Gen. Nathaneal Greene, 1783. Artist: Charles Wilson Peale. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Along with a beautiful piece of hand spun/woven linen we recently received two portraits and three pieces of handwritten genealogical notes from a Salem family (2016.014).  The notes have led us on a merry and unsolved goose chase, as they claim that the writer was a descendant of the Revolutionary War hero, General Nathaneal Greene.  Try as we might, we have not been able to substantiate this claim, which seems strange with how high a profile figure General Greene is.

The Claim

From the relationships listed in the handwritten notes, we have been able to draw a few provable conclusions.  First, that the author of the note was Margaret Southwick Cox.  This concurred with the donor records.  The notes themselves read:  

Mother’s Grandmother was Hannah Greene, direct descendant of Gen. Nathaniel Greene.** Gen. Greene was born in Rhode Island; was a close
friend, chief reliance of Gen. Washington. Gen. Greene was one of the greatest generals in the Revolutionary War, and

[illegible] received the
thanks of Congress for bravery.
The widow of Gen. Greene after his death married Phineas Miller; she owned a large cotton plantation near Savannah, Ga.  Monument unveiling for Gen. Greene, at Guilford Court House July 4, 1915.
Hannah Greene married Nathan Smith (mother’s grandfather). Grandpa Smith* was born in Ulster Co., N.Y.
Mother’s mother was Sarah Ann Germond a Frenchman. They lived in Dutchess Co., N.Y. Grandma’s mother was Sarah Ann Hicks.
Nathaniel Greene. Rhode Island. Brig. Gen R.I. troops 5/5/1775
Brig Genl. Continental Army 6/22/1775
Major Genl Contl Army 3/9/1776
Qtr Mast. General 3/2/1778‐9/30/1780
Received thanks of U.S. by act of Congress. 1/17/1783
Received thanks of U.S. by act of Congress 10/18/1783
Served to 11/3/1783
Died 6/17/1786.

Margaret’s Family Tree

Cross-referencing these notes and Margaret’s trail within the written record of censuses, death and birth records, we were able to extrapolate the following family tree.

Cox Family Tree

However, we were unable to prove the link between Hannah Greene and the Revolutionary War General Nathaneal Greene.  It seems a little improbable that Greene’s family tree has been so little flushed out in online genealogical forums.  If the claim is true, the most likely scenario would have Hannah Greene as the daughter of Gen. Nathanael Green’s son – Nathaniel Ray Green (178?-1859).  The timing and geography is plausible with the New York connections and given an estimated 20 years between generations.  Barring her ancestor marrying someone with the same last name, it would seem likely that the connection must be paternal.  I could find evidence of two sons of General Nathaneal Green, only one of which, it appears, has a document-able marriage.

With Nathan Smith and Hannah Greene being very common names, proving the link would take a lot more work.