Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Harry Brown

Gee, his name may as well be John Smith. Last post was Fannie Moore and I discovered there were a bunch of ladies with that name. I suspect I’ll have to weed through several Harry Browns.

In the 1920 Census then renter Harry Brown lived at 240 R St NW with his wife Rosetta and their 5 year old, Madaline. By the 1930 Census they are owners. There was a Harry Franklin Brown at 224 R St NW who filled out the draft card for World War I in 1917/1918. Since they were both barbers, I will assume they are the same person. I did not find Harry Brown in the Recorder of Deed records, but I did find Rosa E. Brown.

The address is on Sq. 551, which has been completely redone, so none of the houses on that block remain. The Library of Congress Baist map is of little help since it does not show 240 as a house number. But I can guess that it was lot L or 837 as it was the last house facing R St after 222 R St NW. This means it could have just as well been 224 R St NW. The owner for that lot was solely Rosa E. Brown. Harry, her husband appears nowhere on the paperwork. When she sells the property in 1959 to George Basiliko and his wife, she is listed as an unmarried widow. Rosa and Rosetta are the same person. Rosa Brown appears in city directories as the wife of Harry F. Brown at 240 R St NW.

From a family tree on Ancestry we find a fuller picture of Mr. Brown. He was born on July 19, 1889 in Baltimore, MD. His father was Maltimore Brown (1856-1924) and Helen (nee Cooper) Brown (1858-??) and he had a dozen brothers and sisters. Not in the family tree is the marriage in DC to Rossetta Blackwell in 1911. But an interesting thing in the family tree which creates a mystery. One of his many siblings is his sister Mary A. (1879-1970), who around 1902 married James Boardley. In 1910 the couple lived with a then single Harry, their parents and several other siblings at 1417 3rd St NW. In the 1940 Census, Harry is living with the Boardleys. No Rosa in sight. But according to the family tree, Harry died in 1937, which makes it hard to be in the 1940 Census. Rosa Brown was living back at 240 R St NW with daughter Madeline S. Brown, widowed and working as a maid. Why were Mr. & Mrs. living several blocks apart, if he was alive at all?

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