Eugene Green and the Bethel A.M.E. Church Choir

In keeping with the theme for this year’s Black History Month The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity, and the broadcast of Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s latest series The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song we are featuring a prominent musical couple from Bethel A.M.E. Church from the early 20th Century.

Eugene Green was born in Macon City, Missouri around 1864. We haven’t been able to confirm his birth date or his parents’ names. We know that he had an older sister named Julia, who married Moulton Holden on January 12, 1883, in Burlington, Iowa, but her parents are listed as “unknown” in the marriage license. He also had a brother named William H. and a niece who lived in Niagara, North Dakota between 1909 and 1913. And a cousin named Geneva (Austin) Burton died in Clinton, Iowa on September 25, 1909.

Eugene married Catherine “Katie” (Hardin) Gamble on December 24, 1889, in Lewis County, Missouri. Katie had a son named Clarence Gamble from her previous marriage to James Thomas Gamble. The family moved to Davenport in 1896 and became members of Bethel A.M.E. Church. Eugene was the choir director and Sunday school teacher. Katie was the organist (1902-1918). Katie’s son Clarence Thomas Gamble was 1 of 2 African-Americans to graduate from the Davenport High School in 1905.

The Greens were delegates from the local district to the 1908 National A.M.E. Conference in Norfolk, Virginia. Eugene was elected as the lay delegate to the General Conference of the A.M.E. church in 1907, 1912, 1914 in Chicago, and in 1916 in Philadelphia. They organized clubs in the church and helped put on performances for the congregation and the community.

Mr. Green started out working as a waiter at the Kimball House (1896-1898), then a porter for the C.R.I.&P. Railroad (1900-1902), a bus driver for Henry Jager (1907-1914), and finally had his own Express business, the Green Express Company (1915-1929). Katie ran a rooming house and laundry at their home on 316 West 5th Street (1906-1920).

Eugene Green was involved with music outside of the Bethel A.M.E. Church Choir, performing with The Four Black Diamonds (1928-1930), and managing the Bates Light Guard Band (1910-1913). He was on the planning committee for the Emancipation Day celebrations at Suburban Island (1913).

Eugene was a member and founder of the Negro Business Local League of Davenport (1901-1916), the Colored Republican Club (1903-1908), the Equal Rights Club (1906), the Taft-Dawson Colored Men’s Club (1908), the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows (colored) (1902-1929), and was treasurer of the Davenport branch of the NAACP (1918).

Katie was Grand Matron of House Hold of Ruth (1911-1915), the Iowa delegate to the tenth annual convention of the Negro National Educational Congress at Washinton D.C. (1916), Third ward chairman for the Colored Women’s Republican Club (1924), and organizer for the State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs (1922).

Eugene Green died in Oakland, California on February 18, 1930, where he was staying with his stepson Clarence Gamble. Catherine Green died July 21, 1941, in Davenport. They are both buried in Oakdale Cemetery.

(posted by Cristina)

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