My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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HON. JOHN W. GREENE, M.D., one of the oldest practicing physicians of Greene County, has been a resident of Fairfield since his birth, which occurred February 24, 1825, in Bath Township, and he has been actively engaged in the practice of his profession since 1845, a period of forty-five years. He started out well equipped for the duties of his profession, as his father, Dr. Randolph R. Greene, was likewise a physician and surgeon, and the first physician of Fairfield, locating there when it first began to assume the proportions of a town.

George Greene, the grandfather, an Englishman by birth, was left an orphan early in life with the care of two sisters. At the age of thirteen years having heard much of the New World, he in 1757-58, resolved to seek his fortunes there. Being without means he concealed himself in the hold of a ship about to sail for Baltimore and was not discovered until the vessel was out at sea three days. When the vessel landed at Baltimore he was put up at auction, in order that his time might be sold for a period long enough to pay for his passage. It was purchased by one John Derth, who was a cousin of Grandfather Edward Derth, who took him to his house and finding commendable qualities in the boy adopted him into his family. A few years later young Greene married Mary, the daughter of his benefactor, by whom he had eight children, one of whom, Randolph R. Greene, became the father of the subject of this sketch.

Randolph Greene was born in Pennsylvania in 1787. He removed to Fleming County, Ky., when a boy with his father and was there reared to manhood, spending his early life among the pioneer scenes of the Blue Grass State. His brother, Henry Greene, was also a physician and with him he learned the first principles of the profession. In early manhood he came to Warren County, this State, where he was married, but later he removed to Logan County, and located at a point on Macajack Creek. He practiced there until 1820, and was the first practicing physician in that region. He became widely known throughout the country around and was not only a prominent physician, but a citizen held in high repute. He filled various local offices and was active in politics, a member of the old Whig party and a warm admirer of Henry Clay. He contracted cholera while attending railroad employes along the Mad River Lake Erie Railroad, from the effects of which he died in 1849.

The mother of our subject bore the maiden name of Priscilla Derth. She was born in Brownsburg, Pa. in 1795, and was the daughter of Edward Derth, a substantial Pennsylvania farmer, living on the Allegheny River. In 1798, after Wayne’s treaty with the Indians, Grandfather Derth loaded his family and worldly goods on a flatboat and proceeded down the Ohio River to Cincinnati. He there landed and followed Wayne’s military road to Clear Creek and to a point near the present site of Franklin, Warren County, this State. There he purchased wild land to the extent of fourteen hundred acres. This was the year prior to the Simms land purchase. Grandfather Derth settled in a wild region remote from civilization, being one of the earliest pioneers of the county, and subsequently he assisted in laying out the town of Franklin. About 1810 he carried the chain for a cemetery and selected a family lot. He occupied his place in this in 1816. His wife, Elizabeth, survived him many years, and in 1837 was laid by his side as also were two of her sons. In 1871 a short line railroad was built through the old burying ground and our subject in connection with other relatives purchased a lot on a hill in that vicinity and to it removed the remains of his parents and brothers, and erected a beautiful marble shaft to their memory which bore the following inscription “Edward and Elizabeth Derth with their sons, Basil, James E., Asael, Isaac, Samuel, and daughter Priscilla, landed in Cincinnati from Pennsylvania on the 16th of April, 1798, when it was a village of less than thirty houses; thence threaded their way along Wayne’s Military Road to the waters of Clear Creek and struck their tents in that vicinity before Ohio became a State or Warren County had an organization. The first and many subsequent elections for what are now Franklin and Clear Creek Townships, were held at their house. In 1827, the remains of the father and two sons were removed from the present site of the Miami Canal and they, in 1871, with their friends who had followed, were again removed to provide space for railroad facilities. Their descendants have now selected for them a beautiful spot in the cemetery of Springboro, Warren County, Ohio, adjacent to the surroundings of their busy life, as a suitable retreat from further encroachments incident to the wants of commerce and travel for their last long repose.” Grandfather Derst in religious belief was a Methodist, as was also his wife.

The mother of our subject was taken by her parents to Ohio when a child of three years. She was reared to womanhood on the frontier and experienced her full share of pioneer life, bearing cheerfully with her husband its privations and hardships. She was a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and departed this life in 1846. The parental household was completed by the birth of seven children: Elizabeth, the eldest living, married a Mr. Retter, who is now deceased, and she resides in Dayton; Roetta, Mrs. Willis, died in Berrien County, Mich, in 1885; Jane died when a child of three years; Mary, Mrs. J. D. Bacon, is a widow and resides with her daughter in Dayton; two children died in infancy.

The subject of this notice spent his early years in a comparatively uneventful manner under the home roof and completed his studies under the primitive methods of instruction and in a log school-house with slab benches, puncheon floor, greased paper for window panes and chimney built outside of earth and sticks. He attended school from three to five months in the year and spent the balance of his time at work on the farm. Later he pursued his studies at a select school. At the age of eighteen years he began the study of medicine under the instruction of his father, taking it up readily as he was already familiar with the treatment of ordinary diseases, and had spent much time in his father’s office.

In the fall of 1844 Dr. Greene entered the Ohio Medical College at Cincinnati and during the summer of 1845 rode with his father, assisting him in his practice. In the fall he returned to the college, from which he was graduated in 1846. He commenced the practice of his profession with his father and remained with him until the death of the latter, in 1849. He then went on with his father’s practice, becoming very successful, building up a large patronage and acquiring a competence. While there is now no necessity for further exertion, he still attends his old patients who are reluctant to give him up.

Dr. Greene has a very fine home in Fairfield and owns considerable land, having one farm on the Xenia, Pike, another on the Dayton road, besides two farms in Indiana. From these sources he is in the enjoyment of a handsome income. Over forty-one years ago, January 31, 1849, he was joined in wedlock with Miss Celenira J. Guthridge, the wedding taking place at the old Ewing House in Xenia. Mrs. Greene was born August 31,1827, in Westville, Champaign County, this State, and is the daughter of Rev. John Guthridge, a minister of the Baptist Church; a Kentuckian by birth and a man of note in his community. He came to Ohio probably about 1805, and first settled in Champaign County and later moving near Fairfield where he spent the remainder of his days. The mother of Mrs. Greene bore the maiden name of Margaret Parkinson, and she is now deceased.

Mrs. Greene received a good education and for some time prior to her marriage followed the profession of a teacher. There were born of this union three children, the eldest of whom, Duff W., following the profession of his father, is also an occulist and aurist, and is in the enjoyment of a lucrative practice, being located at Dayton. He was graduated from the Ohio Medical College in the class of 1876 and spent the summer of 1888 in Europe, pursuing his studies mostly in Berlin and Vienna. The only daughter, Bertha S., died in 1882, when an interesting young lady of twenty-two years. John R. died when a child of nine months.

Although the duties of his profession have required his close attention, the Doctor has still found time to interest himself in local politics and in 1877 was elected to the State Legislature and re-elected in 1879. He thus served two terms and made his influence sensibly felt at the State Capitol, being on various important committees. He has likewise served as a member of the Village Council and Township Treasurer. Socially he belongs to the lodge of Ancient Free, and Accepted Masons at Osborn. He was given the Royal Arch degree at Dayton and also belongs to the Commandery at that place. In his younger years he was a Whig, but upon the abandonment of the old party, gave his cordial indorsement to Republican principles. He is prominently connected with the State and County medical societies. His experience, education and high principles which have characterized all his dealings with his fellow-men have gained him the unqualified esteem of the community at large.

A lithographic portrait* of Mr. Greene is shown on another page.

*Portrait was included in the original printed volume.

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This family biography is one of the many biographies included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890. 

View additional Greene County, Ohio family biographies here: Greene County, Ohio Biographies

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