• SavLegendsandMyths

THE SAGA OF DELIA GREEN

Developed in the 1850s, the land where Laurel Grove (cemetery) South is situated: was originally part of the Old Springfield Plantation....Today the cemetery is known for having more “Free African Americans” buried there, than any other cemetery in the South. Yet the cemetery also served as burial site for all African Americans (in Savannah) during the 19th and 20th centuries. Among the graves there is an unmarked grave for a young lady, who died tragically in 1900....Her name was Delia Green......

Delia's death was so tragic that it became immortalized in verse and song....Original recorded by the Famous Georgia Blues Singer Blind Willie McTell, in 1924....Since then several variations of the original ballad have been recorded by blues artists and folk singers since then. Most notable of the recordings were recorded by Bob Dylan and Johnnie Cash.......

The murder occurred on December 24, 1900 in the part of Savannah, west of MLK, known as Yamacraw.....On that fateful evening 14 year old Moses "Cooney" Houston shot and killed 14 year old Delia Green......The facts of the actual murder were uncovered by folklorist Robert Winslow Gordon from newspaper stories and trial transcripts.....

Delia and Cooney, both 14 years old, had been dating for several months when they were asked to attend a Christmas Eve party at the home of Delia's employer Willie West....Where she worked as a Scrub Girl.....During the evening, a drunken Cooney started to tease her, calling her his “little wife”....Intimating that she was his common law wife and that they had a sexual relationship...... Delia,strongly defended her chastity in front of the party's guests! Then in anger called Cooney a Son of Bitch.....The argument disrupted the party to the point where Mr West had to ask Cooney to leave! Outraged that he was asked to leave by the party's host, Cooney pulled out a revolver turned and fired it at Delia; striking her in the groin!...She died at 3am on Christmas morning at her mother's house on Ann Street

Mr West chased Cooney as he ran down the street and caught him! West then turned him over to police patrolman J. T. Williams who later testified that Cooney confessed to shooting Delia. He said he shot her and he would do it again!

A trial was held in the Spring of 1901, where the jury found him guilty, but recommended mercy. The presiding judge, Judge Paul F Seabrook sentenced him to life in prison instead of death.....paroled on October 15, 1913, by order of Governor John Slaton, he later moved to New York City, where he died in 1927.

Final Note: Cooney Houston lived at 122 Farm St., Delia Green lived at 113 Ann St., and she was murdered a block away at Willie and Emma West's home at 509 Harrison St.

Story sources: Murder by Gaslight and Murder Ballad Monday Blogsite

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