Submitted by Jean Hood
Carrie Green Mountain was a former slave who obtained her freedom when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed when she was 6 or 7 years old. She was among the first black people to settle in Warren in 1879. She arrived from Maryland with the family of retired sea captain, Captain Day to care for his two young daughters. Carrie’s husband Lewis Green found a job in a local flax mill. She served as a nursemaid for many other prominent Warren families including the W.D. Packard family, and the Hughes family. She was the first black person in Warren to purchase her own home, a house on Pine Avenue in 1892 for $1250.
Mr. Cliff (C.J.) Bland, owner of Automotive Inc., purchased Mrs. Mountain’s home and a lot on Pine Avenue which was behind his business in 1942 with an eye towards future expansion. He was appointed as legal guardian for Carrie. He never charged Carrie rent while she lived there. He made sure she had food, clothing, and heat until she died in 1948 at age 90. She would sit in a chair on the first floor holding three revolvers to guard cash she had stashed in the second floor of her home. Carrie didn’t trust banks. She refused to sleep in a bed because of her fear of being robbed. She rarely left the house and relied on Mr. Bland and others for food and clothing. One time Mr. Bland found Carrie nearly frozen to death with no heat or food. She was unconscious with no fire in the house and the water pipes frozen. He brought a doctor over to the house to treat her pneumonia because she wouldn’t leave the house.
Mr. Bland knew of the other properties she owned and knew of some of the cash hidden in her walls. Mr. Bland was appointed executor of the estate when she died and was ordered by the Probate Court to search the house. He found $23,000 – 250k today -in cash and coins hidden in the walls and in boxes. He took the cash to Trumbull Savings and Loan to be counted and protected. This was a big deal at the time. The newspaper was all over it taking photos of the cash being counted at the bank. The fact that a poor black woman living in poverty had today’s dollars of 350k hidden in her walls was big news. She owned two other houses in town – one on Highland and one on Mahoning Avenue. Mr. Bland held a public auction with auctioneer Oscar Weinstein. Two hundred people attended to buy fine cherry furniture, antiques, and musical instruments from the estate. Many of these items were accumulated over the years from the families she worked for. A total of $1,336 (16k in today’s dollars) was raised at the auction from the home. CJs wife, Georgia Bland, my grandmother – purchased Carrie’s lace apron which was handmade by Carrie in 1890. My grandmother’s family were strong abolitionists. She knew this would be a valuable piece of history someday. Mrs. Bland donated the apron to the Trumbull County Historical Society.
The total estate was valued at $33k. Carrie bequeathed a few thousand dollars to distant relatives. The remainder of her estate went to the Salvation Army. Both of her sons and husbands were deceased. Mrs. Mountain’s estate donated $30,000 to the Warren Salvation Army. In today’s dollars, this would be a value of $325 thousand dollars. The Salvation Army was able to build the present building we have today on Franklin Street because of Mrs. Mountain’s estate.
Mrs. Mountain was a dues paying member of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, which later became known as the Salvation Army Citadel. The Salvation Army building is dedicated to Carrie and her son Raymond. Interestingly, Carrie was rejected from the African-American congregation in Warren. She was known as a faithful churchgoer and contributor. But – when her son Raymond succumbed to alcoholism, the church refused to give her son a Christian burial because of his lifestyle. She announced the service would be held at the Christian Missionary – today’s Salvation Army. The pastor at Christian missionary was surprised, but he performed the service and made her a lifelong friend. This is why she gave her money to the Salvation Army. They were willing to perform her son’s funeral.
Carrie’s son Raymond Green was also an important person. He was a professional piano player. He traveled on the famous Keith Vaudeville Circuit out of Cleveland. He played for magician Harry Houdini and singer Eddie Cantor and other famous shows. He was a renowned musician and one of the most famous young men living in Warren at the turn of the century. Carrie was also an accomplished musician who sang and played piano. Carrie later married Hiram Mountain, who was the first black police officer in Warren.
Mr. Bland tore down Mrs. Mountain’s home after her death and turned the property into a parking lot with plans to later build an office building. This is an interesting story of a lady, a former slave, who saved every dime she ever earned. In the end, the generous gift of her lifetime savings to the Salvation Army helped countess families over the years. Carrie Green Mountain is an important person in Warren’s history.