Rando Truxton & Shaw History- Alleys

I’m going to make this a quick one. Here is part of a pathfinder survey from 1936 of alleys in DC. I picked out some Shaw related alleys. It says were the alleys are, as in which city square they are located, how many alley dwellings there were and how many of those were occupied by people. The point was to kick people out of their alley homes.

DC Alleys ShawAlleys1936 by Mm Inshaw on Scribd

Source: National Archives and Records Admin. Washington, DC. Record Group 302, entry 3, maybe file Pathfinder Survey (1936).

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Pocahontas Pope- 1500 1st St NW

With a name like Pocahontas, I’ve been dying to delve into whatever the heck this is, even if it is a dead end.

According to the 1920 census African American widowed dressmaker Pocahontas Pope lived at 1500 1st St NW with several lodgers. Taking in lodgers, the way people take on roommates, was a way to add to one’s income.

photo of property

At first her name did not show up when I did a search of land records. Usually, I search by square and lot number. When I did that her name did not appear and I thought I might have hit a dead end. But then I decided to search by name, and lo, four records appeared, two of them related to 1500 1st St. NW. The other two (docs 192212140170 & 192212140171) was for a LeDroit property, unknown square, lot 3, and it looked like Ms. Pope was acting as a go between.

The records for 1500 1st St were from 1939 and 1940 and Mrs. Pope was already deceased. In the April 1939 trust, devisees of Mrs. Pope’s will, Lawrence A/L Lyles and Clementine K. Plummer borrowed $511.15 from individuals. in 1940, Lawrence A. Lyles, aka Lawrence L. Lyles, sold/transferred the property to co-owner Clementine Kay Plummer. She immediately (same day) borrowed $2,500 from the Enterprise Building Association. Clementine K. Plummer has popped up here and there.

Well what of Pocahontas? Well one of the first records I find about her is her late husband’s will. It’s not much of a will, it basically reads that he, John W. Pope, leaves everything to his wife Pocahontas. What is interesting is where the will was filed, Cape May, NJ. I’m not an expert but there is a link between Cape May and well off DC African Americans. Secondly, who witnessed the will is a who’s who of Black Truxton Circle. The first witness was E. Ortho Peters of 100 P St NW. The second, Dr. Arthur B. McKinney of 63 P St NW. There is a 3rd witness, looks like J.R. Wilder of 218 I St NW.

This got me to thinking. Then I did a Googly search on our gal Pocahontas… jackpot. She was an influential member of the Baha’i faith. I’m just going to quote bahaipedia.org for Pocahontas Kay Grizzard Pope’s (~1864-1938) biography:

Her mother Mary Sanlin Kay Grizzard held property including the old County Clerk of Court Office building when it became a private home. Her father John W. Kay is little known but may be the Haliwa-Saponi connection. Soon Pocahontas Kay Grizzard married Rev. John W. Pope, kin to Dr. Manassa Pope, a prominent African-American doctor of North Carolina. John was 8 years her senior and together for some 15 years they served in one or another black schools in Plymouth, Scotland Neck, or Rich Square, NC, areas of deeply rural community. However with the hostility and political changes peaking in 1898 the Popes moved to Washington D.C. where John got a job working for the US Census. Soon both were active in black society, associated with then Congress Representative George H. White and others, giving scholarly presentations, and community activism.

Pocahontas and John never had children and he died in 1918. Pope lived on two more decades without being mentioned in newspapers save when she died – and her last two years were hospitalized. Her house has been noted in tours offered by the Washington D. C. Bahá’í community.

It has? Okay.

The 1920[95] and 1930[96] census’ noted Pope listed with lodgers in the home and working as a dressmaker. The last two years of her life she was a patient at Saint Elizabeth’s hospital.[18] Pocahontas Pope died 11 Nov 1938,[97] late in the evening of cardiovascular failure by hypostatic pneumonia confirmed by an autopsy.[98] She was listed as a Baptist, but in her connection with the Faith in those early years Bahá’ís were not required to leave their former religious communities and indeed sometimes were encouraged to remain active in them.[62]pp. 190, 228-9, 397[99]

One newspaper article notes family relations and other details[100] – nieces Clementine Kay Plummer and Mrs. Charles Hawkins of Portsmouth, VA, nephew Lawrence A. Lyles of Asheville, NC, and that she was buried in the Columbian Harmony Cemetery at 9th Street NE and Rhode Island Avenue NE in Washington, DC after services at the Second Baptist Church on 3rd St. Clementine Kay Plummer was the executrix of her Will.[8] It lists some of the next of kin as inheritors. In order as listed they were: Alex Kay, Ines Kay, Viola Hawkins, Gloria Kay, Andrew Kay, Constance Kay, Cleo Blakely, John W. Kay Jr, June Kay with custodian Mrs. Willie Otey Kay, and Antonio Orsot custodian for Beatrice L. Orsot.

In 1960, the graves at Columbian Harmony Cemetery, including that of Pocahontas Pope, were relocated to the National Harmony Memorial Park in Maryland. [101]

Well that clears up some things and will save me some time when I take a look at Clementine K. Plummer again.

Larger memorial image loading...

Rando Truxton History- Fine Home at Low Rent – WP July 25, 1915

I’m trying to clean up a bunch of papers I have. I hope I can be brave enough to toss them into the recycling bin. One piece of paper is something I got from the Washington Post archives via ProQuest.

Fine Home At Low Rent: Bates Street Buildings Erected for Wage Earners, Are Up to Date: Sanitation Was One of Chief Aims of Washington Company Which Has Erected Them, is an article from July 25, 1915 on page RE5. The short of it is an article about the Washington Sanitary Improvement Company (WSIC) having built homes for unskilled laborers, the workforce housing of 100 years ago.

The paper sells the WSIC as a good investment providing housing $10 for 3 rooms and a bath and $12 a month for 4 rooms and a bath. There are other units to rented at $7.50 and $8.50 a month for two rooms and a bath. These homes are on Bates Street NW.

Because of copyright, I’m not providing a copy here, but you can access the article via the DC Public Library. You will need your DC Library card to use this resource.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Samuel A. Mckinney – 1515 1st St NW

I should do a post called the McKinneys of 1st St. Because another McKinney, Samuel McKinney’s son, Dr. Arthur B. McKinney lived 2 doors down at 1519 1st St. NW. I discovered his other son, Ralph McKinney, was not the owner but Samuel was. For this, I’m going to just stick with this lot and whoever owns this single lot, because that how the Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle rolls.

photo of property

For those of you new to the series, I look at the 1920 census, pull out the names of the African American home owners. Why the 1920 census? Because the DC Recorder of Deeds online records start around August 1921, and I thought, “Close enough”. So I am doing this.

Samuel A. McKinney via Ancestry/ Lloyd LaGrange

Samuel A. McKinney was born either in 1851 or 1855 in Mississippi. As far back as 1880 lived in DC at 1434 Sampson St NW with his wife Della, sons Samuel and Lewis McKinney, and niece Tillie Bockran. In the 1890s, according to the city directory he lived at 63 P St NW, a property he owned.

From at least 1887 to the 1910 census Samuel worked as a public school janitor in the District of Columbia. Du to other documents it appears he worked sort of across the street at Armstrong, when living at 63 P St NW. In the 1920 census, when at 1515 1st St NW, he was listed as an engineer, but the city directories from that time still had him as a janitor. But what is unquestioned is that he was a Truxton Circle landowner.

The funny thing about 1515 1st St NW, was that in 1922 his son Dr. Arthur McKinney and his wife, sold/transferred the property to Samuel McKinney. There was no recorded trust (loan) listed for the time he and Della were alive. After the 1922 transfer/sale the surviving children and their spouses transferred the property to Albert F. Adams December 2, 1933, who immediately transferred it to Dr. Arthur B. and Mrs. Ethel T. McKinney.

Sometime between 1926 and 1930 Samuel died. Della died September 19, 1930. Her death announcement in the Evening Star, mentioned that Samuel had already passed away prior to her death. Their surviving children were named in the announcement and in the deed selling 1515 1st NW. Named were Guilford S., Lewis B., James E., Dr. Arthur B., Dr. Walter V., Ralph L. McKinney, Mrs. Estelle A. Fendall, and Mrs. Bessie T. Austin. Funeral services were at Asbury M.E. Church. The people named in the 1933 deed were: Arthur B. (& wife Ethel T.); Guilford S.; Lewis B. (and wife Blanche E.); James E.; Walter V. McKinney; Bessie T. Austin and Evelyn G. McKinney.

It appears the McKinneys lived a good life. They had two doctors in the family. Lived close to their children and raised them in Truxton Circle.

1957 Church Survey: Israel Metropolitan CME Church

In 1957 there was as survey of churches in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area, which included Shaw, Downtown, and the area around Union Station. Israel Metropolitan Colored Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church was one of the churches in this area. To learn more about the 1957 Church Survey read my previous posts, The Uniqueness of the 1957 Church Survey and Church Survey Northwest Urban Renewal Area October 1957.

Israel Metropolitan CME was where the Mt. Lebanon Church sits today at 1219 New Jersey Ave NW. The survey doesn’t tell us about the racial or professional make up of the 911 parishioners of the church. Just the basics. From the name CME, it was and is a Black church. The current Israel Metropolitan CME church sits in Petworth.

CS 23 Isreal Metropolitan CME by Mm Inshaw


Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Mayme Mason- 1509 1st St NW-land of confusion

You see the image above? Know what that means? It means this house is no longer there. It’s now part of people’s backyards on P St. NW.

1509 1st St NW was Sq 615 lot 229. According to the 1920 census African American Mrs. Mary Mason was the owner. According to the land records, the owner was Mayme Mason. According (sorry for all the accords) to the 1920 census Mayme Mason was a 24 year old niece who happened to be living there. There might have been some confusion. I know I am.

It is a little less confusing with the 1930 and 1940 censuses. In 1930, Mayme is still at 1509 1st St NW. She was reported to have been born in DC in 1886, widowed. In 1930 she lived with her 19 year old daughter Lucy, 17 year old son William Early Mason, and her 40 year old brother Lawrence C. Early. In 1940, she was still widowed, born around 1881 in DC, living with her son William, daughter Lucy, now Lucy Proo (Paoo/Parr?), granddaughter Gail D. Proo (Parr), and 22 year old niece Ellen I Early. From the 1920-1940 census and city directory information it appears she was employed in different positions with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

So with that information, and going back to the 1920 census, it appears the names of Mary and Mayme were switched. The person listed as Mary was born around 1882, and working as a stamper, which sounds like a possible Bureau of Engraving position. The person listed as Mayme the niece, was born around 1896 and she was a teacher. Looking at other sources it appears the actual Mary Mason, the teacher, later married a gentleman named William R. Jones, a messenger for the US Air Service.

With that info I can go back and look at who was Mayme W. Early Mason. Mayme was born in Washington, DC. Records from the 1900s show Mayme/Mamie W. Early as a teacher in the DC public schools between 1903 and 1906. She married William Marcellus Mason December 31, 1907.

Going back to the land records, the first is a May 21, 1923 release for a November 1917 debt between her and  the Washington Loan and Trust Company. She takes out another debt with the Washington Loan & Trust Co/Equitable Co-Operative Building Association in 1927 for $700, which she pays off in 1933. She takes out another loan with the same organization in 1938 for $2,200, which is paid in 1943.

Then out of nowhere, her widowed daughter Lucy Parr uses 1509 1st St NW and 15 Quincy Place NE (3520/0092) to borrow $18,000 in 1961. So I went a hunting for Mayme, because maybe she owned other land, where there would be a mention of her death. And yes, Mayme owned land elsewhere. She owned 2706 13TH ST NE (lots 26 & 27) and records from April 1962 mentioned she was dead and Gail Elizabeth Parr (her granddaughter) was the devisee under Mayme’s will.

I will end with Lucy Parr selling 1509 1st St NW in 1972 to the DC Redevelopment Land Agency. The RLA bought up a lot of Shaw and Truxton land. Was that for better or worse, I’ll let you decide.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Alexander H. Matthews – 1621 4th St NW

So this doesn’t have a lot of information and sort of like my last BHOoTC post, the land records confuse more than illuminate.

So in the 1920 census the African American home owner is listed as Alexander Mathews, a 60 year old messenger living with his wife and two female boarders. But the land records say his name was “Alexander H. Matthews.” That was helpful as the wrong name sent me barking up the wrong tree.

photo of property

Mr. Matthews was an old man. He was already a widower. An old widower, at the age of 57, when he married then 35 year old Maggie L. Simms in 1912. His late wife, Josephine, was alive for the 1910 census on 4th St. In 1900 the Matthews (Matheus) family lived at 125 L St NW when A.H. was a government laborer. There he lived with their son Charles, daughter in law Isabelle and grandson Joseph E. Matthews.

Since 1910 Alexander has had roomers. In 1910 he and Josephine were living with 25 year old Eliza P Fagins a US Treasury laborer and Nancy Barrs, a 49 year old cook. In 1920, Alexander and his new wife Maggie rented to children, 13 year old Frances Williams and 4 year old Lillian Loew. In 1930, they continued to house girls with Vinita Gray (11), Dorothy Dorsey (9), and Marion Wicks (4). In 1940 Maggie was listed as a widow and she housed many more girls. It appears Frances Williams from 1920 returned in 1940 as a 26 year old domestic. The girls living with Maggie were Vernelle Golson (15), Lovenia Chisolm (14), Lillian Devon (14), Rosella Chambers (14), and Nannie Lou Key (10).

Most of the time, I have no idea of what I’m looking at. My regular readers know, I’ll report what I see, even if I can’t really interpret what I see. My best guess is that the Matthews were foster parents. However, I’m not too sure if the foster system was really a thing then.
The online land records start around 1921. The first record for 1621 4th St NW is a 1922 release for a 1911 debt with the Washington Loan and Trust Company. Then the next document is a deed from July 1943 where Joseph E. and Charles W. and their wives Ella J. and Prossie Blue Matthews sell the property to Annie Newsome. That name is familiar. Oh. Her.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Lewis Griffin- 403 R St NW

Currently 403 R Street NW is occupied and not as it is pictured below. I add photos from DCRA (or whatever DC government agency has these) from 2004 so one has an idea of what the houses look like. Most of the time, the house has not changed much from 1920, the year of the census from which I pull the names of the Black home owner for this series. For a current view of the place look here.

In 1920 Lewis Griffin, a Black American dyer and cleaner, lived at 403 R St NW with his wife Maude, nephew Edward Brooks, and a married couple rooming with them.

Lewis Griffin was born July 9, 1884 in Orange county Virginia to John Griffin and Susan Rose. In 1910 he was living with relatives at 63 Pierce Street (NW?) working as a hotel worker. Also that year he married Maude Lightfoot May 25, 1910. The Griffins were living at 403 R St NW around WWI. Maude died June 6, 1926. Lewis Griffin died June 5, 1958.

Looking at the land records, not a lot happens between 1933 and 1954. But there is a whole lot a paper drama in the 21st century, which I won’t touch, but let’s just say family let it sit (and decay) for a long, long, long, long time.

Lewis Griffin had two daughters named in the land records. Frances G. Jones (1922-2004) and Dorothy Farr (?1926-2018?). According to an Ancestry family tree he had a son (John Griffin 1915-1973), but no proof he actually existed. I have come across various family trees that do not have siblings listed. The Social Security Death Index has Mrs. Jones dying in 2004, but her signature appears on a 2014 document selling the property to RDC Designs LLC. I’m not going to investigate if there was an error.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Ralph L Mckinney – 63 P St NW- A cul-de-sac not a dead end

In this post about a Black homeowner in Truxton Circle I encountered something I’ll call a family issue. I could not find Ralph L. McKinney’s name on 63 P St NW as lot 308 on Square 615. It appears that lot number is a modern one. I checked the Library of Congress map, showing 63 P St NW as lot 167, I found a McKinney, but not Ralph.

There is one record for 0615/0167 with a McKinney name and that is a deed from July 20, 1926 where Della A. and Samuel A. McKinney transfer the property to son in law Albert and daughter Estelle A. Fendall. Samuel A. and Della McKinney were the parents to Black Home Owner: Arthur B. McKinney as well as to Ralph L. McKinney…. Family issue.

photo of property

Samuel and Della had a lot of kids. In the 1900 census when Samuel was 48 and Della 49, they had seven children (adult and minor) living with them at 63 P St NW. They were: Lewis Bradner (b. 6/10/1879- d. October 1937); Stella (later Estella A. Fendall); James Emmett; Bessie (later Bessie T. Austin) ; Dr. Arthur Bancroft; Dr. Walter Victor; and Ralph Leon…..and then Frederick (only appearing once in 1910) making 8 children. In the 1880 census it appears they had a son Samuel Guildford who moved out before 1900.

I’ll explore Samuel and Della more in another post about another house they owned and lived in, next month.

While we’re looking at Ralph let me do a quick bio. Ralph Leon McKinney was born June 11, 1899 to Sam and Della in Washington, DC. He attended Howard University, but it doesn’t seem it helped him career-wise . He later worked as a messenger for the War Department in the 1920s. In 1930 he moved over to 1st St NW to live with his mother and siblings. In 1940 he was living near/in Columbia Heights as a lodger, with his sister Estella and brother in law, also lodgers. He died September 29, 1953 and is buried at Arlington Cemetery. It appears he never married.

I wonder why Estella and Albert Fendall were lodgers in the forties when they still owned 63 P St NW? The house would stay in the hands of a Fendell until the end of the 20th century. The Fendalls used the house as collateral, borrowing money, and paying it back. Estella died April 27, 1949, and Albert remarried. His new wife was Mildred Anne Hill. Albert died December 1956. Mildred died August 18, 1982 and her estate was handled by Mary B. Johnson. The property was condemned in February 1985. Mildred’s estate sold the property to the District of Columbia June 6, 1985. The condemnation was cancelled February 25, 1986. Huh. The DC Department of Housing and Community Development transferred this and other P St properties to North Capital Neighborhood Development, Inc.

So this wasn’t exactly a dead end. I was able to turn it around, so it is a cul-de-sac.

1957 Church Survey: Mt. Vernon Place Methodist- Rando Church Near Shaw

In 1957 there was as survey of churches in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area, which included Shaw, Downtown, and the area we’ll call Swampoodle.  To learn more about the 1957 Church Survey read my previous posts, The Uniqueness of the 1957 Church Survey and Church Survey Northwest Urban Renewal Area October 1957.

photo of property

The church we have here is Mt. Vernon Square Methodist located at 900 Massachusetts Ave NW. Like it’s building it was a big white church. It boasted of having 4,000 members in 1957 and they were white. Looking at their website, it looks like they are still majority white.

Looking at the 1957 demographics this was a middle to upper middle class church. Most of the people were white collar workers (71%), and most lived outside of the urban renewal area in other parts of Washington, DC (58%). There was also a chunk of membership who lived in the ‘burbs of MD and VA (32%). Financially, they looked pretty good with $6,000 in expenses and a $233,000 budget ($2.7 million in 2021 dollars).

CS-26-Mt Vernon Place Metho… by Mm Inshaw