FROM THE ARCHIVES: Memories by John Green’s granddaughter

From the Archives | Sandy Main

John Green and his family were the first settlers of Greenville, coming to the area in 1844, and a year later his oldest daughter, Deborah, married Abram Roosa, who was the first blacksmith of Greenville. Their marriage was the first to take place in the fledgling village.

The Roosas had three children, the oldest being a daughter, Della. Her memories of her grandparents were printed in a special Progress Edition published by The Daily News in 1969.

As written by Della Roosa Manktalow:

“My grandfather, John Green, came with his wife, four children and household goods from Ulster County, N.Y., in the year 1844. He came by train, which at that time was only a boxcar, to Jackson. He built a raft and landed in what is now Belding.

“As soon as he was rested he started out from Cook’s Comers, blazing the trees through the woods so he could find his way back. He found a place, by the aid of the friendly Indians, in the beautiful spot now called Greenville. He rolled up a little log hut and as soon as he could get a little lumber, built an outside milk house. He kept a couple cows. My grandmother churned and had a five pound roll of nice fresh butter, which she placed by the shining pans of milk.

“In the morning all was gone and grandfather started out in search of it. Looking towards a hill he saw something shining in the sun which proved to be the milk pans, which were empty. Nearby was the roll of butter, with sticks thrust through it, lying in a bed of ashes where the Indians had tried to roast it. When it began to melt they were scared and dropped it. Grandfather took some of his provisions from his cellar and went to the Indians and gave it to them and they became great friends.

“When they would want to exchange some of the things for provision and you offered them good light bread, they would say in their Indian dialect, ‘No good, you cheat me.’ They preferred the soggy half-baked bread which we could not eat.

“John Green’s oldest daughter, Deborah, my mother, was married to Abram Roosa. This wedding began the first marriage of a white couple in Montcalm County, the groom rode on horse back from Otisco to claim his bride. The bride was dressed in a dove colored satin dress made with a very full skirt and bodice waist, and was attended by Anna Bell Belding. The groom was the first blacksmith in Greenville, his shop being located at about 400 West Washington St.

“When mother wanted to do her weekly washing she went down to the marsh where a small place had been cleared out where they could get the water. She had a place fixed to hold her tubs and there, she worked in the sunshine.

“And the dances, why you know nothing about them. We would hitch up the old ox teams, all the family pile in and away we would go. If a ‘feller’ had on new shoes, off they would come and he would dance in his bare feet.

“Now as old age (77 years) has approached and I sit in the twilight of my life, my memory goes back to the good old times and I am thankful that I have been spared to see the growth of this county and to pass along these few incidents which I hope that you may read and enjoy.”

Leave a Comment