Monday, February 24, 2014

52 Ancestors: #3 James Wilkinson Green, Country Doctor

James Wilkinson Green, M.D.
My grandfather recounted the following story about James Wilkinson Green, his great grandfather. 

Late one evening during the Civil War, Dr. Green was returning from his home making house calls.  He was on horseback.  As he approached the town of Arlington, Indiana from the south, he had to pass through a clearing adjacent to the banks of the Little Blue River. As he came closer, he observed a bonfire with many people gathered around.  No greeting came from the group, and the Doctor silently rode through the assembly.

Dr. Green recognized nearly every face he could see.  Not a word passed between them, and it was then that the realization came to him that he had chanced upon a meeting of Rush County's southern sympathizers, The Knights of the Golden Circle.

It was years later that Dr. Green told this story to his family.  There were never any problems created by his discovery of the group, but after that night the country doctor always carried a pistol with him until the war's end.

James Wilkinson Green was born February 5 1825 in Rush County, Indiana, to Squire Lot Green and Anna Cooper.  He was the eldest of eight children.  He and his younger brother, William Frame Green, attended Rush Medical College in Illinois.  He also studied at the Indiana Fifth Dist. Medical Institute, where he graduated in 1846.  James began his medical practice the same year in Arlington, Indiana.  On May 18, 1846, he married Mary Jane Gowdy.  Together they had 13 children; ten survived to adulthood.

The family lived on a farm in Posey Township, Arlington, Indiana.

From 1856 to 1886, he practiced medicine in Arlington, Indiana.  Dr. Green enjoyed a wide acquaintance in his community and over the 50 years in his practice he had delivered nearly all the babies in the area.  While the country doctor did not serve in the Civil War, a biography made notice of his care of the wives, widows, and children of the Union soldiers. "During the four years of the late war, the Doctor was more than a father to many families in his neighborhood; never in one instance did he make a charge for professional service against those who were from home defending our country's cause." (From a biographical sketch in the Illustrated Historical Atlas of Rush County, Indiana, 1879.) 

Six of Dr. Green's sons became doctors themselves: Lot, Preston, James, John, and William and Thomas, who were twins.  They all practiced medicine in Indiana.  Some of James Wilkinson Green's grandsons also continued the family tradition and became doctors.

Dr. J. W. Green in front of his Shelbyville, Indiana office.

After the death of his brother William in 1886, James relocated to Shelbyville and took over his brother's practice.

He died on July 27, 1896 in Shelbyville.  His death certificate, which was completed by his son William, states that he died of "physical exhaustion." He is buried at East Hill Cemetery in Rushville, Indiana.

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