Sue Young Histories

Cordelia Agnes Greene 1831 - 1905

January 20, 2008

Cordelia Agnes Greene
1831-1905Cordelia Agnes Greene 1831-1905 was the daughter of Jabez Greene, hydropathist and Castille Water Cure proprietor. Cordelia worked as a nurse at the Castille Water Cure and after her medical training (at the homeopathic Female Medical College of Pennsylvania and the Cleveland Homeopathic Hospital), at the Clifton Springs Water Cure.

After her father’s death in 1864, Cordelia took over the running of the Castille Sanitarium. She was active in the Suffrage movement, involved in the WCTU, the New York State Medical Society and the Women’s Medical Society of the State of New York.

On enrollment in 1855 at the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania… Greene, typically bold, declared the names of two preceptors: Dr. Jabez Greene, her father, and Dr. Thomas Seelye, her employer at the Cleveland Water Cure, both well known Hydropathists.

taught in country schools until her father opened a water-cure sanitarium in Castile, New York in 1849. Greene quit teaching and went to work for her father as a nurse in the sanitarium.

She moved to Philadelphia and enrolled in the newly-opened Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, where she became their first student to receive a medical degree, in 1853.

She continued her studies in Cleveland, where she graduated with honors from Cleveland Medical College (later Case Western Reserve) in 1856. One of the three women in her class was Marie Zakrzewska, who later went on to found the New England Hospital for Women and Children.

Greene returned to Upstate New York after her graduation and assumed a position as the assistant to Dr. Henry Foster, a fellow graduate of Cleveland Medical College who owned the water cure establishment in Clifton Springs.

Cordelia Greene was a respected member of the medical community. She often gave lectures on preventive medicine, and at one point chaired the Educational Committee of the Woman’s Medical Society of New York State.

A member of the American Medical Association (AMA), she served on the AMA’s Committee for Preventive Medicine. She was also a member of the New York State Medical Association, and served as president of their Wyoming County branch, which often held their meetings at her facility.

One of her assistants at the Sanitarium, Dr. Clara Swain, was a sister graduate of the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania who later went on to become a medical missionary in India, where she was to establish the first hospital for women in Asia.

Greene supported a number of reform causes throughout her life, including temperance and women’s suffrage. She was active in the Wyoming County Suffrage Association, and she served for many years as president of the local Political Equality Club. One year she refused to pay her taxes in order to protest her lack of the right to vote.

She was also known as a generous financial donor to the cause of suffrage. She donated a $500 subscription, which was eventually used to help publish the  History of Woman Suffrage.

Greene was known for generosity and warmth in her private life and as a citizen of Castile as well. Although she never married, she adopted six children, and her home and sanitarium became a popular resting spot for such famous activists as Susan B. AnthonyFrances Willard and  Mary A. Livermore.

Greene was also involved in the Presbyterian church home, served on foreign missionary boards, and was instrumental in the formation of the Castile Public Library. This library, named in her honor, was built on land she donated in 1897 at 11 South Main Street. Greene also provided the library with a $12,000 endowment and $500 for books.

Greene died on January 28, 1905. Her funeral was in Castile and her ashes are in Grace Cemetery.

The Cordelia A. Greene Library, established in 1897 under the Board of Regents was started by doctor and philanthropist Cordelia Agnes Greene

Cordelia wrote The Art of Keeping Well: Or, Common Sense Hygiene for Adults and Children, Build Well: The Basis of Individual, Home, and National Elevation, The Castile Sanitarium Cook Book and A thesis on prolapsus uteri : and other malpositions of the abdominal & pelvic viscera.

Frances Willard wrote about her in her Journal.