The Heartbreaking Death of Delia Green

The century-old murder of a black teenaged girl that served as morbid inspiration for song lyrics

Heather Monroe
4 min readOct 31, 2019


Delia Died in Savannah, Georgia, 1900; Photo by Jose Llamas on Unsplash

The details surrounding the life of Delia Green are fuzzy, at best and no image remains of her likeness. Details of her death in Savannah, Georgia, at age 14are quite well known — she was shot by a boy because she hurt his feelings.

A Death in Savannah

Late on Christmas Eve, 1900, young lovers Delia Green age 14, and Moses “Cooney” Houston, age 16, attended a party at the home of Willie and Emma West in Savannah, Georgia. The sweethearts had an argument that went like this:

“My little wife is mad with me tonight. She does not hear me. She is not saying anything to me.” Moses announced before he turned to Delia, “You don’t know how I love you.”

Delia, unhappy with being labeled a wife, had some choice words for her beau, “You son of a bitch. You have been going with me for four months. You know I am a lady!”

Moses pulled out the oldest trick in the book; he slut-shamed his girlfriend, “That is a damn lie. You know I have had you as many times as I have fingers and toes.”

Delia retorted that little Mose was a liar. Enraged, he pulled a pistol from Willie West’s side table and shot poor Delia in the groin. As soon as he realized what he did, Moses fled.

The teenager didn’t get far before Willie caught him and handed him over to the police. Moses confessed and told the authorities he would do it again if he had the chance. Delia lingered for one agonizing night before she succumbed to her injuries the afternoon of December 25, 1900. She is buried in an unmarked grave.


Moses wore short pants to his trial in the Spring of 1901 in an attempt to play upon his youth. Cooney testified that he brought the weapon to the West home and placed it under a napkin. According to Moses, someone else found it and picked it up, and discharged as Cooney and the other guest wrestled for the weapon.

The jury discounted Moses’ testimony since so many witnesses were willing to say they saw him shoot Delia. Willie himself said it was an act of…



Heather Monroe

Welcome readers! Heather Monroe is a genealogist and writer who resides in California with her partner and their nine children. •True Crime• History• Memoir•