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GREER, WILLIAM JEFFRIES

William Jeffries Greer (1853–1913).
William Jeffries Greer served in the Texas Senate in the Thirtieth through Thirty-third legislatures. Courtesy Legislative Reference Library of Texas and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

GREER, WILLIAM JEFFRIES (1853–1913). William Jeffries Greer, senator and president pro tempore of the Texas Senate, was born in South Carolina, on April 3, 1853. In 1864 Greer moved with his parents from South Carolina to Texas, where he remained until his death in 1913. He began his education in South Carolina and enrolled at Alexander’s Institute in Gilmer, Texas, after the family move. Greer completed his basic education at Alexander’s Institute and, upon graduating, began to work in a grocery store. For two years he was also a tax collector in Henderson County. He then became a teacher and worked in both Henderson and Van Zandt counties. During his teaching years, Greer applied his leisure time to the study of law, which enabled him to be admitted to the bar in 1880. He married Ella A. Gossett about 1879. They had eight children.

In 1888 Greer moved to Wills Point, Texas, where he had secured a position as an associate in a law practice with J. G. Kearby. Following his partnership with Kearby, Greer became a partner in the Wynne, Greer & Smith firm and years later established the firm of Greer & Greer with his son Earl M. Greer. 

The first public office that Greer held was on the Wills Point city council. At this time he was also on the school board. He was a member of a variety of organizations, including the Knights of Pythias, the Knights of Honor, and the Knights and Ladies of Honor. He was a Baptist and a Mason and was twice chosen as a delegate to the Grand Lodge of Masons at both Galveston and Houston. In 1902 Greer was elected district attorney for the seventh judicial district. This was followed by his 1906 unopposed election to the office of state senator. Greer, a Democrat for District 7 (Camp, Smith, Upshur, Van Zandt, and Wood counties), served in the Senate of the Thirtieth through Thirty-third legislatures from 1907 to 1913. During his tenure he served on nineteen different committees and chaired the Rules Committee (Thirtieth legislature) and Roads, Bridges and Ferries Committee (Thirty-first and Thirty-second legislatures). In the Thirty-third legislature, he was chosen by unanimous vote as the president pro tempore, a position he held until his death in Wills Point, Texas, on June 4, 1913.  His son Earl Greer succeeded him in the Texas Senate after winning the office in a special election.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Frank W. Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans (5 vols., ed. E. C. Barker and E. W. Winkler [Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1914; rpt. 1916]).  Legislative Reference Library of Texas: W. J. Greer (http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/legeLeaders/members/memberDisplay.cfm?memberID=2793&searchparams=chamber=~city=~countyID=0~RcountyID=~district=~first=~gender=~last=greer~leaderNote=~leg=~party=~roleDesc=~Committee=), accessed March 15 2017.

Caitlin Marks

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Handbook of Texas Online, Caitlin Marks, "Greer, William Jeffries ," accessed December 16, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fgree.

Uploaded on March 21, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.