Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
Tri-County People
Chemung County NY
1880 - Autobiography of Elnathan Green
Article - Autobiography of Elnathan Green
Township: Elmira, Chemung County NY
Year: 1880
Article typed and submitted by Richard Edgerton, Descendant
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Photos also sent in by Richard Edgerton
E. J. Green at left., E. J. Green and Jane Selover below
 The following is a short autobiography of the life of Elnathan Green resident of Elmira, N.Y. written about the year 1880. It was transcribed October 1914 by Charles Green Edgerton, a grandson. All personal expressions, spelling and word constructions are in exact copy of the original.

I am asked to write a History or some of the incidents of my life beginning back to my early childhood. So in the absence of dates and other helps I must procede to guess as well as I can and Firstly, not myself But my Father and Grandfather left an ancient Newengland State and Moved into the wilderness in the Town of Granby in Oswego Co. N.Y. about the year 1890 or 10, where they had to chop down trees and clear a spot to build a Logg House So I have been told—So about the 24th of May 1811 I happened to come among them a perfect Stranger with out any reference. My Father and Mother being of a Hospital turn strait away adopted me into the Family seeing I was a Little Green and being anxious to give me Some distinction they searched the Scriptures to find a Title for me—and they dubbed me with the ancient Name Elnathan of which I have always been proud I was good Looking and good natured I opened not My Mouth to cry until I had been there a week. Think of that So they told me.. But there seems to be a Long- Blank- Space that I do not Remember of their whipping me much I suppose I was verry like boys at the present day I paddled in the water made mud pies and played with Dog. Now I begin to Remember that I climbed Trees for close bye were plenty of them and soon I learned to chop them down. My father being in Limited circumstances could not afford to Bring me up in idleness So I had to Brak in early in Life. For the Fate of the Farmer was Hard in those Days. As I began to be about 8 years old the Settlement having increased they began to Think about taking some measures to Enlighten the youth of the wilderness that they might learn to soot their Ideas to some advantage So they chopped down some trees Built a School House and went five miles into Civilization and Imported a Teacher For one Dollar pr week and Board around-two terms in a year of three months Each was all they could afford. I entered the First Summer term as Freshmen and went through the Webster Spelling Book and drew the Highest Prize a pair of Glass Sleeve Buttons. When the winter Term commenced we had wood to chop and grain to Thresh So my Term was a Short one and So it Happened every year. One Little incident—But was never fond of Boasting—It was the custom of Larger Boys to go Early in the morning to the School House and Build a Fire to warm the House. My turn came as usual I went ¾ of a Mile built great fire of logs and wood and went Home to get my Breakfast of Jonny cake and milk and Return to School when about halfway back I saw and behold the old School House all in Flames. My spelling book English Reader and Gography had gone up and I was left in ignorance. Knowledge Puffeth up So the Bible says. But I dident puff.

The years rolled on and I enjoyed my Self as well as others I wore good Home made clothes and washed my Hands before eating—When about Eighteen my Mother Died and I with the rest of the Family mourned her Loss. In Process of Time My Father married and brought into the family a woman contrary to my wishes—But I Loved my home and Kept it until about 22 years old when I left and up into one of the western counties in the State Worked six months and returned. My Father had encouraged me to think he could do something to help me start in Life. But found he had sold his Farm to a confidential old Methodist Preacher without taking proper security and the consequence was my hopes were blasted. No way for me to Shirk for my Self and I shirked up into Owasco spent the winter chopping and other joyous sports until spring when I strayed over to the Lake on Gov. Troops Farm where a Respectable citizen of Auburn whose name is familiar was getting out Timber and finding me an expert with the ax strait way made me a proposition to work for him. I then had a standing offer at the same rate to go into the country for three years I found myself in a strait between the two—to go in the country was nice to go into the Village was better so I chose the latter. Perhaps I was a Little Green—My new employer kept me chopping and scoring Timber some time and boarded me at a country Hotell until I became a Little civilized and then took me into his own Family which consisted of Boys and Girls some older and some younger more or Less. I was well treted and acknowledged as one of the helps – in particular – I was selected to assist in running planning Mill which I did to the best of my ability. All went on Harmoniously but disappointment lurks in many a prize..By some unforeseen event the mill took fire and burned to the ground..So that was twice I suffered by fire. But it is said that where there is a way there is a will so I made my way into a carpenters shop carried on by one of my bosses Sons to receive small wages and instruction thrown in—in the men time I kept my olf boarding place—I said there were girls there all very friendly to me—But som way quite foreign to my intention it was thought that I was a Little more partial to one than the rest. But I could not help it I did not wish to be obstinate so I kept on a Sober Face and made believe I dident—it was whispered that there was an intimacy growing between us Some frowned and some dident care for cent—I found I had the majority on my side and I said come on if you dare-But being of a quiet disposition not willing to create uneasiness in Family so I left my old Home and Boarding Place and sought another. All went on smoothly But I was watched some But sometimes I happened around about the time Singing School was out and then we could compare notes. All went quietly for time when it began to be whispered that we were going to be married---Well that is just what we were talking about Some said it must be stoped other said go on So we went on until about the 15th of Sept. 1842 when a few friends and the Minister were invited and there the issue was joined—and after the usual preliminaries of Hand shaking Good byes etc. etc. we started to carry out the program as was previously made viz. to visit Friend for a week and return. But dident return worth a cent. We went from the Parental Roof in a Buggy to the Depot from thence by Rail to Cayuga—thence by steamboat to Ithica-from thence to Elmira by Stage where by the Grace of God we remain to this day—

E. J. Green Jane Selover

During the interval between then and now has been filled up with various incidents and experiences which I can only faintly discribe—Frience here had arrainged that we should stay here and go to work—So we rented a House or shop and brought a cooking stove and a few Little dishes and we had a bed and a carpet and a handful of chairs and I with about $130 in my pocket we went to work as Honest people should do and enjoyed the fruits of our Labor—Our House Hold cares were light and there was no one to molest or mak us afraid—I was first employed by D. Young on Judge Grays House four or five years before the rail road was built—Everything was plenty and cheap but money—I had hard work to get enough to pay postage on letters which was only five apiece.

Well in process of time there was change in the aspect of things I engaged to work for Uncle Abe Stowell on a House he was building for Jonny Panwenter (1)on Water St.—When Saturday night came round I expected an order as usual on somebodys Grocery or Store, but to my surprise he handed me a Five Dollar note cash—I looked at him as much as to say "You don’t mean it"—And it came to pass in those days that a spirit of enterprise entered the hearts of people and they wanted a Railroad and they made one with all its details and depots. Then straight away the scene was changed- Money was quite plenty and so was everything else. We found that diligence and economy we could meet our necessary want—Could smile at Hungers Rage and wipe our joyful eyes-Those were galer days-our children then began to make their first visits to the House Hold, one after the other—until the Number had reached four or five—we fed and clothed them at our own expense and schooled them as best we could For we wanted their company- But as years rolled on they began to be weary of Restraint and tired of their Home- For we could Pormise them nothing very Brillient in Life and thinking they could paddle their own canoe They launched out one after an other First the second then the First then the third—Just like a flock of Sheep jumping over a wall—all but one Poor Little Lamb is left us to watch over our declineing years—But I cannot sorrow as those that are without hope—But I must go back a few dozen years and speak of some of the common incidents of life which was nothing rare or heroick—Mr. J. Selover and Mr. Jow Sampson combined their energies to build a planing for the purpose of Dressing various kinds of lumber for the market—and I without Egotism could boast of being the only chap in the place that was at all skilled in the Business, so of course I was selected to try my skill. I remained with them until there was a change in the firm—The new party insisted on cutting down wages to Less than one Dollar and Half pr. Day and I retired from the field after Mr. Selover and Haskell united their efforts to build a Mill about that time I had partly recovered from an all winters sickness (that notable winter that Fanny was introduced to the Family) I commenced with the framing of the Mill and continued there through the different administrations for nearly twenty-years—All through the things went on smoothly until about the last years of the war when the soldiers were getting more or less bruised and sore it seemed to be my ill fate to get a slight bruise which nearly destroyed two of my fingers. But that was my own job and I never applied for Redress and never got any- There is one thing under the Sun that I have a clear conscience about that is I never sought Office or High position in Life, but if circumstances had Favored it I don’t know how high I might have climbed— it was like this— Some years since in the Congregational church in which I was an unworthy member There was a meeting called to elect some Deacons whose term of Service had expired—the ballots were passed around without much lectioneering- the votes were canseled- they were scattering all the way from one up to a majority-I had one vote (I was not elected of course)

As I have before said I labored and enjoyed the Fruits of it- In the early years of my married life I felt the need of some kind of a house, so I went to work and Built a Second class Shanter without any grave pretentions to art or popular science—But it has protected us from many pelting Storms by day and has afforded us quiet repose in many a stormy night—(2) Our children most of them were born in it Reared and Married in the Same—It has served us long and saved us well-Why should we not reverence the old shell—But alas time has wrought it changes with it. Rust and mildew has gained the preeminance—I regret my inability to restore it to its Former grandeur but like its Possesor both must soon go to Decay- One to Mother Earth From whence it came-the other to Pile of Rubish.

But that we all may be happier in the world to come than we have been in the past—is the prayer of your Paternal etc. etc.

Published On Site 04/08/2003
By Joyce M. Tice

You are our welcome visitor since 08 APRIL 2003

(1)1857 Elmira Directory show this to be John Parmenter, president of the bank
(2) 1857 Elmira Directory shos the family on Gray Street, near Columbia