XENIA — At 10 a.m. June 21, 2019, exactly fifty years to the minute that residents witnessed the laying of the cornerstone at the Greene County Jail, its time capsule was opened.
About 100 people attended the 1969 ceremony, held on a truck bed in front of the jail. A half century passed until residents packed the Greene County Commissioners’ meeting room down the street to see the copper time capsule, retrieved earlier from the hollow cornerstone.
“Last May I was looking through the commissioners’ journals and stumbled upon an entry regarding the laying of the cornerstone ceremony for the jail. As an archivist, when I see the words ‘time capsule,’ I get pretty excited,” Greene County Archivist Robin Heise told the crowd.
Heise said County Services crews recently extracted the copper time capsule from the jail.
“This is exciting,” Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer said. “The wall was torn down and this box was removed. We found it again.”
Residents and elected officials watched as Heise and staff members pulled out the box’s contents, piece by piece.
“Even though this box was opened yesterday, human eyes have not looked inside it until now,” Heise said. “Here we go.”
Inside were: copies of the Fairborn Daily Herald, Beavercreek News and Xenia Daily Gazette; Sheriff Russell A. Bradley’s badge; a county township trustees and clerks list; a story of the jail campaign and photographic slides; Sheriff (1927-1931) Ohmer Tate’s badge; campaign nail files for commissioners Ray Durnbaugh and James A. Ford; a Clerk of Courts Russell E. Gearhart auto title holder; a jail history; coins; Prosecuting Attorney Reynold C. Hoefflin’s handwritten ceremony speech; a poem by jail committee member Thomas E. Kelley (which he did not have enough time to read at the 1969 ceremony, according to the Gazette, so Heise read it on his behalf); seed from a red buckeye transplanted to the courthouse lawn in April 1969; a photo of Sheriff Ohmer Tate; a county map; a 1968 Gazette photo of officials signing a contract to construct the jail; a county elected officials list; and jail committee members list.
One person, Former Prosecutor Reynold Hoefflin, was present for both ceremonies.
“It brings back memories,” he said after the ceremony. “Time flies. The last time I was in this building it was a movie theater.”
Hoefflin read the same speech he once gave as a 34-year-old prosecutor in front of a brand new jail.
“A great many persons worked long and hard for the construction of this jail,” Hoefflin said again, noting that the campaign began 20 years before that and had been rejected on the ballot four times. “The new jail is thoroughly modern with 128 persons, including 102 men, 14 women, and 12 juveniles as opposed to our old jail, which held about 45. This is a fine structure of which Greene County may be long proud, but let us hope that when the seventh jail has outlived its usefulness the people will not hesitate to replace it. Meanwhile, Sheriff Bradley and I shall do our best to keep it well filled.”
Plans are currently underway for the construction of a new jail.
Contact Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498.