Alexander County

Biography - William P. Greaney

WILLIAM P. GREANEY. The life story of William P. Greaney, of Cairo, Illinois, at the present time chief deputy sheriff of Alexander county and also actively identified with the fire insurance business of that city, furnishes another instance ,of the possibilities in store for any American youth who, with a stock of energy, push and ability, may raise himself from a humble position and become a factor in the business and public life of his community.

Mr. Greaney is a native son of Illinois, but is a direct descendant on both the paternal and maternal sides of sturdy Irish stock. He was born at Cairo, on February 19, 1870, to James Greaney and his wife, who was Miss Hannah Queeney prior to her marriage. Both parents were born -in Ireland, the father in Ballaghar, county Galway, in 1845. He was married to Hannah Queeney at Queenstown, county Cork, of their native land, and brought his bride to the United States directly upon the close of the Civil war. He, however, had immigrated to this country prior to his marriage and had become a resident of Cairo as early as 1861, remaining a resident of that city for nearly thirty years, or until his death in 1890. He was a Democrat in politics and was well known as a staunch supporter of his party. His public service comprised work in the city council as a representative of the old Fifth ward. To James and Hannah (Queeney) Greaney, the latter of whom still survives, were born the following children: Celia, widow of Charles Hessian, of Cairo; William P., the subject of this sketch; Annie, now the wife of George Shaw, of Cairo; John B., who is secretary and treasurer of the New York Store Mercantile Company, of Cairo; Robert J., a traveling salesman for the same firm; Joseph E., of the mercantile firm of Ehs & Greaney, of Cairo; and Miss Rose Greaney, who is the companion of her mother and resides with her in Cairo.

William P. Greaney acquired his education in the parochial schools of Cairo, and took up the responsibilities of life at the early age of twelve, when he became a cashboy for the New York Store Mercantile Company. His ability and steadfastness soon won the attention and the confidence of the firm, and at different times he was advanced until he became a bookkeeper. He had been with this firm about fifteen years when he resigned to take up the duties of bookkeeper and teller for the Alexander County National Bank, a position he retained for a number of years, or until December, 1910, when Sheriff Frasier appointed him his chief deputy in his office.

Meanwhile, in 1899, Mr. Greaney established a fire insurance agency in Cairo, which he conducted along with his other work in the bank, and has seen the business grow from its incipiency to the second agency in size in the city. Thus, from a modest beginning, Mr. Greaney has made his way to the front in the business life of Cairo by ability, honorable business methods and an unconquerable desire to succeed, and his success commands the more admiration because it is wholly the result of his own well-directed efforts.

In his political affiliations he is a Republican. He was elected city treasurer in 1894, serving two years. He also served as deputy city treasurer under Treasurers John W. Gholson, Thomas Mehoney and August Schneider, and is now an alderman from the Seventh ward of the city. He is a progressive and public-spirited citizen, and all movements that tend toward the prosperity and advancement of Cairo and of his state receive his warm support. In this direction he served at different times as a delegate to the Illinois waterways meetings and was also commissioned to take part in the rivers and harbors convention at Chicago in 1911. He is a member of the Cairo Board of Trade, the Commercial Club and the Alexander Club.

In Cairo, on November 14, 1894, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Greaney and Miss Loretta Carroll, a daughter of James Carroll. Mr. Carroll, who is a native of the Emerald Isle, has also served Cairo as an alderman and is now a dealer in real estate. Mr. and Mrs. Greaney have three children: Lynette, Marion and Carroll.

Mr. Greaney inherits the sunny temperament and happy social qualities of the sons of Erin's Isle, is a devoted churchman and a man of the highest integrity. Fraternally he affiliates with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and is a member of the Knights of Columbus, which order he represented as a delegate in their annual national convention at Chicago in 1911.

The soldier instincts of Mr. Greaney find expression as a member of the Fourth Infantry of the Illinois National Guards. Upon the organization of Company K, at Cairo in 1904, he was commissioned captain and has served so since. Though the company has seen no further service beyond having been called out twice to protect a prisoner about to be lynched, the Captain and his command evinced that coolness and promptness upon those occasions that left no doubt in the minds of any one as to what their conduct would be if called to the field of battle.

Extracted 15 Jan 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 History of Southern Illinois, Volume 2, pages 826-828.

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