Maj General Nathanael Greene

One time while I was visiting my grandma at her farmhouse in Kansas, she showed me a bookcase full of old books. First she gave me a book she liked when she was little. It was called The Trail of the Lonesome Pine. I looked it up recently and saw online that this was turned into a movie at some point….I think with Henry Fonda. I read the book and liked it. Afterwards, she took me to the bookcase again. She told me that she had a special book. She pulled it off the shelf and gave it to me to keep. She told me it was about my ancestor.

I looked at the book. It was an old yellow book with yellow pages. The first pages were a map of Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, and South Carolina. It appeared to be a map about the Revolutionary War and showed images of Loyalists and Revolutionaries.

The book was called The Sound of Chariots. It was written by Helen Topping Miller. I still have this book to this day. I keep it in my own bookcase and showed it to my own children recently. My grandmother passed away sadly 5 years ago in Topeka, Kansas.

Her name was Ruth Margaret Green. She was married to Otis Patterson, a retiree of the U.S. Postal Service and WW2 vet. He was a crew chief for bomber mechanics at Wendling AFB in England. Basically, the planes flew in from bombing Europe and it was his job and his men’s jobs to repair the planes overnight and then they would fly out again in the morning for other bombing raids. He only flew over Europe once at the end of the war to see what Dresden looked like.

Grandma said we were related, though not directly, to a guy in this book called Nathanael Greene. For years, I truly did not understand much about this guy. He is considered to be one of the least known generals of the Revolutionary War, probably because he passed away just years afterwards in Georgia. He was a Maj General who led several battles in the south. He is considered a strategic leader of the war and a close personal friend of George Washington. From what I could read, he would attack and retreat over and over again against Lord Cornwallis forcing him up north to Yorktown where George Washington and his Army swooped in and defeated the British, forcing a surrender and final end to the war. Supposedly, Greene was a very smart guy. Nathanael Greene is also connected with the trial of Benedict Arnold and with the establishment of Westpoint Military Academy.

Grandma belonged to the Order of the Eastern Star and Grandpa was a Freemason. She also worked with Job’s Daughters. Grandma researched our background and said she tried to join Daughters of the Revolution but could not prove direct lineage.

This is what I know from Grandma. Her father’s name was Jesse Dale Green. Her grandfather’s name was Ira Weston Green. He lived during the late 1800s. That’s as far back as I can trace on this side.

From Nathanael Greene on Ancestry.com and other online websites, I traced down to his grandson, Nathanael S. Greene who lived from 1809 to 1899 in Bristol County, Rhode Island. On his tombstone reads the names of two wives and perhaps he had a total of three wives. The first wife listed on the tombstone is Sarah A. Munro from 1808 to 1832. The second wife listed on the tombstone is Lydia T. Cory from 1812-1880. From there the trail grows cold but there is one website online, a registry from St. Michael’s Church in Bristol County, R.I. The registry shows marriages, births, and deaths of parishioners. Under deaths, Sarah Munro is listed in 1832 as well as a son of Nathan Greene in 1843 in January and another unlisted child in 1843 in March. For births, it shows two entries for May 24, 1837. Apparently, these were twin boys named George William Greene and Francis Stanley Greene. It is not clear which woman is the mother of these two listed.

So from about 1837 to the late 1800s, there is an unexplained gap. I can’t seem to find out what happened to George William Greene or Francis Stanley Greene…..although I did find some records related to the Civil War military registry for a George William Greene but it is not clear if this is the same person.

Bottom line, I can’t find a definitive connection. I want to believe what my Grandma told me long ago but there’s a 60 year gap in the information provided. If we are related at all, it is probably either very, very indirectly or perhaps, illegitimately. It is hard to tell. Also, it is not clear what happened to all the children of the other wives listed on the tombstone for Nathanael S. Greene, the grandson of Nathanael Greene.

Some day, I hope to visit the birthplace of Nathanael Greene and find out more information possibly. Maybe I’ll bring that old book with me too. To this day, there are many counties in the United States that are named Greene or Green County and supposedly this traces back to the Maj General. For example, in Missouri across the border from here, is a Greene County where Springfield is located.

I looked online recently and saw that there are not a lot of statues of Nathanael Greene but one was involved with some controversy back in June or July of this year. I can understand why. From what I read, he may have had a plantation shortly after the war but then died soon afterwards. The Founding Fathers were definitely far from perfect role models for generations going forward. Yet, without the bravery, courage, fortitude, resilience, and brilliant military maneuverings of these men and women……we could still be a colony with restricted freedoms, rights, and privileges. Some, nowadays, may shy away from being affiliated with a person like this. I am happy to think that possibly somehow we could be related to this man they call “the strategist of the Revolutionary War.”

Maybe we are related. I hope. Some day, I ‘ll visit Rhode Island and maybe I can learn more.

Noel a Paris

They decided on the trip together. Usually they always spent Christmas with family but this year they wanted to try something different. Christmas was usually spent listening to Aunt Gabby’s cat stories or watching the family open presents one by one slowly. Mom usually made a big buffet and Dad usually always got a hunting gift. The grandkids would run around the house and someone would setup Christmas music on the TV. There would be hugs and family photos with ugly Christmas sweaters or Grinch pajamas sets. Generally, there would be some games…board games, card games, gingerbread house competitions and such. It was always great fun but also a little awkward at times with the big family reunion. There were lulls in conversation or points where one had to be tactful and polite, particularly in regards to political topics. And, hectic…it could be hectic too as the family packed up all the presents in the car. She’d fuss over everything especially the smashed bows on the presents or whether the tree lights should be left on while they were away. She’d always be the last to the car. The kids would be crowded together and arguing, nit-picking each other. He’d get frustrated and beep the horn.

Yeah.

Christmas with family…..

This year would be different. They talked about this months ago when she had received a great price deal on roundtrip tickets. She had stared at her monitor at her sales cubicle. She studied the advertisement photo of a beautiful lit-up Eiffel Tower on a starry night. Come spend Noel a Paris, the breath-taking City of Lights…that’s what the picture caption read. Usually she skipped these promo ads but this one for some reason had caught her eye.

It had taken some convincing for him. A couple of dinners together at night. She approached the subject each time after their kids had excused themselves from dinner. She talked to him while cleaning up dinner plates and putting food back in the fridge. Eventually, with some reluctance, he was on board too. It was probably the cheap airfare price that did it as he was an accountant by profession and nature, preferring to limit extravagant spending.

The day they left the kids at Grandma’s, it snowed a heck of a lot. The kids wished them a great trip. They hugged each one and told them to be good. He struggled to get the car through the growing snowdrifts and she watched the kids with her parents through her rear view side mirror on the passenger side until they were too far away in the distance.

The ride to the airport was blustery and cold. He had to keep the wipers and heat going on high mode. In comparison, the climate in Paris outside the terminal after their excruciatingly long flight was sunny and much less calamitous.

They managed to get to the hotel through the kindness of Parisian pedestrians and a taxi driver that pointed the way in English. Their understanding of the local language was beginner level at best but they did manage “merci” and “bonjour” from time to time.

They stayed at a four story hotel off the Champs Elysee and close to the St. Antoine de Exupery street where she’d read the couture shops were located. They ate French croissants for breakfast and wandered the streets of Paris for a day or two. They visited art museums and strolled past trendy boutiques for fashion. They went up the Eiffel Tower together and took many beautiful pictures of all of gorgeous Paris, the statues, the buildings, the homes, and the people.

It was super fantastic until Christmas eve around five o’clock. Suddenly the bustling streets and walkways of Paris were very quiet and empty. Everything had shut down…the shops, the restaurants, and all the other businesses. They walked together in the growing darkness on the still streets. They passed many brightly lit homes. There were people greeting each other happily on front steps with packages. Inside some cheery and warm homes, they could see people happily gathered in comraderie. They began to feel homesick and that feeling grew as they ate cheeseburgers at Planet Hollywood, the only place in Paris still open. They wandered back thoughtfully to their hotel room. They each got their small gift for one another. They sat on the bed and exchanged them. It was nice but the moment ended quickly and they looked around the room wandering what to do next. They ended up watching TV together and went to bed early. As they changed into pajamas, he looked at her and said, “ I kinda miss Aunt Gabby’s cat stories..”.

She smiled, relieved he felt the same way she did in that moment. She laughed, “Yeah, I miss them all too…especially the kids. I miss them so much tonight. Christmas isn’t the same without them….without family.”

They smiled and sat on the bed together. They called back home to Grandma’s and were happy when one of the cousin’s picked up the line. They spent a good while wishing the bustling and noisy household at Grandma’s a very Merry Christmas.

And that was the last time they skipped out on family time at Christmas.

The Christmas Gift

In college back in the late 90s, I worked at a large call center near the downtown shopping district and river. The call center was a large grey building with many small cubicles and monitors. There must have been around 200 telemarketers working there. The walls were covered with motivational posters and there were dry erase boards at the end of every aisle gauging sales performance of each worker group.

The entry level employees were hired at Christmas time for the holiday season of October, November, and December. Basically, if you performed well and made it through the holiday season, you would be hired on from the temp agency to work full-time at the higher levels of the call center. The second level was a phone repair line and the tiers above that were various cold calling projects.

The first level was an easy and fun job. Back then, we didn’t have a lot of online businesses and their websites. So, people would call us to place their Christmas orders in various catalogues that were sent to them in the mail. So the job went like this. A person would call in. You greet them and check their personal info as well as what catalogue they wanted to order from. Then together you flip through the catalogue and help them shop. Fun, right?! Who doesn’t like to shop??

Once they decided what they wanted, you placed the order on a computer (data entry stuff). Then you take their payment and process it. In the end, you wish them Happy Holidays and they hang up happy that their Christmas shopping is done.

A lot of times, you could also talk to the customers about their day or their job or home. Some were from NYC, some from California, some from Florida, etc. etc. You were also expected and encouraged to try to pitch a sale or two to the customer, recommending other items they might be interested in.

Around late October, all the telemarketers for this department were called together for a staff meeting to discuss ways to improve sales for the company. A large table was brought out displaying prizes you could receive for getting top sales.

I was in my second or third year of college and dating a ROTC cadet. On the prize table was a DVD set of military movies including Saving Private Ryan, a popular movie my boyfriend really liked.

I worked extra hard that Christmas season trying to get that DVD set. I took on more shifts and tried to do a couple of sales on each call. I really wanted to be a top performer just to get that DVD set and I told a couple of people including my supervisor that I intended to win that item from the table to give my boyfriend who was joining the Army.

Weeks and weeks of hard work and college went by. One day two days before Christmas, I walked into work and the prize table was gone. We were called together for a staff meeting. It was announced that the winners received their items they won from the table due to top sales performance. They thanked us for our hard work and wished us a Merry Christmas. The meeting was over and we got back to work.

I felt pretty down about it. I asked a couple of coworkers if they won and they said no too. We worked a long eight hour shift that day. I clocked out and bundled up in my coat and scarf to trudge out in the snow in the parking lot to my car.

It was dark outside and cold. I could see the steam from my breath as I walked out to my old Nissan Altima. There was someone standing by the back of my car. I recognized who it was. My supervisor was standing there. He was an older guy, good-looking and about 28 years old. He was from the coast, maybe Jersey or something like that cause he had an accent.

Anyway, I walked up to him and smiled but shivered some in the cold. I was curious why he was there.

He said, “ You’re a good kid. I know you worked hard this season and wanted this. Tell your boyfriend thank you for his service and Merry Christmas.”

He handed me a bag and started walking away in the snow. I looked in the bag and it was the DVD set. I looked up at him walking away. I said, “ I didn’t really win this, did I?”

He turned and looked at the building and he said, “ Nobody ever wins. They set that table out every year just to drive up sales.”

With that, he turned and kept walking. I hollered, “Thanks and Merry Christmas.” I had realized with a smile that somehow he had snuck the item off the table without others seeing. He lifted his hand to say goodbye and I got in my car and drove to my boyfriend’s apartment. He was pretty happy about the gift and I remember that we had a good Christmas that year.

The Pig Farmer Who Became Rich

I was born in 1978. In the early 80s, I remember being a little girl and going out to western Kansas to visit my uncle and his family on the farm. It was a small farm. I’m not sure what kind of farm it was. I think he might have been a pig farmer. A year or so later, we learned that my uncle had sold the farm. He had cashed in everything to start a business. He said it was a “water filtration business.” He called it the wave of the future.

I remember folks being a little doubtful about this new business idea. After all, it was the 1980s and everyone drank water out of the tap. We reasoned why would someone pay extra money for more expensive water when they could get it practically free out of the tap?

He started the business operation anyway. As the years went by, we would go to visit their family from time to time and I remember seeing his business offices and setup. He had these bizarre looking things he called “water coolers.” He would fill them with blue jugs of water he filtered. He sold them to area businesses for their employees to drink out of. I was a kid. I didn’t pay much more attention to the business other than that.

There were quite a few naysayers as the years progressed and people that thought his business would fail. He kept at it though, year after year, and the small business slowly grew. He added another side to the business of setting up water softeners in people’s homes too. I remember my mom and dad got one he installed. I remember the first shower I had with the softened water and realizing it made my hair so soft.

It was about 1990 when the first bottles of filtered water started showing up at the local convenient stores. I remember looking at them with my friends when I was a kid. We all said, “Nobody is going to buy that!” Why would you buy that when you can just drink out of the tap!”

Fast forward now to 2020 and practically everyone around the world drinks filtered water and the convenient stores are stocked high with filtered water bottles. And my uncle, the one that a lot of people doubted and said wouldn’t make it…….

Well, he’s the wealthiest man I know.

Morale of the story: If you got a vision or idea…don’t listen to the naysayers or doubters. Keep trying. Maybe you got an invention, or a business idea, or a piece of art, or music, or writing……maybe you got a film idea, etc. Keep trying.

Who knows…..your idea might change the world.

You might succeed or you might fall flat on your face and fail miserably. But, at least you were brave enough to dare. Brave enough to try. And there are a whole lot of people out there that cannot say they even tried. People who live with regrets.

Try. Just try.