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Edward F. Green. One of the most interesting citizens of Kansas lives at Arkansas City in the person of Edward F. Green. Mr. Green had known Kansas as a resident upwards of half a century. He came out to the state in 1869. His life’s activities have been chiefly identified with agriculture and with the farming interests. However, he was trained and educated as a lawyer and admitted to practice at Ottawa, Illinois, in the winter of 1864, but never followed that profession. He devoted his attention to farming and stock raising in Kansas, at which he was fairly successful. He had the point of view not only of the farmer, but also of the man of affairs, one who is able to look broadly at the interests concerning his own class, and it was this breadth of mind which had brought him at different times into more than local prominence.
Mr. Green was born at Ottawa, Illinois, July 14, 1842. His people were among the pioneers of that fine old Northern Illinois city. His American ancestry goes back to England and to the times of the Pilgrim immigration in the Mayflower. Through his mother he is connected with the Gen. Israel Putnam family. Mr. Green’s grandfather was Robert Green, an old New Englander.
Henry Green, father of Edward F., was born at Westmoreland, New Hampshire, in 1804, grew up and married in his native state, was a school teacher in early life, and for a time conducted a cooper’s shop. He had a genius for mechanics and was an inventor of no mean ability. About 1835 he moved west and settled at Ottawa, Illinois, which was then hardly shown on the map of that state. He acquired a tract of farm land, part of which had since been incorporated into the City of Ottawa. At Ottawa he built the first hotel, and this afforded a place of entertainment for the travelers along the old stage line. His inventive ability expressed itself in the evolution of the first mowing machine ever used in the West. He had served as a fifer in the state militia of both New Hampshire and Illinois, and politically was a whig and subsequently a republican. Henry Green died at Ottawa, Illinois, in 1860, before the Civil war broke out. He married Alma Works, who was born in the vicinity of Westmoreland, New Hampshire, in 1809 and died near Arkansas City, Kansas, in 1896. Edward F. Green was the youngest of their five children. Mary Putnam, who died in Chicago in 1914, married Doctor Blount, a physician. Doctor Blount was a regimental surgeon in the Union army. Charles Henry was a farmer, and was living retired at Ottawa, Illinois, when he died in 1907. Martha E. had never married and lives with her brother in Arkansas City. William went out to Kansas with his brother in 1869, was a farmer near Arkansas City and died there in 1909.
Edward F. Green grew up in a community of sterling people and saw much of the early life and times of Northern Illinois before that district was made a network of railroads and great industries. He attended the public schools of Ottawa and was one of the first graduates of the high school in 1856. His higher education was acquired in Oberlin College, Ohio, where he spent two years. Leaving college in 1858 he pursued a course of law studies, and in 1864 was admitted to the bar. In that year he went out to Montana, where gold had been discovered shortly before, and had varied experiences in that turbulent section of the Northwest. He crossed the plains on the western trip and on the return floated down the Missouri River in row boats. In the fall of 1866 he returned to Ottawa and from there again set out on his travels, visiting Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas and Texas. In Texas he taught a colored school in the backwoods for two terms.
After another visit to his old home at Ottawa, Mr. Green came to Kansas in 1869 and at that date located on his present farm in Creswell Township of Cowley County. He preempted 160 acres, and with that as a nucleus he and his brother gradually developed their holdings until the farm now contains 760 acres, now under the joint ownership of Mr. Green and his sister, Martha E. Green. It is located along the Walnut River, 3½ miles northeast of Arkansas River, and contains some of the richest and most fertile soil in Southern Kansas. It is primarily conducted as a stock farm.
Mr. Green was township clerk and school director in Creswell Township and also served as justice of the peace. He is a member of the Pleasant Valley Grange, of the Farmers’ Union, the American Society of Equity, of the Fraternal Order of American Farmers, the Grain Growers’ Association, of which he was one of the organizers, the Farmers’ Alliance, and is a member of the Kansas State Historical Society. In Arkansas City he takes part in the Commercial Club. For thirty years he was a stockholder in the Co-operative Store in Pleasant Valley Township. He was also identified with the Alliance Exchange at Winfield, Kansas. Mr. Green had never married.
His political career had been one of exceptional interest. He would hardly admit of any political classification except as a populist. He was one of the originators of populism in his section of the state. That economic and political program first gained hold in Cowley County in 1889, and the first populist convention there was called by Mr. Green, the late Hon. Benjamin Clover, and Henry Vincent. The populistic propaganda had rapid growth, both in Cowley County and elsewhere, since in 1890 the party carried the entire State of Kansas. In 1892, and again in 1900, Mr. Green was elected a member of the Legislature, both times on the populist ticket. He served in the sessions of 1893 and 1901, and was a member of the general judiciary committee and other important committees. In 1893 he introduced the first bill for indeterminate sentence of prisoners, a bill that failed of passage then, but like other populistic suggestions was merely far in advance of its time, since it is now a law not only in Kansas, but in most other progressive states.
In the Kansas Legislature of 1893 Mr. Green introduced twenty-one bills, two of which were passed and became laws. One of these was the first corrupt practice act introduced in any Legislature and forbidding the procuring of votes by bribery. This had been followed by similar laws in all the states since then. George Douglass, speaker of the republican House, was the author of the bill and gave Mr. Green the privilege of introducing it in the populist House, which he did, and succeeded in getting it passed long before similar action was taken in the republican House. The other bill was what is known as the anti-gold clause contract and made all mortgages and obligations when not discharged by legal tender notes, payable in gold or silver coins. This saved the people the necessity of buying gold, at the heavy premium then prevailing, with which to pay their debts. One of his bills that failed to pass at that session, but which now finds favor with nearly all state officials, was the state fire insurance at cost. Still another bill introduced by Mr. Green, which was defeated, but had since been adopted by nearly all of the states, provided for convict labor on the roads.
In the session of 1901 Mr. Green introduced a bill for the dispensing of intoxicating liquors by the state at cost. It was defeated, but created much comment. At the same session he introduced bills providing for local self government; providing for local option in taxation, and an anti-lottery bill. They were all defeated, but the last named had since been adopted by all the states.