Photo Credit: Rosa G. Gonzales
Little Myrtle was a member 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 her mother Ellen Benson listed as 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 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 African-American, and they house also 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). Myrtle would have been born 10 years after Gabe and Ellen married, but she does not appear in any census records (as the 1890 full census of Texas counties was lost in a fire in the archives of the census records). By the 1900 census (E. D. 133, page 8A) Gabe and Ellen only have son Harry living with them on Tancahua Street. Harry (12 years old) is in school and Gabe is working now as a drayman. Gabe reports that he was born in June of 1851 in Louisiana (as well as his parents), and Ellen says that she was born in March of 1854 in Texas (as well as parents).
In this census record Ellen says that Harry is the only one of seven children she bore who presently lives. That would mean that Myrtle and five others were already deceased. However, only Myrtle, her older sister Laura, and her younger brother Harry have their names on the grave marker with their parents. 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 on the marker.
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 stillborn) that they were unnamed. In the 1910 census record (E. D. 102, page 15) Gabe and Ellen are now living alone. Ellen says none of her seven children survive her. The couple still live 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 still a drayman, and the 1907-08 city directory of Corpus Christi indicates that Ellen is serving as a cook. 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