Jonathan C. Greeley was born at Palermo, Waldo County, Maine, July 6th, 1833. His father was an industrious farmer, but in straitened circumstances, and the son had not only to work early and after while attending the district school, but also to earn the money during vacations with which to pay his board and tuition at New Castle Academy. His father was not only poor, but in debt, and it is indicative of the character of the son that he devoted his first earnings, after leaving college, to paying off a mortgage on his father's farm. Soon after his graduation, ill health forcing him to seek a milder climate, he removed to Florida, where, with renewed health, he soon took an active part in public affairs, and was elected to the City Council of Palatka. During the Civil War, while outspoken for the Union, he remained a non-combatant. In 1862-63 he represented Putnam County in the Legislature, and soon after, having removed to Duval County, he was its Treasurer until 1876. In 1873 he was elected Mayor of Jacksonville, and in 1882 he was elected State Senator. In the Senate he served with distinguished ability, his conservative and consistent course making him warm and valued friends, even in the ranks of his political opponents. So strong, indeed, was this element that Mr. Greeley was induced, in 1884, to become a candidate for Lieutenant-Governor, but strong as was his personal following and general popularity, they failed to break party lines, and he was defeated. He was also, in 1886, a candidate for Congress, which, from the same cause, produced a like result. He was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1885, which promulgated the present Constitution of Florida.
In 1874 the Florida Savings Bank and Real Estate Exchange was organized, of which he was President for thirteen years, and until it went out of business. In 1888 the Land Mortgage Bank, of London, England, was organized in Jacksonville, with Greeley, Rollins & Morgan, as resident agents. It has a capital of $2,500,000. He is President of the Florida Finance Company, with a capital of $250,000; President of the Indian River Pineapple and Cocoanut Grove Association, which owns vast tracts of land on the famous Indian River, and in other parts of the State, including some fine phosphate property near Dunnelon. Mr. Greeley, aside from politics, has always been prominent in public enterprises, and has ever taken a keen interest in public affairs. He was one of the original Trustees of St. Luke's Hospital, of the Daniel Memorial Orphanage, and also of the Jacksonville Public Library. When the Board of Public Works was established, in 188, he was made the first Chairman. For sevral years he held the responsible position of Deputy Collector of Internal Revenue for Florida. During the epidemic of 1888 he was First Vice-President of the Board of Trade.
Of some men it is said that their friends are among the best and most prominent people. Of Mr. Greeley, it is remarked that his friends include all classes, and that he is as ready to lend a sympathetic ear to the distresses laborer -- white or colored -- as to the highest in the land.
Mr. Greeley has one fo the most attractive home in the City, in Riverside suburb, overlooking the St. Johns. He was first married, in 1858, to Lydia, daughter of Judge W. A. Forward, of Palatka, by whom he had one son. Mother and son were lost at sea in October, 1865. His second marriage was to Miss Leonora Keep, of Lake City, in 1867, who died in April, 1886. He has three children: Allan, who has just graduated from the University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor; he was previously graduated from Yale; Florence, now Mrs. Dr. James G. DeVeaux, of New York, and Mellen, aged fourteen, at school in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Mr. Greeley comes of a long-lived family. His mother, who was Sally Choate, cousin of Rufus Choate, was buried on her eighty-seventh birthday, while her brother Rufus was ninety-seven last March. Some of his grand-parents passed the century mark.