Henry Green (1830s – 1911)
Henry Green, also known as Henderson Trent, Henry Greene and Henderson Green, was born in Virginia in the early 1830s. Having spent his life as a slave, reports indicate he was either freed or escaped in the early 1860s after the commencement of the American Civil War. He made his way to Washington, D.C. where he met U.S. Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles who offered him a job as a servant for the Welles family. Green accepted Welles’ offer and became very close to the family. When Welles left office in 1869, he asked Green to continue his employment with the family and return to Glastonbury with them. Green accepted the offer.
When Gideon Welles died in 1878, Green became Gideon’s son’s body servant. Edwin Valentine Mitchell wrote about this relationship in The Horse and Buggy Age in New England:
“After the Civil War a number of ex-slaves became coachmen for New England families. One of these coachmen whom I remember was Henderson Green, who had been a slave in Virginia. He had attached himself to the Gideon Welles family in Washington during the war and afterward returned with the family to Connecticut. He acted as body servant to Gideon’s son, Colonel Thomas Welles, whenever the latter went on active service. At one engagement Henry became panic-stricken and fled when the shooting began, but stopped when he came to a bridge on which appeared a vision of Mrs. Gideon Welles, motioning him to return and saying, ‘Go back, Henry, go back!’ As he stood in greater awe of her than of the enemy, he returned to his place. After the war Colonel Welles accompanied Admiral Farragut on his cruise around the world and Henry went too.”
Green continued to work for the family until his death on June 13, 1911 at the age of 80. Green is buried in the Welles family lot at Cedar Hill. In 2010, family members had Green’s name inscribed on the front of the family’s memorial obelisk.
Boyd, Jean Mitchell. He Was There. Accessed at http://wesclark.com/jw/welles.html on February 3, 2010.
Mitchell, Edwin Valentine. The Horse and Buggy Age in New England. New York: Coward Mccann, Inc., 1937.
Wikipedia. Gideon Welles. Accessed at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gideon_Welles on February 3, 2011.
Photo Credit: Thomas Welles and Henry Green, copy of photograph provided to Cedar Hill Cemetery by John W. Brainard