Xenia is the county seat of Greene County, Ohio. Joseph C. Vance surveyed the town in 1803, and John Marshall built the first cabin in the town’s borders the following year. City residents named the community after the Greek word for “hospitality.”
Xenia grew quickly. In 1840, 1,414 people resided in the town. That number nearly doubled by 1847. The principal cause of this growth was the completion of the Little Miami Railroad. In 1847, the town had ten churches, two newspaper offices, an iron foundry, one bank, and seventeen stores. Most businesses either processed crops or sold agricultural implements to the farmers in the neighboring countryside.
Over the next several decades, Xenia’s population increased to 7,026 by 1880. Five newspaper offices, sixteen churches, and three banks existed in the community. Numerous businesses employed Xenia residents. The town had three twine factories, and locals commonly referred to Xenia as “Twine City.” Xenia also contained two gunpowder factories. One building at the Miami Powder Company exploded on March 1, 1886. The explosion was heard over one hundred miles away. Three workers died and thousands of dollars in damage occurred to buildings within Xenia.
During the twentieth century, Xenia continued to grow. With a population of approximately 23,800 people, Xenia was the third largest community in Greene County in 2003. Many residents work at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
Unfortunately for the city and its residents, over the course of the community’s history, several tornados have struck Xenia. On April 3, 1974, an F5 category tornado struck Xenia, Ohio. The tornado that struck Xenia was just one of at least 148 tornados that occurred in the South and Midwest in a twenty-four period. This was the worst outbreak of tornados recorded in the twentieth century. The tornado that struck Xenia had maximum winds of three hundred miles per hour. It destroyed more than one thousand homes and businesses. Hardly any buildings remained standing in Xenia’s downtown. Thirty-three people died in the storm, with approximately another 1,150 people injured. Amazingly, Xenia rebuilt quickly. By April 3, 1975, eighty percent of the destroyed homes and forty percent of the businesses had been rebuilt. Unfortunately for Xenia, another tornado struck the city twenty-six years later. This storm did significantly less damage, killing one person, injuring several dozen more people, and destroying approximately forty homes.