Photo Credit: Rosa G. Gonzales
Harry is one of the younger children 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 mother Ellen Benson listed as a domestic servant for William Headen and his 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 (p. 160B) Ellen’s future husband, Gabriel Green, is listed with the household of Sydney Page who is a cattle driver with wife and 7 children. The Page family is also African-American, and they house George and Sarah Black as well as Gabriel Green. Gabriel 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 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).
Harry was born in the late 1880s so he would have shown up in the 1890 census if those documents had survived. Unlike his sisters Myrtle and Laura who died at ages 12 and 9 years old, Harry did live to an older age so he appears in the 1900 census with his parents. In that census (E. D. 133, page 8A) Gabe and Ellen have only son Harry living with them on Tancahua Street. Harry is 12 years old and in school. His father Gabe is now a drayman. Gabe says that he was born in Louisiana (as well as his parents), and Ellen says that she and her parents were born in Texas. In this census Ellen also says that Harry is the only child (of 7 born to her) who now survives. That would mean that besides Myrtle and Laura (who died prior to 1900) four other siblings must have already died. However, their names are not on the Green grave marker in Old Bayview Cemetery. It is unclear if the others were infants who were simply buried in the family yard (which was quite common in those days) or if they too may be buried in Old Bayview Cemetery with the rest of the family, and without their names noted. As the marker is of a newer style, it may mean that those who put up the marker were simply unaware of these other children or that they died so young (like stillborns) that they were unnamed. In the 1910 census records (E. D. 102, page 15) Gabe and Ellen are now living alone. Ellen reports that none of her seven children survive at this point. The couple still lives on Tancahua Street (924 Tancahua according to the city directory of 1907-08), but Harry had died in 1908 so they must support one another still. Gabe is working as a drayman, and the 1907-08 city directory indicates that Ellen is working as a cook. In the 1920 census record of Nueces County (E. D. 179, p. 16, line 62) Ellen lists herself as 63 years old and living alone at 924 Tancahua. Her obituary in 1935 also remarks how she is known by many of the housewives and club women of the city because of her services as a maid and cook. With her children all deceased by 1908 and her husband 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