Greene, William G.

Born: 1812-01-27 Overton County, Tennessee

Died: 1894-06-30 Tallula, Illinois

Alternate name: Green

Greene moved with his family to an area that would later become Tallula, Illinois, when he was nine. The Greene homestead was only a few miles from New Salem, and Greene became one of Abraham Lincoln's first friends in that community. With the outbreak of the Black Hawk War, Greene served as a private in Abraham Lincoln's company. Greene owned a building in New Salem that was occupied by Reuben Radford's general store and, when Radford closed his doors after the Clary's Grove Boys destroyed the store, Greene bought his inventory for $400. Shortly thereafter, Greene sold the store and inventory to Lincoln & Berry, who moved their general store into the new building. Greene enrolled in Illinois College in 1833, where he befriended Richard Yates and eventually introduced him to Lincoln.

After graduating, Greene moved near Danville, Kentucky, and worked as a tutor and a schoolteacher. He then moved to White County, Tennessee, to serve as principal of Priestley Academy. He married Louisa H. White in 1837, with whom he had six children. Soon after their marriage, the couple moved to Illinois. However, they only remained there for eighteen months before returning to Tennessee, where Greene served as a deputy sheriff. He briefly resided in Aberdeen, Mississippi, in 1842, but soon relocated to Memphis, Tennessee, where he opened a grocery store. Although he lived in Memphis for less than three years, Greene earned a substantial amount of wealth. In 1845, Greene returned to Illinois, and in 1848, he joined his brother Nult in Mason County, Illinois, where he became involved in farming and real estate. He sold that farm in 1853 and bought a new one near Tallula, where he remained for the rest of his life. Greene became heavily involved in railroad development and other investments, earning a reputation as a prominent businessman. As a Whig and later a Republican, Greene supported Lincoln's presidential campaign in 1860. During the Civil War, Lincoln appointed Greene to manage the internal revenue tax in his district.

The History of Menard and Mason Counties, Illinois (Chicago: O. L. Baskin, 1879), 646, 709-14; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:75-76; Ellen M. Whitney, comp., The Black Hawk War, 1831-1832: Illinois Volunteers, vol. 35 of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1970), 1:178; Gravestone, Greenwood Cemetery East, Tallula, IL.