An Honorable Man

John Robert Green was a teacher, an attorney, and a planter in south Alabama. He fought in the War of 1812, serving in a unit from Georgia. Although he voted against secession at 1861 state convention, his sons and grandsons fought (and died) for the Confederacy. John Robert Green was active in his community. At various points in his life, he held elected office as justice of the peace, mayor, state representative, as well as other positions of public service. At the age of 85, he was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention for the state of Alabama.

[An] amazing man whose life spanned the presidencies of George Washington to Grover Cleveland. He was largely self-taught, but achieved much in his lifetime. John was an Alabama pioneer; served as an attorney; was a successful farmer; established a school in his community in which he also taught; and was a state representative during some of this country’s most trying times. John Green was an honorable man and a well-respected citizen of his community. History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, Volume 3

John Robert Green was born in Abbeville, South Carolina in 1790. Not much is known of his early years. His parents are believed to be John Green, a blacksmith, and Jane Bickerstaff. A “John Green – blacksmith” received 300 acres in the 1805 Georgia Land Lottery. The same John Green mentions the Georgia property in his will in 1807. This is how John Robert Green came to live in Wayne County, Georgia. In 1815, he married Nancy Betts Jones, daughter of a planter in Jackson, GA.

The young couple traveled to Alabama with the Jones-Palmer family in 1817. Following the Treaty of Mount Dexter in 1805, large tracts of land in south Mississippi and south Alabama were opened to settlement. Seminole Indians still raided white settlers in the area. According to family lore, John Robert Green refused to take refuge in a local fort with other settlers. He was determined to clear land and plant crops in time for harvest season.

The family prospered in the years before the Civil War. John Robert and Nancy raised 13 children in Conecuh County. Green was active in civic affairs. On 5 June 1819, he was elected Justice of the Peace (Alabama Historical Quarterly, Vol. 6, #3, p. 157). He later served in the Alabama General Assembly. 

John Robert Green established the first school in Conecuh County and personally served as teacher. He was well read. Several of his letters survive, testifying to his commitment to education and love of learning.

A letter from Honorable John Green of Burnt Corn dated June 28, 1979 to Dr. J.L. Shaw, who was a member of the Historical Society of Conecuh County. The letter suggested a plan to establish a County Library in connection with the Historical Society, the initiation to be $5.00. Mr. Green says “I know the benefits of a County Library Society. I belonged to one before I came to Alabama. Whoever that the Society puts in nomination any public office was sure of this election, the Society was acquainted with the qualifications and character of every man of note in the County, and were the best judges who to put in nominations for the various offices of the County. So I believe a Library would bring about a happy restoration of the Democratic Party, and by the diffusion of general knowledge, in a few years, make Conecuh County one of the star counties of Alabama for general knowledge, and union of feeling and sentiment. 

Although John Green was a member of Bethany Baptist Church, Burnt Corn, AL, he had wide ranging interests and was well versed in Universalism. In 1835, a traveling Universalist speaker was a recipient of his hospitality.

I arrived at the plantation of Squire Boney, in the neighborhood of Burnt Corn. Being somewhat fatigued, I tarried for the night, and shared the hospitality of this gentleman, whom I found to be intelligent, and sharing a good degree of wealth. Through his politeness I was conveyed to the plantation of John Green, Esq. where I arrived on Friday the 18th. This gentleman, I can say in justice, is the father of the blessed doctrine of Universalism in this section of the State of Alabama. He is allowed to be, even by those who oppose his sentiments, a man of unimpeachable character, a worthy citizen, and a kind obliging neighbor. He was once a Methodist, but a more intelligent and well-instructed Universalist, and one who has experienced more buffeting, I have seldom found in all my travels. But these things are fast dying away, and the pleasurable gratification which he now enjoys, exceeds all expectations.

From “The Trumpet and the Universalist magazine” April 4, 1835, “The Southern Evangelist”, The Cause of the South, Extract of a Letter from Br. H. F. Sterns, Belville, Conecuh Co., Ala. March 1, 1835

The comfortable life enjoyed by the Green family was shattered in 1861. The election of President Abraham Lincoln split the nation. Although John Robert Green was well known to be a “unionist” opposed to secession, his neighbors selected him to represent Conecuh County at the State Convention in Montgomery. He voted with the minority in opposing secession. The final count was 61-39.

Although some privileged families took advantage of the 20 Slave Act, a law that allowed large slave owners to be exempt from the draft, the Green family sent their sons and grandsons into battle. The 2nd son, Thomas Jefferson Green, had fought in the Mexican War in the 1847. He enlisted with Wirt Adams Calvary in October 1861. Thomas died in a Montgomery hospital during the last days of the war. A grandson, Alexander Hamilton Green, rode with Nathan Bedford Forrest. Another grandson, Thomas Lafayette Green, was killed at the Battle of White Oak Swamp in VA. The war took a terrible toll on the family.

John Robert Green lived to the age of 92. He is buried in the Green family cemetery near Evergreen, AL.

John Robert Green Sr. grave, Green Cemetery, Evergreen, AL



History of Conecuh County (Alabama Genealogy Trails)

John Robert Green Sr 1790-1882 (WikiTree)