The Greene Brothers – Leelanau County Surveyors

Can you imagine going into business with your brother? Well, that’s exactly what these two men did. William O. Green (b. 1851-d. 1927) and Frederick A. Greene (b. 1857-d. 1936) – Leelanau County Surveyors.

They were two of 4 children born to Jonathon P. Greene and Amanda (Keyes) Greene of Northport, MI. William married Zella E. Bates, November 1871 in Northport, MI. They had 4 children together. Zella died in July of 1894. According to census records it appears that Fred never married.

The 1881 plat map of Leelanau Township shows J.P. Greene, their father, as owning 40 acres with a residence just south of the Omena Village on what we now call M-22. Their father passed away in May of 1900 and the 1900 plat map reflects that the ownership of the land transferred to the two Greene Brothers. Th family burial plot is at the Omena Hillcrest Cemetery.

Photo Postcard is of William O. Greene posing with his surveying equipment. inscribed on the back, “Bill Green, County Surveyor.” Circa 1910. -Courtesy of the Jill Cheney Collection
(*Note the miss-spelling of the last name. This occurs frequently throughout a variety of historic documents pertaining to this family. )

Utilizing the recently digitized Leelanau Enterprises through CMU, we were able to locate advertisements and other small-town news that helped paint us a picture of their involvement with their community, their travels, and their work as surveyors in Leelanau County, MI. Like this posting in 1919 listing Fred Greene as the County Surveyor along with other county officers. Or this excerpt from an 1905 issue about William surveying for E.E. Chandler of Leland. We encourage you to explore the newspapers for yourself at (Issues from 1880-1927 are currently available – more years are in the works!)

Even more intriguing to discover was the assortment of personal journals in our archives hand written by William. In cursive, he would report on the day’s weather, what boats were coming and going. He recorded his daily activities around the farm, interactions with neighbors, and his brother Fred. He also kept meticulous notes about his surveying jobs, whether they were for a Leelanau County resident, or jobs over in Petoskey, MI.

“Petoskey Mich Mar 12th / [18]88
Very sharp West wind this morning – after going to town and voting at town election, I came back and Mr. Schwar[?] and I have surveyed the 10 acres; we run the section line between 32 & 33 – 25 – 5 from the 1/4 P North So. R[ange] at C3 R came to the Bay shore and ran on out on the ice then turned West and run 160 R…”
Want to help us transcribe these journals. Dated from 1888-1923 in elegant cursive, there is rich Leelanau County history to be discovered and shared with others. Contact us to volunteer!