Perry Merchant Has Long Career

Source: Perry Enterprise, November 12, 1942

Submitted by: Mary Beth Greening Kirtlink

J. M. Greening of Greening Bros. grocery, in this city, has lived a long and active life, and has had many varied experiences not usually associated with the career of a merchant in a small town.

Not long ago Mr. Greening told the story of his life to his good friend B. J. Coil, who set these interesting facts down on paper and gave them to the Enterprise.

We wonder how many 82 year old citizens in Perry have had as colorful a life and at the age of 82 are still engaged in business.

James Mace Greening was born near Stoutsville in 1860, the 5th child in a family of 11 children, 6 boys and 5 girls. HE worked for his father until he was 21 years old, then began working for Goss & Vandeventer in 1881 at $10.00 per month without board, from August until March 1883. He then went to Minnesota and worked on a farm for a short time and returned home in November. He put all his money ($400) into a rail fence “patent” and spent about a year trying to sell the “Right” and lost all his money.

Young Greening worked on the farm for John Hurd for a short time then borrowed $250.00 from Ben Utterback and rented 40 acres from John Vandeventer and bought a span of mules, used old harness and plows to raise the crop. He sold the corn in 1885 for $500. Then Hugh Hickman and Greening rented a tract of land from Clarence Ragsdale, made a crop and sold out and Greening went to Farber, Mo., for a short time. The wanderlust was in his blood and he went to the state of Oregon remaining 2 years driving a stage coach from Baker City to Cornucopis. Still not satisfied he returned and went into business with his brother-in-law, J. W. Smith, in Farber, Mo., in 1888.

While in Farber he married Ida Blaire Smith, daughter of S. B. Smith of Perry, Mo., in 1892. This was the best move he ever made, for he had a helpmate to guide him for 50 years. After a stay of several years in Farber he engaged in the mercantile business in Paris, Mo. After 6 years in Paris he and his wife went to Venita, Oklahoma in 1900. Then to Centralia where they lived 17 years.

From what we heard of these people in Oklahoma they lived a happy and useful life. Both were leaders in the Christian Church, giving their time and money, and the preacher found their home a pleasant place to stay. Mr. Greening was an elder there, and is an elder here. He was in Oklahoma 27 years and returned to Perry 15 years ago to spend the remaining years of his life. Mrs. Greening passed on the 29th of July, 1942 while living in her father’s old home.

Mr. Greening has sold goods many years and has assisted many families in that time by giving them credit and in many cases knowing he would never be paid when goods were sold.

He has been a member of the church for 56 years and an Odd Fellow for 38 years.

He is 82 years old and is still selling goods on the corner with T. W., his younger brother, as a partner. Mr. Greening has invested his money in Perry and takes pleasure in keeping it in shape for those who use it. The city and country need more industrious men like him to keep business moving in the right way.