Elmer, Missouri - Early History
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James N. Greenstreet, who is one of the prosperous and progressive farmers of Drake township, this county, with a fine farm of 170 acres of well cultivated land lying near the village of Tullvania, was born in Byron county, Kentucky, in 1844, and has been a resident of Macon county, Missouri, fifty-five years, except for a short time during the Civil War. His parents were Thomas and Sarah (Williams) Greenstreet, the former born and reared in Kentucky and the latter a native of Virginia. They came to Missouri in 1854 and located in this county. Here they were actively and profitable engaged in farming until death ended their labors, that of the mother occurring in 1900, and that of the father in 1889. They have nine children and five of them are living: Elizabeth, the wife of E. T. Davis; James N.; Newton; Joseph, and Mary, the wife of James Golden. The parents were married in 1832.
For a quarter of a century after attaining his maturity, the father conducted farming operations in his native state, and, although the appeals of the farther West became at times insistent and almost persuaded him to become an element in its productive industries, he clung to the scenes and associations of his childhood and continued his arduous endeavors for advancement in the locality in which he had begun them. At length, however, the winning smile of the region beyond the great “Father of Waters” from his home overbore all other considerations, and he became a resident of Missouri. Results proved that his move was a wise one, for he prospered in the new country and became prominent and influential in its local affairs. He was a Democrat in politics, and although he would never consent to accept a political office, he took a great and helpful interest in his party and during the whole of his residence in this county was one of the zealous and effective workers for its success.
His son, James N. Greenstreet, grew to manhood on his father’s farm and completed in the district schools of Linn county, in this state, the education he had begun in those of his native county in Kentucky. When he was seventeen years old, the great Civil War began, and, believing firmly in the cause of the Confederacy, he enlisted in the Confederate army as a member of Company B, First Missouri Infantry. He remained in the service to the close of the mighty conflict and took an active part in many of its sanguinary engagements, among them The Battle of Lexington. In the shock of battle and fury of the charge he never flinched, but on every field of carnage and in every military duty bore his part with the valor of his native state and in accordance with the traditions of his family. Yet he escaped serious disaster, and after the end of the war returned to the peaceful pursuits of husbandry at his Missouri home. In this domain of industry he has had his hand to the plow continuously every wince, with steadily increasing prosperity and widening reputation as a wise and skillful farmer. He now owns 170 acres of excellent land and has it all under cultivation, except the portion which is reserved for grazing purposes in carrying on his extensive operations in raising livestock.
The interests of the township and county have been ever considered as of the highest importance in the sweep of Mr. Greenstreet’s vision, and to their advancement he has given the full share of a good citizen’s tribute in counsel, in effort and in the stimulus furnished by an inspiring example. As a member of th local school board for more than twenty years he has rendered excellent service in connection with one of the most valued and important public institutions in the country, and in many other ways, also, he has contributed to the general prosperity and progress of the region in which he lives. His political allegiance is give to the Democratic party, and in behalf of its success is at all times an ardent and energetic worker. Fraternally he is connected with the Masonic order, and in religious affiliation belongs to the Christian church. His lodge and his church receive careful attention and loyal support from in counsel and in more material assistance, and in both he is held in high regard as one of their most useful members.
Mr. Greenstreet was married twice, in 1866 to Miss Mary E. Nagel, of Linn county, Missouri. They have had nine children and now have five living: Robert, Walter, Ernest, Ralph and Lizzie. After the death of his first wife, in 1893, he was married to Miss Martha T. Johnson, of Elmer, Missouri. They have one child, Eugene. The father is what is called a “self-made man” in the better sense of the phrase, and a creditable product of his own capacity and endeavors. He has made his own way in the world, without the aid of Fortune’s favors or specially favoring circumstances, and all his triumphs are the direct results of his own ability, industry and good judgment. In this respect, as in his general demeanor, his breadth of view his enterprise and his lofty ideals, he is a representative of sterling American manhood and good citizenship, and as such he is held in the highest esteem wherever he is known.
(Reprinted from Macon County History, 1910)