Saturday, November 20, 2010

Elsie Clevenger

I really didn't expect to get a hit when I entered Springboro, Ohio in the search feature of e-Bay. But, an interesting item appeared. It said Springboro, Ohio Universalist Church.

My husband and I are members of the South Dayton Church of Christ. Our congregation owns the former Universalist Church building.

When I clicked on the entry, a photograph of our church building came up. The object for sale was a picture postcard mailed in 1911. I bought it and waited anxiously.

A few days later the postcard came. The picture was great. It has a very plain image of one of the stained glass windows. The windows were modified a few years ago and this shows how they looked originally.

And, then there was the message written in 1911, postmarked Waynesville, Ohio, and mailed to Florence Fraze in Indiana. It read:

This is where we go to Sunday School. Have all been having grippe and so have colds yet. How are you? As Ever, Elsie Clevenger.

Who was Elsie Clevenger?

I began to research. Elsie was the daughter of Arthur Elwood and Indiana Metz Clevenger. She was born in September of 1897 in Ohio.

So, she was 14 when she authored the postcard. Elsie had two older sisters, Rhoda and Mary.

Clevenger graduated from Springboro Schools in 1915. At the Lebanon Museum I found a picture of Elsie Clevenger and Inis Davis. A note on the back read: teachers, taught mostly in Clearcreek Township.

At the Springboro Museum I discovered a 7th and 8th grades photo taken in 1920. The teacher was Miss Clevenger and the handwritten title said Old Red School. This was the building torn down to make way for the present Jonathan Wright Elementary.

I was able to obtain a copy of Miss Clevenger's obituary through Warren County Genealogy.

Miss Clevenger died in 1953 after a four year illness. She was 55 years old at the time of her death and was buried in Springboro Cemetery.

The obituary mentioned she lived with a foster sister, Miss Inis Davis, at 445 Warren Street in Lebanon. Her sister, Rhoda, had died in 1945. The article said Elsie was a former teacher in the Lebanon schools, a member of the Springboro Grange and the Lebanon Presbyterian Church.

Melvina Null Montgomery, a lifelong resident of the Springboro area, remembers Miss Clevenger. "She was a great one to work in the Springboro Grange and cooked great dinners," Montgomery said. "She had red hair and lived in Lebanon with her sister, Rhoda and another lady."

Bessie Baker, another Springboro resident, says Miss Clevenger was her eighth grade teacher in 1924. Baker lived near her teacher and used to ride to school with her.

I'm still searching for more information. Lebanon and Springboro schools looked through their files but found nothing. If anyone has more information, I'd be glad to hear from them.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fogwell Murder

Crime scene investigation seems like a modern development but a murder trial in 1872 in Greene County shows such analysis was actually done years ago.
The murder happened on October 30, 1872. William Fogwell was returning from Dayton to his home in Greene County when he was shot. The murderer was concealed in a corner fence row near the road. Fogwell did not die immediately. He shouted, “Murder!” several times. Some neighbors responded to his calls. Fogwell was carried to his father’s house which was nearby. There Fogwell said he had seen William Ritchison in the flash of the gun. The weapon was a double barreled shotgun loaded with balls. Fogwell lingered for several days but died on November 8.
Authorities obtained evidence from the crime scene and the suspect’s house. A wheat field and clover pasture near the scene of the crime contained soft clay. Boot tracks were in the soil leading from the hiding place to Ritchison’s house. When Ritchison was arrested he was wearing boots. His boots were taken to the crime scene and inserted into the prints. One man testified, according to a November 1872 issue of the Xenia Gazette, “they fitted every time like a mold”.
The nails on the sole of the boot were unusually placed, some close together and some wide apart. The prints in the ground corresponded exactly with those in the boot.
Scrapes of paper were found at the crime scene. The edges were scorched and they were printed with words in columns. The paper had been used as wadding for the bullets in the murder weapon. At Ritchison’s house a “haversack’ was found. It contained “some gun caps, an old spelling book without covers and the leaves torn, and some paper wads”. The bullets extracted from Fogwell matched the balls found in Ritchison’s sack and the paper at the scene matched the spelling book. The shotgun at Ritchison’s house was examined and found to have been recently fired. Tests were done which showed it was possible to see a shooter’s face in the flare of the gun fire.
It was known, by several people, that the two men had had various arguments over the course of about five years. The most recent quarrel had been about some turkeys that belonged to Fogwell which Ritchison had shot. Fogwell had demanded payment for them. Ritchison refused. Fogwell, a township constable, had obtained a subpoena to serve Ritchison. It was in his shirt pocket when he was shot. Someone had warned Ritchison about the subpoena.
Ritchison was found guilty at a trial. Another trial was ordered because it was claimed a juror from the first trial had talked about the case outside of court before a verdict was reached. Ritchison was again found guilty at the second trial.
Ritchison tried to escape. When the escape failed, he hung himself in his jail cell. He was buried in his own yard, in an unmarked grave.