#52Ancestors: Grandfather William Wallace Greene’s Four Years at 1920s Phoenix Union High School

Phoenix Union High School
Penny Postcard of Phoenix Union High School.1
My 22nd entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge for 2015.

The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

Amy’s 2015 version of this challenge focuses on a different theme each week.

The theme for week 22 is – Commencement: Countless schools will be having their commencement ceremonies around this time. Think not only about school, but also about commencement meaning “a beginning.”

I am quite behind on this blog challenge, hence the late commencement post.

My 22nd ancestor is my husband’s paternal grandfather, William Wallace Greene (1908-2003), who went on to Stanford medical school, became a surgeon, volunteered to serve in WWII and left as a Lt. Col., and treated victims at a liberated concentration camp.

Grandfather Greene grew up in the territory and then state of Arizona. He was born 26 August 1908 in Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona Territory, as the oldest of two children to William Wallace Greene, Sr. (1869-1944), and Veronica Victoria Dorris (1883-1982). He was 3 and 1/2 years old when Arizona achieved statehood in 1912.

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Wallace, as he liked to be called then, attended Phoenix Union High School. Phoenix Union High School was founded in 1895, beginning “…with four classrooms and 90 students.”2 The high school, located at 7th Street and Van Buren, closed in 1987 after 92 years of operation.

Ancestry has digitized all four of Grandfather Greene’s yearbooks, so in honor of this commencement theme, I took another peak at what those yearbooks can tell me about Grandfather’s high school years.

Freshmen Class, 1922

Grandfather Greene joined the freshmen class of Phoenix Union High School in 1922, at the age of 14 years. He is identified as Wallace Greene on the Freshmen Class Roll of the Phoenician, the school yearbook.3 A class photo is included, and I think I successfully identified Grandfather Greene–based on other photos I have seen of him–by his smile, eyes, and forehead.

William Wallace Greene -1922 Yearbook - Ancestry - web
Freshmen class photo, 1922. I have marked who I think looks most like Wallace.
Click image for a larger view.4

Sophomore Class, 1923

William Wallace Greene, 1923 Class Photo
Yearbook photo, 1923. 5
Identified as Wallace again, Grandfather is listed on the Class Roll for Sophomores in the 1923 issue of the Phoenician yearbook.6

In the 1923 edition, individual student photos were included for every class, not just seniors. However, since none of the individual photos are identified with names (except seniors), I had to again guess which one was Grandfather, based on a comparison of his features in later photos.

Wallace also belonged to an honor society that year.

William Wallace Greene , Parnassus Society
William Wallace Greene is in the top row, fourth from the right. Click image for larger view. 7
Grandfather’s senior yearbook provides information about the Parnassus Society.

 The scholarship Club, or Parnassus Society, is a club composed of about sixty students made up of the school’s scholars. To be eligible to this club one must have grades of at last two “ones” and two “twos”, or three “ones” and one “three”. The Scholarship Club was organized three years ago as a local club. It has since then gained national recognition and is now one of the most important clubs in the school. This year the Scholarship Club put on two very successful banquets and sponsored an interesting assembly.8

Junior Class, 1924

The 1924 edition of the yearbook included individual student photos just for the senior class. The junior class–Wallace’s class–has a big group photo in which the students are so tiny that I cannot even begin to try to identify Grandfather Greene.

William Wallace Greene, Junior Class Photo
Junior class photo, 1924.9
The yearbook includes a note about Grandfather under the Music Department page, indicating that he played in the band and qualified for the Coyote Emblem.10

I was not able to identify Wallace in any club or activity photos for that year, and since members were not identified by name, I could not find him by name either.

Senior Class, 1925

His senior yearbook is where I struck gold with Grandfather Greene. Despite first reviewing these yearbooks back in November, I made a new discovery last week. Which did not pop up in the initial November 2014 results, when I had searched under the proper spelling of his/our surname–Greene, with an “e” at the end. Silly me. I should know better. By failing that first time to search under all variant spellings, I missed the best information item of them all.

Right there, in the section of individual senior photos, is Grandfather’s senior photo.

But that’s not all. Right next to his photo is… his signature! The yearbook copy that Ancestry digitized was owned by someone who knew my husband’s grandfather, and had Grandfather sign the yearbook.

William Wallace Greene, 1925 Class Photo
1925 senior class photo, with his signature.11
Special mention is made about Grandfather Greene at the Coyote Club banquet on the night of 22 January 1925. “The musical program consisted of a vocal solo by Miss Methel Ingraham and a horn solo by Wallace Greene accompanied by Nell Greene.”12 Nell Greene was Grandfather’s younger sister.


#52Ancestors: Bible-Walking-and-Talking Great Grandmother “GG” Veronica Dorris

Veronica Dorris GreeneMy 50th entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks family history blogging challenge.

The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

My 50th ancestor is my husband Jeff’s great grandmother Veronica Victoria Dorris (1883-1982). Called Ronnie by close family, her great grandchildren affectionally refer to her as “GG”.

I have briefly mentioned Veronica and her husband William Wallace Greene (1869-1944) before, when I found them in June 2012 on the then-newly released 1940 US Census. And I have written quite a bit more about her son, William Wallace Greene (1908-2003), the U.S. Army Lt. Colonel and surgeon I profiled as my week 5 ancestor, who helped treat concentration camp survivors when the camps were liberated at the close of WWII. Veronica and William Sr. also had a daughter, Nelle Dorris Greene, who I have not discussed yet.

My husband talks fondly of his GG, and still owns the Bible she gave him as a little boy — his very first Bible. Our Christian faith is important to my husband, so he has hung on to and treasured this special significant gift from his great grandmother.

Bible gift from Veronica Victoria Dorris
Christmas gift from GG to 9 year old great grandson Jeff Greene. His first Bible, well worn.

Until recently, I only briefly did any research on Veronica’s side. But have focused on this line quite a bit over the past month, and her family history has been fascinating. Veronica’s extended family is credited with pioneering and building up what became the city of Phoenix, and also being among those most influential in gaining statehood for Arizona. But, I will share those discoveries in later posts about those family members.

Birth and Childhood

Veronica was born 20 May 1883 in rural Mississippi, allegedly in the small town of Kilmichael (Montgomery County). I have not found a birth record for her, but secondary records indicate this as her birthplace. Her father was Luther Green Dorris (1856-1931). I have not confirmed her mother’s name, however. I find three different names listed on various family trees for the wife of Luther Green Dorris: a Dorcy, Charlotte Rebecca Ingram (the most referenced), and a Ledonia F. Since I don’t have a birth record yet for Veronica, I don’t know which of these women were her mother. I also haven’t yet found any marriage records for Luther to confirm the name of his wife or wives.

Veronica appears to be the oldest of five children born to Luther, and probably Charlotte. I have identified the following siblings, listed in birth order: Maud Mae Dorris, Luther Caswell Dorris, Reba Rececca Dorris, and Lizzie Dorris.

I also think Veronica was named after her aunt Veronica Emma Dorris, Luther’s youngest sibling, and only 13 years older than our Ronnie.

Arizona and Marriage

At some point Veronica moved away from her parents to Phoenix, Arizona, where her father’s brothers were already established pioneers and businessmen who are credited with helping to shape Phoenix’s history. Ronnie married in Arizona, and lived there the remainder of her life. I do not know when Veronica moved to Arizona, but it was at least by 1906, when she married.

I am greatly curious about why she moved to Arizona. Although she had a lot of family there, Veronica’s parents do not appear to have left Mississippi. She was a good Christian girl, but was she seeking a bit of adventure  by moving to a wild west territory, yet safely, among a network of family there? Her wedding took place just 25 years after the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tucson. Did respiratory issues force her to move there? Did she move to help care for a family member? I have not yet found Veronica and her parents on the 1900 U.S. Census or the elusive 1890 one that probably no longer exists. I am hoping those records will lend a bit more evidence to the suspicion that Veronica left her family behind in Mississippi, or refute that suspicion and show me that her father — like so many of his brothers — moved to Arizona as well, but later returned to and died in Mississippi.

Veronica and William married on 14 June 1906 in Phoenix (now Maricopa County), Arizona (a territory for six more years). Ronnie was 24 when she married, I imagine this was considered late for a southern Christian woman. William waited until 37 to marry! The Arizona Republican covered their wedding (remember, Veronica came from an influential Phoenix family), describing it as “one of the prettiest church weddings celebrated in Phoenix in some time.” They called the couple “well known young people of this city” (William, young?..at 37?) and noted that “both of the couple are prominent members of the First Baptist Church.”

Wedding article about Jeff's great grandparents.
The Arizona Republican, 15 Jun 1906, Fri, Page 4. Courtesy of Newspapers.com. Click image to view a larger copy.

In a family history handwritten by her father-in-law on 25 May 1908, Veronica’s husband’s father mentions that his son William Wallace is “married to a dear girl Miss Ronnie Dorris a great church worker, who loves loves [yes, stated twice] “Daddy” Greene.”

Post-Wedding Years and Death

Veronica appears to have lived in Phoenix for the remainder of her life, even after her husband William died in 1944. I find her there on the 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 U.S. Censuses, as well as on city directories up through 1956.

Veronica Dorris with Children
Veronica with her son William Wallace Greene and daughter-in-law Jean Alice Harless.

In the 1940 Census, it notes that 8th grade was the highest level of education achieved by Veronica (her husband completed high school, but no college). Ronnie must have been immensely proud that her son went on to college, med school, and became a surgeon! She also lived long enough to know that her grandchildren finished college as well (her grandson went on to earn a Ph.D.).

She died 29 April 1982, and is buried in Tempe Double Butte Cemetery in Tempe, Arizona, in what looks like a Greene family plot, I assume next to or near her husband.

Veronica Dorris, Nelle Greene, Greene Boys
Veronica Dorris with her daughter Nelle and great grandsons (from her grandson). My husband is on the left.

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Census Sunday: William Wallace Greene Jr Counted Twice on 1930 Census

William Wallace Greene, 1929
The Stanford Quad yearbook, Stanford University, 1929. Image courtesy of Ancestry.com.

One little census oddity in our family history involves my husband’s grandfather, William Wallace GREENE, Jr. (1908-2003).

Wallace — his preferred name — was counted twice on the U.S. Census in 1930. He was enumerated on April 4th with his parents in Phoenix, Arizona and again on April 8th in San Francisco, California.

Both censuses identify Wallace as a single 21 year old college student. According to the autobiography he wrote for his family, Wallace would have been a medical student at Stanford at this time. This appears to be the period between receiving his A.B. in Pre-Clinical Sciences in 1929, and his internship in 1932-33 at Lane-Stanford Hospital in San Francisco.

While it is possible that Wallace was in Phoenix the day the census enumerator visited his family, and then was back in his college boarding home in San Francisco four days later, my hunch is that he was not actually living (and was not visiting) his family home at this time. I think Wallace’s parents (it was most likely his Mom who would’ve been home to talk to the census taker ) did not yet consider their son permanently moved away from home and a California resident. They might have still expected him to return to Phoenix to live. When I went away to college, I was never really sure where I should be registered to vote (my college county, or my family home county) or which place to list as my official residence. I am sure my parents still considered their home my official residence, and would have responded as such if visited by a census taker. I think the same thing happened to Wallace. There is nobody left alive from this period to confirm my hunch.

So, I just have to note this hunch in my residence and census records for Wallace.

At least the details on each census match. There are no discrepancies.

Wallace on the 1930 U.S. Census in Phoenix, Arizona.
Wallace on the 1930 U.S. Census in Phoenix, Arizona. Enumerated with his parents, sister Nelle, and two lodgers at 517 N. 2nd Street. Wallace is highlighted in yellow. Image courtesy of Ancestry.com.

1930 US Census, San Francisco, California.
Wallace on the 1930 U.S. Census in San Francisco, California. Enumerated with his fellow “roomers” in a boarding house. at 2321 Sacramento Street. Wallace is highlighted in yellow. Image courtesy of Ancestry.com.

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#52Ancestors: Lt. Colonel William Wallace Greene, M.D.

Lt. Colonel, William Wallace Greene.
Lt. Colonel William Wallace Greene, M.D. U.S. Army, World War II.

My 5th week in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge.

The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

This week’s ancestor is my husband’s grandfather, William Wallace “Wallace” Greene (1908-2003), who my husband’s family believes shares a common ancestor with Revolutionary War Hero Major General Nathanael Greene (although I have not proven or disproven that yet through evidence). In preparing for my visit to the Family History Library this week during RootsTech, I have been going through family files passed down by my father-in-law, and came across this biography written by my father-in-law before Wallace died in 2003.

So, I am cheating a bit here since I do not have to write a history myself. I hope my husband, his brother, and his cousins know how lucky they are to have this type of history compiled while their grandfather was still alive. I wish I had this gift for any of my grandparents.

William Wallace Greene Jr.

Dr. William Wallace Greene was born on August 26, 1908, in Phoenix, Arizona, son of William Wallace Greene (1869-1944) and Veronica (Dorris) Greene (1883-1982). He attended McKinley Grammar School through 3rd grade, and Monroe Grammar School through 8th grade. He took a college prep program at Phoenix Union High School, during which time he worked as a stockboy at S.H. Kress. In his junior and senior year summers he worked for Valley Bank in Phoenix, first as a bank runner, then as a book-keeper running a posting machine. He said he almost went into banking because he enjoyed this job.

Willieam Wallace Greene 1929 Stanford
The Stanford Quad yearbook, Stanford University, 1929. Image courtesy of Ancestry.com.

In 1925, at the age of 16, he went to the University of Redlands as a pre-medical student. At Redlands he was on the track team (ran the half-mile against UCLA), and was on the Freshman and Varsity Debating team. He won entrance into Phi Kappa Delta, the national debating fraternity. He also was admitted to Theta Alpha Phi, the national drama fraternity, for his efforts doing scenery and so on. He joined Alpha Gamma Nu, a local social fraternity and the Pre-medical fraternity while at Redlands as well. To support himself he waited tables at the men’s dining room in the dormitory. He attended Redlands through 1927.

William Wallace Greene Jean Alice Harless Honeymoon
Honeymooning in Arizona, after their quick weekend wedding.

In Fall 1927, he matriculated at Stanford University as a premedical student. For the first six months he lived at Encina Hall, and then pledged Phi Sigma Kappa. He also belonged to Phi Rho Sigma (medical fraternity) and played the baritone horn in the Stanford Marching Band. He entered medical school (at Stanford)in 1928 and received his A.B. in Pre-Clinical Sciences in 1929. His internship was spent 1932-33 at Lane-Stanford Hospital in San Francisco where he also met Jean Alice Harless (1912-2011) who was in nursing school. She became his wife on May 18, 1933, the same year he was awarded the M.D. degree. They went to Baltimore during 1933-34, where he was an intern in surgery at Johns Hopkins. 1934-35, he was back at Lane-Stanford as assistant resident in surgery. 1935-36, he was senior house officer in surgery at San Francisco Hospital (Stanford Service), and 1936-37, he served as resident in surgery at the same hospital.

Stanford Lane Hospital
Stanford-Lane Hospital in San Francisco. Courtesy of Stanford Medical History Center.

Wallace (he preferred to go by this name) began his private medical practice in San Francisco in 1937, with a specialization in abdominal surgery. The same year he joined the part-time faculty of Stanford Service as Instructor of Surgery, a position he held until 1941. Then life changed. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, he knew that his country would be needing medical personnel. On April 6, 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was given a commission as Major, assigned as a surgeon in the Medical Corps with the 59th Evacuation Hospital. Most of his time in the Army was spent in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Germany. He was discharged with the cessation of action in the european part of World War II, in September 1945. He had attained the ran of Lt. Colonel. He returned to San Francisco and resumed his medical career in private practice. Prior to leaving for the service Wallace and Jean had two children [names, dates, location omitted for privacy reasons].

59th Evacuation Hospital
59th Evacuation Hospital. Courtesy of Stanford Medical History Center.

Wallace’s son recently told me that his father said many of the doctors in the 59th Evac came from Stanford. They all  joined up together.

With his return to private practice, he also resumed teaching part-time with the Stanford Service as Assistant Clinical Professor or Surgery from 1946-49. From 1949-61, he was Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery, again at Stanford Service. When Stanford moved its medical school to Palo Alto, he became Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery for the medical school at University of California at San Francisco, where he served through 1971.

William Wallace Greene and Jean Alice Harless
Wallace and his wife Jean, in practice together.

Wallace and Jean moved from San Francisco to Tiburon (Marin County, California) in 1961, but Wally kept his practice in San Francisco. In 1971, they moved to Kauai (Hawaii) where he took the position as Medical Director and Surgeon at G.N. Wilcox Hospital in Lihue. He went into semi-retirement in 1976, and finally retired in December 1981, whereupon he and Jean returned to California and bought a home in Oakmont near Santa Rosa.

William Wallace Greene and Jeff Greene
Wallace with two of his grandsons, my husband (middle) and brother-in-law. I just love this photo! The boys are obviously pestering their grandfather while he tries to read the paper.
William Wallace Greene Jean Alice Harless
Wallace and his bride Jean, late in life.

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Rosie Salas (b. ca. 1923): Busting Through a 15 Year Brickwall

1940 U.S. Census for Rosie Salas and her mother Victoria. Courtesy of Ancestry.com.

Yesterday, I stated that the May 2013 discovery of the marriage records for my grandmother Rosie Salas and my grandfather Benjamin Robledo (1919-1990) was the first brickwall I overcame in the 15 years I have been trying to find information about my lost grandmother’s birthplace and family.

I was wrong.

In going back through my research records for Rosie after I published that post, I realized that I had actually discovered the 1940 and 1930 U.S. Census records for Rosie almost a year prior in July 2012, and had even saved those records. But those census records were just hunches, because I had absolutely no other information to corroborate against the biographical and family data provided about Rosie on those two censuses. I had been blindly searching for any Rosie (or Rosa or Rose) Salas born in Arizona since her Arizona birth was the only biographical information Rosie passed down to my father.

The marriage record was the first source I found that confirmed the information I had found in those two census records. My hunch had been right. This appears to be the same Rosie Salas, at about the same age, with a mother named Victoria Jimenez.

According to the 1940 U.S. Census (taken 3 April 1940):

  • The family lived on rural Highway 99 in Coachella (Riverside County), California.
  • Rosie (Rosa) was 15 years old, single, attending school (8th grade the highest grade completed), and not working. She was reportedly born in Arizona.
  • Her mother Victoria Jimenez was the head of household, 48 years old, widowed, had completed up to the 5th grade, was not working, and had no income. She was reportedly born in New Mexico.
  • A Richard Coleman is listed as Victoria’s son, meaning Rosie’s brother. He was 29 years old, single, had completed up to the 7th grade, and was unemployed for 2 weeks looking for work as a farm laborer. He was reportedly born in New Mexico.
  • A David Coleman is also listed as Victoria’s son, meaning Rosie’s brother. He was 25 years old, single, had completed up to the 6th grade, and was employed as a farm laborer. He was reportedly born in New Mexico.
  • The entire household lived in Phoenix, Arizona on 01 April 1935, but not on a farm.
1930 U.S. Census for Rosie Salas and her mother. Courtesy of Ancestry.com.

According to the 1930 U.S. Census (taken 16 April 1930):

  • The family lived on 23 Avenue in Orme (Maricopa County), Arizona, in a rented home on a farm.
  • Rosie (Rosa) is listed under the surname Coleman (due to her brother being head of household), was 6 years old, attending school, but not yet able to read or write, Mexican race. Reportedly born in Arizona, with her mother and father born in New Mexico.
  • Victoria is listed under the surname Coleman (due to her son being head of household), was 39 years old, widowed, able to read and write, able to speak English (Mexican race), and not working. Reportedly born in New Mexico, with parents born in New Mexico.
  • Victoria’s oldest son Richard (Ricardo) Coleman is listed as the head of household, 19 years old, single, not attending school or college, able to read wand write, able to speak English (Mexican race), and employed as a general farm laborer. Reportedly born in New Mexico, with parents born in New Mexico.
  • Victoria’s younger son David Coleman was 16 years old, single, not attending school or college, able to read and write, able to speak English (Mexican race), and employed as a general farm laborer. Reportedly born in New Mexico, with parents born in New Mexico.
  • Richard also supported three young cousins who lived with them: Albina Mate (11), Clara Mate (9), Jauna Mate (5). All reportedly born in New Mexico, with parents born in New Mexico.
My father does not recall his mother ever mentioning brothers, particularly with a surname like Coleman. But it sounds like Richard and David might have been half-brothers to Rosie, born to Virginia and a previous husband with the last name Coleman.

Anniversaries: My Husband’s Grandparents Married 80 Years Ago Today

William Wallace Greene Jean Alice Harless Honeymoon
William Wallace and Jean Alice (Harless) Greene, in Arizona during a quick weekend away from college to get married.

Eighty years ago today, my husband’s grandparents — William Wallace “Wally” Greene (b. 1908) and Jean Alice Harless (b. 1912) — married in Maricopa County, Arizona.

I don’t know much about their marriage. I don’t have a copy of their marriage license or any wedding photos of the two of them together. I am sure I can ask their children for these (Jean and Wally are both deceased)…just haven’t gotten around to it yet. I like to try to hunt these types of things down for myself.

I am not even sure how they met. Wally hailed from Arizona, Jean grew up in San Francisco, California and came from a family with long ties to the Bay Area and northern California. Wally attended college and medical school at Stanford University…so they must have met at that time.

My husband and I need to make the time to talk to their children and find out more about Jean and Wally’s courtship, wedding, and early marriage. I tend to be really bad about spending time on more immediate ancestors, focusing instead on more distant discoveries. But the stories of our immediate families are just as important, and I want to be able to pass down the story of Wally and Jean to our own children. So perhaps this task will be a goal I set for this year.

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1940 Census Stories: William Wallace Greene And Veronica (Dorris) Greene

1940 US Census image courtesy of FamilySearch.org. Click on the image for a larger view.
After last week’s 1940 US Census discovery on Ancestry of my grandfather Michael Flanagan’s census record, I decided to hop on FamilySearch.org tonight to see what states they have indexed, and was quite pleased to see that Arizona is already fully indexed.
A quick search quickly revealed the census record for my husband’s great-grandparents William Wallace Greene and Veronica (Dorris) Greene, enumerated on April 25, 1940, in the city of Phoenix (Maricopa), Arizona. They are listed in Enumeration District 7-41A, Sheet No. 61B, on lines 62 and 63.  Unlike the 1930 US Census, at this time, no family or lodgers were living with the Greenes.
William (1869-1944) is described as 71 years of age, having completed 4 years of college, and was currently not working. At his age, I assume he was retired rather than jobless — my husband says that he had always heard that Great-Grandfather Greene never went unemployed during the Depression.  Significantly for William who died in 1944, this particular US Census would be his final one. William had moved to Arizona from Illinois sometime between 1880 (the 1880 US Census places him in Arizona still) and 1900 (listed in Arizona on that year’s US Census), when Arizona was still just a territory. I am missing that elusive 1890 US Census that would help me narrow down when he left Illinois.
William Wallace Greene, Sr. (1869-1944)
Veronica “Ronnie” Dorris (c. 1884 – ?) is described as 51 years of age (I hadn’t realized that she was 20 years younger than her husband), having completed an 8th grade education, and not employed. Veronica had been born in Mississippi, and had moved to Arizona by the 1910 US Census. I have only recently started exploring Veronica’s “Dorris” family line.
Veronica (Dorris) Greene (c. 1884 – ?), with my husband Jeff.