Thursday, February 23, 2012

Eleazer Green Jr. (1846-1933)

  In keeping with a local theme, the following write-up centers on an oddly named local political figure named Eleazer Green Jr. Green served a two-year term as Mayor of Jamestown, New York and was later elected as the Chautauqua County District Attorney. He is little remembered today (even here in Chautauqua County) and one of the few proper biographies mentioning Green can be found in the second volume of John Philip Downs' "History of Chautauqua County, New York and its People." I just so happen to have this three-volume set (published in 1921) in my possession, and I was overjoyed to find previously unknown facts on ol' Eleazer that is practically impossible to locate online. Green is buried in the Lakeview Cemetery under a small headstone that gives no mention to his lengthy public service to Chautauqua County and Jamestown, and earlier today I managed to get a photo of it to post here. And now on to the article!!!! 
  Green was originally born in the village of Remsen, New York on March 16, 1846, the son of Eleazer and Sylvinia Kent Green. Eleazer Green Jr. relocated to Chautauqua County in 1868 and that same year graduated from the prestigious Albany Law School. After returning to Chautauqua, he found employment as a law office clerk and in 1870 he established his own law practice, continuing in this vocation for decades afterward. He married in 1873 to Ms. Mary E. Brown, who predeceased him in death on March 11, 1900. The couple also had three children, Edward (died 1961), Ella (died 1942) and Clara (died 1957).
  Green received his first taste at public office in 1875 when he was elected as clerk of the Village of Jamestown, serving one year in this post. The village of Jamestown was incorporated as a city in 1886 and eight years later Eleazer Green Jr was elected as the city's 2nd mayor. His two-year mayoral term ended in 1896 and that same year won election to the office of District Attorney for Chautauqua County. Downs' "History of Chautauqua County" gives mention that during his tenure as district attorney, Green "was a terror to the criminal class, allowing nothing to swerve him from the full performance of his duty" and also notes that in his eight years in office, Green prosecuted five murder cases, and secured a conviction for every one of them!
                      This portrait of Eleazer Green was featured in the 1895 New York Red Book.

   During his later years, Green served as a trustee of the James Prendergast Library Association and also took an active interest in the fish population of Chautauqua Lake. Using his own funds, Green developed a study on the muskellunge or "muskie", a large freshwater fish that makes its home in Chautauqua Lake. During the course of his research, Green learned of the spawning habits and other aspects of this fish, and through numerous experiments (both by himself and with others) proved that the muskie "could be hatched through artificial means". Green is also mentioned as a "farsighted investor" in the 1898 work "The Men of New York" and this book gives note of his purchase and development of swampland on the northern portion of Chautauqua Lake. This swampy area of our county was eventually turned into various lakefront properties and was called Greenhurst-on-Chautauqua (now referred to as Greenhurst) and received its name in honor of Eleazer!
  Green died at his Broadhead Avenue home in Jamestown on November 26, 1933. He was nearly 88 years old and was memorialized in his Jamestown Post Journal obituary as the "dean of the legal profession of Jamestown and Chautauqua County". According to the aforementioned obituary, his death was the result of a "sudden and entirely unexpected stroke." A copy of Green's death certificate (courtesy of the good people at the Lakeview Cemetery Association) is located below.

  To close this article, here is the picture of Eleazer Green's headstone that I took earlier today at Lakeview Cemetery. You'll notice that it gives no mention of his tenure as Jamestown's Mayor or as District Attorney, and is quite modest considering the public stature of the man buried beneath it!

                                         Eleazer Green, Mayor of Jamestown, NY, 1894-1896.

    This obituary of Eleazer Green Jr. appeared in the "The Grape Belt and Chautauqua Farmer" in 1933.


  1. This gentleman is a relative of mine!!! His grandfather and my 5great grandfather was Ezra Green. Diane Green Newark Ohio

    1. Hello Diane! This Andy Osterdahl (author of the blog). Thank you for your comment! I had a lot of fun researching Eleazer Green, not only because of his odd name but because he served as Mayor of my hometown of Jamestown! I was lucky enough to receive a copy of his death certificate (courtesy of the fine people at the Lakeview Cemetery) and also found a portrait of him in an 1895 New York Redbook! Even here in Jamestown, Green is quite the obscure individual, and his gravestone (which I photographed above) bares no mention of service as Mayor or county attorney. Thanks again for your comment!