Sullivan Settlers IV: John Sims Green

Updated: October 2011
Bob Sweeney

Karen Gaughan wrote the original article below for our site in 1999. In October 2011, the site administrator, Bob Sweeney, provided an addendum on the descendants of John Sims Green who married into the Holmes family, and by extension, with a branch of the O'Neill family. That information is located at the end of the original articles. We are grateful to Lindsay Dierolf, an O'Neill family descendant, for the photos and content on these families.

John Sims Green was about 18 years old when he served in the War of 1812, in the Pennsylvania Fencibles, under C.C. Biddle their Colonel. After the war John went to Haiti for two years. Then he went to Charleston, South Carolina for a short time and then on to Tennessee, where he went into business with his cousin Walter Sims.

They borrowed money from Walters father and started a General Store. This store was located at Licking Ford on the Duck River. This business lasted until 1831, and then disaster struck. Three barges of goods and produce caught on fire on the river and in the process the barges broke loose and sunk. To add to this, Sims went to New York to buy supplies, by way of New Orleans. He carried all the funds that the business had, some $10,000.00. Walter Sims being a drinking and gambling man, as were many of that era, was caught up in these vices on a riverboat and lost every penny of their money. He returned with only an $1,800.00 note from Henry Clay, which was worthless and never collected. The business was done.
 
John Sims Green decided to move north, to Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, where the Green family had inherited between 10,000 and 30,000 acres from their grandfather, James Craig Jr. John's wife, Elizabeth Henley was the daughter of Rev. William Henley from Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee. She had been given a small number of slaves when she got married. In order to protect them they were freed before the accounts were settled with their creditors of the failed business.
 
The journey north began early in 1832. They went up the river to Pittsburg, Pa. by boat and then overland through the Allegheny Mts. This was dense wilderness at that time and it was a difficult journey. They were caught in a late spring snow storm and snow bound for about seven weeks at Pennsburg, now Muncie, Pa. They stayed in an abandon cabin at Shinerstown for a year until a new home was built. Elizabeth gave birth to their fifth child, Virginia, during this time.
 
In addition to the Green family, the others in the party were; Walter K. Green, a brother to John, Robert Henley, a brother to Elizabeth, and a negro driver, who was probably one of the slaves that they had freed.
 
A new path had to be cut from Shinerstown to where their new home was to be built. This was done and the home was ready by the next spring. They cleared about 400 acres there. John had a good knowledge of legal and business forms, which were much in demand in those parts at the time. This he used to help new comers to this wilderness. He taught school in their house and educated their children and those of his neighbors. During the 1847 famine in Ireland John was able to assist many who settled near him. There is a place called Green Settlement in that area still.
 
John Green Sr. He was born in 1736 in England or Ireland. He was an orphan living in England with one of two uncles when at the age of 17 he ran away and went to sea. He shows up in Philadelphia working for Willing and Morris & Co. as a sea Captain about 1765. That was Robert Morris the financier. There he marrierd Alice Kollock who came from Lewes, Del. Her father was Jacob Kollock. The Kollocks were one of the more prominent families in Delaware. They too were in shipping and that is probably how John and Alice got together.
 
At the start of the Revolution John joined the Pennsysvania Navy. Later in 1778 he was given the ship "The Queen of France" and commissioned as a full Captain in the Continental Navy. I have a copy of that Commission, which is signed by John Handcock. John sailed a number of ships during the war and was captured by the British and imprisoned at Mill Prison, Plymouth, England for about nine months. He was a fiesty salt and never stopped fighting while in that place. He was the ranking officer there and looked after the welfare of some 250 prisoners, most of who were sailors. He had his wife Alice send him as much gold as possible to buy coats, blankets, medicine and food for the less fortunate in the prison. She did this by selling her jewelry. After the war they were reimbursed by the Continental Congress with 'Script" that proved to be worthless and ended up being play money for their children. John and 240 prisoners were exchanged and returned to America on the ship Symmetry. They took over the ship and forced the English Captain to issue additional amounts of food for the men.
 
John was given command of the Brig "Duc de Lauzun", which was one of the three remaining ships active in the Continental Navy in 1783. On this ship he took part in the last battle of the American Revolution. For this he was given little or no credit.
 
He listed amoung his close friends; Captains, Gustovus Conningham, Lambert Wicks, John Barry and John Paul Jones.
 
After the war John was picked by Robert Morris to Captain the ship, "The Empress of China", in which he made the first voyage to China, by an American carrying the American Flag. This voyage started the American-China Trade. This brought silks, Chinaware, Tea and Spices to the American people directly and at lower prices. He brought the first Shanghai Chickens to America which he cross breed with local stock to make the Bucks County Chickens. He made a second trip to China and then retired to a farm in Bucks County, near Philadelphia where he died in 1796.
 
John (Jack) Green Jr., the father of John Sims Green, was also a sailor. He went to sea with his uncle Peter Hodgekinson at the age of about 16, during the Revolutionary War. He too was captured by the British and imprisoned. After the war he made his way home and joined his father on the voyage to China as a Midshipman on the Empress of China. He later became a Captain and sailed his own ships to China. We know less about John Jr. that we do about his father, but he too was a man of character. His first wife was Hester Craig, daughter of Captain James Craig Jr., of Philadelphia, Pa. After her death and prior to his second marriage to Bettsy Davis, he divided his entire estate with his children.
 
When Sullivan County was formed, John was offered the nomination for the assembly by both parties. This he declined saying that he had neither the time nor money to take on the job. He was then elected Justice of the Peace. Later in 1855 he was elected as County Treasurer. He found the finances in sad shape. After he restored them he was re-elected to a second term. They changed the law so that they could re-elect him to a third successive term. He later served as clerk of the court, Justice, prothonotary and other positions in the county. He served the county from 1855 until just before he died in 1876.
 
The Episcopalian Church; "St. John in the Wilderness" was erected in LaPorte, by his sister, Mary Margaret Green. It still stands there. Many of John and Elizabeth's children and grandchildren are buried at Mountain Ash Cemetery in LaPorte, Pa. Their house still stands on the corner of Muncie St. and Strawberry Alley. His will is in the Court House there.
 
Contributor
Karen Gaughan
Pahendrsht@aol.com

ADDENDUM: Green, Holmes and O'Neill

In October 2011, Lindsay Dierolf, an O'Neill family descendant, sent to us the following photographs and commentary. Any comments, identifications, corrections or suggestions would be welcome.

. These pictures are of people in the O'Neill and Holmes families. The O'Neills were originally from Wilmot in Bradford county, John O'Neill married Lydia Thurston and lived near Burlington, also in Bradford County. Their son Joseph Martin O'Neill married Clara Augusta Holmes. Clara (or "Gussie" as she preferred to be called) was a daughter of Lewis Henry Holmes (born in Massachusetts) and Mary Margaret Green, a daughter of John Sims Green and his wife Elizabeth Henley, who were early settlers in Sullivan County (see above). My direct line lived mostly in the Dushore area. If anyone can identify people in the photos or would have any questions, please have them contact me at the e-mail shown above. Let me know if you need additional information.

Joseph Martin and Clara Augusta (Holmes) O'Neill
Dushore Public School 1906
Holmes and Green Daughters: Clara Augusta "Gussie" (Holmes) O'Neill, Elizabeth (Holmes) Vaughan and Martha Ann (Holmes) Schweorer---Daughters of Lewis Henry and Mary Margaret (Green) Holmes
Holmes Family: Holmes Family: Clara Augusta, front row, third from right, about age 12, between her sisters: Elizabeth Holmes to the right and Martha Ann Holmes to the left; young man to the far right is believed to be their brother, Walter Kerr Holmes. Others unknown at this time.
O'Neill and Diltz Famlies: Mary Ellen O'Neill, sister of Joseph O'Neill, married George Diltz; specific identities unknown
Extended O'Neill Family:Includes Lydia O'Neill, Mary Margaret O'Neill and Wallace O'Neill, all children of Joseph Martin and Clara Augusta (Holmes) O'Neill; other parties unidentified but believed to be children of siblings of Joseph Martin O'Neill
O'Neill Daughters: All six daughters of Joseph and Clara Augusta (Holmes) O'Neill are in this photo. Back row: Martha Ann, Mary Margaret, and Loretta Elizabeth; front row: Cordelia, Lydia, and Lucretia.

Lindsay herself descends as follows:

1) John Green born 1736 in England, married to Alice Kollock on June 12, 1765 and died in 1796
2) John Green Jr. born February 22, 1766, married to Hester Craig about 1792 and died 1831
3) John Sims Green, born November 31, 1794 in Philadelphia, married to Elizabeth Henley January 30 1821 in South Carolina and died March 16, 1876 in LaPorte, PA
4) Mary Margaret Green born April 10, 1825 LaPorte PA, died March 9, 1882 in LaPorte, PA; she was married to Lewis Henry Holmes born December 27 1821, Sheffield, MA, died April 22, 1883
5) Clara Augusta Holmes born November 19, 1865 married to Joseph Martin O'Neill on May 29, 1884; she died February 25, 1958. Joseph Martin O'Neill was born April 18, 1859, and died in 1929, a son of John and Lydia (Thurston ) O'Neill; John O'Neill was born in Ireland about 1824, a son of Nicholas and Mary O'Neill, who immigrated from Ireland in 1841 along with six known children (and possibly two more) and settled in Wilmot township, Bradford county, PA.
6) Loretta Elizabeth O'Neill, born April 21, 1899 at Bernice, PA; the family later moved to Dushore and lived there until 1919 when they moved to Wilkes Barre, PA; Loretta married Walter Erisman Price born March 23, 1900. Loretta died June 21, 1995, Walter died May 1980.
7) Pamla (this is how she spells it) O'Neill Price, born November 9, 1925, still living, married to Arthur Hudelson, born April 13, 1920 and died January 15, 1991
8) Lindsay Hudelson, born December 1, 1959, married to Barry Dierolf.

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