By Joan Baxter
May 13, 2014
Off and on, I’ve been sharing some of the history of the Greene County Historical Society which is celebrating its 85th anniversary.
The Greene County Historical Society was formed in February 1929. The Museum Association was formed several years later when property was obtained and the Galloway log house moved into Xenia.
In 1953, the log house was in need of considerable repair. The County was willing to pay the $1,400 labor cost, but could not pay for the material. The Museum Association and the Historical Society agreed to jointly raise funds for the project.
At the March 1953 meeting of the Historical Society, Dr. W. A. Hammond was elected President. Then in April, John Davidson was elected President of the Museum Association.
It was at that Museum Association meeting that a motion was made and carried that all artifacts, buildings, records, show cases, etc. which had been given to or purchased by the Museum Association should be given to the Historical Society. The Historical Society had been incorporated since its inception, the Museum Association had not. Once the record was filed in the Greene County Recorder’s Office, the transfer was complete. The Museum Association adjourned sine die that evening.
The log house was repaired and 1954, the dues were raised to $2 per year.
In 1959, Charles Foster Snediker a resident of Fairborn left his entire estate to the Historical Society with the request that the funds be used to acquire a fireproof building. It was with this fund that the Moorehead house at the corner of Church and Detroit Streets was purchased along with the brick carriage house, which satisfied the requirement for a fireproof building.
John Glossinger, a native of Greene County provided funds which made the purchase of the Harner house at the corner of Church and King Streets possible. Then, when the log house was moved to the site, the Historical Society occupied four buildings on West Church Street from Detroit to King Streets.
April 3, 1974 changed the configuration of the Historical Society property. Considerable thought was given as to the best location or relocation. It was determined that the property on Church Street would be ideal, and so the log house was repaired, the Victorian Town House was moved to the corner of Church and King and the property at the corner of Detroit and Church Streets was sold to the City of Xenia.
In time, additional property was purchased immediately behind the log house and Victorian House. A new bank was to be constructed on the previously owned property facing Detroit Street. A small cottage which was on the property was donated to the society, and moved behind the log house.
Although there had been hope of another building to replace the original carriage house, lack of funding was a problem. In time, however, a major fund drive took place and residents watched as brick by brick a new structure was put into place. The new building was patterned to look like the exterior of the previous carriage house, but would have two stories and a basement all suitable for displaying artifacts of the county’s history.
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, a noted theologian and native of Greene County was the speaker at the dedication of the new structure. Gradually, artifacts which had been in storage were restored and put in place and additional artifacts were acquired to continue telling the history of the county. The wrought iron fence which surrounds the upper floor was originally constructed at the 1843 Greene County Court House.
A property was donated which is on King Street, just behind the Carriage House Museum. This property has been used for several special events.
In the past 85 years, the Greene County Historical Society has published several different histories, collected many artifacts which help to tell the history of the county, originally established in 1803.
If you visit, you will enjoy seeing how the Galloway family lived in their log structure. There are two fireplaces on the main floor and one upstairs. The furnishings are authentic to the period of the structure.
In the Victorian Town House, you will find beautiful furnishings, oil paintings, toys and learn more about the gracious living in the late 19th century.
The Carriage House Museum houses a model railroad display which depicts the City of Xenia between 1920 and 1950. A doctor’s office display shows how the office of Dr. Kyle was set up in Cedarville. A covered wagon, a sleigh and even a pony cart will be seen.
On the lower level, an old-fashioned dry good store, a jail cell, underground railroad display, a barber shop, rope making equipment and a display of farm tools in a barn setting will keep your interest. There is even an “outhouse” on display complete with a honey dipper. If you don’t know what that was for, make a trip to the Historical Society to find out.
On the main floor, exhibits are changed on a regular basis and there is a gift shop with books and other materials which reflect the history of the county.
Throughout the entire complex, you will view items which have been used by resident from all over Greene County. This will give you an opportunity to see how some previous generations lived and worked.
For the pat eighty-five years, The Greene County Historical Society has preserved and protected the history of the entire county. Displays and artifacts, along with family histories have been patiently gathered over the years. Take some time to learn more about where you live.
Happy Birthday, Greene County Historical society.
Joan Baxter is a Greene County resident and historical columnist.