Photo Credit: Rosa G. Gonzales
Gabriel Green is the patriarch of the Green family, African-Americans who lived in the Corpus Christi area as early as 1870 according to the census records. The 1870 census (sheet 8/page 149) shows his future wife Ellen Benson listed as a domestic servant for the William Headen family. She is listed as living with the family and probably helping both with housekeeping chores as well as care of the young people who had some mental problems according to the last will of their mother Margaret Headen. In that same 1870 census, Gabriel Green is listed with the household of Syndey Page who is a cattle driver with wife and 7 children.
The Page family is also African-American, and the house George and Sarah Black as well as Gabriel. Gabe gives his occupation as “driving cattle” so he is essentially a cowboy who probably was out on the range much of the time when not with the Page family. Gabriel Green and Ellen Benson married on 1 June 1874 before Elder Moses Sinclair (related to the Sinclair family members who are also in Old Bayview Cemetery). The record of the wedding can be found in Nueces County Marriage Records, volume D on page 103. In the early years of their marriage, Gabe and Ellen may have been separated much of the time by their work as Ellen is listed by herself, without husband or children, in the 1880 census of Nueces County (p.7A). She is now living with Post Master James W. Ward as a domestic servant, caring for the home and probably the couple’s two small children, Thomas (6 years old) and Mary (4 years old). The children buried with Gabe and Ellen in Old Bayview are all born after the beginning of 1880 so it could be that between their wedding in 1874 and 1880 they were separated much of the time. Gabe is not found in any Texas county census record in 1880 so it is unclear where he was at the time. However, in later census records, Ellen also indicates that she had lost other children born to her and there is no indication if these were born before or after 1880. In the 1900 census record of Nueces County (E. D. 133, page 8A) Gabe and Ellen have only one son, Harry, living with them on Tancahua Street.
Daughter Laura (1880-1889) and daughter Myrtle (1884-1896) had both died before adulthood, and Ellen says that a total of six of her children are already deceased. As there are no others listed on the family stone, it may mean that these other four died as infants and were buried in the family yard (as was quite common in those days). On the other hand, it may mean that their identification was unknown by the one who erected the family stone or even that they were so young when they died (such as stillborns) that they were unnamed and so were not included on the stone even if there where buried in the family plot with the rest of the family. In the 1900 census both Gabe and Harry are listed as draymen. It is the last census records in which Harry appears as he died in 1908, while only about 22 years old. In the city directory of 1907-08, Ellen is the only member of the family actually listed. She is working as a cook and her residence is still 924 Tancahua Street. Gabe appears for the last time in the 1910 census record of Nueces County (E. D. 102, sheet 3B) and is still working as a drayman. In this census, Ellen reports that all 7 children born to her are now deceased. Throughout the census records over the decades, Gabe lists himself and his parents as from Louisiana while Ellen lists herself from Texas (she only lists her parents from Texas in later records).
Early death records of Nueces County report that Gabe Green died November 20, 1911. In the 1920 census record Ellen is now living alone at 924 N. Tancahua and lists herself as 63 years old. Another Gabriel Green lives with his family at 803 Waco Street, but it is unclear if he is related (Nueces County E. D. 179, sheet 12). He is 32 years old and from Texas, but does not give the birthplace of his parents. His wife, Susie, is a 25 year old native of Texas; and her mother Zella Booker (a 45 year old widow) is living with the family. This Gabriel has young children Dorothy (5 years and 11 months old) and Curtis (3 years and 1 month old). He is working as a waiter at a local hotel, and his mother-in-law is helping to support the family by working as a private cook. The obituary of Ellen Green in 1935 remarks how she is known by many of the housewives and club women of the community of the city because of her services as a domestic and cook. With her children all deceased by 1908 and her husband Gabe dead by 1911, Ellen would have lived for another 24 years at 924 North Tancahua where the Caller reports she died in January of 1935.
Research and transcription: Michael A. Howell
3. Marriage and death information
Gabriel Green married Ellen Benson on June 1, 1874. Marriage was performed by Elder Moses Sinclair
Source: Nueces County Marriage Records, Vol D, p. 103.
Death certificate shows Gabe Green died November 20, 1911 in Nueces County.