More women’s history

Joan Baxter - Contributing columnist

She was born in San Francisco early in 20th century, the daughter of a banker and his wife who named her “Margaret.”

She talked about the Chinese cook who worked for the family and remembered helping him harvest the vegetables he grew for the family table.

One of her oft-told stories was about the San Francisco earthquake/fire which took place in 1906.

Although she was quite young, she remembered having to leave the house for fear of more quakes, taking shelter with others. Her father, as bank manager, feared for the unguarded money in the bank and so placed the money in a large trunk which he took with the family when they sought shelter. She was tired and so her mother wrapped the child in a fur coat and had her sleep on top of the trunk. At the time, she had no idea she was sleeping and keeping guard of hundreds of dollars that night.

The family moved from California to Texas when her father was offered employment there. She worked as a secretary there for some years. It was there that she met and married Chuck. Chuck accepted a position at Wright-Paterson Air Force Base and her life in Greene County began when they moved to Beavercreek.

By then they were older and very much wanted to have a child and so they adopted a baby boy whom they named Kenneth. Soon he was better known as Kenny. After he grew up, he joined the Navy.

After a very long and expensive illness, Chuck passed away. Unfortunately the money they had been able to accumulate went toward paying for his medical treatment and so she was forced to live on her small Social Security check.

I have not mentioned her name because by now, folks who remember her will know that I am sharing the story of Peggy Shoals.

Her misfortune became a greater fortune for the Greene County Historical Society when she accepted the position of Executive Secretary. The Historical Society needed someone to maintain the office every day and she needed a place to live and earn a small income to supplement her Social Security.

She moved into an apartment on the upper floor of what had become the administrative building in the complex of four buildings on the property. The office was on the main floor of what was known as the Glossinger Center.

At that time, the complex consisted of the Galloway log house, the Snediker building, the Moorehead house and of course the administrative Glossinger house.

She adapted well to her new home and made every effort to learn as much as she could about Greene County and its people.

She said she must have been prone to disaster because on April 3, 1994 she was involved in another disaster.

This was the day the Xenia Tornado struck.

It was Peggy’s habit to go upstairs after a day’s work for a short nap. On this particular day, she had been delayed somewhat. As she was sitting at her desk along with her dog Puccini the building began to shake and the winds grew fiercer. She held the dog in her lap and the two somehow were spared.

Often a frightening story has an amusing side and so does this one. Jim Puterbaugh was the maintenance man at the time and I never discovered where he took shelter but as soon as the wind subsided, he came into the Glossinger house to find Peggy, knowing that she might have been upstairs. He went to the office first and found her safe. He always called her Mrs. Shoals in spite of her requests to be called “Peggy”. On that day, however, he lost his composure when he saw her and said “Thank God, Peggy, you are safe!”

He helped her get through the debris and as they were exiting through the no long existing plate glass window on the front porch. He said “Be careful Mrs. Shoals”.

When the damage was accessed later, a large beam from the roof had fallen across her bed and she certainly would not have survived.

All of the buildings were destroyed and then the log house was re-constructed. The Trebein-Flynn house was moved on site and some years later, the Brantley Carriage House was constructed, similar in exterior construction to the original carriage house.

Peggy moved into an apartment in the Victorian House. She retired but was often remembered by visitors who would ask about that “nice older lady” who worked there.

There was another lady who was quite an authority of Greene County. Mary Lane was a native of the county, the daughter of local photographer George Wheeler. She was an authority on the covered bridges and cemeteries of the county. If she heard about a cemetery she had not visited, she would put on her sturdy shoes to go exploring the graves. She documented several nearly-forgotten cemeteries in the county. If she got a call from a friend, saying they had heard of a cemetery on some private land, she immediately sought permission to investigate. She was a retired teacher, having taught in the Xenia area schools. She also served as the Executive Director for Girl Scouts for Greene and Clinton Counties. She had a ready wit, and was up to just about any challenge, especially if it involved walking through a cemetery.

Joan Baxter

Contributing columnist

Joan Baxter is a Greene County resident and historian.

Joan Baxter is a Greene County resident and historian.