BLACK, GREENE VARDEMAN, A.M., M.D., D.D.S.,SC. D., LL.D., an old and prominent resident of Jacksonville, Morgan County, Ill., was born in Scott County, Ill., August 3, 1836, the son of William and Mary S. (Vaughn) Black, grandson of Thomas Gillespie Black, and a great-grandson of Capt. William Black. The last named ancestor was a Captain of the Militia in North Carolina just before the Mecklenburg Rebellion, and one of the first officers who refused to take the oath of allegiance to the British Crown. Capt. William Black, who married a Miss Beard, lived in Rockingham County, N.C., and died at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. His son, T. G. Black, who married Polly Callahan, was born in the same county in January, 1772, and died at Milledgeville, Ga., November 20, 1823. He served as Captain under General Jackson in the Seminole War. His son, William, was born in Milledgeville, January 13, 1796. In 1825 he went to Tennessee and there married Mary S. Vaughn, whence they moved to Scott County, Ill., about 1834. He was a cabinet-maker by trade and also followed farming. He moved from Scott County to what is now Cass County, Ill., about 1844, settling on a farm seven miles southeast of Virginia, where four of his sons resided. He and his wife are buried in the family burying ground in Cass County.
Dr. G. V. Black was reared on the farm, and had a very limited schooling. He was, however, an apt student and tireless reader, and developed his own mind largely in the school of Nature. At the age of seventeen he made his home at Clayton, Ill., with his brother, Dr. T. G. Black, who was a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Civil War, and twice a member of the Illinois Legislature. With him G. V. Black read medicine, and during that time for a while acted as Postmaster. At the age of twenty-one he began the study of dentistry at Mt. Sterling, Ill., and afterward established a dental office at Winchester, Scott County, where he remained until 1862, studying constantly in the meantime.
In 1860, Dr. Black was married to Jane L. Coughennower, of Clayton, a daughter of Henry Coughennower, a miller, and Agnes (Likely) Coughennower. Agnes Likely was a daughter of William and Agnes (Taylor) Likely, the latter belonging to the same family as President Zachary Taylor. The Taylors were direct descendants of Rollin Taylor, who was burned at the stake in England for heresy. Mrs. Black was born in Griggsville, Ill., March 31, 1838, and died in Cass County, Ill., August 26, 1863.
During the Civil War Dr. Black served as a Sergeant, but was engaged most of his time on special scouting duty. He was injured in the knee-joint and spent six months in the hospital in Louisville, Ky. Returning home he came to Jacksonville, where in 1865 he married Elizabeth Akers Davenport, a daughter of Ira and Minerva (Reid) Davenport, and a niece of Peter Akers, a widely known Methodist preacher and circuit rider. Of the first union two children were born: Horace Vaughn, who died in infancy, and Carl E. (A.M., M.D.), a sketch of whom is elsewhere published. To the second union were born: Clara, of Chicago; Arthur D. (B.S., D.D.S., M.D.), of Chicago, Assistant Professor of Operative Dentistry and Assistant in Oral Surgery in the dental department of the Northwestern University; and Margaret Olive, wife of Mark Baldwin, of Duluth, Minn.
Dr. Black opened a dental office in Jacksonville in 1864, and at first applied himself to the study of chemistry, establishing a complete working laboratory in connection with his office. He organized a class in chemistry among the public school teachers, which he taught several years, also taking a prominent part in the medical organizations of the city and county. He has become widely known as an author and lecturer on scientific topics pertaining to his profession. His writings have been translated into many languages and are standard authority on the subjects they discuss. A prominent feature of his writings are the numerous original drawings made by the author himself. He has not only been a writer and teacher, but has always been a practical worker and an inventor. He has the distinction of having invented and patented the first cord transmission Dental Engine, and the present plans of preparing cavities in the teeth and the methods of inserting and making both gold and amalgam fillings are largely due to his investigations. He has been pre-eminently an original worker. From 1870 to 1880 he lectured on pathology, both general and dental, in the Missouri Dental College at St. Louis. Subsequently, from 1886 to 1889, he lectured in the Chicago College of Dental Surgery. After this he was identified with the dental department of the University of Iowa for one year, from which he was called to Northwestern University, being afterward made Dean of its Dental Department, the position which he now occupies. During this period of professional labor, Dr. Black published several standard scientific works, the mention of which herein is necessarily omitted for lack of space. He also invented a number of dental and scientific instruments, now generally used by the profession. He was the first president of the State Board of Dental Examiners in Illinois. He has been active in municipal affairs, a frequent contributor to the newspapers, and has held the highest offices in the gift of the dental profession. He has been President of the Illinois State Dental Society and the American Dental Association, and for ten years has represented the Northwestern University in the American Association of Dental Faculties, of which he has been president. He was President of the Section on Pathology of the International dental Congress at Chicago, during the World's Fair at St. Louis. He has frequently been invited to address dental organizations in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and many other cities, and has been the recipient of numerous honors at the hands of his professional colleagues.