ROBERT E. LEE GREER, of McCracken, Kansas, knows the trials and hardships of life in Western Kansas from first hand experience. He first became acquainted with this section of the state nearly forty years ago, but afterward lived for some years in Tennessee, his native state. Altogether his career has been one of decided achievement and a variety of useful experience and effort.
He represents a Southern family of the Carolinas and Tennessee. His grandfather, George Greer, was o North Carolina man, and from that state moved to Tennessee. He was a distiller, a millwright and miller. He built the first distillery in Benton County, Tennessee. While he followed the business of making whiskey, neither he nor his son James, the father of the McCracken citizen, were ever known to take a drink of the spirits. As a millwright he erected many mills in his part of Tennessee, and the Government gave him a plat of land in Benton County as an inducement to the erection of such a plant. He became a man of means and quite wealthy for his time. He was a democrat, as was also his son James. George Greer married Rachael Reynolds. Of their children, John spent his life in Tennessee. George became a wholesale dry goods merchant in Paducah, Kentucky. The third in the list was James Greer. Jane married Mr. Taylor and lived in New Madrid, Kentucky. Patsy became the wife of Mr. Bloodworth and died in Benton County, Tennessee. Mary married Thomas Helms and died at Fulton, Kentucky.
James Greer, the pioner[sic] settler in Rush County, was born in Benton County, Tennessee, February 6, 1830. He had only the advantages of the common schools. While living in Tennessee he took up merchandising, and in 1877 come out to Kansas and entered a homestead nine miles south of Rush Center in Rush County. This pioneer home was at the head of Dry Walnut Creek. There he put up a sod house, but later relinquished the claim and moved into Ness County, buying a farm in Danby Valley. There he continued farming and cattle raising with considerable success and spent nearly thirty years in Kansas. He came to Kansas by railroad as far as Larned, bringing with him his wife and eleven children. He also had enough money to pay the fees for the entering of his land and for the erection of a sod house and to purchase sufficient supplies for his family and stock. When he moved to Danby Valley his house was among the first residences in that section. He was one of the few settlers who were able to produce enough from their fields and their land to sustain their families. He was satisfied to farm on a single quarter section of land. When he left Kansas in 1904 he returned to Tennessee, leaving all his children but one in Kansas.
James Greer died in Tennessee November 8, 1912. He took little interest in politics or public affairs, and was a member of no church. He believed in practicing the principle that being strictly honest was the main port of a man's preparation for the "final day." He was a thinking man, hod little to soy, but was sociable and neighborly. He married Julia Ann Harris, who is still living in Scott County, Kansas. She was born in Hardin County, Tennessee, October 6, 1835, a daughter of Rice Harris, who went to Arkansas as a pioneer and died on Crowley's Ridge. Rice Harris was a staunch and loyal worker in the Methodist Church, was a farmer and occupied a homestead in Arkansas. James Greer and wife had the following children: William R., of Great Bend, Kansas; Belle, who married Ab Garrett, of Burlington, Kansas; Francis M., of Topeka; Robert E. L.; Marinda, who married Chester Jenness and lives in Scott County; Fannie, who married Joseph Walker, of Scott County; Lucy, who married Emil Laier, of Kansas City; Edward and Edna, twins, the former of whom died in Tennessee and the latter is Mrs. Ed Badgley, of Sebastopol, California; Ophelia, who married Chester Westover and lives at Erina, Nebraska.
Robert E. Lee Greer was born in Tennessee August 14, 1862, and was about fifteen years of age when he came with his parents to Rush County, Kansas. He had attended school back in Tennessee and was also a student in some of the pioneer schools in Western Kansas. From the age of sixteen he became a factor of usefulness at home and elsewhere, and as a youth he worked for wages at herding cattle. He finally homesteaded a claim in Trego County, eight miles north of Brownell, and his first house was a dugout. That was replaced with a box house of three rooms. He and his wife began their efforts at housekeeping in the old dugout, and though they had no capital they had the determination to succeed, and that faculty has taken them a long way on the road to success and prosperity. Mr. Greer owned a farm in Tennessee, and by placing a mortgage upon it he secured enough means to keep them on his Kansas claim until the land was sufficiently productive. After eight years on the claim he sold out and went back to his home place in Benton County, Tennessee. He was there four years, but could not be permanently kept away from the attractive life of Western Kansas. On returning to the state he settled near McCracken in Rush County. Mr. Greer bought his present farm in 1915. It consists of 400 acres, all in Ness County, and is the old Daniel Edginton farm. He employs his land for a varied crop system and also raises considerable stock. His cattle are the Red Poll variety.
While living in Trego County Mr. Greer served as clerk of the township and for six years as treasurer of the school district. In politics he began voting as a democrat, casting his first presidential vote for Mr. Cleveland. He is strongly prohibition in sentiment, and in later years has supported the man rather than the party.
At the age of thirty-one he was converted under the preaching of Rev. Lum Cooper and has since been a very active Methodist. Having unusual qualifications for that work, he has done much local preaching, and on March 28, 1908, was ordained at Salina, Kansas. He has done circuit work for the church for eighteen years, having served the Ransom and Sharon Springs circuit in Kansas, the Camden, the Parsons and the Martins Mills circuit in Tennessee, and the circuit at McCracken, Kansas. He was formerly a member of the Central Tennessee conference. His only fraternal connection is with the Masonic Order.
Mr. Greer was married at Topeka, July 13, 1883, to Miss Mary Walker, a daughter of Samuel and Mary J. (Carrico) Walker. Her father was born in Daviess County, Indiana, and her mother in Kentucky. Samuel Walker came out to Kansas in 1878, located on a farm in Shawnee County, but died at Ottawa. His widow now lives in Kansas City. Their children were: Joseph, who died in Ottawa; Nancy E., who died in childhood; Thomas, whose home is in Oklahoma; Mrs. Greer, who was born March 17, 1863; Richard, who died in Kansas City; Annie, who died young; James, who died in Kansas City; and Emma, wife of Will Law, of Kansas City.
Mr. and Mrs. Greer are the parents of four children. The oldest is Miss Mary. Myrtle married for her first husband Troy Barnes, and is now the wife of Mr. Link. She has a daughter, Pauline Barnes. Nellie, the third of the family, is the wife of Chester Rosier, of Ness County, Kansas. Florence married John Barnes, of Rush County, and has a son, Allen.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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