Biography of Jeffery Greene,
Town of Mexico, NY

Many thanks to Esther Rancier, for contributing this information on Jeffery Greene, his G-G-Grand Niece.  For further information please see the Town Historians or Historical Societies Page. 
 

      When Roger Williams, a Puritan minister and his followers, were forced out of Massachusetts in 1635 for voicing “newe & dangerous opinions,” he led his companions to a spot later known as Providence, RI.  He purchased land from the Indians and parceled it out for use.  In this new Rhode Island Colony it was ordered, “that no man should be molested for his conscience.”

       It was in Rhode Island that religious freedom prospered.  Quakers and Jews were welcomed.  In 1639 the first Baptist church in America was established.  The first president of the Providence Plantation (the early name for Rhode Island) was John Coggeshall in 1647/48.

      About 1639 three men named John Greene appeared in the colony.  They were not relatives.  They were likely men wanted as heretics back in England.  It was the custom of that day when seeking an anonymous state to call oneself, John Greene.  Today people use John Smith, but not so in the 17th century.  When John Osborne Austin wrote his monumental Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island in 1887, he gave these men distinctive names to separate the families clearly. There was John Greene of Newport who owned many lands and helped forward settlement.  Next was John Greene of Warwick whose descendants include Surgeon John Greene, ancestor of General Nathaniel Greene of Revolutionary War fame.  Then there was John Greene of Kings Town, later called John Greene of Narragansett.  Other records call him John of Quidnessett.  It is John of Quidnessett whose descendants are discussed in this essay.

      John died ca.1682.  His son Benjamin married Humility Coggeshall, daughter of the first president of the colony.  Their oldest son John, born ca. 1688 married Mary Aylesworth.  He was called Lt. John and he settled in West Greenwich, RI.  This couple had 13 children. 

      The fifth child was Amos born 17 January 1717 who married Amy Knowles, a lady who lived to be over 100 years old.  By her 89th year she was known to have 364 descendants.  This family lived in Charlestown, Washington Co., RI. They had 12 children.  Amos, a local farmer, was elected to the Charlestown Town Council in 1775.  It was a critical time.  Charlestown was on Long Island Sound.  British frigates often bombed coastal towns. British soldiers might be landed for a raid or an invasion at any moment. 

      Amos led the town council to appoint his son and namesake, Amos, Jr., born 15 March 1741, to be captain of the militia.  Wartime stress may have contributed to the death of Amos, Sr. on 13 May 1777.  He died a citizen of the State of Rhode Island.  On 13 April 1776 he wrote out his will which included “in the 16th year of his majesty’s reign, George the Third, King of Great Britain A.D. 1776 I, Amos Greene of Charlestown in the Country and Colony of Rhode Island & Yeoman ….” 

      In the following 13 months the whole political scene changed allowing Amos to die a free American.  The inventory of Amos’ estate showed a value of 117 pounds, 17 shillings, 4 pence.  His son Amos, Jr. received the largest portion of his father’s land, 73 acres. 

      Capt. Amos Greene, Jr. spent his entire life in Charlestown where he wed twice.  His first wife was Dorcas Hall who had 14 children, dying in 1784.  Secondly he married 9 October 1785 Alice Underwood who became the mother of 5 more babies.  Amos became active in the militia in 1775 serving until 1779.  Named captain he prepared new men to drill, etc.; found deserters and draft evaders; and marched trained men off to join their new units.  He spent a quiet war as the British never raided or invaded which was  lucky as Rhode Island would have been quickly overrun.  George Washington in his correspondence expressed many fears about the poor state of readiness in the colony where so many had been taken into the Continental Army and sent to New York to defend the city. 

      After Amos’ death 25 June 1823 his widow, Alice applied for a pension which she received (W.21214) commencing 4 March 1836.  The pension papers included a copy of Alice and Amos’ marriage certificate dated 1785.

     After the peace settlement with the Indians which was part of the Revolutionary War peace treaty, all of New York state was opened to settlers.  Dorcas’ daughter Penelope, born 28 February 1782/83, went to Deerfield, Oneida Co., NY and married on 25 May 1806 Stephen Northup, son of Capt. William and Ann (Slocum) Northup of North Kingston, RI.  She was joined there by her half brother William Knowles Greene.  Henry’s younger brother, Jeffery J., born10 April 1790, went to live with Penelope at Deerfield also.  The very youngest son of Amos, named Pardon, born 30 November 1794, was the only child who went further west to Eaton Rapids, MI.

      Jeffery selected Mexico, Oswego Co., NY for his farm which he purchased 11 October 1834 from John and Polly (Davis) Morton when they sold out and went west.  He bought lot #88 situated in the Eddy District.  On 16 March 1835 he married Abigail G. Northup, daughter of John B. and Hannah Northup of Deerfield, Oneida co., NY.  Jeffery obviously met her while living with his half-sister, Penelope who was Abby’s aunt by marriage.

       Jeffery and Abby had one surviving son, Samuel Clark Jeffery Greene, born in Mexico 16 October 1838.  Jeffery died 28 March 1842.  He was buried in the Mexico Village Cemetery.  There is still existent the receipt given Abby dated 19 May 1842.  This receipt says, “in consideration of $5 for us in hand paid we hereby assign forever, lot #28 in the South division of the cemetery conveyed to John Bennett and James S. Chandler by deed from Veeder Green and transferable by assignment.” 

       On 12 December 1918 an additional payment of $25 was made by the Executor of Samuel Greene’s estate for “Perpetual Care and Maintenance of cemetery lot no. 28…”

       Abby was left a young widow with a child and a farm to operate.  She kept a small notebook that may have been handmade.  On the first page she recorded notes on the funeral of Jeffery.  She noted other expenses.

 “Paid for lime    004,40
 For pine lumber    008,25
 For laying cellar wall    500,00
 For hemlock seanthing (?)     00,27
 For one new horse shore and setting      00,25
 For ten pound notes    00,70
 For window sash    1,65
 Paid for schooling          41 
 Paid for boots    1  25”
       Joseph Barton must have been a hired hand who assisted her.  She paid him “26,00”, then “00,50” for harvesting.  On 28 November he received “$32  80”.  In December 1842 he got “10  00.”  She also made some money from calves, potatoes, oats and sheep.  She mentioned Luman Cummins, Joshua Clark, Mr. Wilder, Augustus Davis and Lewis Sampson. They did work for her.

       In accordance with custom Abby married again to Caleb Wilcox of Scriba, NY on 9 November 1848.  He took over the running of the farm.

       In 1860 Samuel Greene, her son, came of age.  He married the widow of his cousin, Theodore Henry Greene of New Haven, NY.  The widow, Lucena J. (Smith) Greene had a son, Theodore Ray Greene, born 21 March 1859.  With his new family Samuel wanted his land left to him by Jeffery.  Jeffery had died intestate, but only Abby and Samuel were his heirs at law.

       Caleb Wilcox saw it differently.  He began to recall all he had spent on the upbringing of Samuel.  Samuel began by repaying Caleb for his keep, but by 23 April 1864 Samuel brought a lawsuit against his mother and her husband, Caleb Wilcox. Sam swore out a formal statement “that he has fully paid in money and labor to the said Caleb Wilcox & settled with him at divers times in full for all board, lodging , clothing, schooling, medical attendance care….”

      Further Sam wanted two cows back as his share of Jeffery’s property.  Sam also denied that Caleb had “exercised care & oversight on the …& repairing of said farm….” 

      The judge must have been sensitive to the plight of Sam for the matter was ordered to arbitration on 28 April 1864.  It had to be done within the next ten days.  A legal stamp which cost 5 cents was purchased and placed on this order which was then witnessed by George L. Lyon.

      It took 2 days but George Lyon led the parties into an agreement.  6 cents in legal stamps were affixed to a handwritten document dated 1 May 1864.  Sam and Caleb were each sworn and examined by Lyon.  The decision included that Caleb must pay Samuel $554.74 within one day.  Within 10 days each shall execute a release one to the other of “all actions, causes and causes of actions, suits, controversies, claims and demands whatsoever.”
 On May 2 Caleb executed his release for $1.00.  On the same day Sam signed his release for $1 which was witnessed by J.R. French.

      Wilcox died soon thereafter.  Sam and his mother always had remained on good terms.  Because women had no standing in court, she had been powerless.  After she was widowed again she lived with Sam and his family playing an active roll in the community and in the Mexico Baptist Church.  She died in Mexico 15 December 1885.  She was laid to rest in the Mexico Village Cemetery.

       Samuel was elected Superintendent of the Baptist Sunday School for years.  He was also the principal officer of a local cheese factory.  He continued living on lot #88, his father’s farm.  On 27 August 1862 he had a daughter, Florence L., the light of his life, but the child died 29 March 1865. The toddler was buried in the Mexico Village Cemetery.  There were no more children.

       Sam’s wife, Lucena was the daughter of Daniel P. Smith, a Richland farmer, born in Vermont and his wife, Nancy Soule. When Daniel died in 1861 he chose not to mention Theodore by name in his will, nor did he intend to leave much to Lucena, his only daughter. She received $100 but no part in her father’s land.  She was to inherit only if her brothers left no heirs.  At the time the will was placed in probate, the matter seemed of little importance.

      Samuel probably remembering how his stepfather treated him was likely the kindest, sweetest, fairest stepfather any boy could hope to get.  Sam stood over 6 feet tall with a mop of red hair and a long red beard, but he placed Theodore’s hand in his and never let go.  The boy called him, “Pa.”  To all intents he was Pa, Dad, and Grandpa.  He was never referred to as a stepfather.

       Theodore married May Theresa Davis, a local girl, on 7 February 1883.  Both their families attended the Mexico Baptist Church.  They had 5 children, 3 sons and 2 daughters, Helen and Florence.  Theodore had a small farm of his own from land sold to him by Sam, but primarily assisted Sam with his farm.  The family always lived in the household with Sam.   Lucena died 9 February 1895 and was buried in the Mexico Village Cemetery.  Sam never really recovered.  At times he would cry out, “Cena, Cena!.”

       As Sam aged he was devilled by severe arthritis.  He became a stooped giant.  Apparently Theodore did not wish to make a living on the farm.  He yearned for a 9-5 existence in town.  Accordingly Sam sold Jeffery’s farm to Wilson P. Gass on 22 March 1911. The family moved into Mexico on Cemetery St. then later to Spring St.  It was for this sale to clear the title that Sam gave a deposition on the history of the farm, his parents, and his claim to ownership on 29 November 1910.  The farm was described as being bounded south of the William A. Sampson farm; west by Salmon Creek; on the north by Alex. Baxter and the Ball farm.  The price was $3500 in payments.  But no wood was to be cut until at least $2000 had been paid.  Many of the receipts for payments made have survived.  Later Julius Stone bought the farm from Gass. 

       On 17 December 1917 Sam wrote his will.  He died of influenza before the end of the year.  After certain bequests to Helen and Florence Greene, the residue of his estate went to “my son, Theodore R. Greene,”  setting up considerable confusion for researchers.  His estate amounted to $5364.61.  The final settlement was made by Executors Clinton and Charles Graves on 22 September 1922.  Sam was buried at Mexico Village Cemetery near wife, Lucena.  He was 79. Helen Greene, “his granddaughter,”  mentioned in his will, lived to 1981 and spoke of him with abundant love.  She missed him to the end of her life.

       When Sam died in 1917 Jeffery Greene’s line ended.  Theodore was not a direct descendant.  Jeffery would have been his great uncle.  To learn the entire story read the biographies of Henry Knowles Greene and Daniel P. Smith.


 SOURCES:
 Austin, John Osborne.  The Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1978.
 Bill of Sale between Samuel C. J. Greene and Wilson P. Gass dated 22 March 1911.
 Deposition of Samuel C. Greene made 29 November 1910. 
 Greene, Frank L. Descendants of Joseph Henry Greene of Westerly, R.I. Albany: Munsell, 1894.
  Hall, Caroline Edith.  Unpublished Cemetery Records in Oswego
County.  DAR, 1934/35.  (LDS microfilm # 0860316)
 NY.  Oswego Co.  Deeds, v. R, p. 298-299.
 NY.  Oswego Co. Surrogate Ct.  Final Decree, dated 22 September 1922.
 NY.  Oswego Co.  Surrogate Ct. Greene vs. Wilcox, 1864 papers.
 NY.  Oswego Co.  Surrogate Ct.  Will,  bk. 10, p. 227.
 Notebook of Mrs. Abigail (Northup) (Greene) Wilcox dated 1842.
 RI. Washington Co. Charlestown Town Records,   p. 268-320.
 U.S. Pension Rolls, #W.21214.  (LDS microfilm #1971124).


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