Matthias Oakley Green-Few men have had a more interesting or more varied career than M O Green, pioneer, Smithton, MO. At the age of 80 years, when most men have given up active careers the live at ease during the remainder of life, Mr. Green is still vigorus mentally and physically and in possession of much of the energy which enabled him to rise to the first rank of stockmen and large land owners of the county. This indomitable character has made two fortunes in Pettis County during his long years of residence in this county. While still in middle life he suffered revrses which would have forever discouraged and weakened men of lesser fiber, but he again put his shoulder to the wheel and achieved another success while an old man in years. This interesting character was born in Suffolkshire England, August 13, 1838. He is a son of Matthew and Mary (Dale) Green.
Matthew Green was a well-to-do citizen of England who came of an excellent English family. He was a coachmaker in his native land, the factory having been operated by several generations of the family, and even at this day, members of the Green family are making coaches in Suffolkshire. Matthew Green emigrated to America in 1843 and lcoated at Peru Illinois after having farmed a tract of 160 acres in Marshall County Illinois for some time. He engaged in business at Peru Illinois following the trade of wheelwright and carriage maker. He became well-to-do and was rated as a wealthy man but suffered financial reverses because of his willingness to go security for friends who sought his assistance in various financial projects and through the dishonesty of his business partners. He remained in business until his death which occurred one month after the death of his wife, who fell a victim of cholera on July 28, 1853. Matthew and Mary (Dale) Green were parents of thirteen children, only four of whom survive: Robert, George, born June 16, 1837, lives a Glen Elder, Kansas; Matthia Oakley, subject of this review; Mrs. Mahala Anna Dovenspiek Libertyville Iowa; Adelaide, wife of Benjamine Foster, Toluca Illinois.
At the outset of his career when he was faced with the problem of earning his own way in the world, M O Green willingly gave up his share of his father's estate, amounting to $700. This money went for the purpose of educating a beloved sister. When seven years of age, Mr. Green worked in the garden of a dear friend of his father. He was in the employ of a Mr. Jeager for a period of Eleven years and it was during this time that he learned much from association with his employer's family. Mr Jaeger was a wealthy and cultured English gentleman who maintained a fine home and was a hunter and sportsman. He was well educated and he and his wife taught young Green many things which were of benefit to him in later life. Being youthful and impressionable and having the faculty of absorption he accumulated a store of knowledge and acquired a liberal education through constant contact with Mr. Jaeger and his wife. He accompanied his benefactor on many hunting trips and thus learned the lore of the huntsman in a section of country which then abounded in wild game.
Mr. Green's first definite employment was as a farm hand at $20 a year. He worked for three years and earned sixty dollars and then paid ten dollars of his savings toward defraying the expenses of his sister's funeral. During his fourth year as a farmer he bought three yearling calves, paying eleven dollars per head for them. It came time for him to begin doing for himself and he rented land, after becoming possessed of two teams and farm implements. His first purchase of farm was a tract of 160 acres at a cost of $20 per acre. There was "cut throat" mortgage in having the land which must be paid in the following July. He succeeded in having the time limit of the mortgage extended to September. Mr. Greeen was forced to pay 20% interest on the mortgage. During his first year of tenure he raised a good crop of barley and harvested 80 acres of wheat and thus raised the $1000 and over. During 1860 he raised 2700 bushels of corn which he sold for 13cents per bushel and still managed to live and save money. When he came west, he owned 240 acres of farm land which he sold for $9000.
Fortified with this capital, he came to Missouri in 1866 and bought a four hundred acre tract north of Smithton in Bowling Green township, now the Louis Monsees place. He paid $10,000 for this fine farm and erected splendid buildings on the tract. He erected a fine brick house on this farm. The brick used in its construction were burned on the place. Mr. Green's farming operations during those early years of his career were carried on so extensively as to make the average farmer gasp with astonishment. No project was too large for him to undertake. His cattle and hog raising operations were on a large scale and the turn over of his live stock each year would run into the tens of thousands. 27 men were given constant employment on his large ranch, which was soon increased to over 1800 acres in all. He operated 14 mule teams and raised and fed live stock to the value of $10,000 to over $20,000 each year. In some years his corn acreage would exceed 700 acres and he raised over 5000 bushels of wheat yearly. During some seasons he fed the wheat to cattle on account of the ravages of the weevil. Some years he would raise as high as 500 steers, 400 hogs, and 50 mules. During the course of his long and active career Mr Green has given outright 200 acres of land to his daughter, and 160 acres to each of his two sons who are now extensive farmers and middle aged. AT the present time he is owner of 746 acres of land, much of which is rich creek bottom land. He and his two sons own over 1800 acres.
Mr. Green was first married on March 1, 1860, to Mary Bane, who died November 28, 1883, at the age of 52 years. The children born to this marriage were Martha Jane, deceased wife of George Nichols, Chillicothe, Missouri, who left three children: Oakley Matthias, Lincoln E and Alta; George R, a prosperous farmer, living north of Smithon; Mary Ellen wife of Emmet Meek died in Smithton leaving three children, Mary Jessie and Eunice, deceased: Frederick B., an extensive farmer living northwest of Smithton. Mr. Green's second marriage took place December 5, 1894, and was with Laura Bertholf. Mrs. Laura Green was born in Lake Creek township, Pettis County, and is a daughter of Charles A and Miranda Arabelle (Huffman) Bertholf.
During his youthful days Mr. Green had what any boy would call a "bullytime" and his whole life has been so lived that he has few regrest for past years. He hunted and trapped the wild game of the Illinois forests when a boy and was taught the lore of the woods by his benefactor, Mr. Jeager. Mr. Jeager maintained a kennel of fine hunting dogs and the boy Green had the care of these dogs. He learned how to shoot deer in the dar, and shot many prairie chickens on his hunting trips. Whenever he made a mistake in his hunting expeditions his employer would roundly lecture him. Mr. Green bought land in Illinois at the low price of $7 per acre and this same land is now worth $250 an acre. He paid $3 an acre for Pettis County land which is now worth from $50-$150 an acre. This aged gentleman still takes a keen interest in affairs, is a great reader, keeps abreast of the times and is an interesting conversationalist. He is one of the most interesting and best respected citizens of Pettis County at this day and is one of the few remaining pioneers who have resided in this county over half a century.
While a Republican in politics, Mr. Green is very liberal in his political views and has always been inclined to support individuals and principles regardless of party affiliations. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, but has broad views of religious matters. He is a sober, industrious citizen whose sobriety during his long life has been one of his marked characteristics. Broad minded to a high degree, taking a kindly and liberal view of things as they are, he goes serenly along through life enjoying what it has to offer him to the utmost.
Source: McGruder, Mark A. History of Pettis County, Missouri (Topeka: Historical Publishing Company, 1919)
Submitter: Laura Paxton