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Greene Street in Lovejoy

Buffalo only has a few streets whose names could be colors – Pink, Brown, Grey. One of them, Greene Street, runs from Broadway to William in the Lovejoy Neighborhood on the East Side of Buffalo.  The street is named for two brothers who were physicians in Buffalo – Joseph C. Greene and Walter D. Greene.

The Greene brothers came to Buffalo from Vermont.  The Greene family is an old New England family descending from Henry Greene.  Henry Greene sailed from Ipswich, England to Newberry Port, Massachusetts in 1643.  They are related to General Nathaniel Greene of Revolutionary War Fame.  Joseph and Walter’s brother, Stephen, was a naval surgeon in the Civil War and also practiced medicine in Buffalo with his brothers.  There were five Greene Brothers in Buffalo – the Doctors Joseph, Stephen, and Walter mentioned above; Insurance Agent Simon and U.S. Customs Officer George.  I wasn’t able to find out why the street is only named after the two of them!  In addition to those five, there were two other brothers – Edson and William; and 7 sisters – Naomi, Elizabeth, Almira, Elizabeth II, Mary Anne, Caroline, and Cynthia.  Various members of the family spelled their last name as Green without the e.

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The five Greene Brothers in Buffalo; Back row: Walter and Stephen; Front row: George, Joseph and Simon. Source: Cindy Davis, via Ancestry.com

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Dr. Joseph Chase Greene. Source: Cindy Davis, via Ancestry.com

Joseph Chase Greene was born in Lincoln, Vermont, on July 31,1829, the oldest of the fourteen Greene siblings.  He attended Barry Academy in Vermont and Albany Medical College, receiving his MD in 1855.  He then studied in the clinics in New York Hospital in New York City and came to Buffalo in 1863.

Joseph Greene married Julia Taggart of Vermont in 1856.  They had three children – Dr. Dewitt Clinton Greene, Anna Adelaide, and Julia Delphine.  Joseph and Julia’s first home (and Dr. Greene’s office) in Buffalo was at 444 Elk Street (now South Park Avenue).  When brother Stephen moved to town in 1875, Joseph moved to 124 Swan Street and gave the Elk Street house to Stephen.  Julia Greene died in 1882, and Joseph then married Mary Burrows Smith.  In his later years, Joseph lived and practiced at 1125 Main Street, near Best.

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Museum Director of Collections, Walt Mayer preparing the mummies on exhibit in 2019. Source: Buffalo History Museum

In the 1890s, Joseph Greene made a trip around the world.  He collected valuable relics of ancient Egypt, Assyria and Syria; Sixteenth Century armor from England and other mementos from the age of chivalry; prized Oriental trinkets, and beautiful canes from every country in the world.  These specimens are part of the Joseph C. Greene Collection at the Buffalo History Museum.  A few years ago, the mummies from the Greene Collection traveled with the exhibit “Mummies of the World”, along with the Museum Director of Collections, Walt Mayer.

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Joseph C. Greene gravestone in Forest Lawn

Joseph Greene was associated with the City of Buffalo Health Department.  He served as an alderman in 1885 and was president of the fourth branch of the New York State Medical Society, the Erie County Medical Society, and the Buffalo Historical Society.  Joseph was a Knight Templar, 32nd Degree Mason and member of the Buffalo Consistory and Shrine.  He died at age 70 from complications from diabetes in 1899.  He is buried in Forest Lawn.  

In addition to the street, Joseph Greene also has what is known as the Bristol Rock.  Wanting to find a way to celebrate his childhood in the Bristol, Vermont area, he paid a carver to engrave the Lord’s Prayer on the slab and his own name.  Some people say that Greene was upset by the cursing and swearing of the loggers traveling along the road, so he put the prayer to make them think twice about their language.

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Bristol Rock with the Lord’s Prayer carved into it by Joseph C. Greene MD, Buffalo New York. Source: RoadsideAmerica.com

walter greene 2Walter David Greene was born in Starkboro, Vermont, in 1853, the youngest son and second youngest child of the Greene family.  He went to local schools and the Friends’ School on the Hudson.  He joined his brothers in Buffalo and entered Buffalo Medical School in 1873.  At the time, Buffalo Medical School was located at Main and Virginia Streets.

In medical school, Walter Greene was a member of the University Quiz Club, known by U.Q.C.  The U.Q.C. was born out of a society called “The Skulls”.  They rivaled with another society called “The Scalpels”.  Because of the initials, outsiders called the U.Q.C. “You Queer Cusses”.

After two years working in Rochester, Walter Greene practiced medicine in Buffalo for 37 years.  In 1882, Walter Greene was appointed district physician of the City of Buffalo Health Department.  He served for eight years, becoming head of the department.  From 1897 to 1902, he served as assistant health commissioner.  He became Health Commissioner in 1907.

Walter Greene married Mary Pursel of Buffalo in 1878.  They had two children – Frank, who died in infancy, and Clayton.  They lived at 385 Jersey Street, which was also Dr. Greene’s office.  They were members of Plymouth Methodist Church, which is now Porter Hall – The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum.

    walter greeneDr. Walter D. Greene. Source: Twentieth Century Buffalo, 1902-1903.

Walter Greene was a past potentate of Ismailia Temple, Ancient Arabic Order, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, a 33rd degree mason, thrice potent master of the Lodge of Perfection.  He was Lieutenant Commander of DeMolay Lodge 498, buffalo chapter Lake Erie Commandery.  He was also president of the New York State Medical Society, member of the American Public Health Association the Erie County Medical Society, Buffalo historical Society, Buffalo Club, and Society of Vermonters.

He died on August 3, 1917 while traveling to West Falls, NY for a family reunion.  He slipped on a rock while walking alongside a creek, landing on his back.  He got up quickly and said he felt fine, but after a few moments was stricken with terrific pain in his back and trouble breathing.  He died just a few moments later.  He is also buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Want to learn about other streets? Check out the Street Index. Don’t forget to subscribe to the page to be notified when new posts are made. You can do so by entering your email address in the box on the upper right-hand side of the home page. You can also follow the blog on facebook. If you enjoy the blog, please be sure to share it with your friends.

Sources:

  • “Kin of Old King Tut and Mummied Pets Are On View Here”.  Buffalo Courier.  March 4 1923, p87.
  • “Dr. Joseph C. Greene Dead”.  Buffalo Evening News.  January 4, 1899, p5.
  • “Greene Street Honors Brothers, Physicians”.  Buffalo Courier Express, April 21, 1940.  Pg. L4.
  • “Masonic Order Pays High Tribute to Dr. Greene”.  Buffalo Courier.  August 7, 1917. p5.
  • “Dr. Greene, Once Commissioner of Health, Stricken”.  Buffalo Courier.  August 4, 1917, p4.

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