Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Carol Crowe Carraco, Jack Thacker, Nancy Baird

Degree Program

Department of History

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The purpose of writing about the Greens of Falls of Rough is to record the extraordinary lives of three generations of a prominent, but somewhat neglected, Kentucky family that contributed greatly to the history of the Commonwealth. This family’s activities parallel that history in social, economic and political aspects from the state’s inception to the 1960s.

In addition, this thesis should alleviate a pervasive misunderstanding regarding the identity of Willis Green, founder of the Greens of Falls of Rough. Mr. Green, a prominent Kentuckian in his own right, has been confused with another Kentuckian, a Willis Green of Danville. The misidentification has indicated that they were either the same man or father and son. This research offers evidence that they were neither the same man nor father and son; they were apparently not even related, or at most, only very distantly so.

The Greens of Falls of Rough follows the lives of the three generations of Greens and spans the years 1795 through 1965. The principal issues addressed fall into four main categories: politics – Kentucky (1827-1845; 1859-1860; 1881-1884) and United States (1839-1845); Falls of Rough businesses, 1830s-1960s – farming, milling (saw and grist), and merchandising; domestic activities, 1860s-1960s; and social life, 1860s-1960s.

Political subjects include some movements of Kentucky’s militia in the War of 1812, the national political campaigns of 1840 and 1844, Whig issues, and Willis Green’s relationship with Henry Clay.

Business-related information includes entrepreneurial land acquisition activities in Kentucky’s Grayson and Breckinridge Counties (1820s-1830s), procedures of sawmilling and related transportation (river and railroad), farm commodities trading (1818-1900), and farm and business practices and their economic ramifications.

Domestic issues encompass food-related procedures/habits and household practices – servants, remodeling/decorating, cleaning (1870-1890).

Social aspects revolve around courtship (1860s) and rearing a family (1860s-1900), especially educational (Kentucky Military Institute, Centre College, Princeton Collegiate Institute) and moral training. In additions, some details of family disease/area epidemics and their treatments are discussed as well as entertainment activities.

Materials for this thesis were obtained almost entirely from political and family correspondence with some contribution from military and business records. More than six thousand items of correspondence were thoroughly studied and analyzed in this research.

These materials are located in the Kentucky Library, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky; Filson Club, Louisville, Kentucky; University of Louisville Library, Louisville, Kentucky; National Archives, Washington, D.C.; M.I. King Library, Lexington, Kentucky; and Eastern Kentucky University Library, Richmond, Kentucky. Some materials are in the possession of Mrs. Mary O’Neill (owner of Green property), Falls of Rough, Kentucky and Hugh Ridenour (author of this work), Hanson, Kentucky.


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