WILLIAM M. GREENWELL, an intelligent and progressive citizen of Cooperstown, Brown county, lllinois, and a prosperous farmer, was born in Meade county, Kentucky, June 27, 1842.
His parents were George and Amanda (Rentfro) Greenwell, both natives of Kentucky, the former born in 1816, the latter in 1813. The father's grandparents came from Germany. His paternal grandfather was a well-to-do farmer in Kentucky, who died in middle life, leaving a widow and seven children, four sons and three daughters. George, the father of the subject of this sketch, had charge of the homestead farm for many years, and was married there. In the spring of 1846, he and his family removed to Brown county, Illinois; his brother William had preceded him in 1840, and had erected a gristmill on Crooked creek. This was for many years the only water-power mill nearer than Quincy, and did a large custom business, and could have been sold at one time for $10,000. George and his family made their home with this brother for about six weeks, when, having sold their homestead in Kentucky, the father and brothers bought eighty acres near Mount Sterling, on which there were good improvements, paying for the farm $800. They added to their original purchase from time to time, until they had 280 acres, which continued to be their permanent home, and on which the father still resides. Here the father lost his first wife, mother of the subject of this notice, who died in 1882, aged seventy years. They were the parents of ten children, five now living. They lost an infant son, and a daughter, Sarah J., at the age of twelve years. Mary E., unmarried lives at home; William M., of this sketch; Horace D., a successful farmer of Cooperstown township; Henry H. served six months in the army, in Kansas, where he was accidentally drowned, in 1862; Harriet A. married John G. Dennis, and died in 1872, aged twenty-two years, leaving one daughter, who lives with her grandfather; Amy I., wife of N. B. Cox, a prosperous farmer of Cooperstown township; Benjamin S. was a schoolteacher of high reputation, a self-educated man, and very enthusiastic in his work, whose early death was, no doubt, due to overwork; he went to California for his health, and taught while there; he came back home and died, at the age of twenty-eight; George F., the youngest, is at home, an invalid.
William M., whose name heads this sketch, was but a child when he accompanied his father to Brown county, Illinois, where his youth was spent. At the age of nineteen years, he volunteered his services to the Union, and enlisted in October, 1861, in the Tenth Illinois Cavalry, for three years. He served four years and three months, and was with his regiment most of the time. He entered the service as a private and came out as an Orderly.
Within two years after his return to civil life he was married, and after marriage settled on forty acres of land in Ripley township, which property he had bought while in the army, paying for it $1,350. Four years later, he sold this land for $2,150, and bought sixty-seven acres in Cooperstown township, on which he farmed for eight years. He then again sold out, disposing of his farm of 107 acres for $3,000, and buying his present place of 160 acres. Since then he has bought an additional eighty acres a mile and a half away, making, altogether, 240 acres which he now owns, all of which he is farming.
He was married on December 26, 1866, to Mary Ann Bates, an estimable lady and a native of Brown county, Illinois, where she was born in 1845. Her parents are William H. and Mary A. (Price) Bates, well-to-do and esteemed residents of Brown county. They have had eight children, seven now living: a son died in infancy; James, aged twenty-five, married Julia Six, and has one son; Oscar, aged twenty-one is at home, as are also all the rest,--William, aged nineteen; Lilly Pearl, sixteen; Amanda, twelve; Lettie, eight; and Laura, aged six.
Although a Republican in politics, he has been once elected as census enumerator, and once as assessor of a strongly Democratic township. In the discharge of his official duties, as in his private life, he has displayed superior ability and unimpeachable integrity. He is a member of the G. A. R., and belongs to Isaac McNeil Post at Ripley. He and his wife and two sons have been for a number of years earnest and useful members of the Christian Church, of which he is an Elder.
Aside from his highly respectable family relations, his father having been for many years a prominent resident of the State, he has gained for himself, by continued industry, upright dealing and uniform courtesy, both financial prosperity and the universal esteem of his fellow men.
Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois, Biographical Review Publishing Co., Chicago, 1892, pages 170-172.
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