There’s a hole in my Truxton Circle data

Image of hole in brick wallThere’s a hole in my Truxton Circle data. I discovered it with my Property Owners of Truxton Circle series. I was writing an article that I had hoped to publish based on the old data. But discovering this missing data means I have to take a break from that writing project.

It also means all the previous posts based on the data is a little off. It means the imagery based on the data is off.  The TruxtonCircle.org website will still have incorrect data until I am sure I got everything.

I guess this means I will be doing a bunch of QC. On the plus side, I’ll blog my discoveries.

Black Homeowners of TC- The tragic story of Ofc. James S. Boswell

According to the 1900 census James S. Boswell was an African American policeman who lived at 219 Q/Que Street NW with his wife Hattie. It was just them. But in that same structure/address were 2 other households, one headed by a widow Tina Jones (Mrs. Benjamin Jones), and other with Leroy Jackson and his wife, along with several boarders.

At first glance the other residents of 219 Q St NW seem unrelated. But looking at James and Hattie, I found that he married Hattie Shelton in May of 1892 in Washington DC at the 3rd Baptist Church on 5th St. The spinster sisters of the widowed head of the 2nd family at 219 Q were Phyllis and Hester Shelton. This leads me to believe that these were James’ sister-in-laws living under his roof, but in a separate unit. The 3rd household, the only connection is a 4 year old Lillian Boswell listed as one of the several minor children, with different surnames, living with Mr. Jackson who are listed a boarders.

But that’s not the tragedy.

Fast forward to the 1910 census and the Jacksons are gone, but the then 4 year old Lillian Boswell is now a 14 year old Lillian Jones, having been adopted by the widow Tina Jones. Not a tragedy, but a blessing. The Widow Jones adopted another girl, an 8 year old named Ruby. The Shelton sisters were still there along with a 20 year old nephew, Robert Jones.

So what’s the tragedy?

You have to learn about Hattie and James for that. They were both born in 1866, James in Virginia and Hattie in DC. As I mentioned, they married in 1892. James was a laborer, like so many Black men at this time. Yet, in 1895, he became a policeman with the Washington, DC police force. Shy of 10 years on the force he was promoted to Class 2…. whatever that means, in 1904.  In his record there are citizen complaints against him. I should write another post just on the complaints.  One could say they were racial, in nature, as the complainants were white and they did bring up then Pvt. Boswell’s color. But that wasn’t the tragedy. The tragedy was in 1912 when Ofc. Boswell was diagnosed with stomach cancer. His doctor, Dr. W. Thompson Burch, spouse of the suffragette,  wrote that Boswell contracted the disease in the line of duty.  He retired June 29, 1912 with a monthly pension of $50 a month. He died July 9th, a week or so later.

It’s sad, but that’d not the tragedy.

After his death, Hattie had to petition for a widow’s pension. Her physician, Dr. Simeon Carson, at the Freedmen’s Hospital informed the MPD that she was forced to get back on her feet, after 14 months of bedrest, due to the death of her husband.  When she appeared before the pension board on August 7th, she was in no shape to have been going anywhere. And before she could collect on her husband’s pension, she died that same month. And that’s a tragedy.

James and Hattie Boswell, born 1866, died 1912.

An observation about Property Owners of the TC

This is just an observation from doing this series on property owners, ladies buy land. In the 1920s and 1930s, ladies, are buying land, selling land and inheriting land. Single ladies, married ladies, gals. This is only notable because on occasion I will run across some bit of history about how unmarried women couldn’t get loans or married women needed their husbands permission or something else that equates to women couldn’t really own land.

Women were landholders. They may have inherited it or were the sole survivor in the marriage in a joint tenancy. They may have bought it using a savings and loan or funding from private backers. The private backers are interesting.   I will see something in the land records about Ms. So N. Soh borrowing money from two trustees but she’s supposed to pay another party. It happens. Today there are hard money lenders.

Looking back about 100 years ago, banks weren’t the only places to get money to purchase a property. It is completely plausible that a single woman with community connections and social capital could hit up those networks to find some widow with money to lend to her so she can set up her real estate empire renting to African Americans coming into DC as part of the Great Migration.

What do I want out of the property owner series? Well I want to get off of Square 551. The series has gotten me back into looking at people connected to Truxton Circle and I can see a way back to Black Homeowners of the TC.  With the skills I’ve picked up I might revisit those earlier posts and update them with more information. I might even pick up on some subtleties that are lost in grand narratives. Who knows? But what I do know is that I will learn more about the people who were a part of the Triangle known as Truxton Circle.

Property Owners of Truxton Circle- William C. Bates

Landowner list of Sq 551So William Cullom Bates (1856-1937) owned Square 551 lot 857 and at one time the confusing lot that sat on old lots 7 & 8. He and his wife Linnie/Melinda Bell Martin Bates (1859-1935) sold that to Novella F. Gibson. I can’t really tell where lot 857 is but a 1940 deed, selling the property, used to be 213 Q St NW. But looking at a map, a property sitting on 7 & 8 is 215 Q St NW.

In 1935, before they both died, they lived at 5712 Colorado Ave NW. In 1930 Mr. Bates was listed as retired but before that he was a salesman. Nothing special. If I was more sure about the address, I would take a guess of what he was doing with the property, as square 551 had commercial elements.

Property Owners of Truxton Circle: Novella F. Gibson

From Plate 38
Lots 8 and 7 between Reeves Alley and Q St NW.

I think I have a relative with the name “Novella”, so it is a very interesting name. Anywho, Novella F. Gibson owned lot 856 on Square 551, and I cannot find it for the life of me.  According to the 1933-1934 General Assessment, lot 856 was a strip of land with some structure on it.  In the land records she is Novella and Novalla and she owned lots 7, 8, and 189. With low numbers like 7 & 8 those are probably ‘old’ lot numbers that were divided into smaller lots of which she owned one or more.

In 1930 she was an African American housewife living at 136 Bates St NW in a home she and her husband Joseph M. Gibson owned, with their two children. Not all the documents involving her mention her husband who was the owner of a Tailor shop. Continue reading Property Owners of Truxton Circle: Novella F. Gibson

Property Owners of Truxton Circle- Charles M. Nash

Once again, I really like the Recorder of Deed Records. In 1933-1934 Charles M. Nash owned lot 853 on Square 551. But Charles Nash is a common enough name so I am thankful in a 1947 Deed his wife Doris H. Nash (1905-1975) is named when they sold the property to a Ms. Rosi H. Scott.

Doris and Charles Nash
April 18, 1959. Marault, France, Wedding of Charlie and Colette. Credit Ancestry.com and MicheleNash62

I also discovered he owned another lot on Square 551, lot 848 (144 R St NW).

Charles Matthews Nash Sr (1896-1967) was a native Washingtonian, He received a law degree from Georgetown Law School in 1917. The family lived in the Chevy Chase/ Bethesda/ Silver Spring area from 1930 onward. So never a resident of Truxton Circle.

In 1938 it appears that his mother Lucy Belle Matthews Nash (1860-1938) granted the lot to him. But there was some question and a year later there is a judgement where Pauline Needle was the plaintiff and Nash was the defendant.  In the final judgement various people, including Nash’s wife, his brother Raymond Nash and Lillard B. Fields (from the Edward Coleman post) were ordered to quitclaim various DC properties to Charles M. Nash. Apparently Ms. Needle had a judgement lien. Anyway, there were a lot of lawyers involved. Charles had a lawyer. Lillard Fields had a lawyer. A bunch of other people had lawyers, and of course, Pauline Needles had a lawyer. Lawyers for everybody! Continue reading Property Owners of Truxton Circle- Charles M. Nash

Property Owners of Truxton Circle- Edward D. Coleman

Landowner list of Sq 551Okay this is a very quick one. In the 1933-1934 General Assessment Edward D. Coleman (1901-1942) was listed as the owner of Square 551 lot 852. He and his wife Florence sold the lot in 1936 to Lillard (that’s an interesting name) Fields. This was another Reeves Alley property so I can’t really get a good address.

In the 1940 census Edward D. Coleman was a white 38 year old self-employed Real Estate Agent from Illinois. He lived at 1634 Monroe St NE with is wife and their 3 minor children.

Property Owners of Truxton Circle- Robert Martz

The problem with the Census is that sometimes the street isn’t clear. For a moment I thought the Martz family lived in Truxton Circle on R Street. However, looking at adjoining pages I figured out what Ancestry.com decided was a R in R St was actually K. The other thing was that I found the owner of Square 0551 lot 0851 (a wood structure in Reeves Alley) in the 1933-34 General Assessment was a family tree that did not know he had children.

Looking at the land records Robert William Martz bought the property, listed as old lot 19 in 1932 from John W. Hile. Then in 1935 he died in Clarendon, VA at the age of 46. His widow, Ethel Marie Lewis Martz (1895-1977) appears to have sold the property in 1942 to Paul J. Bower, who then sold the property to Embassy Dairy in 1947.

Square 551 (bounded by R, Florida, 1st, Q and 3rd Streets) was a mix of residential and commercial properties. In the 1930s Robert W. Martz was a coal and ice man running his own business. Since this property was in Reeves Alley as far as I can tell this could have been used for commercial reasons related to his business.

He did live at times in Washington, DC but not in Truxton or the Shaw areas.

I mentioned I wish I could amend or add to the family tree that left the Martz’ childless. Robert Martz (1889-1935) was survived by 3 children at the time of his death, Robert Jr. (1918-1999), Marie Ethel (later Marie Graham 1920-1990), and Catherine Elizabeth (later Thorpe, 1922-2009).

Property Owners of Truxton Circle- The Keysers and Ms. Harriet Crowell

Next on the list, as I go down it, is Sq. 551 and lot 850. Sigh, lot 850 is part of old lot 19, so this is going to be confusing. I’m just going to start with the land records and see where that takes me.

Searching for just lot 850, only two documents appear. The first is from 1947 between a Charles F. Wilson, trustee in Civil Action case file 38-115, and Embassy Dairy. The other is in 1948 for an easement/ right of way between the DC government and the Office of the Surveyor.

Another search with lot 0019 drags up the Leviovs, and Ms. Carrie Walker. The first document regarding the Kaysers is a deed from 1927 regarding the execution of the will of Esther A. Kayser by Caroline E.T. Knox and Elhanan Winchester Keyser. There are other relatives such as Harriet Esther Kayser Crowell, mentioned in the deed but it is oh so confusing with Kaysers and Keysers. To Ancestry! Continue reading Property Owners of Truxton Circle- The Keysers and Ms. Harriet Crowell

Property Owners of Truxton Circle- Carrie G. Walker

My first question with this was, is Carrie Walker a man or woman. I need to know because it makes the searching in Ancestry easier. The property records has Carrie G. Walker, the daughter getting the land from Carrie Walker. The 1920 census, sigh, has Carrie Walker as the female head and Carrie G. Walker as the wife.

This is a misstatement.  A few fields over, the senior Carrie is listed as a widow and the junior Carrie as single. Looking at the 1900 and 1910 Census shows John Walker as the male head, Carrie senior as the wife and Carrie G. junior as the daughter. Okay, a reminder that the Census screws things up time to time.

Also from the census, I see the Walkers are African American resident owners (mullato/negro) living on R St NW. Later I could re-do this as Black Homeowners of Truxton Circle. They were at 216 R St NW in 1900 and Mr. Walker was the owner. In the later 1910 and 1920, the Walker family lived at 146 R St NW, square and lot 0551-0847. Did the address change or did they move? No idea.

The earliest land record I can see is from 1924 between Carrie G. Walker (the younger) and Needham C. Turnage to borrow $280.00 with 146 R NW as security. Then there are a series of loans she takes out using the property as collateral. So loan #1- 1924 Needham Turnage $280.00. Released (paid) 1938. #2-1926,  Kahn and Coleman/ Leo Kahn & E. Coleman, $375.00. Released 1927. #3- 1936, James B. Evans & Claude W. Owen, $372.00. Released 1938. #4- 1938, Washington Loan and Trust Company, $800.00. Released 1950. In 1951, she sells the land to Lawrence C. and Rosa A. Diggs.

Side note, a Carrie E. Walker buys 112 Florida Avenue NW (SSI: 0551-0178) in April 1934 from William H. Coates and Mamie D. Coates. A search for Carrie E. Walker in Ancestry is not particularly fruitful. The name does not change for the brief moment Carrie E. owns it, as she sells it 2 months later in June to Mary E. Baker.