George Hobe Greenwell (1887-1918) : A Short, Difficult Life in Louisville KY

George Hobe Greenwell was a paternal great-uncle of my husband.

From the evidence I have been able to gather from public records, he appears to have experienced hardship and disappointment in life, although there is nothing I have found that would support this conclusion I have come to on my own.

George has always been something of a lost character on the family tree. No one living by the late 1980s, when I started researching my husband’s family tree, seems to have known he existed. Fairly early on, I had found him in the 1900 and 1910 Federal Census of Jefferson County, Kentucky, but that was all I had to work with. Later, when researching his older brother, Ulysses (my husband’s paternal great-grandfather), I found his grave at the St. Stephen’s Cemetery in Louisville, near Ulysses’. Their parents and other family were also buried nearby.

It was not until this past year that I was able to flesh out his story and understand more about his life.

George Greenwell has become one of those people who weigh heavy on my heart. I feel sadness because I know he must have made sacrifices for his family and did not live long enough to establish and raise a family of his own.

George Hobe Greenwell was born to Joseph William Greenwell and Catherine Eliza Walker.  on 23 June 1887, near Bardstown, Nelson County, KY. He was the 10th of 16 children born to Joseph and Kate.

Thus far, I have only been able to account for 12 of the 16 children, but the 1900 Federal Census indicates that 10 were still living in 1900.

In 1900, George is 12 years old and attending school. He resides in Spring Garden, Jefferson County, Kentucky with his parents and his two younger sisters, Nora (10 years old) and Carrie (7 years old).

George’s older brother Ulysses (24 years old) and his family live next door.Their father is noted to be a farmer in this census; his mother is not employed, and Ulysses is a day laborer.

On 14 April 1908, George’s father dies of Pulmonary Tuberculosis in Jefferson County, Kentucky.

By the 1910 Federal Census, George, who is 22 years old, lives with his mother and younger sisters Nora (19 years old) and Carrie 17 years old) on Shelby Street in the Spring Garden District, Jefferson County, Kentucky.  He is single and working as a Band Sawyer at a saw mill. His mother (Eliza – Her name is Catherine Eliza and she went by “Kate” as well as “Eliza”) is 62 years old and is not noted to be employed. Nora is a Labeller at a tobacco factory. Carrie is not employed; I assume she may still be in high school.

George’s WWI Draft Registration card, dated 5 June 1917, indicates that he was residing at 685 Lynn Street, Louisville, Jefferson County, KY.  He was employed as a Band Sawyer at BF Avery & Sons in Louisville KY.George was single and reported that his mother was solely dependent on him for support. He never served in the military.  He was noted to be tall and slender, had hazel eyes and brown hair. He was not bald. WWIDraft record notes that he does not have forefinger on right hand.On 18 October 1917, George’s mother died of a Cerebral Hemorrhage in Louisville, Jefferson, County, KY. She was living at 683 Lynn Street, as per her death certificate. The informant on the Death Certificate was Henry Greenwell of 676 Lynn Street, Louisville. Henry Greenwell is another of George’s older brothers, William Henry, born in 1871. Like his mother, he is alternately found as “William” and “Henry”. In the 1920 Federal Census, William Henry Greenwell still resides at 676 Lynn Street.

On 9 July 1818, George enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve Force. He was a painter, third class. As WWI would not end until 11 November 1918, it is not entirely clear if he enlisted or was drafted. His death record indicates he was enlisted.

On 25 September 1918, George Hobe Greenwell, age 31 years, 2 months, 23 days, died of Influenza at the Great Lakes Naval Hospital, Great Lakes, Lake County. IL.

Next of kin, as per the US Naval Casualties Books, was his sister Josephine Burnett who lived 1316 Preston Street, Louisville KY.


Year: 1900; Census Place: Spring Garden, Jefferson, Kentucky; Roll: 533; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 0151; FHL microfilm: 1240533

Year: 1910; Census Place: Spring Garden, Jefferson, Kentucky; Roll: T624_483; Page: 20A; Enumeration District: 0023; FHL microfilm: 1374496

Registration State: Kentucky; Registration County: Jefferson; Roll: 1653507; Draft Board: 3 Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: “Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916–1947.” Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2010. Index entries derived from digital copies of original records.

McHenry, Kathy. U.S. Naval Deaths, World War I [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 1999. U.S., Navy Casualties Books, 1776-1941 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors. Original data: Various volumes. Washington, D.C.: Navy Department Library. U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012. Original data: Find A Grave. Find A Grave.


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