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Portrait and Biographical Album of Benton County, Iowa
Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887

WILLIAM GREENLEE, a retired farmer, of Belle Plaine, and a pioneer of Iowa of 1845, was born in Western Virginia, Nov. 28, 1812, his parents being William and Susan (Ferguson) Greenlee, natives of Maryland.

Our subject was reared a farmer, and was married near Troy, Miami Co., Ohio, Sept. 13, 1835, to Miss Esther Furnas. Mrs. Greenlee is a native of Ohio, being born near Troy, Miami County, Sept. 21, 1818. Her parents were from South Carolina and of English descent.

Mr. Greenlee was engaged in farming in Ohio till 1845, in which year he emigrated to Iowa, accompanied by his wife and seven children. He was so unfortunate as to be taken ill with typhoid fever on the eve of their departure, and they were compelled to postpone starting for some weeks, and finally, when they did set out, Mr. Greenlee had to be carried on a bed. They had two teams, one of which Mrs. Greenlee drove and a hired man the other. When only a few days on the journey Mr. Greenlee had a relapse, and was brought very low; and to make matters still worse, the hired man was also taken down with the fever, Mrs. Greenlee, like Mr. Tapley, when his friend Chuzzlewit lay at the point of death in the poisonous atmosphere of "Eden," found an opportunity for coming out strong. She had the responsibility of two sick men and seven small children, the oldest being a girl only twelve years of age. Driving one team while the other followed, she led the way across a sparsely settled country a distance of several hundred miles. After overcoming obstacles which were almost insurmountable, and enduring much hardship, they arrived in the fall at what is now Iowa City, then but a hamlet. Mr. Greenlee's health being much impaired, they were obliged to remain at that place till the following year, when they purchased a claim on section 1, in what is now Cono Township, Iowa County, where they made their home till September, 1885, when they removed to Belle Plaine. In 1850 Mr. Greenlee was appointed Indian Agent to remove the Musquaukee Indians from Eastern Iowa to Kansas, which he accomplished successfully in a few months.

Mr. and Mrs. Greenlee were blest with a large family, numbering thirteen children in all — eight sons and five daughters: Nancy A. is the wife of A. A. Talbot, and resides in Carroll City; Mary A. is the wife of C. C. Furnas, a banker in Belle Plaine; Robert married Belle White, was a soldier of the late war and a member of Co. G., 28th Iowa Vol. Inf.; he died Dec. 10, 1864, from wounds received at the battle of Winchester, while he was acting as Second Lieutenant; John died at the age of eight years; Rachel J. is the widow of Joseph Patty, and lives in Carroll City; Joseph died when he was three and a half years old; William R. was twice married, his first wife being Susanna Smith; his present wife being Jennie Miller, and he resides in Belle Plaine; Rufus died at the age of six years; Henry C. married Florence Clark and lives in Honey Creek; Columbus B. married Sarah Guinn and lives in Iowa Township; Sadie is the wife of John Stewart, of Belle Plaine; L. Edward resides at home; Florence is the wife of J. W. Rucker, of Belle Plaine. The seven first named were born in Ohio, and the others in this State.

Mr. Greenlee cast his first vote the Whig ticket, but has voted the Republican ticket since the organization of that party. He is a member of Hope Lodge, No. 175, A. F. & A. M. Mr. Greenlee has a fine farm of 280 acres situated on the county line between Benton and Iowa Counties and in the townships of Cono and Iowa. He and his wife have had a happy wedded life of over fifty years, celebrating their golden wedding Sept. 13, 1885, at which all the children were present but one.

Source Citation: "1887 Benton County, Iowa Biographies"  [database online]  Benton County IAGenWeb Project. <>
Original data: "Portrait and Biographical Album of Benton County, Iowa." Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887, p. 238-239.
Transcribed by: Sue Soden. Submitted to the Benton County IAGenWeb Project on March 26th, 2008. Copyright © 2008 The IAGenWeb Project.

Return to: 1887 Biography Index

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