Happy 85th birthday Greene County Historical Society

By Joan Baxter Greene County Historical Society

February 13, 2014

It all began on the sixth day of February, 1929, when about 100 residents of Greene County gathered in the basement meeting room of the Greene County Courthouse.

As an outgrowth of the 1928 Homecoming activity from the previous summer, the meeting was called for the purpose of discussing the formation of a Greene County Historical Society. Professor H. C. Aultman presided over the meeting at which those in attendance agreed that such an organization would be beneficial to the county. The following officers were elected and charged with the responsibility of establishing a society for the preservation of the history of Greene County.

Dr. W. A. Galloway M.D. was selected to be President, Prof. Aultman Vice President, Secretary was Miss Florence Swan and Mr. George Dobbs was elected Treasurer. Thus, eighty-five years ago this month, the Greene County Historical Society was established.

A motion was made by Mr. Edwin Galloway that the four elective officers be permitted to appoint one person from each township in the county to form the Executive Board, which eventually would become a Board of Trustees with authority to receive and keep permanently all relics and historical documents of the County which may come into its hands. The motion was seconded and carried. Additionally, the four officers were directed to appoint a committee to draft the Constitution and By-Laws. It was determined that the organization would meet on a bi-monthly basis.

It was determined that there would be presentations made to the members and guests to share the pioneer history of the county. The first such presentation was that of Mrs. Mary Lambert who was at the time, over 80 years old. She shared stories of her childhood and of growing up in the county, along with the hardships and joys of the later portion of the 19th century. Her presentation was titled “The Autobiography of a Pioneer.”

One of the first major projects of the newly-formed organization was to encourage the schools to study local history. A letter was read at the September 2, 1929 meeting which read in part: “In accord with our purpose and plan to stimulate the study of local history and to instil the proper appreciation for the sacrifice and service rendered by our pioneer forefathers, we have placed this year, in the course of study for Greene County Public Schools, the req2uest that all teachers encourage the study of our local history; that they have the children collect and bring for exhibition, relics of pioneer days, and that they tell of the history connected with the and write the stories for language composition and history work.”

H. C. Aultman, County Superintendent of Schools responded: “We shall be very glad to have suggestions from the members of the Historical Society and all others who will cooperate in this effort to arouse interest in study of pioneer history of this county.”

The next year, two markers were dedicated at Old Town, designating two historic places on the Ohio Revolutionary Memorial Trail (followed by General George Rogers Clark on his way to the Battle of Piqua). One was a metal marker, placed in front of the Old Town School. This told of the Shawnee village of Old Chillicothe which had at one time, been located on that site. The second was placed a little further South on Rt. 68. It told the story of Simon Kenton and his captivity in Old Chillicothe. The site of the first gauntlet he was required to run to save his life.

One of the markers still stands, joined by other placed at later dates in front of the Tecumseh Motel. This was at one time the site of the Old Town School. The other was taken a few years ago by vandals, presumably for the metal content.

The Historical Society felt that permanent signs and monuments should be erected throughout the county to remind the citizens of events of historic interest. The next monument was placed on May 8, 1931 on Wolford Road. The Greene County Chapter of the D. A. R. also participated at the dedication.

The inscription reads: “The Brown farm, where the Brown-Logan-Kenton monument was dedicated originally contained 2,500 acres and was the property of General Horatio and Judith Brown who came to Greene County from Rockbridge County, FA. The place was considered the most desirable of all the land inspected in Ohio. It had timber and water for power purposes. The brick for the house was burnt on the premises. The monument, donated by Mr. Otis T. Wolford, on the Spencer Road, four miles west of Jamestown, was erected to the memory of his wife, Elizabeth Brown Wolford and her pioneer ancestors, Jacob and Judith Walters Brown.

It marks the location of the famous Simon Kenton Trail which extended from Winchester Trial, now state route #72, west to Old Chillicothe. It was the camp site of General Benjamin Logan, used by that famous Indian fighter when he rode with a force of 791 volunteers, in the spring of 1786, to attach the Shawnees at their main village, Old Chillicothe (now Oldtown) three miles north of Xenia, Ohio.

The arboretum, also presented to the Greene County and State Historical Societies by Mr. Wolford and his nephew, Dr. R. L. Haines of Jamestown, Ohio is a tract of fifteen (15 acres) of fine native oak and hard timber groves and bogs land, which is to be developed to permit natural propagation of wild flowers and growths and will be for the use of the county schools.”

The monument is on private property today, but can easily be seen and read on Wolford Road.

October 29, 1931, another monument was placed in front of the Old Town School. This was dedicated to the famous Shawnee warrior, Tecumseh. His great-great grandson, Chief Wildcat Alford was present for the dedication of this monument. Chief Alford affirmed that Tecumseh had been born in Greene County near the site of the present fish hatchery.

In those early days, many more accomplishments were made to preserve the history of the county. Mors of the story will be told in future weeks.