Robert Calvert Greenlee, written by his wife, Elizabeth
Johnston Greenlee in 1935
(Notes in parentheses added by Elizabeth Graham Chatterjee,
great great grandaughter of Robert Calvert Greenlee and Elizabeth Johnston
Robert Calvert Greenlee, son of Joseph Greenlee (Joseph Greenlee was the son
of Hugh Greenlees and Isabella McGowan, of Counties Down and Antrim, Northern
Ireland. He was born in Lisburn, County Antrim in 1802 and died in Sumter County
in 1880. He married 1, Hester Ann Busby in 1834 and 2., Lear Ann Wiggins in
1846) and Hester Ann Busby Greenlee, was born November 3rd, 1839, on
the plantation which was granted his father in 1832 by the President, and which
he also purchased from the Indians, for he considered they were rightful owners.
Naturally the Indians were always his friends, and when the treaty was signed,
he helped to move them to Mississippi. He was a slave owner, but only kept
enough to cultivate his plantation. Robert grew to manhood on this place, and at
the age of 18 years took charge of his father’s farm, until the beginning of the
Civil War. In 1861 he joined Company A 36th Alabama Infantry,
commanded by Col. Smith, and served the full four years. He took part in the
battles of Chickamaga, Corinth, Missionary Ridge, Rockface Mountain, New Hope
Church, Atlanta (when he was under fire for forty days) and Jonesboro, Ga. Where
two of his brothers were killed. (The Greenlee brothers who died at Jonesboro,
Ga were John Hugh Greenlee, born 1835 and William M. Greenlee, born 1838. Their
initials can be found on the Confederate Monument at the Court House in
Livingston, Sumter County). He was then sent to General Hood on his disastrous
raid into Tennessee, was in the battle of Nashville and his brigade was drawn in
line at the battle of Franklin, but was not ordered to make the charge. They
then retreated to Alabama – were stationed at Fort Blakely, engaged in the
defense of Mobile, retreat to Meridian, Mississippi, when the command
He was a non commissioned officer throughout the war, and at its close was Sargent of his Company. He had his clothes pierced by several balls and pieces
of shell, but was never wounded or captured and lost only two days from active
service, during which time he was in the hospital at Marietta, Ga. After the
close of the hostilities he did not resume his agricultural pursuits until 1868,
when he purchased a large farm and began improving it. (This land was part of
the Swilley/Johnston property located at Swilley’s Bend on the Tombigbee River
in Sumter County). There he lived until 1882, when he sold his possessions and
moved to Texas.
He sent his wife and children, with two faithful and trusted Negroes to
care for them, by train, he sent his nephew, Joe Greenlee, whom he had raised,
tow cousins and a friend coming in wagons, bringing the rest of the Negroes
along. They were a month in making the trip, and had many interesting
Being a great hunter, must not fail to say he also brought his deer
hounds. He purchased a farm of 473 acres at
Eureka, Navarro County, Texas, 17
miles southeast of Corsicana, and lived there the rest of his life.
He was greatly loved and respected by all who knew him, and when he died
the Negroes of the community asked to bury him, for they felt they had lost
their best friend. (I have found many bank loans for blacks, signed "X", and
guaranteed by Robert C. Greenlee).
He was elected Justice of Peace in his district in 1888, and when called
to his home above, was serving his second term. He was married April 30, 1868,
to Miss Elizabeth Catherine Johnston, daughter of Henry G. Johnston and Mary
Swilley Johnston, at Gainesville, Sumter County Alabama. (Elizabeth Catherine
Johnston was born at Jones Bluff, Greene County and later resided in Boligee).
They had nine children, Mary Hayden ("Mamie") wife of John "Jack" T. Blackmon
(my great grand mother and father), Robert, Fannie B. (Aunt "Fan"), Ella
(Aunt "Ned") wife of Dr. W. H. Dunn, Maria Snow (Aunt "Snow") wife of C.
M. Thornell, Pearl, Annie Willette ("Billie"), Reuben Ross, two died in infancy.
Mr. and Mrs. Greenlee and all their children, except Snow, who is a Methodist,
are members of the Presbyterian Church. He was affiliated with the A.F. and A.M.
Lodge No. 375 of Gainesville, Alabama, and of the Chapter of Corsicana. He has
always been identified with the Democratic Party.