XENIA — Voting is now open for the Greene County Archives’ “I Found It In the Archives” contest. Entries in the contest highlight stories of how Greene County records aided an individual in a personal quest for information.
Below are summaries of the four finalist entries. To read the full submissions, visit co.greene.oh.us and navigate to the Greene County Archives page or go to the department’s Facebook page.
In June 2015, Holstrom found out that her cousin Mike had been diagnosed with stomach cancer and had been given four months to live. With that in mind, she decided she wanted to help Mike receive the “First Families of Ohio” honor from the Ohio Genealogical Society before he died.
“He had collected quite a bit of information and as a long time genealogy teacher I was able to put all his information into an appropriate format and determine where I needed to complete the puzzle,” Holstrom wrote in her entry. “I had obtained information from the Greene County Archives on a couple of previous research projects and had been delighted with the resource and service. When I realized they might have a key piece of information for one of the holes in Mike’s research, I contacted Joan Donovan [at the Greene County Archives] and explained what I needed and why I needed it so quickly.”
According to Holstrom, she received the information within a few days and was able to use it to get Mike his FFO honor in short order.
“Mike was absolutely thrilled and it was an incredibly special event for him and his family,” she wrote.
Hogue found information in Greene County emancipation records that showed him his ancestor, Frederick Bonner, left Virginia for Ohio because of a “clear conviction of the injustice and criminality of depriving my fellow creatures of their natural right.”
According to Hogue’s contest entry, Bonner freed his slaves and moved to Xenia because of religious convictions about the immorality of slavery. Other friends and neighbors joined Bonner in the area, meeting at a church in his home.
Hogue wrote that this group of Virginians eventually purchased a resort near Xenia in 1855 to establish what is now known as Wilberforce University.
“What an astonishing discovery,” Hogue wrote. “My great-great-great grandfather had a, ‘clear conviction of the injustice and immorality’ of slavery and the courage to act upon it. His moral convictions along with those of his like-minded Virginians contributed to the establishment of the first African-American university in the United States.”
When he retired, Nolin decided he wanted to write a book about the history of Huffman Prairie.
“Nearly all the prairies in Ohio have been drained and converted to agricultural use by the installation of ditches and drain tiles,” Nolin wrote. “To understand the history of the prairie I needed to know how and when this was accomplished.”
Nolin visited the Greene County Archives, where staff member Joan Donovan aided his research through two “ancient” books on the early ditches of Greene County, which contained details about a the Fairfield Mill and a large ditch in that area.
“This important piece of local history could not have come to light without the well-organized and protected records at the Archives,” Nolin wrote. “I could not have found the material that was stored there without the professional expertise of Joan Donovan and Elise Kelly.”
In his entry, Noble wrote about how records from the Greene County Archives have aided in efforts to find a family member’s parents. According to Noble’s entry, Wanneta longed to see her father at the end of her life.
As he wrote about Wanneta in a flashback scene: “Wanneta was agitated for good reason. Thirteen years earlier, her dad had fed her gasoline. That sealed her fate as a Clark County Children’s Home inmate. Two older siblings and one younger shared her destiny – and they blamed her. After all, she was the one who got Dad mad. She was the one who caused Mom public humiliation, and the one who tore the family apart.
“Why did her parents abandon her? How was it that three of her other sisters were born special? The bronze and the silver were placed in middle- and upper-middle class families; she never knew their names. The youngest held the gold and was adopted by a prominent Clark County banker. What became of Dad? Did he pay for his crime? Was it all a lie?”
According to Noble’s entry, Greene County records helped to identify one family member.