William Martin Green

1841 - 1897

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister

William Martin Green
(May 14, 1841 - June 8, 1897)

Historical Perspective
One-year-old William Green's bright, wide eyes peered curiously from the homestead window, following the "prairie schooners," a small caravan of canvass-covered wagons, as they crawled into the setting sun. It was summer, 1842. Illinois dust was forming a westward whirlwind sparked by what some called "Oregon fever" the lure of Oregon Country's wooded wonderland, far from the treeless prairies and arid Illinois plains. Little William was blissfully unaware of those now-historic scenes of American history played out passionately on the stage of his early life: Davy Crocket's spirited stand at the Alamo just five years before (1836), the soon-to-be "dough boys" (American infantrymen) scrapping in the War with Mexico (1845) and, when William would turn twenty, the un-United States' onset of a bloody Civil War (1861).

His Family of Origin
William was likely the namesake of his grandfather, William B. Green, now thought to have served as a Christian missionary to the Cherokee Indians (Native Americans). Perhaps this explains why his father, Christopher Columbus Green, was born at Black Warrior River (near present-day Tuscaloosa) Alabama" supposedly then sixty miles from the nearest "white man." But Christopher Columbus Green would later father and impressive tribe himself--nine children: William (1840), Elizabeth (1843), Louisa (1845), Mary Ann (1849), Wiley (1850), James B. (1852), Cathryn (1854), Milton (1855), and Macklin (1859). Three of William's brothers would share his call into the Christian ministry.

Youth and First Marriage
Illinois' Gallatin and White counties were William's "stompin' grounds." As a young man aged 18 and still living at home, he taught school locally, and found pulpits in which to preach. At age 20, only months after the Civil War began, he married Juliann Josephine Vinson on January 30, 1862, in Gallatin County. How blessed they were on that day of youthful bliss, shielded from the tragic shadows lurking ahead. In two brief years Juliann, and their (only) infant child John Millage Green, would perish in childbirth on February 16, 1864. (Source: Gallatin Co., IL, Marriage Index and Oral Family Stories.)

Parenting, Pastoring, and Pain
Almost one-and-a-half years later. William remarried, and the name of his bride was strikingly similar to the first--Julia Ann. He and Julia Ann Bryant (daughter of William and Bathanna (Pearce) Bryant, and granddaughter of Hosea and Nancy (O'Neal) Pearce) wed on July 24, 1865, in White County, Illinois. (Source: White Co., IL., Marriage Index and Census reports.) Two of their children--Silas Clayton and Sherman Johnson were recorded in the 1870 (White Co.) Census. Their third child, Laura Belle, was born later, in 1873. For the five years of 1872 through 1876, William continued to teach, and also pastored the Mount Oval Presbyterian Church in Norris City, Illinois.

Green family oral history recounts that Julia ("Julie") was a Cherokee which, if true, created quite unusual intercultural circumstances. (Recall, however, that William's grandfather William B. Green apparently worked among the Cherokees as a Christian missionary.) Though the dynamics of this intercultural marriage are unknown, for whatever reasons tension quickly developed after the birth of their third child, and by 1876 the marriage was legally terminated. William alleged, the grounds for divorce, desertion on Julie's part. As is mentioned later in the brief biography, William took great enjoyment from family live, and such discord in marriage likely produced much personal pain. Green family history adds the supposition that Julie was quite ill, had not lived in the home for over two years, and was unable to raise the children. The plausibility of her illness is supported
by the fact that, soon after her remarriage four years later in 1880, to William Finley Price, she died that same year.

During this second marriage, William continued to teach school and, for the five years of 1872 through 1876, also pastored the Mount Oval Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Norris City, Illinois. But, following the pain of divorce in 1876, William soon discovered yet another new start--one that would carry him away from Norris City, away from his Illinois homeland, away, like the clattering covered wagons rolling westward he'd witnessed as one-year-old.

A New Frontier
Teenaged Martha Louisa Jordan had sat in the schoolroom among William's pupils, as well as worshiped in the pews of Mount Oval, among the parishioners William served. But perhaps it was in the fall of 1876 that somehow William's mentoring and ministering of "Mattie" bloomed in to a different relationship altogether. And so, young Reverend Green's journey to new horizons began with his third marriage, to 17- year-old Mattie, November 9,1876. The ceremony was held in Norris City, at the home of a Mr. Gott. Witnesses present were William Bogan and his wife Mary, Isaac Lowell, and Mrs. Helen Gott. Loading belongings and William's three children--Clayton, his oldest, was now 10” the Greens traveled hundreds of miles southwest, settling in Mammoth Spring, (Fulton County) Arkansas.

A family story of an curious incident along the journey is worthy of note. (William's son, Sherman, related the story to his son, K.R. Green so retold it to his daughter, Shirley J. (Green) Coleman.) Apparently two young men joined William and Mattie's wagon train one day, shared in the evening meal, and added to the pleasant evening conversation. After the two visitors left, William asked Mattie if she knew their identity, then revealed to her their names: Frank and Jesse James. Re telling the narrative years later, Sherman Green noted that Mattie had several hundred dollars hidden in her clothing at the time. Joann Green Coleman posed a childhood question to her grandfather: "Did the travelers really invite the James brothers to travel with the wagons?" Sherman Green reflected for a moment, then replied with a chuckle: "Nope, I don't believe we did!" History records all too well that the James brothers preferred to invite themselves.

William Green, now 35, had a new wife, a new start in Arkansas, and was the father of three. In the next phase of his life, both his family obligations and public life would expand.

Preaching the Book Without "Going By the Book"
Pioneers do not always "go by the book," and such was the case with the beginning of William Green's church planting efforts in northern Arkansas. Sometime prior to the September, 1879 meeting of the White River (Cumberland Presbyterian) Synod, without denominational consent, William organized a congregation at Dry Town, forming the Mount Pleasant Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Though he had been formally received from the Ewing Presbytery (in Illinois) into the (Arkansas) White River Presbytery, and thus validated to minister locally, no permission had been granted to plant a new congregation. Quite the opposite policy was established, in fact, at the 1874 White River Synod meeting, which voted down the proposition of establishing a Dry Town congregation. In the end, at the 1879 Presbytery meeting, the Mount Pleasant church was received. A Mr. A. C. Evans did protest, however, stating that the organization at Dry Town was "a positive violation of the Book of Discipline," since the presbytery alone had authority to organize (at the request of the people) new churches, and since an earlier compromise existed between parishioners at Dry Town and members of the Barren Fork Cumberland Presbyterian Church. (On a current note, the Mount Pleasant church still stands, but several years ago resorted to another Presbyterian denomination.)

Birth Day Birthday Parties
William's determination to expand the ministry of the Cumberland Presbyterian denomination seemed exceeded only by his expansion of the next generation of Greens. He and Mattie parented 13 children of their own (additional to the 3 from his previous marriage): Lula, Ollie, Adah, Oris, Grada, Willie, Earnest, Rosco, Hershel, Jessie, Grayson, Othel and Zellwin. The 1880 Census recorded the Greens were living in Izard County, Arkansas, in Barren Fork and Dry Town, and that Mattie's 16-year-old brother, Thomas, resided with them. By this time, the 6 children under their roof were Silas (age 13), Sherman J (age 12), Laura Belle (age 7), Lula May (age 2), Ollie Maud (age 1, whose twin Adah died prior to the Census) and Oris C (under age 1). The three youngest were born since the relocation to Arkansas.

Near the time of each birth, William threw a party. One such celebration is described in the November 21, 1878 edition of the Sharp County Record local newspaper. "Mr. Green seemed in good spirits during the day, but the next morning a broader smile was upon his countenance. Why? The family physician had informed him that all were doing well--two girls, Ollie and Adah. Thus you would say that Dry Town is adding to her numbers." And, in the newspaper's index for that date, the summary read: "Gayla Day at Barron Fork. Green, Rev., apparently had twin girls after party." Oral family history relates that it was William's common practice to celebrate with such birth parties, and that each child was baptized, in their childhood, either by the Rev. J.S. Bone or a Rev. Parsons.

"Lord Take Good Care of You..."
As if his commitments were not substantial enough at church and home, to these William added a political career. He was the Arkansas State Representative from Fulton County in the Twenty-Sixth General Assembly, from January 10 to March 31, 1887. Correspondence from Little Rock suggests his political involvements perhaps lasted beyond his official Representative capacity, and that he served on a Law Board which shaped legislation. According to a collection entitled "Oral Balch Family Stories," as related by Carol Fellows, "William Martin Green helped clean up the prison system in the entire state of Arkansas." Apparently the state prison system was highly controversial, even scandalous, at the time, and Green successfully drafted prison reform legislation.

Personal letters reveal, however, that Williams' political pursuits did not monopolize his thoughts, for his mind frequently returned to the concerns of family and daily life back home. "Dear wife and children," was his greeting in a letter dated June 29, 1887. "You may think I make a great deal of money for what I do. But I don't think it's much for being away from home. I get restless..." And his salutation breathed a sincere prayer: "Lord take good care of you." These frequent correspondences are sprinkled with husbandly and fatherly reminders and advice. "Well, Mama," he wrote to Mattie on March 8, 1887, "I am at my desk this morning and feeling very well. I got a letter from you yesterday. You wrote that you were going to plant potatoes soon. Don't plow the ground, nor plant the potatoes, when the land is wet. Break it both ways, too.... I bought Bell's hat this morning... I aim to get all of you a dress apiece before I [come] home... Well, goodbye darling." Homesickness flowed from his pen in a June 28, 1887 letter: "I was so glad to hear from you.... It makes me mighty restless for my box to be empty. [Illegible} good to get a letter from home and learn my dear ones are well... I dreamed last night of being at home to see you. It seems almost like I was there. Sure enough, you are the last on my mind at night and the first thing of the morning. But I believe the good Lord will take care of all of you while I am gone."

On another professional note, some information suggests William perhaps studied and practiced law, and even dabbled in medicinal treatments. Not uncommon for his time William, too, had a medicinal "tonic" believed to cure a number of common ills, and even more serious diseases including cancer. He mentioned it in a May 14, 1896 letter to his son Sherman: "Well, I have not sent you that medicine yet. I'm selling it right along. It never has failed yet to cure a pain... You wanted to know the ingredients. I answer, electricity. And water, with alcohol enough to prevent it from spoiling. It is gotten upon the principle that nearly all diseases are caused by the presence of little insects called microbes, and that, if you distort the microbes, you cure the disease. Electricity in this form kills them every time... Now you know what it is and what it does."

An Exceptional Life
Even such a brief biographical sketch as the above paragraphs demonstrates the exceptional life of William Martin Green. He died June 8, 1897, at the age 56. The site of his burial became an investigative search for Joann Green Coleman (William's great-granddaughter) and her daughter, Lori. Williams' grandson Kenneth Roscoe ("K.R.") Green was uncertain how William came to rest in the Pleasant Grove Cemetery between Elk Creek and Cabool (Texas County), Missouri. Family letters led Joann and Lori to this site. Though a small church, which one land marked the cemetery, was lost in a tornado years ago, the cemetery still stands three miles between Elk Creek and Cabool. Green's unmarked grave joins several others on the north side of the plot. Joann Green Coleman found no information suggesting William was involved in a Cumberland Presbyterian congregation there, and few other reasons are a logical for his and Mattie's relocation to that area.It is immensely unfitting that William Martin Green was buried in an unmarked grave, unfairly paradoxical to the unique mark he indeed made on the many lives he touched--the lives of his dozen children and Mattie, his parishioners, his political constituents, and unknown others. Perhaps these brief biographical highlights can erect a monument of sort, a marker that William Green lived, loved and served --even pioneered--wherever the soil on which his God placed him.

Submitted by:
Joann Green Coleman
Lori Coleman
Jimmy R. Coleman

Family Information

Christopher Columbus Green
[son of William B. Green]
born: 22 May 1822 - Black Warrior River, near present-day Tuscaloosa, Alabama
died: 7 June 1889 - White County, Illinois
married: 29 July 1839 - Tennessee
wife: Nancy Caroline Brown
born: February 1819 - Tennessee
died: 8 August 1896 - White County, Illinois

Children of Christopher Columbus Green and Nancy Caroline Brown:

1. William Martin Green
Cumberland Presbyterian Minister
born: 14 May 1841 - Gallatin County, Illinois
died: 8 June 1897 - Elk Creek, Texas County, Missouri
1st marriage: 30 January 1862 - Gallatin County, Illinois
1st wife: Juliann Josephine Vinson
[daughter of Charles Vinson and Mary ?]
born: 1847 - Gallatin County, Illinois
died: 16 February 1864 - White County or Gallatin County, Illinois

Child of William Martin Green and Juliann Josephine Vinson:

1.1. John Millage Green
born: 16 February 1864 - Gallatin County, Illinois
died: 16 February 1864 - Gallatin County, Illinois

2nd marriage of William Martin Green: 24 April 1865 - White County, Illinois
2nd wife of William Martin Green: Julia Ann Bryant
[daughter of William Bryant and Bathanna Pearce]
divorced: 1876
[she remarries William Finley Price, 18 March 1880, White County, Illinois]
born: 25 November 1845 - White County, Illinois
died: 18 April 1880 - White County, Illinois ?

Children of William Martin Green and Julia Ann Bryant:

1.2. Silas Clayton Green
born: 29 November 1867 - White County, Illinois
died: 19 September 1930 - Fulton County, Arkansas
wife: Lucy A. Everett
[daughter of William Everett and Martha A. ?]
born: 23 November 1864 - Arkansas
died: 9 April 1935 - Fulton County, Arkansas

Children of Silas Clayton Green and Lucy A. Everett:

1.2.1. Harrison Green
born: July 1888
buried: Zion, Arkansas (between Batesville and Melbourn)

1.2.2. Liney Green
born: July 1891
died: 1975

1.2.3. Zelah Clayton Green
born: 2 April 1896 - Fairview, Fulton County, Arkansas
died: 19 June 1971 - White County, Arkansas

1.2.4. Lela Oradel Green
born: 10 March 1898 - Fulton County, Arkansas
died: 10 August 1898 - Fulton County, Arkansas

1.2.5. Elbridge Lincoln Green
born: 1 January 1900 - Fairview, Fulton County, Arkansas
died: 31 December 1976 - West Plains, Missouri

1.2.6. Beulah Dale Green
born: 16 July 1902 - Fulton County, Arkansas

1.2.7. Edward Theodore Green
born: 1906
died: 1966

1.3. Sherman Johnson Green
born: 10 February 1868 - Norris City, White County, Illinois
died: 14 February 1961 - Fairview, Fulton County, Arkansas
married: 22 January 1890 - LaCrosse, Arkansas
wife: Lora Lavada Hall
[daughter of Alanzo Hall and Arsulta Baker]
born: 7 December 1872 - LaCrosse, Arkansas
died: 7 July 1946 - Mammonth Springs, Fulton County, Arkansas

Children of Sherman Johnson Green and Lora Lavada Hall:

1.3.1. Fizer Malloy Green
born: 4 November 1890 - Arkansas
died: 22 February 1973
wife: Allie Sanderson

1.3.2. Milton Lorenzo Green
born: 22 August 1892 - Fairview, Fulton County, Arkansas
died: 3 June 1981 - Mammoth Springs, Arkansas
wife: May Appligate

1.3.3. Lois Alta Green
born: 14 July 1894 - Fairview, Fulton County, Arkansas
died: 20 May 1963 - Salem, Arkansas
husband: Shelby Lawyer

1.3.4. Homer Luther Green
born: 31 December 1897 - Fairview, Fulton County, Arkansas
died: January 1959 - Pocohontas, Arkansas
wife: Leota Spicer

1.3.5. Royce Graden Green
born: 12 June 1900 - Fairview, Fulton County, Arkansas
died: 12 May 1984 - Mammoth Springs, Arkansas
wife: Mary Hatfield

1.3.6. Flora Alberta Green
born: 13 June 1904 - Fairview, Fulton County, Arkansas
died: August 1974 - Mammoth Springs, Arkansas
husband: Lehaman Burrow

1.3.7. Kenneth Roscoe Green
born: 17 September 1908 - Fairview, Fulton County, Arkansas
died: 18 November 1994 - Springfield, Missouri
wife: Marvis E. Rowden

1.3.8. Hubert Hall Green
born: 5 August 1911 - Fairview, Fulton County, Arkansas
died: 8 March 1982 - Pontiac, Michigan
wife: Audra Halley

1.4. Laura Belle Green
born: 9 July 1873 - White County, Illinois
died: 19 September 1948 - Searcy, Arkansas
1st marriage: 1891 - Fulton County, Arkansas
1st husband: James "Jim" William Crouch
[son of William Crouch and Mary Bookout]
born: 30 May 1870 - Fulton County, Arkansas
died: 4 November 1925 - Fulton County, Arkansas

Children James William Crouch and Laura Belle Green:

1.4.1. Levida Maud Crouch
born: 26 October 1892 - Fulton County, Arkansas
died: January 1994 - Hutchinson, Kansas

1.4.2. Thurman J. Crouch
born: 8 December 1893 - Fairview, Fulton County, Arkansas
died: 1961 - Fulton County, Arkansas

1.4.3. Clara Mabel Crouch
born: 31 December 1896 - Fairview, Fulton County, Arkansas
died: 1967 - Wisconsin

1.4.4. Ara Zella Crouch
born: 2 April 1899 - Fairview, Fulton County, Arkansas
died: 29 November 1998 - Mountain Home, Arkansas

1.4.5. Roy Crouch
born: 17 July 1902 - Fairview, Fulton County, Arkansas
died: 1972 - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

1.4.6. Garland Crouch
born: 12 January 1903 - Fairview, Fulton County, Arkansas
died: 1988 - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

1.4.7. Dorthy Ferbia Crouch
born: 26 January 1907 - Fairview, Fulton County, Arkansas
died: 1993 - Florida

1.4.8. Lodema Cleffie Crouch
born: 18 July 1909 - Fairview, Fulton County, Arkansas
died: 21 November 1979 - Little Rock, Arkansas

1.4.9. Truman Crouch
born: 30 January 1912 - Fairview, Fulton County, Arkansas

2nd marriage of Laura Belle Green: 1927 - Arkansas
2nd husband of Laura Belle Green: Jim Ballard
born: Oxford, Arkansas

3rd marriage of William Martin Green: 9 November 1876 - Norris City, White County, Illinois
3rd wife of William Martin Green: Martha ("Mattie") Louise Jordan
[daughter of Zellwin Jordan and Nancy Hill]
born: 25 September 1859 - White County, Illinois
died: 22 June 1937 - Des Moines, Iowa
buried: Youngstown, Iowa
[she later married Allison Balch, March 19, 1900, Des Moines, Iowa]

Children of William Martin Green and Martha Louise Jordan:

1.5. Lula May Green
born: 2 September 1878 - Arkansas
married: 2 September 1896
husband: William Plantz

1.6. Ollie Maud Green
[twin to Adah Lou Green]
born: 14 November 1878 - Arkansas
died: 18 April 1906 - Capron, Woods County, Oklahoma
husband: John Paya

1.7. Adah Lou Green
[twin to Ollie Maud Green]
born: 14 November 1878 - Arkansas
died: 2 April 1879 - Arkansas

1.8. Oris Columbus Lee Green
born: 4 March 1880 - Arkansas
died: 13 November 1953 - Des Moines, iowa
wife: Merle Brunner

1.9. Grada Love Green
born: 1 February 1882 - Arkansas
died: 15 March 1882

1.10. Willie Byron Green
born: 8 June 1883

1.11. Earnest Tipton Green
born: 10 September 1885 - Arkansas
died: 1 August 1887

1.12. Rosco M. Green
born: 22 April 1887 - Little Rock, Arkansas
died: 20 July 1962 - Des Moines, Iowa
wife: Nellie Plummer

1.13. Herschel Lucas Green
born: 3 March 1889 - Arkansas
wife: Lynch ?

1.14. Jessie Mabel Green
born: 15 February 1891
died: 7 November 1891

1.15. Grayson Green
born: 29 August 1892
died: 7 September 1892

1.16. Othel Austin Green
born: 28 August 1894 - Little Rock, Arkansas
died: May 1975 - Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa
wife: Rosa Mall

1.17. Zellwin Leroy Green
born: 8 June 1896 - Texas County, Missouri
died: 8 January 1947 - Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa
wife: Bonnie Jonston

2. America Elizabeth Green
born: 4 April 1843 - White County, Illinois
died: 15 February 1869 - White County, Illinois

3. Louisa J. Green
born: 19 July 1845 - White County, Illinois
died: 2 March 1877 - White County, Illinois

4. Mary Ann Green
born: 1849 - White County, Illinois

5. Wiley Newton Green
born: 20 February 1850 - Illinois
died: 17 April 1922 - White County, Illinois

6. James B. Green
born: 1852 - White County, Illinois
died: 1928

7. Charity Catheryn Green
born: 7 March 1854 - White County, Illinois
died: 3 October 1903

8. Milton Silas Green
born: 13 May 1855 - White County, Illinois
died: 22 November 1927

9. Macklin Douglas Green
Cumberland Presbyterian Minister
born: 23 September 1859 - White County, Illinois
died: 18 December 1913

Updated August 5, 2015

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