William J. Greening was born in Michigan around 1862, the son of English immigrants. He grew up in Liberty Falls, New York (now Ferndale), with at least three siblings: James Gibbons, Llewellyn, and Grace Ella. In 1907, Greening successfully applied for a patent on a self-lubricating axle, which he then manufactured at the Greening Axle Company in Middletown, New York. He and his wife, Huldah A. Stanton, had at least six children: Arthur, Ethel, Mabel, Flora, Harry, and Hazel. Mabel Greening married Theodore Graham Staples on September 11, 1913, and Flora Greening married Frank House on October 14, 1919. William J. Greening died on February 20, 1941. His brother James owned the Maple Park Farm resort in Ferndale, New York.