An examination of the 1834 census of Union County reveals no Greenwood family, but by 1840 James Greenwood and his wife and two small children under five were residents of Union County. It is not until 1850 that we find another family of Greenwoods, that of Martin Greenwood , age 34, and his wife Lucinda, age 24, with children John, 7, William 4, Mary 1, and living in the house with them, Margaret Morrison, age 64, (or Morris ?) who we find was the mother of Martin’s first wife, Lucinda Morris. James Greenwood and his family were not listed in the 1850 Union census. Since we find later that they lived in the more remote section called the Noontootla District, James’s family may have been missed by the census taker in 1850. And were James and Martin Greenwood brothers or cousins? That I have not established yet, but I did find by researching family records that Martin Greenwood’s parents were John and Mary Margaret (called “Polly”) Hurst Greenwood.
Before we go into the confusion of which county the Greenwoods lived in—Union or Fannin—let us look at the origin of the Greenwood surname. It is English, and was a place name meaning the “place of the Green Wood.” The first we find on record spelled the last name Greenwode. Wyomarus de Grenwode was a caterer for Maude (or Matilda), Empress, mother of King Henry II of England. King Henry reigned in England from 1154-1189. As chief cook for the king’s mother, Wyomarus de Grenwode was among the titled gentry. A great manor house constructed of hand-hewn stone near Hedbon Bridge in Heptonstall, Yorkshire, England still stands today as a monument to the noble Wyomarus de Grenwode who erected it. It was from this English family that John Greenwood of North Carolina, established as Martin father’s (and maybe James’s, too) was descended.
And now back to the 1840-1860 era here in the mountains, and why the Greenwood families were no longer listed in Union County after 1850. Fannin County was founded in 1854 from portions of what was Union and Gilmer. Martin A. Greenwood (1818-1866) lived near what became Fannin’s first county seat town, Morganton. He had a rather large farm there, and was also a merchant and a leather tanner. He didn’t have to move to be a citizen of first one and then the other county.
James Greenwood and his wife lived farther up in the mountain region. Their farm was in the Noontootla District. They are listed in both the 1860 and 1870 census of the new county, Fannin. They did not move but because of where they lived they also became citizens of Fannin.
In 1850, Martin Greenwood was 34, and he and his wife Lucinda, 24, were listed as having three children, John 7, William 4, and Mary, 1. Lucinda’s mother, Margaret Morrison (thus listed by census-taker) lived with them. Her name may have been Morris, not Morrison. Then by 1860, Martin was listed in the Fannin County census at Morganton, a merchant and farmer, with considerable wealth at that time, property evaluated at $1,000 and available money at $3,900. He was evidently a widower by 1860, with five children: John 18, William 15, Margaret 11, Andrew 7 (named for his father, for Martin’s middle name was Andrew) and Samner, 3 months. Living in the household with them was Benjamin C. Chastain, age 27, who evidently helped Martin A. Greenwood with his mercantile business, as Benjamin was listed as a store keeper. I did not find, by researching cemetery books of both Union and Fannin Counties, a marked gravestone for Lucinda Morris(on?) Greenwood.
There is a marriage record for Martin Greenwood to Sarah Freeman . They were wed on October 4, 1860, with the Rev. J. B. Parham performing the ceremony. Sarah was the widow of Samuel Freeman. Her maiden name was Parks. She and Samuel Freeman had married in Union County on October 28, 1849, with the Rev. T. M. Hughes performing their ceremony. How Sarah’s first husband died is not known to this writer.
Born to Martin and Sarah Greenwood were three more children, Emma Frances, Thomas Martin (1863-1938) and Molly. Martin Greenwood served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. He plied his trade of tanning and leather-crafting while in service, making shoes for the soldiers. He was stationed at Carnesville in Franklin County. Whether he became ill while in service, or contracted some disease that left him vulnerable to illness is not known. He died in 1866 not long after the war and returned to his store and farm in Morganton. I searched both the Fannin and Union County cemetery books for his gravesite, but found no marked stone listed. John R. Greenwood, the son of Martin A. and his first wife, Lucinda, studied law and became a prominent lawyer and farmer in Morganton. He was for a time the internal revenue tax collector and also served as a commissioner of the U. S. Circuit Court of the area.
Sarah, widow of Martin Greenwood, had a hard struggle to rear his children and their children without their father. In the 1870 census of Fannin, she was age forty, with five children still at home. Thomas, their son, early became interested in medicine, and began to study it, first by associating with Dr. T. T. Fain of Morganton in his office and going with him on house calls around the countryside. Thomas went to Atlanta Medical College (later named Emory) where he graduated in 1888. He returned to Morganton where he practiced medicine until 1900. He then moved his family to Oklahoma and then on to Texas.
Emma Frances Greenwood, daughter of Martin and Sarah, married Judson Rucker Chastain, a son of the famed Elijah Webb Chastain, a representative and senator who lived in Morganton. Judson Rucker himself entered politics and ran against the famed Benjamin C. Dugger as representative in 1884.
Martin and James Greenwood, early Union County settlers, did not remain listed as Union County citizens because of the formation of the new county of Fannin in 1854. But Greenwood, a name that goes back to the twelfth century in England, is well-known in many parts of the United States. In fact, Greenwood, SC is named for some of the first settlers to that area of our country. Even here in this country, the Greenwoods seemed to enjoy settling in rural areas where their name described the towering trees growing around them in the deep forests.
c 2010 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Sept. 30, 2010 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.