Thyrza Ann Green — 1834-1903

Horace L. Green — February, 1898.

Thyrza Ann GreenOur Secret Partner: We publish as the frontispiece of this number of this magazine the portrait of Mrs. Thyrza Ann Green (right), a woman with whom we have been very intimately acquainted for the last thirty-two years, and we shall show that we have properly characterized her when we call her our “secret partner.” That, she has been, in every sense, in all the Free Thought work we have engaged in, ever since she became the wife of the writer. And before coming to the gist of the subject for which this editorial is principally written, we will give a very brief sketch of Mrs. Green’s life. She was born in London, July 1st, 1834; when nearly two years of age her parents came to America; shortly after their arrival her father died, then her mother married again, and not long thereafter her mother died, and about a year thereafter her stepfather married, and at the age of 12 years her only parents were a stepfather and a stepmother, who were in poor circumstances, and she was compelled to go out and do “house work” to support herself. During the time she lived with her step-parents she had very little opportunity to attend school.

At the age of 15 years Thyrza Ann Cox, for that was her maiden name, married Alexander Bregg, a liberal-minded, intelligent young man, whose profession was that of school teaching, and she not only became his wife but his pupil as well, and what education she has she is mostly indebted to him for. When the late war broke out her husband enlisted as a soldier in the One Hundred and Eighty-fifth New York Volunteers, and while in the discharge of his duty on the field was shot down. Mrs. Bregg was left a widow with two children. At that time we were in the pension business, procuring from the government pensions for wounded and disabled soldiers, and for the widows of soldiers. The writer was then a widower, having a short time previous lost a most estimable wife, who left him with three small children. And to “come to the important point,” as a lawyer would say, we procured the widow a pension, and not many months thereafter deprived her of it by marrying her. Looking at it from a financial standpoint this was a very poor bargain for the widow. Mrs. Green’s two sons lived to manhood, when the oldest, then some 30 years of age, died; the other son went to the Colorado silver mines to seek his fortune. He kept up a constant correspondence with his mother after he left home, until all of a sudden his letters ceased to come, and since them, some fifteen years, we have never heard anything from him. Mrs. Green has had one child since the marriage with the writer, who is known to our readers as H. G. Green, business manager of this magazine, and the present publisher of the “Little Freethinker.” When we removed this magazine from Buffalo to Chicago he left a lucrative position to come here to assist us in publishing the magazine, for which he is receiving no financial compensation other than his living. We hope he may be able to keep the magazine running many years after we have passed away.

We now come to the most important part of this article. Mrs. Green has done as much in her way to sustain and maintain this magazine as we have, and without her assistance it could never have been kept alive until now. For the first kw years of its existence she not only did all of the housework of our home but spent much time and labor in folding circulars and binding the magazine, and she was our “right hand man” in everything connected with it. Since we came to Chicago her son has relieved her from that labor. But the principal way she had aided the magazine has been with her frugality, with saving the dollars and cents that have come to us from our patrons. No one not acquainted with her can have any idea of her saving capacity. For all of this labor and sacrifice she has never received a dollar as we can remember, but in two instances, which we will here state:

In 1879 the New York State Free Thinkers’ Convention was held at Chautauqua Lake. Col. Ingersoll was one of the speakers. He lectured to a large concourse of people under the county fair tent, and the receipts of the lecture, at 25 cents admission, made quite a large sum. After the lecture we were deputized by the Finance Committee, of which W. S. Bell was chairman, to see Col. Ingersoll and ascertain what his charges were for the lecture. The Colonel’s answer was: “Not a dollar.” But when we reported his reply to the committee they said he must take his traveling expenses, and they handed us $25 to give to him, and ordered us to leave it with him if he would not willingly accept it. We did as the committee directed. Shortly after Col. Ingersoll, Mrs. Ingersoll and Mrs. Green were taking a walk out in the grove, and the Colonel said to Mrs. Green: “Mr. Green left $25 with me. I do not want it, and I will give it to you,” and handed her the money.

The second instance of her getting a present is the following: Some six years ago that well-known Free Thinker, D. A. Blodgett, of Grand Rapids, Mich., sent us a letter in which he enclosed a $50 check to aid this magazine. In the same letter he enclosed a check for $25, payable to Mrs. Green, and in the letter he wrote a few lines to Mrs. Green, telling her the $25 was for her individual benefit, and that under no circumstances must she lend or give it to her husband, which request we remember she kept to the letter.

This article is getting too long, and we will now bring it to a close by saying: On the 18th day of this month we shall be 70 years of age, and we cannot expect to live much longer. And we would like to see our good wife receive a little remuneration for her long and faithful services before our departure, and it would relieve our mind of a great load if we could be sure she would not be left homeless and penniless when the’ hour of our separation came. Therefore, we are going to request every subscriber to the magazine to send to her direct any sum, be it more or less, that he or she may feel it a privilege to send. If the amount received shall be sufficient she will use it to purchase a small cottage within an hour’s ride of this city, to be her individual property.

The reader may think we are not entirely disinterested in this matter, which we will readily admit, as we have no doubt she will allow us to occupy the cottage with her to the end of our life. If the contributions do not amount to a sufficient amount to purchase a small cottage, then she will use the money as she thinks pest. Please address all contributions to Mrs. T. A. Green, 213 East Indiana Street, Chicago, Ill. All sums will be acknowledged in future numbers of the magazine.

Note: Ironically, Mrs. Green’s “Widow’s Fund” was never needed, as she joined her husband silently in death in the early hours of October 30, 1903, when an open gas valve asphyxiated them both in their sleep.