Granddaughter of Mary Green
Buried in Rosedale North, Block 130
Little Daisy Ray, daughter of Moses George Green and his wife Callie Williams, was born in Phoenix on February 11, 1894. Her parents were no longer living together by 1900, when Daisy Ray was recorded on the federal census as living with her mother and a maternal uncle. She died at the age of eight on June 25, 1902, of acute nephritis, and was buried in Rosedale Cemetery, where her grave marker can still be seen.
According to her obituary in the Arizona Republican newspaper, “She was a bright little child and was one of the first colored children born in Phoenix. She was quite popular in school and had many friends, to whom her death is a sore bereavement. The funeral will be held this afternoon at 5:30 o’clock in the A.M.E. Church.”
In spite of the newspaper’s supposition, Daisy Ray was not one of the first African American children born in Phoenix; that would have been her father Moses and his four younger siblings.
Moses George Green was born in 1870 to Mary Green, the very first African American to become a permanent resident of the new little town of Phoenix. Mary is believed to have been born into slavery between 1845 and 1849 in Louisiana; she may have belonged to a Woodhull family. Immediately after the Civil War, however, she was in Arkansas, working as a domestic in the household of Columbus Harrison Gray and his wife, Mary Adeline Norris. Mary Green and her little daughter Fannie came with them by covered wagon from Arkansas to Arizona in August 1868.
Mary continued to serve as the Grays’ cook and housekeeper for another twenty years, during which time she gave birth to four more children. In 1887, she left the Greys’ employ to take up a homestead near Tempe with her adult children. Although Mary herself seems to have been illiterate—she signed her 1892 homestead patent with an X--it appears that her children received at least six years of schooling.
When Mary died in 1912, she was buried in Greenwood Cemetery’s Section 10, which was reserved for what might have been considered Phoenix’s ‘black bourgeoisie’. Among her descendants was great-granddaughter Helen K. Oby Mason (1912-2003), who launched Phoenix’s Black Theater Troupe in 1970.
© 2021 by Donna L. Carr. Last revised 4 February 2021.
To obtain a copy of the sources used for this article, please contact the PCA to make a suggested donation.
Grave marker photo courtesy of the Pioneers’ Cemetery Association, Inc.