Elisha Winfield Green was born around 1818 in Bourbon County, Kentucky, near the town of Paris. At age ten, he moved to Mayslick, in Mason County, upon the marriage of his mistress, Jane Dobbyns. Green's mother and siblings were also enslaved to members of the Dobbyns family and although Green was put up for sale during his childhood, he either remained a slave to the Dobbyns family or was again purchased by that family. During his teen years, Green experienced a religious conversion while plowing. He came down with scarlet fever shortly thereafter but was able to be baptized six months later. As for his eventual education, Green learned to read by studying the Bible while hiding in the third story of the Dobbyns house and learned to write from nine year-old Alice, John Dobbyns' daughter, and one of his eventual owners.
Green married Susan Young in 1835 but moved to nearby Maysville, Kentucky, in 1838 with John Dobbyns, while Susan remained in Mayslick, some thirteen miles away with her owners, the Sissen family. Reverend Green seems to have purchased his own freedom at some point between 1845 and 1855, but he does not describe the circumstances in his narrative, Life of the Rev. Elisha W. Green, which was published in 1888. In 1858 Green was able to purchase the freedom of his wife and two of their children for $850 with the help of members of the white Baptist church. Mrs. Sissen had sold sold Susan to a slave trader, but John Dobbyns purchased her from the trader and reunited the two but later was forced to sell them both when his business failed.
In 1845, the white Baptist church of Maysville authorized Green to "exercise his gifts" as a preacer "in public before the black population". He had previously been sexton of the white Baptist church, performing maintenance and other odd jobs for the community. Green was ordained two years later; he founded First African Baptist Church of Maysville in 1848, followed by First African Baptist Church of Paris, Kentucky, in 1855. He remained pastor of both churches, commuting the 45 miles between them by train, and his churches continued to flourish.
In 1865 Green helped to organize the Convention of Colored Ministers of the State of Kentucky, which began the work of founding what is now the Simmons of College of Kentucky in order to educate black ministers. Green suffered from racial intolerance his entire life, and is perhaps most well-known for winning an assault and battery suit against two white men in 1883. Despite his being an elderly and respected minister, he was assaulted and beaten for failing to comply with a demand to give up his seat on a train. Earning themselves a bad name in the press and prompting assault and battery charges from Green, the reverend filed a civil suit against the two men (one of which was a Reverend G. T. Gould). An all-white jury follwed the recommendation of the presiding judge by awarding Green $24 of the $1,000 sued for, demonstarting a willingness to take seriously lawsuits brought against whites by black litigants, but the award unfortunately suggested that even if it was lawful for a black passenger to refuse to yield his seat to a white passenger, it was socially unacceptable.
Republican newspapers overwhelmingly praised Green's character. Poltically active for quite some time, Green had been chosen as a vice president of the Kentucky Negro Republican Party at a convention held in Lexington in 1867. Reverend Green died in or near Maysville in 1889.
Specifically: Buried on the "Old Hill" at West 4th Street & Maddox Avenue, several hundred yards from the National Underground Railroad Museum in Maysville
Created by: Ryan David Schweitzer
Record added: Sep 07, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 96660365