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GREEN, JOSEPH FRENCH

GREEN, JOSEPH FRENCH (1856–1926). Joseph French Green, rancher, was born in April 1856 in Troy, Ohio, son of Stephen Davis and Hannah (French) Green. He attended normal school in Lebanon, Ohio, and married the school librarian, Jennie Sausser. They had two daughters; the marriage ended in divorce. He taught school two years and then attended law school in Valparaiso, Indiana. During an 1886 lawsuit against David Sinton of Cincinnati, Green, the opposition attorney, so impressed Sinton that the financier hired the young lawyer and sent him to South Texas to manage his giant 224,000-acre Catarina Ranch. In 1900 Sinton named Green general manager of the 167,000-acre Coleman-Fulton Pasture Company, which spread out over Aransas and San Patricio counties. With complete backing of Sinton, and later from Charles P. Taft, Sinton's son-in-law, Green transformed the ranch into a showplace and enhanced the value of the land by introducing new crops and farming methods and improved cattle breeds. Green promoted the city of Taft by building an industrial complex that included a packing plant and rendering facility, an ice plant, an oil mill, an electrical generating plant, a feed mill, a creamery, a hatchery, cotton gins, and such supporting businesses as a cotton compress. With these industries in place, as well as company farm and ranch units as shining examples, Green set out to sell the land, which had been purchased for as little as fifty cents an acre. The company aggressively offered land for sale and turned over huge blocks to George H. Paul to sell. Green received a fee of five to ten dollars per acre for all land sold. Not only did he build Taft, but Gregory was a company town for many years, and Sinton and Portland were laid out by Green and others.

Green built La Quinta, a three-story showplace, as a home for his bride, May Mathis, whom he married on October 15, 1907; she was the daughter of Thomas Mathis. The home was completed in 1909 in time for the visit of President William Howard Taft, half-brother of Charles P. Taft, principal owner of the Coleman-Fulton Pasture Company of the Taft Ranch. In June of 1921 over 5,000 people attended an auction in which businesses, homes, and lots in Taft and surrounding farmland were sold. Green died on November 20, 1926, after a tonsillectomy and thus did not live to see the final sale in 1928 that disposed of all of the remaining company land. He was a staunch Republican, a thirty-second-degree Mason, and a Presbyterian. He was president of the First National Bank of Gregory and Taft and the Taft Bank and was on the board of the Odem and Sinton banks. He is buried in the Taft cemetery.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Coleman-Fulton Pasture Company Records, 1881–1930 (Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin). Keith Guthrie, History of San Patricio County (Austin: Nortex, 1986).

Keith Guthrie

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Keith Guthrie, "GREEN, JOSEPH FRENCH," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fgrak), accessed April 23, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.