top of page

The Greenmans

              John Greenman brought his family to Illinois in 1829, travelling with Major Seth Baker from Ohio. Between them they had one yoke of oxen and three horses. On their journey it was sometimes necessary to harness all of this animal power to a single wagon to extract it from treacherous sloughs. John Greenman built the second house in Bloomington, a “double” log house at Washington and Lee Street. John Greenman was a teacher in Ohio and continued in that profession in Bloomington, as well as being a clerk to James Allin. He moved the family to Waynesville in 1831, but that same year fell ill and died. The family returned to Bloomington and Mrs. Greenman married Isaac Baker in 1833. Esek Greenman, who played a significant part in the history of Bloomington and Leroy as a merchant was John’s son.


               Esek first trained as a carpenter under Wilson Allen and G. D. McElhiney, and then built houses on Old Man’s Creek at Dixon’s Ferry. He farmed in Iowa for a time with two of his brothers and later built a saw and grist mill in Iowa with his brothers, but returned to Bloomington when he was beset with illness. He also spent some time in Galena in the lead mines and confessed to falling into the unfortunate habit of card playing to the detriment of his mining interests. He moved to Leroy in 1843 and began a peddling business out of a buggy, travelling the countryside, giving up the dissolute life. Later he had a store with Sidney Baker and they built the first brick store on the square in Leroy.


                Esek Greenman told the story of the first horse race track in McLean County. In 1833 a track was prepared and a purse of $150 was reputedly gathered. Esek Greenman had agreed to ride a horse called Bald Hornet, but through the bad actions of unknown persons, the horse was put in a field of green corn and nearly ruined for the race. Esek and the owner slept all night in the haymow watching over the horse the next night. Esek rode Bald Hornet in the race, but a horse called Tiger Whip came up from behind and badly lamed Esek’s horse. Although horse races were extremely popular in Leroy in later years, Esek claimed that that was his last horse race and that he never bet on racing.


                Jeremiah Greenman (1794 – 1843), brother to John Greenman (uncle to Esek Eddy Greenman), came to McLean County in 1830 via the riverways. He had two sons who died during the civil war: Thomas McCoy Greenman (1820 – 1863), who enlisted in Iowa and died of disease during the war and Henry Clay Greenman (1829 – 1862) who fought with the 94th and was killed in Arkansas. A third son, Jeremiah (1838 – 1896) fought with the 8th and was wounded at Shiloh and discharged at that time. The Greenman family line continues through the family of one son, Henry Clay Greenman.


                 If you are related to these people, you can claim to be a descendant of the Greenmans of 1838!


                 Jerry Lederer

                 Dorothea Carlock Erion

bottom of page