Alexander County

Biography - Reed Green

HON. REED GREEN. The legal fraternity of Cairo, Illinois, has among its members Hon. Reed Green, who has been conspicuously identified with the bar of that city and who stands prominently among the foremost citizens of this community. He is a son of the late Judge William H. Green, a distinguished lawyer of Southern Illinois, whose identity with the commonwealth began at an early period in his life, and whose citizenship marked him as a strong character and an able man. Palmer's Bench and Bar of Illinois says of him in part as follows:

"Judge William H. Green, of Cairo, in the most exacting of all professions has won distinguished honors, and as jurist, statesman or writer stands among the eminent men of Southern Illinois who have shaped the destiny of this section of the state and left the impress of their individuality for good upon the annals of the commonwealth.

"A man's reputation is the property of the world. The laws of nature have forbidden isolation. Every human being submits to the controlling influence of others, or as a master yields a power for good or evil on the masses of mankind. There can be no impropriety in justly scanning the acts of any man as they affect his public, social and business relations. If he be honest and successful in his chosen field of endeavor, investigation will brighten his fame and point the path along which others may follow with like success.

"William H. Green was born in Danville, Boyle county, Kentucky, December 8, 1830, and is a worthy representative of a family whose ancestral history is one of close connection with the development of Virginia and Kentucky. His parents were Dr. Duff and Lucy (Kenton) Green, the former a most capable physician and scientist. His grandfather, Willis Green, was one of the pioneers of Kentucky and was the first delegate from the district of Kentucky to the Virginia legislature. He was also a soldier in the Continental army during the Revolutionary war and afterwards one of the pioneers of Kentucky and a delegate from the district of Kentucky to the Virginia legislature. The great-grandfather of Judge Green was General Duff Green, of Virginia, who married Anne Willis, who was the daughter of Colonel Henry Willis and Mildred Washington, who was an aunt to General George Washington. His ancestors were among the first settlers of Virginia and were extensive land-owners in the Shenandoah valley. The mother of Judge Green was of Scotch descent and of the same family as the celebrated pioneer and Indian fighter, Simon Kenton, who was contemporary with Daniel Boone in the exploration of Kentucky.

William H. Green was educated in Center College of Danville, Kentucky, and he became a fair classical scholar. He has always been a profound student, an extensive reader of history and scientific works, and his range of thought and investigation has been most comprehensive. At the bar, in the field of politics and as a writer for the press he has manifested ability of a superior order, and his merit has won him high encomiums. While yet a boy he accompanied his parents on their removal to Illinois, the family locating in Mount Vernon, where Dr. Duff Green, his father, died and is buried. On the completion of his education the Judge successfully engaged in teaching in Benton and St. Louis counties, Missouri, and in Mount Vernon, Illinois. In the last named place he began reading law under the direction of Judge Walter B. Scates, and was admitted to the bar in 1852. Opening an office in Mount Vernon, he practiced there for a year, after which he removed to Metropolis, where he conducted a large and lucrative practice for ten years. Since 1863 he has been a resident of Cairo, and thirty years ago he formed a partnership with W. B. Gilbert, under the firm name of Green and Gilbert. Later Miles Frederick Gilbert, and his son, Reed Green, were admitted to a share in the business and the firm still continues, and is now without a superior and has few equals at the bar in this section of the state. Judge Green is equally at home in all departments of jurisprudence, making a strong, logical and forceful plea before a jury in the trial of a criminal suit, or handling with masterful skill the intricate and complex problems of civil law. The greatest characteristic of his mind is strength, his predominant faculty is reason and the aim of his eloquence is to convince.

"In 1865 he was elected judge of the third judicial district, and for three years served upon the bench. During the past twenty-five years he has been the principal council for the Illinois Central Railroad Company in Southern Illinois, and he is now district attorney for that company. He has twice represented his district in the state legislature, as a member of the house, and once in the senate. While acting as a representative he was chairman of the judiciary committee, having been appointed by the speaker, Hon. W. R. Morrison. He was a very prominent member of the house and did not a little towards moulding the public policy of the state at that period. For more than thirty-six years he has been a member of the state board of education, and his labors have been most effective and commendable in advancing the standard of his schools of Illinois. He has six times been a delegate to the national convention of the Democratic party, when its sessions were held in Charleston, Chicago, New York, Cincinnati and St. Louis. He has served eight years as a member of the state central committee and for over twelve years chairman of the district central committee of his party. He has been a most important factor in its management and is a recognized leader in its ranks in Illinois. He has been a frequent contributor to the press and is a fluent and entertaining writer. In the various walks of life in which he has been seen, political, professional and social, he has attained a conspicuous position that has been a tribute to his superior talents and high personal worth."

The birth of Reed Green occurred in Mount Vernon, Illinois, September 22, 1866, and as a young child he came to Cairo with his parents. He passed through the grades of the public schools, following which he attended the Northern Illinois Normal University near Bloomington and then the Southern Illinois Normal University at Carbondale. When he left school he spent two years in the country districts as a teacher, after which he began reading law and in 1887 he was graduated from the law school at Bloomington. Immediately upon his graduation he became a member of the law firm of Green & Gilbert, in Cairo, his father being the head of the firm established there in 1869, and this professional connection continued until in 1902, when he decided to open an office for himself, and in conducting a practice on his own merits he has proved himself to be the worthy son of an able father.

The political history of Hon. Reed Green shows him to have taken a modest part in the political contests of Alexander county in the past as a Democrat. In 1888 he was elected to the general assembly. Two years later he was returned to the house and in that body was made chairman of the election committee, having under consideration the Australian Ballot Bill, upon which that committee reported favorably to the house and the bill became a law. He was a member of the judiciary committees of both sessions and as a member of the appropriations committee he was the means of securing an appropriation for a new building for the Southern Illinois Normal. He lent his influence and aid to the candidacy of General Palmer for the United States senate and saw him elected. In 1902 he was sent to the senate of the state by election from his district and in that body was chairman of the committee on municipal corporations. On the expiration of his term in 1896 he retired from politics, and since that time he has devoted himself assiduously to his profession. His active interest in education in all its phases is indicated by his connection with the public schools as a member of the board of education and by his membership on the official board of the public library. He was one of the charter members of the First Bank and Trust Company, and has been a director since its organization.

Mr. Green was married to Mrs. Lula Ellis on December 21, 1910, in Cairo.

Extracted 15 Jan 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 History of Southern Illinois, Volume 2, pages 842-844.

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