnes in 1842.

Emancipation record for Godfrey Brown’s family, 1822 (Greene County Archives)

You may be wondering why he waited to emancipate the minor children. Well, Virginia law required the emancipator to be the guardian of minors, boys until the age of 21 and girls until the age of 18. Although Brown purchased their freedom, it was still his former enslaver who emancipated them. Therefore, Bowdoin was the guardian of the minor children until the they reached the age of maturity.

After purchasing the freedom of his family, Brown traveled to Ohio to establish a homestead for the family. On March 23, 1822, he purchased 254 acres in Caesarscreek Township from Edward Bromgoole, Jr. and his wife, Sarah C. for $1,000 (roughly $22,554.17 today). Bromgoole was a resident of Brunswick County, and a friend of Brown’s enslaver, and it’s believed they struck a deal to sell Brown the land.

Deed Record Volume 8, page 431 (Greene County Recorder)

Brown and his sons wasted little time is preparing the land, and named their property Brown Settlement. Within a few years, they had cleared the land to make room for cabins for each of the family members, built a school for the children, and built a church for worship. They also started farming, which was a source of income for the family as well. Brown Settlement grew over the years, and one source states that at one time, over 100 families lived on the settlement in Greene County.

Godfrey Brown was successful and the family flourished. Brown’s church, Middle Run Anti-Slavery Baptist Church also flourished, and Brown was the minister for close to 24 years. Sometime in the 1830s, Brown purchased additional land, close to 400 acres, in Van Wert and Shelby counties.

Brown’s health began to fade and in 1843, he drew up his will. In his will, he made provisions for his wife to receive all rents and income from the farm, and he bequeathed all his land in Greene, Shelby, and Van Wert counties to his children and grandchildren. However, the most powerful and moving statement was this: “As to debts thank God I owe no man anything but love.” What an amazing and powerful statement from a man who was born into slavery and lived as an enslaved person for 52 years of his life. Brown was going to leave this earth a free man.

Will Record J, Pages 82-84 (Greene County Archives)
Excerpt of Will (Greene County Archives)

Godfrey Brown died on January 31, 1843, at the age of 75. Godfrey was gone, but his legacy lived on. The church he founded, Middle Run Baptist Church continued to grow. In 1889, the church moved to Xenia, to the former St. Luke Baptist Church location in the 4th Ward of Xenia, on Lot 21 of Drake & Nichols Addition. A deed was filed in 1891, formally transferring the property to the Trustees of the Middle Run Anti-Slavery Baptist Church. Middle Run Baptist Church was rebuilt in 1895 and it remains an active church today.

Deed Record Volume 77, pages 416-417 (Greene County Recorder)
4th Ward of Xenia, Lot 21 of Drake & Nichols Addition (from the 1896 Greene County Atlas)

On Sunday, July 15, 2001, a memorial was erected and dedicated by Brown’s descendants at the Church in honor of Godfrey Brown and his legacy. The memorial provides information about Godfrey Brown, the establishment of Brown Settlement, and the establishment of Middle Run Baptist Church. On the back of the memorial is an inscription of the emancipation record for Godfrey Brown and his family. If you get a chance, I recommend you go check it out.

Until Next Time!


Baxter, J. (2014, February 25). From slave to church founder. Xenia Daily Gazette, 3.

Greene County Archives

Kilner, A. R. (1997). Greene County, Ohio – past and present. Heritage Books, Inc.

The Historical Marker Database: HMdb.org

Wikimedia Commons

A Life Cut Short: Dr. Isaiah S. Tuppins

Many years ago, Joan emailed me a few headlines regarding the life and death of Dr. Isaiah S. Tuppins. As I read the articles, I was amazed by this man and saddened that his life was cut so short. However, Dr. Tuppins’ story is one of perseverance and the will of the spirit, and this week, we highlight him.

Isaiah S. Tuppins was born in Tennessee in 1856 to free parents, James and Zilpha Tuppins. The Tuppins moved to Xenia in 1858, raising their large family. Isaiah worked hard, obtaining work as a farm laborer and later, a barber, in Xenia (Fig 1). Isaiah wanted more and decided to move to Columbus sometime in the late 1870s. He found work as a barber in a shop on Long Street, eventually taking over as owner of the shop (Fig 2).

Fig 1. 1870 U.S. Census with Tuppins family outlined in red (Ancestry.com)
Fig 2. 1882 Columbus City Directory (Ancestry.com)

After moving to Columbus, Isaiah met Ms. Ellanore Guy. The two married and had two daughters (Fig 3). Isaiah always longed for more out of his life, and not long after marriage, he decided to pursue a career in medicine. He applied and was accepted, to the Columbus Medical College. While a medical student, Isaiah continued working as a barber and picked up other jobs, to earn money for his growing family. In 1884, Isaiah graduated with honors, and was the first African American to graduate from Columbus Medical College. His accomplishments were praised in the local papers and spoke of the admiration and high regard of his classmates (Fig 4).

Fig 3. 1880 U.S. Census with Tuppins family outlined in red (Ancestry.com)
Fig 4. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated May 10, 1884, of Dr. Tuppins’ graduation (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Isaiah opened a medical office in Columbus, and continued in the barbershop business as well (Fig 5). However, he decided to move his family to Rendville, Ohio, a mining community with a large population of African American miners. He sold his interest in the barber shop in Columbus, opened a physician’s office in his new community, and became a prominent name in Rendville.  Isaiah was so well-liked and respected that he was elected mayor, becoming the first African American mayor in Ohio.

Fig 5. 1884 Columbus City Directory (Ancestry.com)

Sadly, Ella passed away, leaving Isaiah to raise their young daughters. Isaiah met Nancy “Nannie” Simpson, and they married shortly thereafter (Fig 6). Nannie became pregnant soon after they married. However, misfortune struck the young family once again. Isaiah fell ill suddenly, and died on January 10, 1889, at the age of 33 (Fig 7). His body was transported back to Xenia for burial at Cherry Grove Cemetery. Three days later, on the day of Isaiah’s funeral, his daughter, Nancy, was born.

Fig 6. Marriage Record of Isaiah Tuppins and Nannie Simpson (Ancestry.com)
Fig 7. Perry County Death Record with Isaiah Tuppins outlined in red (Ancestry.com)
Fig 8. Notice of Death in Xenia Daily Gazette, dated January 12, 1889 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Every article we found spoke to Isaiah’s goodwill, and ceaseless search for knowledge. He didn’t let obstacles stop him. He was a man held in high esteem by all whom he met. Isaiah was ambitious and accomplished so much at such a young age. We can only imagine what else he would have achieved if he had lived another 30 years.

Until Next Time!




Revisit of the Eavey & Co. Warehouse Fire of 1909

“Every stream of water possible was turned on [to stop] the increasing and spreading blaze.”

On the frigid night of February 8, 1908, a police officer making his rounds, discovered that the Eavey building was engulfed in flames. The officer called in the emergency, and the Xenia Fire Department quickly arrived to the scene of the fire.

As the firemen anxiously turned on their hoses to douse the inferno, the flames had already spread to the third-floor of the building. According to a newspaper account, the firefighters seemed to be winning the fight… until there was an explosion!

As the scorching heat rose in the building, the tin roof completely ripped off. The flames danced  during the midnight hour as the firemen tried everything they could to extinguish the conflagration. With it being so cold out, some of the water turned to icicles.

What remained of the Eavey Co. building.

Due to the severe damage, two stories of the warehouse collapsed, which subsequently effected the entire structure. Bricks from the edifice began to tumble down, and tragically, two men who were trying to fight the fire were buried under the rubble and killed. The coroner interviewed witnesses, and below are their testimonies.

Transcript: “On that night of the fire at the Eavey & Co Wholesale house I was around at the fire while at the rear I noticed Martin Ullery near the west wall. After the west wall fell Mr. Ullery could not be accounted for and after inquiring among the bystanders we concluded he must be in the ruins I thereupon walked over to the spot where I saw him last and found what afterward proved to be his rubber coat of which about a square foot was exposed this being covered by broken brick and brick dust. After making further search I found the body of a man which fact I communicated to a number of spectators standing near and asked them to come and help move the brick which covered up the body. We then removed all the brick and debris and lifted the body onto an improvised” [Next Page]
“stretcher and directed the men to carry the body to the coroner’s office. [In] the mean time I notified the coroner by telephone and in a very short time he took charge of the body. The body was so disfigured that for quite a while we was unable to recognize it. The head was mashed until parts of the skull bone and brain were heed by only shreds of tissue[.] The thorax was torn open, exposing the organs and heart was forced out on the body. The ^ bones of the left leg ^ from hip to foot was broken in 6 places. His hands were cut and bruised. In my judgment he was killed instantly.” (Coroner’s Inquest Records 1879-1911)

Martin Ullery was relieving one of the firefighters for only a brief moment when the west wall collapsed on him, killing him instantly. Joseph Fletcher’s legs were pinned by the onslaught of bricks and his neck was broken. Sadly, Fletcher died at the scene also.

What was the Cause of the Fire? It was possibly arson. In the back of the building was a room where sugar was kept. Investigators believed that this is where the fire began. Some believed that the fire was started intentionally.

When the workers left for the evening they closed all of the shutters. At nine o’clock in the evening, a neighbor of the building was outside and noticed a shutter open and a stream of light flicker. Undeterred, the neighbor assumed it was a light from the stove and re-entered his house.

Just a shell of the building remained after the fire had finally been extinguished. The losses amounted to $100,000 – the largest fire Greene County had ever suffered up to the later part of the twentieth century.

The Eavey & Co. building was located on W. Main Street in Xenia, where more recently, the Cherry Furniture store once stood.

eavey 33
Eavey & Co. building, circa late 19th century
Cherry’s Home Furnishings, 1962

Eavey & Co. moved a couple of streets down from its original location and set up shop at the southwest corner of Detroit and Third Streets. The below receipt showcases the new building and its location in April of 1909.


Although this wholesale grocery company no longer operates in Xenia, the warehouse is still there!

Until Next Time!

Source: Baxter, Joan. “Firefighters Killed During Blaze.” Xenia Daily Gazette 6 February 2008.

A New Adventure!

Yesterday we said goodbye to Melissa Dalton, Public Outreach Coordinator. Over the last five years, Melissa has visited numerous Greene County schools and shared our educational outreach programs with hundreds of students. Melissa has also presented to various local organizations including the Greene County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society, local senior centers, and local historical societies. Thanks to Melissa, hundreds of individuals have learned about Greene County’s rich and diverse history!

In addition to all of her outreach activities, Melissa has also grown our volunteer program and we now have in-person and virtual volunteer opportunities. So if you’d like to volunteer, but aren’t available during our business hours, you now have a chance to do so.

Finally, Melissa has been in charge of our social media platforms and our weekly blog, “Out of the Clocktower”. This work is the heart of our public outreach program: highlighting our records, the work that we do, and the stories of past Greene County residents and how they shaped our history.

All of us here at the Greene County Archives, wish Melissa all the best as she begins her new adventure!

Greene County VIP – Bishop Benjamin W. Arnett

The Greene County VIP project is back from hiatus! As we begin Black History Month, we would like to honor the life and work of educator, minister, and politician, Bishop Benjamin W. Arnett.

Bishop Benjamin W. Arnett (Library of Congress)

Benjamin William Arnett was born free on March 6, 1838, in Brownsville, Pennsylvania. As a youth, he attended a one-room schoolhouse in which his uncle, Ephraim Arnett, was the teacher. Arnett also worked a variety of jobs, including being a wagon boy, waiter, and stevedore.

During his time as a stevedore, Arnett suffered an ankle injury, which resulted in a tumor on his leg. In March 1858, the leg required amputation. However, Arnett did not let this stop him from working towards his goals and aspirations. In December 1858, just months after losing his leg, Arnett received his teaching certificate, becoming the first African American teacher in Fayette County, Pennsylvania.

1863 Civil War Draft Registration for Benjamin Arnett (Ancestry.com)

On May 25, 1858, Benjamin Arnett married Mary Louise Gordon of Pennsylvania. The couple had seven children: Benjamin Jr., Alonzo, Henry, Daniel, Anna, Alphonso, and Florence.

1860 Federal Census with Arnett family outlined in red (Ancestry.com)

Arnett was a religious man, and joined the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church in 1856. In 1865, he received his license to preach at the Baltimore Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. In 1867, Arnett had his first assignment as a preacher at the Walnut Hills Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Arnett quickly rose in the church. He became a deacon in 1868 and was ordained in 1870 by Bishop Daniel A. Payne of Xenia, Ohio, and served many parishes throughout Ohio.

1870 Federal Census showing Arnett working as a minister in Toledo (Ancestry.com)

Arnett’s work with the A.M.E. Church led to activism with the civil rights movement and politics. He joined the National Equal Rights League in 1864 and served as the secretary at the Washington, D.C. convention in 1866. He also became active in the Ohio Republican party. Over the next fifteen years, he served as chaplain for the Ohio Legislature, the Republican State Convention of Ohio, and the National Republican Convention in St. Louis.

In 1880, Arnett was elected as the financial secretary for the A.M.E. Church, a position that provided the opportunity to settle in Wilberforce, Ohio. He continued in that position for about eight years, and became the seventeenth elected bishop of the A.M.E. Church in 1888.

1880 Federal Census showing Arnett family living in Xenia Township in Greene County (Ancestry.com)

In 1885, at the prompting of the Wilberforce faculty, Arnett ran as the Greene County Republican candidate for the Ohio Legislature, which he won. Arnett served in the Ohio House of Representatives from 1887 to 1889. During his time, he fought for educational equality for all Ohioans, regardless of race. Arnett also worked to repeal Ohio’s Black Laws, which restricted the rights and freedoms of African American residents. Another lasting initiative was advocating for Wilberforce to get state funding and establish the Combined Normal and Industrial Department (which later became Central State University).

Bishop Arnett remained active in the church for the remainder of his life. Bishop Benjamin W. Arnett died on October 7, 1906, of cardiovascular heart disease.

1900 Federal Census with Arnett family outlined in red (Ancestry.com)
1906 Death Record for Benjamin W. Arnett, Volume 3 Page 3 (Greene County Archives)

Bishop Arnett was dedicated to providing equal opportunities for all of Ohio’s residents, with a focus on the oppressed and underrepresented. His work and influence are still felt today.

Until Next Time!



Greene County Archives

Nielsen, E. (16, June 30). Bishop Benjamin William Arnett (1838-1906). BlackPast.org. https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/arnett-bishop-benjamin-william-1838-1906/



Ohio Statehouse History: www.ohiostatehouse.org

Robinson, George. (1902). History of Greene County, Ohio.

It Started with a Boy Named Clark

Have you ever started your research, and instead of feeling like you are understanding the dynamics, you run into twists and turns that make you question it all? Well, that’s what happened to me as I began my research for this blog. It all started with this article from the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated January 19, 1897:

Xenia Daily Gazette, January 19, 1897 (Newspapers.com)

The article tells the story of Clark Ditteau, a teenager who was locked in a box car of the Panhandle line (also known as the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis Railroad or Pennsylvania Railroad) in Xenia by a group of teenagers. Ditteau wasn’t found until almost sixteen hours later at the Richmond division of the railroad. Young Ditteau claimed he was playing near the Court House when he was approached by a group of boys wanting his help to steal pigeons. The group took him to the railyard and threw him into the freight car, locking the door behind them. Luckily, Ditteau was unharmed, just cold and hungry. Ditteau was transported back to Dayton by the authorities.

After reading the article, I was curious if there were any charges filed against the boys, or what happened to the boy after the incident. What I found was a bit surprising. I originally thought I was just going to share Clark Ditteau’s story, but the process is just as interesting, so you get both today! It’s a bit long, but I hope you can follow along!

Within days of returning home, Clark was arrested for loitering in Dayton and his father was called to get him. He went before the judge for truancy and was sentenced to the Reform Farm in Lancaster until his sixteenth birthday. This was just the beginning of his trouble with the law. The Ohio History Connection holds the records for the Reform Farm, which includes this time frame, but I didn’t have the opportunity to go view them.

Article 1: Logansport Pharos Tribune, 25 January 1897 / Article 2: Xenia Daily Gazette, 25 January 1897

Ditteau was released from the Farm around 1900, and in the same year, was arrested for robbery. He was sent to the Ohio State Reformatory and paroled in 1902. However, he violated his parole and was again a wanted man.

Dayton Daily News, 12 April 1900 (Newspapers.com)
Article 1: Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, 24 January 1902 / Article 2: East Liverpool Evening News, 25 November 1902 (both from NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

After this last incident, Clark seems to have cleaned up his act. I found him in the 1902, 1904, and 1905 Dayton City Directories, living at 81 S. Walnut Street and working as both a carpenter and painter. However, the best part about the directories is that they provided some information about his family that I wasn’t able to locate before. Clark is listed as living at the same residence as Warren (Kate) Ditteau and Roy Ditteau, and I assume they are all related.

Image 1: 1902 Dayton City Directory / Image 2: 1904 Dayton City Directory (both from Ancestry.com)
1905 Dayton City Directory (Ancestry.com)

I decided to search the names of Warren and Roy to see if I could find more connections. Clark stated that his father worked for the railroad, specifically as a boiler washer, and in the 1889 Dayton City Directory, there is a Warren Ditto (an alternate spelling) working for the Panhandle as an engine cleaner, so it’s a pretty strong possibility it is the same person. In 1892, he is listed on the Xenia City Directory as an engineer for the Little Miami Railroad (which was leased by the Panhandle).

Image 1: 1889 Dayton City Directory (Ancestry.com) / Image 2: 1892 Xenia City Directory (Greene County Archives)

According to the original article, Clark was about thirteen years old at the time of the incident, so he was likely born around 1884. I did locate a Warren and Mary Ditteau in the 1880 Census. I didn’t have a name for his mother, but four children were listed, one being a son named Oscar. I wasn’t sure this was the same family, but I had a feeling it might be, so I set it aside.

I checked the Greene County birth and death records for Ditteau/Ditto, and found two that were likely his kin. There is a birth and death record for an unnamed female in 1896, who was the daughter of Warren Ditteau and Kate Spence.

Birth record of unnamed child of Warren & Kate Ditteau, 1896 (Greene County Archives)
Death record for same unnamed child of Warren & Kate Ditteau, 1896 (Greene County Archives)

There also was a death record for Oscar Ditto from 1889. At the time of his death, he was thirteen years old and born in 1877. If you remember, there was an 1880 Census record for Warren and Mary Ditteau, with a son, Oscar, who was three years old. This leads me to believe this is likely the same family. Sadly, though, according to the death record, Oscar suffered a violent death, but the actual cause of death is not identified.

Death record for Oscar Ditteau, 25 August 1889 (Greene County Archives)

The search continued, and I came upon the 1910 Census with Warren, Catherine, and Walter, living in Dayton at 81 Walnut Street. Again, another connection! Also, on the census, it is reported that Catherine had no children and that they had only been married for seventeen years (likely married around 1893). So, that 1880 Census documenting Warren and Mary with a boy named Oscar may be the same!

I then searched records for Roy Ditteau. The first record I found was a death certificate for Roy Ditteau dated April 9, 1910. It documents that Roy suffered a violent death, being struck by a train of the Pennsylvania Railroad in Dayton. According to the certificate, his body was badly mutilated. His death was reported in the newspapers, and one article states that his body was “found scattered for half a mile.” It also sheds light on Oscar’s death, indicating that he suffered a very similar death – being struck by the Pennsylvania Railroad in Xenia.

Death Certificate for Roy Ditteau, 9 April 1910 (Ancestry.com)
Xenia Daily Gazette, 11 April 1910 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

The last record I located for this family was the 1920 Census, which lists Warren and Catherine still living at 81 Walnut Street. Unfortunately, I was able to find any other records that indicate what happened to Clark.

1920 Federal Census, Warren & Catherine Ditteau (Ancestry.com)

This research took me down a strange path, and I know our genealogists/family historians are probably all too familiar with stories like this. It just goes to show you never know what you’ll learn when exploring records.

Until Next Time!




Greene County Archives



Bootleggers and Prohibition

Did you know that Tuesday was National Bootlegger’s Day? They have a holiday for everything now, but this one has some local relevance. Greene County, as well as many of the surrounding counties, had their fair share of distilleries (and still do). The confluence of rivers and railroad lines aided in the manufacturing, sale, and distribution of spirits. However, Prohibition was to bring that all to an end… but did it?

November 11, 1918 issue of the Xenia Evening Gazette (Newspapers.com)

Bootlegging is just the illegal manufacture, sale, and/or transportation of alcohol. So, why did bootlegging become a thing? There is some thought that it originated with the Civil War when soldiers would sneak liquor into their camps. Yet, it wasn’t until the passage of the 18th Amendment on January 16, 1919, which enforced Prohibition, that this practice took off… and Greene County wasn’t immune.

In 1920, Ohio passed the Crabbe Act, which prohibited the sale and consumption of alcohol. It was named for Charles C. Crabbe, who served as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives and later, as the Ohio Attorney General. As a steadfast supporter of Prohibition, this bill even included a clause that enforcement officials would receive additional compensation for arresting, convicting, or fining violators of Prohibition. As you can imagine, this law led to many arrests and fines (lawful and unlawful) for Greene County residents. In one Ohio town, the Mayor made an additional $100 a month by enforcing the Crabbe Act.

December 16, 1920 issue of the Xenia Evening Gazette (Newspapers.com)
May 9, 1927 issue of the Xenia Evening Gazette (Newspapers.com)

As part of the Probate records, Greene County has an entire criminal file for Prohibition offenses. This file dates from 1924 to 1931. It includes affidavits for search warrants and selling intoxicating liquors, subpoenas, and entries. Men and women alike were charged with the possession and selling of alcohol. One of the most interesting documents (in my opinion) is an entry dated April 23, 1930, which details the “destruction of intoxicating liquors, stills, and all property seized on warrants.” This list includes the names of the individuals and how much alcohol was destroyed.

Order from Probate Court to Sheriff for the Destruction of Intoxicating Liquors, Stills, and other property, dated April 23, 1930 (Greene County Archives)
Order from Probate Court to Sheriff for the Destruction of Intoxicating Liquors, Stills, and other property, dated April 23, 1930 (Greene County Archives)
Order from Probate Court to Sheriff for the Destruction of Intoxicating Liquors, Stills, and other property, dated April 23, 1930 (Greene County Archives)

Prohibition was the law of the land for over thirteen years, but time went on, the amendment became increasingly less popular. Even Charles Crabbe eventually admitted that he, too, liked to partake of wine and beer on occasion.

On December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment was ratified, repealing the 18th Amendment of Prohibition.

Joint Resolution Proposing the 21st Amendment to the US Constitution (National Archives)

Today, we can still find bars and breweries that harken back to the days of prohibition and speakeasies, and we have a few in our region. Go check them out!

Until Next Time!


Greene County Archives

National Archives


George H. Adams and the Humpty Dumpty Troupe

Have you ever heard of a pantomime clown? Before writing this blog, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you anything about the art, except that it was likely associated with the circus. When Robin found this torn-up sticker being used as tape on a Probate voucher, we were intrigued. Robin pieced it together so we could get a better idea of what we had. A quick Google search gave us our answer… it was a pantomime show!

Voucher from Probate Records and the sticker pieced together (Greene County Archives)

Pantomime has a strong foundation in Britain. It is believed that the British adaptation has its roots in the early masques of the Elizabethan and Stuart eras. It is very theatrical, includes role reversal of the performers (a man played by a woman and vice versa), involves audience participation, and usually is a form of slapstick comedy. Most of the performances are held during the Christmas and New Year seasons, and are typically based on popular children’s stories.

So, what about the particular show on the ticket? George H. Adams was famous in the United States for his pantomime of Humpty Dumpty throughout the 1880s, and his brother, James, was a clown who joined him in his production.

George H. Adams was born on May 16, 1853, in London, England, to a family with a long tradition of professional clowns (him being the fourth generation). George began performing at the age of five and later toured Europe with several different performers and acts. During this time, he became a juggler, expert gymnast, contortionist, first-class rider, and the king of stilts.

Around 1870, George came to the United States to join his family. Upon arriving in the United States, he performed with the Stone and Murray’s Circus. In 1872, he organized his troupe, “Grimaldi” Adams’ Royal “Humpty Dumpty” Troupe, and performed around the country with them until 1877.

The Evansville Journal, 01 January 1877 (Newspapers.com)
The New Orleans Daily Democrat, 09 December 1878 (Newspapers.com)

George married Rosina C. Cooke in 1874, and the couple had four children (two sons and two daughters). The family traveled the United States as George worked with many circuses or troupes throughout the 1880s. He, again, headed his own troupe under the management of Adam Forepaugh, a famous circus manager who rivaled Barnum. There are newspaper articles from around the country advertising his troupe and performances.

The People’s Press, 02 February 1882 (Newspapers.com)
The Wilmington Morning Star, 12 February 1882 (Newspapers.com)
George H. Adams’ New Humpty Dumpty, traveling with his Own Palace and Baggage Coaches, Season 1881-1882 (The Huntington Prints and Ephemera Collection)
George H. Adams (Harvard University, Houghton Library)

Speaking of Barnum, Adams worked for the famous circus producer as the director of clowning, but quit after two weeks because he and the equestrian director had a contentious relationship.

From 1909 through 1916, Adams had a long stint at the New York Hippodrome Theatre as a pantomime, and retired shortly thereafter. His wife, Rosina, died in 1919, and George lived with his daughter, Tonina, for a time. George died at his apartment in Brooklyn on May 26, 1935, at the age of 82, after suffering a stroke.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 27 May 1935 (Newspapers.com)

Even though George Adams did not have a direct connection to Greene County, his troupe traveled and performed throughout Ohio and received high praise. His art and skill influenced generations of performers, and George Adams will forever be known as one of the leading pantomime entertainers in the world.

Until Next Time!


Greene County Probate Court

Harvard Theatre Collection

Historic UK: https://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/Pantomime/

Huntington Prints and Ephemera Collection


Trav S.D. (writer and performer): https://travsd.wordpress.com/2021/05/16/george-h-adams-king-of-stilts/