John and Rachel Green

During the early years of the 19th century, thousands of settlers made their way from the Eastern seaboard of our new republic into the newly-opened Northwest Territory. Many of the settlers made their journey in several stages, making stopovers of several years in intermediate areas such as the new states of Kentucky and Tennessee. My g-g-g-grandparents, John Green and his wife Rachel Collier, were among these migrants, starting their journey somewhere in Virginia, stopping off in Kentucky for awhile, then settling in Washington county, Indiana, in 1817, just a year after Indiana became a state.

We don't have exact birthdates or birthplaces for either John or Rachel anywhere in our voluminous family history files. Based on census records,1 we estimate Rachel's birth to have occurred about 1795 and John's during the 1780s. John was born in Virginia, and Rachel likely was born there also, although one of her three available census records says Kentucky. Accoring to my grandmother, "Rachel spoke German" and may have spelled her last name Calier. They had the following children, with the order and spelling of their names as given in their daughter Sarah's autobiography:

  1. Washington Green, born Mar 1811, died 11 Jul 1900, in Chrisney, Spencer county, IN.2
  2. Jane Green.
  3. William Green.
  4. Polley Green.
  5. Sarah Green, born 11 Apr 1818, died 5 Sep 1898, in Bloomington, Monroe county, IN, was my great-great-grandmother, who says she was "born in Washington County ten miles north of Salem."3
  6. Hessie (or Ester) Green.
  7. Daniel Green.
  8. Betsie Green.
  9. Nancie Green.
  10. John Green, born about 1830.
  11. Rachel Green.
  12. Emily Green, born about 1831.
  13. Francis Green, born about 1829.

John and Rachel may have been twins, since Sarah linked their names by underlining them. The last child probably should be listed as Frances, since we eventually discovered her to be a female. Other than listing John and Rachel's children, all Sarah says about her parents is the following:

John Green died in 1833 in Washington Co at the old home of Coleria.4 He was a native of Virginia moving here in the Year of 1817, and was a soldier of the war of 1812. Farming was his principal occupation, and teaming, hauling goods from Louisville to many northern points, Greencastle, Vincens, Terre Haute...

Rachel and some of her children remained in southern Indiana after John Green's death. The 1850 census lists a Rachael Green in Vernon township, on the west side of Washington county, living with Francis, John and Emily. The census clearly lists Francis as a female. The 1860 census lists a Rachel Green living alone, but with John Green and his family a few lines away on the same page, once again in Vernon township. In 1870, John and family are still listed in Vernon township, but without Rachel. In 1880, John is listed yet again in Vernon township. (John's wife is listed as Deliah C. in 1860, as Catharine in 1870, and as Adelia in 1880. Are these three different women, or one and the same? There are also some possible discrepancies in his children's names which we won't try to sort out here.

John and Rachel's oldest child Washington2 married a woman listed as Celia in two censuses and Lelia in another census. They were enumerated in several south Indiana locations, with their children's names spelled in various ways:

Daughter Emily married John Dodd. She was enumerated with him and several children, some of whom may have been John's by a previous marriage, in Bono township, in Lawrence county, in 1860. In 1870, Rachel Green is living with Emily, John and a 23-year-old William C. Green, again in Bono township. In 1880, a widowed Emily Dodd, of the right age, is listed as living with her son, George Hayes. Could this be the same person as the George Dodd who was listed with Emily and John in 1860? Could Emily have been married to a Mr. Hayes at some point? Could the William Green who was with her in 1870 be the same person as the William Dodd who was with her in 1860? Census takers often failed to record correctly the surnames of stepchildren. Once again, we'll not try to answer these questions here.

Daughter Sarah married John Finley Walker in 1839 in Washington county and moved with him to Lawrence county, then to Monroe county. She died in Bloomington in 1898.

1 Rachel's age is given consistently over the three censuses mentioned. There are two John Greens listed in the 1820 census for Washington county. Either, or neither, could be our ancestor:

 Page 318:
 John Green1    1321  
 Page 327:
 John H. Green 1 2 1111 1

The 1820 and 1830 censuses didn't give any kind of breakdown by townships. In the 1830 census, there are several Green families (and also several Walkers and Colliers, by the way) but the following is the only one that seems to "fit":

 Page 301:
 John Green 1111312211

We've only listed the age groups in which people were counted. If this family is indeed that of my g-g-grandparents, the breakdown by age implies that John was born in the 1780s and Rachel in the 1790s. "Only" 11 children are listed. Perhaps the 2 missing children died during childhood, or hadn't been born yet? Could the 70-to-79-year-old female be the widowed mother of either John or Rachel? In 1840, we find our Green family listed in Vernon township, with several Colier families nearby:

 Page 156:
 Rahial Green 11131
2 Washington Green died 11 Jul 1900, His birth month and year are taken from his 1900 census record and his death date and place from book R-2, page 15, within the series produced by the Indiana Works Progress Administration, available at, Indiana Deaths, 1882-1920 [database on-line].
3 Sarah's description of her birthplace puts it in Monroe township, Washington county, on the edge of Jackson county. Salem is the county seat.
4 A great cholera epidemic swept the United States in 1833. Read a horrifying description of the effects of the epidemic on Lexington, KY.
This page was last updated 18 Jul 2012.