Buena Vista County, IA
USGenWeb Project

Extracted from:  Wegerslev, C. H. and Thomas Walpole. 
 Past and Present of Buena Vista County, Iowa
Chicago:  S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909, p. 288-93.

Transcribed by Paul Nagy

Biography of  Rufus Greene, Jr.

Rufus Greene, Jr., is one of the successful business men and valued citizens of Buena Vista county, who for many years was identified with agricultural pursuits but is now living retired in Marathon.  His birth occurred in Carroll, Chautauqua county, New York, June 4, 1830, his parents being Rufus and Mary Shelton (Boltwood) Greene.  His ancestry can be traced back to Timothy Greene, Sr., his great-grandfather, who was probably born about the year 1700, but little can be ascertained concerning his parents or lineage.  The eminent genealogist, James Savage, the author of a genealogical dictionary of the first settlers of New England in four volumes, on which he expended twenty years' labor, says:  "There were in the New England colonies before 1700 A. D., eighty persons by the name of Greene, who may be regarded as the founders of the families."  Therefore to find the father of Timothy Greene, Sr., is no easy task.  The Christian name Timothy figures conspicuously on family records, being found in every generation of the descendants of Timothy Greene, Sr., to the present time and in some generations several bear that name.  The fondness for the name looks as though it had been in the family before A. D. 1723, and that the family name was only continued when it was given to Timothy Greene, Sr.  Though there is no official record to be found, there are various evidences to indicate that Timothy Greene, Sr., was a soldier of the French and Indian war, that he was in the service for quite a length of time and that he was employed as a scout during a portion of this service.  When the Revolutionary war broke out he was past the age limit that would make him subject to military duty.  One of his neighbors, however, belonged to a company which was called out and lamented bitterly being compelled to go into the army, as he said, "to certain death," crying like a baby over his expected military service.  Timothy Greene listened to his weak complainings with great disgust and finally exclaimed:  "You coward, if you will take my team and do my haying I will take your musket and serve in your place.  I know the smell of gunpowder and am not afraid of it."  The neighbor replied that he would do this gladly and went to his home.  Timothy Greene, Sr., and his son were actively engaged in the battles which preceded the surrender of Burgoyne.  The father returned from the campaign late in the fall when the ground was frozen and covered with snow but not a swath of his hay had been cut by his neighbor who had promised to take care of the crop and who had harvested his own crop in good condition.


Tradition says that Timothy Greene, Sr., was. a man of strong will, of great energy and persistency of character; that he was patriotic and that in troublous times no one was in doubt as to his position.  He was firm and consistent in his religious convictions and habits and gave freely in support of the church and in aid of every good object.  He has been described as tall, broad shouldered, erect, large boned, with large muscles and large joints and very muscular hands.  In fact he was a stalwart man, having not an ounce of adipose tissue and was of herculean strength.  Sometimes he would walk into a cooper shop where his grandsons were at work and, looking at a barrel just completed by them, he would say in sportive mood, "Boy, this is not good work;" and then without apparent effort he would tear off the hoop made of hickory.  By main force he could lift logs onto a sled where two men of ordinary strength would use skids and roll or slide the log on with handspikes.  Tradition also says that his wife, Emma Ellsworth, was a woman of strong and decided character, hopeful, cheerful, deeply religious, fond of her Bible and church and adorned with a meek and quiet spirit.  She was a relative of Chief Justice Ellsworth, being descended from Sergeant Jonas Ellsworth, who was born in England in 1629.  His name first appears on the town records of Windsor, Connecticut, in connection with his marriage, November 16, 1654, to Elizabeth Holcomb.  In 1665 he bought the property afterward known as the Chief Justice Ellsworth place in Windsor, Connecticut.  Sergeant Thomas Ellsworth, son of Sergeant Josiah Ellsworth, was born September 2, 1665, and his daughter, Eunice Ellsworth, born March 29, 1717, became the wife of Timothy Greene, their son, Timothy Greene, Jr., being born January 4, 1748.

From this line are descended the ancestors of our subject.  Another branch of the family included Captain Jonathan Ellsworth, who was born June 28, 1669, and was a brother of Sergeant Thomas Ellsworth.  His son, Captain David Ellsworth, was born August 3, 1709, and became the father of Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth, born April 29, 1745.  This shows that Emma Ellsworth was a first cousin of Captain David Ellsworth and a second cousin of Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth.  Timothy Greene, Jr., was also a second cousin of Chief Justice Ellsworth.  From every fact which can be gleamed regarding the Greene family it is shown that they were stanch, upright, patriotic and God fearing citizens.


Rufus Greene, Jr., whose name introduces this record, was given a good education in his youth and for five years was a teacher in the public schools of Chautauqua county, New York, after which he was elected to the office of town superintendent of schools in Carroll, New York.  He was also a trustee of the Universalist Society in Carroll, New York, and an influential resident of his community.  In 1871 he removed westward to Pocahontas county, Iowa, and located on the farm of Thornton, Greene & Company, comprising nineteen hundred and twenty acres, with its buildings on section 18, Marshall township, then called North Dover.  As his outlook on that farm was quite discouraging, Rufus Greene that fall selected a homestead of one hundred and sixty acres on section 30, which was beyond the railroad limits and took up his abode there in the spring of 1873.  He improved and occupied this farm until 1892, when he removed to Marathon and has since lived retired.  During the first few years of his residence in Iowa there were many discouraging things.  The grasshoppers devastated the country for about three years and as no crops were raised there was little money in circulation and times were very hard.  Mr. Greene would have sold all of his interests in the county at that time for fifty cents on the dollar could he have secured a purchaser, but as the years passed and the county improved his holdings became very valuable.  When the property of Thornton and Greene was divided Mr. Greene came into possession of nine hundred and sixty acres of valuable land in Buena Vista and Pocahontas counties, becoming one of the extensive landowners of this part of the state.  He now owns land in California.


Mr. Greene was married in 1857 to Miss Kate Lois Gould, a daughter of John Deoth and Hannah (Buffam) Gould, of Erie, New York, who arrived in Pocahontas county, Iowa, in 1871.  In 1906 he was called upon to mourn the loss of his wife, who died on the 18th of December of that year.  They had two children, both born in Chautauqua county, New York, but the younger, Mary H., died in 1898 at the age of thirty-one years.  The son, Rufus Erwin, born in 1865, married Frances Jane Kibble, a native of England.  For a time he engaged in teaching and farming in Pocahontas county, but in 1895 removed to Sioux Rapids and is now engaged in farming in Kansas.


In his political views Rufus Greene, Jr., is a stalwart republican, while his religious faith is indicated by his membership in the Universalist church.  Fraternally he is connected with the Masons at Marathon.  He is a tall and stalwart man, six feet in height.  In physical makeup he could answer the description of his great-grandfather, Timothy Greene, Sr.  His life has been well spent and he enjoys the unqualified confidence of his fellowmen.  He has seen the wild unbroken prairies of the northwest converted into fertile fields while groves have been planted, schools established and churches built.  Through his labor he has aided in laying the foundation of progressive citizenship here and has been known as the enemy of every evil and the advocate of all substantial reforms.  He is unassuming, sincere, sympathetic and upright, and his life influence during all these years has been that of a cultivated mind and pure character.  While he labored diligently for many years, he is now enabled to rest in the evening of life, enjoying well merited retirement from labor.  Honorable in every relation, he commands in unusual degree the respect and good will of those who know him.