David Maxson Greene

David Maxon Greene, C.E., son of Joseph Langford and Susannah (Maxson) Greene, was born July 8th, 1832, in Brunswick, Rensselaer County, N.Y. His family is descended from John Greene, who emigrated from England in 1635, and settled in Rhode Island, where he was associated with Roger Williams. His mother descended from Rev. John Maxson, the first white child born on Rhode Island, R.I. At the age of three years he was taken to Adams, N.Y., where his family continued to reside, and where he was brought up on a farm. His schooling was in the district school until he was fifteen years of age, when he attended the Adams Seminary. In October, 1850, at eighteen years of age, he entered the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and was admitted to the graduating class, consisting of twenty-four members; he was one of the four, out of this number, who passed the examinations and were graduated, August 29th, 1851, as civil engineers.

Immediately upon graduation, he was appointed assistant to the professor of mechanics and physics in the Institute, remaining until the spring of 1852, when having been appointed assistant engineer on the enlargement of the Erie canal, he relinquished his position. He rose through the grades of chainman, rod-man, assistant leveler, and leveler. In September, 1853, he went west, and was employed as assistant and division engineer on railroads in Ohio and Indiana. After a year's service, he was prostrated with sickness and returned east. In September, 1855, he was appointed professor of geodesy and topographical drawing in the Institute. In order to prepare himself hor his work, he spent part of this first year at West Point, as a pupil of the late General Thomas H. Neill, United States Army, taking a course in topographical drawing. His success in his department was immediate and rapid, the work of his classes being quite equal to that at West Point. He held this professorship until the spring of 1861, when he was appointed third assistant engineer in the United States Navy. He was, at the same time, offered a position as chief topographical engineer for the Government of Peru, for five years, at a large salary, which he declined.

He was ordered to the frigate Susquehanna, upon which he served sixteen months, participating in the engagements at Hatteras , Port Royal, Fortress Monroe, and the capture of Norfolk, and doing blockade duty along the coast from Hatteras to Mobile. In September, 1862, he was detached, and ordered to the United States Naval Academy, as senior assistant in the department of natural and experimental philosophy, and as instructor in steam engineering. After remaining three years in this position, he was detached and ordered to duty as assistant to the chief of the bureau of steam engineering in the Navy Department at Washington, where he remained for three years, during which time he was detailed as a member of a commission appointed by the U.S. Treasury Department to devise a means to secure the collection of the revenue on distilled spirits. Subsequently he was ordered to the United States steamer Narragansett, as chief engineer, in the West India squadron. Yellow fever broke out on board, and Engineer Greene was attacked. The vessel was ordered north and went out of commission. Next Engineer Greene was detailed as chief engineer of the Port Admiral's vessel in New York harbor, but in 1869 he resigned from the navy, having served about eight and a half years.

After resigning, he settled in Troy, and began the practice of his profession as civil, mechanical and hydraulic engineer, and as consulting engineer and expert. In 1872 he was appointed chief engineer of the proposed Walloomsac railroad; also consulting engineer of the Ottawa City Water Works, Canada. In 1873, he was appointed chief engineer of the Dansville Water Works, Livingston County, N.Y., and in 1874 Village Surveyor of West Troy, N.Y. He served as engineer to the State Commission appointed to examine plans for introducing steam on the canals, from 1871 to1874. IN 1874 he was appointed division engineer on the New York state canals. In July of the same year he was appointed Deputy State Engineer, and served until January 1, 1878. From 1872 to January 7th, 1885, he was engineer of the Troy City Water Board. He [was] also a general consulting engineer.

In September, 1878, he accepted the appointment of Director of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He [was] a director of the Troy City National Bank, and the Troy Citizens' Steamboat Co.

He married Maria N. Skinner, second daughter of the late Hon. Calvin Skinner, of Adams, N.Y., January 31st, 1855.

Nason, Henry B., ed. Biographical Record of the Officers and Graduates of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1824-1886. Troy, NY: William H. Young, 1887, pp. 131-132.

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