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.

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