Notes on Henry Fleet’s Descendants


1st Generation

Henry Fleet, in an 1807 document, seems to have been the son of Patience Turner, and brother of Robert Hicks and Sally Turner. He died March 20, 1824 (Wesley Pippenger, District of Columbia Probate Records, 1801-1852, p.33); William King Mortality Journal)


2nd Generation

Henry Fleet, Jr., was a boot and shoemaker; he died July 29, 1834 His wife was Ann (or Nan). In the 1860 census an Elizabeth Jackson, age 60 (possibly the first child of Murray Barker), lived in the house of Ann (Fleet) Crusor of Georgetown. (William King’s Mortality Journal)

Thomas Fleet, colored hairdresser, Washington City, married Susan Jackson, July 8, 1829. Thomas Fleet’s child (colored), died July 7, 1830. (1827 directory; William King Mortality Journal)

Washington Fleet, born about 1805, died September 12, 1830. (William King Mortality Journal)


Died: recently, in Georgetown, D.C., at the residence of his Grandmother, in his 25th year, Washington Fleet, a resident of Washington. His complaint was of a pulmonary nature, and had confined him to bed about 3 months. He was a colored man, endowed by nature with so many good qualities, that his death is most sincerely lamented by others than those of his own casts, who chanced to know him.

(National Intelligencer, September 13, 1830)


James H. Fleet, born about 1815, student at Georgetown Lancastrian School on O St., one of very few black students admitted.  Sponsored by the American Colonization Society, who intended him to be a physician in Liberia, he attended Columbian College, but declined to go to Africa. He opened a black school at 14th and New York, circa 1836, destroyed by arson in about 1843.

James H. Fleet, music teacher, married Hermione C. Peters, April 21, 1845, and lived at 1208 30th Street, Georgetown.


In 1860 census, James H. Fleet, is in the first ward of Georgetown, on page 30, a music teacher, mulatto, age 45, and wife Hermione, 35.


Genevieve, born 1849

Mozart, born 1851;

Bellini, born 1853,

Mendelssohn, born 1856.



3rd Generation

Genevieve Ida Fleet, daughter of James H. Fleet, born circa 1849, married Richard Theodore Greener, September 24, 1874.

Richard Greener attended Phillips Andover, Oberlin Preparatory, and enrolled Harvard in 1865, graduated in 1870, first black man to do so.

Preparatory School for Colored Youth (ancestor of M Street School, Dunbar High) founded in basement of the 15th St Presb Church in 1870 by William Syphax. Its first three principals were: Mary Patterson, Octavius Catto, and Richard Greener.

Richard Greener, Dean of Howard Law School, 1879. Greener, wife and daughter moved to NYC in 1885, then separated. Circa 1898, Greener was appointed US consul at Vladivostok. After that, he went to live with his relatives in Chicago, and died there 1922.  (Katherine Reynolds Chaddock, Uncompromising Activist: Richard Greener, First Black Graduate of Harvard College, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017 )

Circa 1898, “Genevieve I. Greener” appeared in the NYC directory; by 1903, it read “Genevieve I. Greene, widow”; and by 1908, “Genevieve Van Vliet Greene, widow”––Van Vliet being a New York patrician equivalent to Fleet. The process culminated in “Genevieve da Costa Van Vliet”. (The surname da Costa, suggesting a Portuguese lineage, was understood to explain an “exotic” complexion.)

Genevieve da Costa Van Vliet accompanied her daughter to Princeton, and gave music lessons there. She died in Manhattan, March 22, 1941.


4th Generation

Genevieve da Costa Van Vliet’s daughter, Belle Marion Greener (born November 26, 1879, at 1462 T St NW) became Belle da Costa Greene, and began to pass as white at about the same time as her mother. Belle da Costa Greene worked at Princeton University Library, and became librarian to J. P. Morgan, his purchasing agent, a person to be reckoned with in the field of rare books and art. After Morgan died in 1913, she was considered the “soul of the Morgan Library” at Princeton (Notable American Women). She died May 10, 1950.




Serena Fleet, Sarah Fleet, Isaac N. Cary

In 1830, Isaac N. Cary––a young barber originally from Fredericksburg, now located in Washington––married a Serena Fleet in Washington. In the 1850 census of Washington, Cary appears to be a widower, and Sarah Fleet, age 60 (his mother-in-law?) is living with him and his children. After 1853, Cary moved to Canada where he was involved in the anti-slavery movement. In 1859 Cary married Mary E. Miles Bibb, and, some time after 1871, the couple moved to Washington.

In 1874, when Genevieve Ida Fleet married Richard T. Greener, the wedding was reported in the press. Among the attendees––listed after Frederick Douglass and the Grimke sisters––were Isaac N. Cary and his second wife. This may be coincidental, or it may mean that his first wife was related to the Fleet family of Georgetown.

Isaac N. Cary appeared in the 1880 census of Washington, and his occupation was listed as Deputy Marshall at the Police court. He died in Washington in 1884.

(Contributed by Guylaine Petrin, York University Library, Toronto)





Original research:

Jean Strouse,

The Unknown J.P. Morgan, 1999,

Morgan, American Financier, 1999.


Heidi Ardizzone, An Illuminated Life: Belle da Costa Greene, Journey from Prejudice to Privilege, 2007


Find A Grave research by: D C McJonathan-Swarm
Record added: Nov 13, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 31377270




 Carlton Fletcher

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