Biography of William Green

William Green. A Topeka merchant whose name has become synonymous in that city with the highest quality of wares and the most reliable methods of merchandising, William Green came to Kansas in 1885 from Green County, Wisconsin. For more than thirty years he has been identified with the material progress of Topeka and his name would undoubtedly be considered among the first mentioned as foremost citizens.

A native of England he was born in Derbyshire on November 17, 1844. When he was about six years of age, in 1851, his parents Joseph and Ruth (Cooper) Green left their English farm and emigrated to America. The ship Florida, a sailing vessel, brought them over in thirty days. Going to Green County, Wisconsin, Joseph Green was a farmer there a few years, and afterwards operated a water power flouring mill at Dayton, Wisconsin, where both he and his wife died.

Reared on a Wisconsin farm, and in his father’s mill, William Green had limited opportunities for an education. When he was about nineteen years of age his loyalty to his adopted country was put to the test and he enlisted March 31, 1864, in Company C of the Thirty-seventh Wisconsin Infantry. He served with that regiment until the close of the war. Going out as a private and mustered in as eighth corporal, he went through the five grades of sergeant, was promoted to second lieutenant, and was finally discharged in September, 1865, as first lieutenant. He went to the front at Cold Harbor, Virginia, in June and on the seventeenth of that month got his baptism of fire. In the engagement which followed his command was repulsed in a charge from the enemy, and on the following day the charge was successfully repeated. His entire service was in the Army of the Potomac. On July 30, 1864, he participated in the blowing up of the fort in front of Petersburg. He was at Hutcher’s Run and numerous minor engagements, including the defense of Fort Steadman on March 25, 1865. On April 2, 1865, he was in his last engagement, the capture of Petersburg, the surrender of Appomattox occurring only a few days later.

Returning to Wisconsin after the war on April 1, 1866, Mr. Green opened a general stock of merchandise at Moscow, but a year later became associated with his father in merchandising at Dayton. He finally purchased his father’s interests and eventually moved his store to Albany.

Thus it was with a record of nearly twenty years of successive business in Wisconsin that Mr. Green came to Kansas in 1885. At Topeka he resumed business as a retail grocery merchant, and has steadily conducted one of the best stocks and best organized grocery houses of the city for more than thirty years.

He has been a member of the Topeka Commercial Club since it was organized. To many people in Topeka his name suggests valuable public service. For many years he was a member of the city council, and some years ago, without solicitation on his part he was nominated and elected mayor of the city. His administration of three years meant much in the way of public improvement and the progress of Topeka in all departments. Politically he is an independent republican and official honors have come to him without the manifestation of any desire on his part, beyond that of doing his duty as a citizen. While in Wisconsin Mr. Green passed the chairs of the Blue Lodge and in Kansas has attained the thirty-third and supreme degree in Scottish Rite Masonry. He has also served as eminent commander of Topeka Commandery No. 5 of the Knights Templar. He is a member of the First Congregational Church.

In November, 1868, a few years after he returned from the war, Mr. Green married Sarah Dalrymple, Mrs. Green died in 1904. She was the mother of four sons: Arthur, who died at the age of 2½ years; John J., a traveling salesman, who married Bessie Miller and has one daughter; Albert L. S., a partner with his father in the grocery business at Topeka, who has two daughters by his marriage to Ada Pulley; and William Hartley, who is unmarried and makes his home in Topeka.


Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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