Back to Hamilton County
Back to History Contents
History of Belle Rive and Dahlgren, Illinois And Surrounding Territory
Prepared by Continental Historical Bureau of Mt. Vernon,
Elder Bird G. Green
Bird G. Green was born February 20, 1885, the son of James Clinton and Elizabeth Howell Green near Bluford, Illinois. He grew to manhood on the farm, attending Weatherspoon and Black Oak Ridge, the rural schools of the communities. He was married to Carrie M. Russell, daughter of Joseph and Jane (Webber) Russell on September 30, 1903.
Bird Green professed faith in Christ and was baptized by Calvin Richardson in January, 1906. He soon felt God's call to preach His gospel, so in the fall of 1908 he made his first public effort to preach a sermon at Hickory Hill Baptist Church near Bluford. He continued to preach as opportunity afforded until in the fall of 1970 he was called to pastor the Belle Rive Baptist Church and also Mt. Zion Church north of Bluford. The following January he was ordained by the Bluford Baptist Church.
The following fall he and his family, which consisted of his wife and four small children, moved to Ewing to attend school to better prepare himself for preaching and pastoral work.
By the time he was ready to leave Ewing, the people of Belle Rive, wanting him to locate among them, sent two teams of horses and wagons and moved his household goods to Belle Rive. He then labored among them, pastoring the church, marrying their young folks, and preaching the funerals and comforting the sorrowing among them. His last four children were born at Belle Rive, so his family of children was practically raised there. As a citizen among the Belle Rive people, he took interest in the affairs of the village and served as street commissioner, village trustee and president of the village board several terms as well as school director and also assessed the township. Also, when the terrible plague of "The Flu" broke out in 1918, many people were sick and some died in nearly all the homes in the community. The State of Illinois forbad any public funerals, so Elder Green had to stand in the yards of the homes where death had entered to conduct funeral services.
The Ladies Aid was discussing at the Methodist Church who had been the most useful servant of their community, and they decided that Dr. D. F. Whited and Bro. Green had been the most useful servants of the people in that territory.
Elder Green's services were not confined to the village of Belle Rive, for in those days most of the Baptist churches had only fourth-time services; that is, each pastor could pastor four churches, giving one Saturday and Sunday to each church. So he would go horseback or in his buggy to Sugar Camp, Oak Grove, Union (south of Dahlgren five miles) and to Frisco Church ten miles south of Belle Rive. As the churches changed pastors often, he would also serve Opdyke, Lebanon, Bluford, Keens and Keensville, all this before cars and hard roads. Also, he served Pleasant Hill Baptist Church of north of Dahlgren, driving his horse from Belle Rive. The people were so well acquainted with his old gray saddle and driving horse that when they saw Elder Green coming down through the prairie they would come out and ask him who was dead, as the phones were very scarce and the paper came only once a week.
Once he was driving home from his appointment from Union Church south of Dahlgren and met a Mr. Winkler, a mail carrier out of Dahlgren. Their horses were knee deep in mud and could hardly pull the rigs. Mr. Winkler spoke and said, "Brother Green, which of us is the biggest fool, pulling through the mud this way?" Elder Green jokingly said, "I guess I am, for you get a lot better pay for your work than I do." That was only in jest, for Bird Green was getting great joy and satisfaction in obeying his Lord's will and serving His people.
Many people ask Elder Green nowadays how many funerals he has preached during his fifty-odd years. His reply now is, "Between two and three thousand. I have been careless of keeping records, but I do have two thousand, two hundred and eight-one names down, but many of them I have failed to jot down."
Many of the funerals he preached were those of the war dead of both World Wars. One of the first sent back to Belle Rive from World War One was the body of Lieutenant Sam Gowler.
The first Jefferson County boy lost in World War Two was Turner Roehm, who grew up in Belle Rive and went to school with Bird Green's children. His body was never found, as he lost his life during the attack at Pearl Harbor. The Belle Rive community turned out in large numbers to a memorial service Elder Green conducted at the request of Turner Roehm's parents, with only his picture on a table in front of the pulpit.
Some of Bird Green's first funerals were preached for some of the first funerals conducted by the new Myers Funeral Home of Mt. Vernon. It is believed that Elder Green preached more funerals in connection with the Myers Funeral Home than any other one minister. Barney Meyers of the funeral service was so impressed with the quality and sincerity of his preaching that he requested before he died that Bird Green preach his funeral. Elder Green felt humbly grateful that he had this privilege.
When in the 1920s the churches of Mt. Vernon, such as Park Avenue and Second Baptist, called Elder Green, he and his wife sold their old home in Belle Rive; and for the last thirty-odd years and more he has labored in and around Mt. Vernon, besides holding revivals all around the State of Illinois. Now, he says, "My latest sun in sinking fast, my race is nearly run; my hardest trials now are past, my triumph is begun. Oh, com, angel band, come and around me stand. Oh, bear me away on your snowy wings to my immortal home."
Back to Hamilton CountyBack to History Contents