Black Homeowners of Truxton Circle- Dennis Johnson

I don’t think I have home ownership data for 1880. So I moved on up to the next census year where there was home ownership info, 1900. And it was here I found Mr. Dennis Johnson, who in 1880 was a laborer, in 1900, a teamster, and 1910 an “express man”. What’s an express man?

Interesting thing. All through the censuses 1880 to 1910, his address remains 1528 3rd Street NW, where he lived with his wife Grace (nee Taylor) Johnson. During certain years, they lived with their daughters Lena and Lulu, and nephew Horace Williams. By 1910 Johnson was in his 60s so he probably died before the 1920 census.

His daughter Lulu married a man named Washington Fitch and they lived at 1528 at least to 1935. She was a seamstress. Her husband was listed as a fireman in the 1930 census.

I found proof of Dennis Johnson’s ownership in the 1905-1906 General Assessment. He owned  lot 13 on Square 521, which is the SSL number for 1528 3rd St NW. Looking at the Recorder of Deeds records, the earliest (they start in 1921) shows the widow Grace Johnson and her daughter Lula Johnson Fitch borrowing $500 in 1935 from the Washington Loan and Trust Company, later Riggs Bank. Lula/Lulu continues to use the property as collateral in the 1950s. I’m not sure what happened, because I don’t see evidence of her selling the property. There is some exchange in 1961, but Ms. Fitch is not a party.

Update: She probably wasn’t a party because she was very likely dead. I found this on the Court Listener site:

Gladys Jane Dial v. Charles W. Johnson, Administrator, Estate of Lula Johnson Fitch, Deceased, 259 F.2d 189 (D.C. Cir. 1958)
This opinion cites 1 opinion.

1 reference to Consolidted Electric Lamp Company v. James P. Mitchell, Secretary of Labor, International Union of Electrical, Radio and MacHine Workers, Afl-Cio, Appellee-Intervenor, 259 F.2d 189 (D.C. Cir. 1958)
Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Sept. 18, 1958 Cited by 0 other opinions

Gladys J. Dial (1921-1993) was an African American woman who is currently at Arlington National Cemetery. According to Social Security info, her mother is listed as Lula B. Fitch but her father as James S. Vaughn. I don’t know what the story is there. Then there are these notes “Nov 1940: Name listed as GLADYS DIAL; Sep 1941: Name listed as GLADYS VAUGHN JONES; Aug 1946: Name listed as GLADYS VAUGHN; Apr 1967: Name listed as GLADYS JANE DIAL; 08 Apr 1993: Name listed as GLADYS J DIAL ”

It was Gladys Dial who sold the property in 1961.

 

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.

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- 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.

Black Homeowners of Truxton Circle- The Garretts of 1408 3rd St NW

I’m gong to try a different angle since I am still discombobulated about someone who lied to the Census. This time I just decided to look at my big old Truxton Circle 1880-1940 database and pick one. Since the online records for the Recorder of Deeds starts in 1921, I figured starting with the 1920 Census was safe.

I picked John W. Garrett of 1408 3rd Street NW (SSL:W0553-0810) who was listed as a mulatto (African American)  Engineer and head of household. In 1920, Mr. Garrett was a 70 year old West Virginia native living with his 2 daughters Beatrice E. Garrett and Armetia M. Johnson and 7 year old granddaughter Marjorie Johnson. By the 1930 Census Mr. Garrett had died, Armeta/Armetia was listed as the head and her 1920 sister was now her partner? (head tilt) Both Beatrice and Armeta were dressmakers, probably self employed dressmakers. They could have been in business with each other. In 1940 the inhabitants of 1408 3rd are listed as renters, including Beatrice Jarrott, which sounds awfully like Beatrice Garrett. They could be the same person, but the ages don’t line up. She could have lied about her age, adding on 10 years in the 1940 census.

The Recorder of Deeds has Beatrice Garrett showing up in May 1951. I am not 100% sure how to read deeds and other property documents, so it appears to me that she and Marjorie Ellen Rand sold the property to Violet M. Barbour. Could Marjorie Rand be the same Garrett granddaughter listed in the 1920 census?

Black Homeowners of 3rd Street – 1940 No covenants

It has been a while since I looked at the Black Homeowners of Truxton Circle. I stopped because I got stuck on a mystery and I’m just going to have to let it go. I will never know who the mystery man was and that’s okay. I’m going back to the Black homeowners because of on-line conversations with Richard Layman and things I’ve been reading about redlining and restrictive covenants.

Old City, DC Police districts

In my own research, I have not seen any restrictive covenants. I believe it is a thing that would be found outside of the L’Enfant planned city and in Washington County, those areas north of Florida Avenue. Mt. Pleasant, Trinidad, and Bloomingdale are the creations of developers who could put in those restrictions. So if you lived in Old City, the likelihood that your fee simple house (apt buildings could be a different thing) had a racial restriction would be low.

When looking at the property records, I have tried to make heads or tails out of them, but they are beyond me for now. I’ll see person X seem to transfer to person Y , then years later Z shows up with X. With E.L. Haynes who owned my house and several other properties in Truxton Circle and DC, she was able to borrow money for her rental properties. The financial details are in her papers at Catholic U’s archive and not so much with the Recorder of Deeds. Anywho, Black people managed to borrow money from somewhere to purchase real estate. Banks practicing redlining weren’t the only game in town.

Below is a table with data from the 1940 census, I’ve had to cut a lot out so it could fit, but know they are all for 3rd Street, they are all owners and African American.

House # Surname First name Age Marital Status School Occupation Industry Income
1311 King Cornelius 59 M H-4 Casterman US Printing Office $1,859
1335 Brown Hillary I 40 M 7 Janitor Apt house $936
1337 Turner Anna 37 M H-1 Waitress Tea room $320
1413 Taylor Emma 46 M H-3  $-
1415 Mudd Harry 60 M 8 Machinists helper Railroad Terminal  $1,900
1429 Aiken James W 48 M H-4 Waiter Hotel  $520
1430 Neal Victoria V 69 W H-4  $-
1431 Anderson Ada 79 W 6  $-
1538 Fitch Lula 45 M H-2
1542 Green William M 40 M H-1 Laborer Gov’t Printing Office $1,320
1544 Williams Augustus A 56 M C-5 Dentist Private Practice $2,000
1546 Brooks Walter A 54 M C-3
1548 Chisley Sadee 62 W 6
1550 Blackwell James 45 M 0 Cement Finisher Cement Contractor $960
1554 Taylor Walter J 65 M 8
1617 Contee Grant 63 M 0 Preacher Ministry  $-
1626 Cobbs Ferrel 45 M H-1 Messenger Interior Dept  $1,260
1628 Coleman Edward 60 M 8 Messenger Veterans’ Bureau  $1,500
1629 Jenkyns Jerome S 61 M C-8 Machinist U.S. Government  $2,245
1630 Marsell William 50 M 8 Custodian Bureau – Standards  $1,140
1649 Heywood Spencer 50 M C-1 Barber Barber Shop  $900
1634 Ford Laura 54 S 4  $-

I highlighted 1649 3rd Street, because that was my hang up, but I’m letting go, letting go. Instead I need to figure out how to make a decent table. This doesn’t seem like a long list, but remember in urban areas, more people are renters.

The owners on 3rd Street NW are varied. There are government workers, widow women, skilled labor and an educated professional. The youngest is Anna Turner, a 37 year old waitress at 1337 3rd St NW. She lived with her son and a female lodger, a teacher, the eldest a 79 year old widow Ada Anderson.

Black Home Owners of 1940: Let’s clean up some data

Disclaimer: This has been sitting in drafts for a year. I forgot what was wrong with it. I’m gonna roll the dice and publish it.

 

So I have a goal to create a big ole spreadsheet of all the residents for all the censuses. Buuuuuut I need to clean up the data. The problem with the Census is sometimes I swear some of the enumerators were raging alcoholics who couldn’t find a job doing anything else. The census data is not pure, nor perfect. Sometimes a person’s only appearance is in the census, but sometimes they’ll appear elsewhere. They’ll be men who had to sign up for the draft, or business people or others who appear in city directories, and for owners after 1921 they’ll be in the Recorder of Deeds website.

So I’m going to look at homeowners who’s square or address has a question mark. These people are Clarence Washington of 126 FL Ave NW, Raymond Montgomery of 121 , Rudolph Blake of 137, Joseph Gibson of 136 Bates St NW, Florence Glover of 109 Q St NW, Jerome S. Jenkyns of 1641, John Lattimer of 1464, Roscoe Patrick, and Laura Ford of 1684 3rd St NW.

I located Clarence Washington on Square 551 lot 172. Now the problem is, that lot no longer exists. The Florida Avenue park sits there. It looks like he’s at 126 FL Ave NW, where previously he might have been at 124. It was unclear. Looking at the records, he obtained his property on September 14, 1935 with a 6% loan from National Savings and Trust Company. He appears to have been single at the time of purchase. He and his wife Clara (listed in the 1940 census) sold the house in April 1948.

Raymond Montgomery had purchased a fair amount of property, well at least someone with that name did so. Just looking at square 552 he owned lot 152, and in the current year that lot’s address is 123 P St NW. So not 121 Bates St NW as I had him in my data. Then a widower in February 1938 he bought the property. According to a October 1965 deed selling the house to a Lucille Baskin, Raymond died February 4, 1959 leaving his wife Estella a widow.

Rudolph S. Blake is another popular name for a property holder. Once again just focusing on Truxton Circle I can pin him down to Sq. 552 lot 159 (137 P St NW) starting in 1925 with his wife Ida B. She sells the property in 1948 after Rudolph as died.

Joseph and wife Novella Gibson are a problem. They are associated with property on squares 551 and 552. The documents for 551 appear to be an outlier as it is concerning a party wall between 213 and 215 Q St NW (Sq 551 lots 7 & 8). I believe they probably lived on square 552 on lot 206, currently 136 Bates St NW. February 1926 Joseph and wife “Navalla” obtain 136 Bates with a $2,250 loan at 6% APR with monthly payments of $30. The Gibsons sell in 1965 to Barney and Henrietta Weitz.

It appears widow Florence O. Glover buys 109 Q St NW, which no longer exists, in 1925. By the sale of the property to the DL & W company in 1957, it seems she is dead. A Florence Glover is deceased as mentioned in the deed, but her daughter was also named Florence Glover, so there is confusion there. And there are more than half a dozen Glovers mentioned on the document. Please don’t leave property to more than 2 unmarried (sans spouses) relatives, it’s really confusing.

Jerome and Ellena Jenkyns bought their home 1629 3rd St NW in 1922, if the records are correct. Once again this is another property that no longer exists. The property was sold in 1972 to the Redevelopment Land Agency (RLA) by the heirs. The document listed Jerome dying around about May 24, 1965 and Ellena dying around May 8, 1948.

 

 

Black Home Owners of 1930-1934: Sq 551 Ethel Thomas

I kinda stopped looking at black homeowners when I hit a problem I’ll call the widow Ethel. Ethel Thomas (nee Heywood) was a widow after 1934 when her husband Sanders Thomas passed away. In the 1940 census she was shacked up with some guy she, or someone, told the census was her husband. But there is no record (I could find) that she remarried.

Recently some images of records came available and they really don’t clear up the tale of Ethel, since it occurs around about the time of her husband’s death. I strongly doubt that I will find out who was her mystery man.

Landowner list of Sq 551Square 551, which is bounded by 3rd, Q, 1st, Florida Avenue and R Streets NW, is quite big. Since Destructo-kid has become mobile, very mobile, I’ve had zero time to get back to data clean up. But every so often some new data pops up, and it is just a question of can I do something with it.

If I were free to get around to looking at the owners, I’d look at 1900. That period saw an explosion of growth and building in Truxton Circle, so I could look and see who were the builders building for by looking at the 1902-1903 owners. Then if possible, compare with the census.

Black Home Owners of 1940: Heywood/ Thomas- Updated & Corrected

UPDATE #2- Okay the Haywood/ Heywood confusion was on me and my note taking. So it was Heywood as in Hey! Wood. She also sold the property in 1972 not 1975 as reported earlier. The other confusion is I noticed the date of her husband and it is reflected in the amended post.

I was working on a longer post when I came to a hiccup. People. People are complicated.

So I have a person in the 1940 census named Spencer Heywood, a black man born in Georgia possibly in 1890. He’s a barber. He owns his own shop according to what his wife Ethel Heywood reported to the census. Problem is, I can’t find Spencer Heywood outside of the 1940 DC census. The other problem is the Sanborn map says his house 1649 3rd Street NW does not exist, city directories says it does. If it did exist, it doesn’t exist anymore because there is a Northwest Co-op on that spot.

Sometime the indexing is crazy, maybe his name was misspelled in this or another census. I checked the 1940 census and that area was covered by someone who wrote in clear block letters. Then I checked the property records using that his name. Nada for that time period.

I moved on to the wife, maybe if I can find her, I might be able to locate him. Oh, I found her, but I did not find Spencer anywhere. Ethel appears in the land records for Square 551 (where Mt. Sinai, Florida Park and the Co-op sit) with two names between 1924 and 1972. Ethel Louise Heywood exists in the records between 1950 and 1972, Ethel Louise Thomas is named as the owner of lot H, later lot 0909, between 1924 and 1950. The April 1950 deed links Ethel Heywood and Thomas together naming her as the widow of Sanders Frank Thomas. Another deed from 1944 also calls her the widow of Sanders Thomas. She’s the main owner, but Mr. Thomas is only mentioned again in 1933 and 1937. The earliest record makes no mention of a husband, she acts as a singular entity regarding the business of the property.

So who the hell is Spencer? Could Sanders be Spencer?

In the 1930 census at 1649 3rd St NW, 30 year old nurse Ethel Thomas of Arkansas is living with her husband Sanders Thomas, a 41 year old waiter and DC native, with a lodger Ruth Sweeney, a 40 year old laundress. In 1940 the two residents of 1649 3rd St NW are Ethel Heywood of Arkansas, a maid for the federal government and her husband and head of household, Spencer Thomas Heywood, the barber from Georgia.

According to the 1972 paperwork, Sanders Thomas died in 1934, before the 1940 census, and Ethel did not remarry.

1972 Deed transferring Sq 551 lot 0909 to RLA

I don’t think Spencer and Sanders are the same guy. Okay, who the Hell is Spencer?

My spouse has a crazy theory. He thinks Ethel was upset, leaving Sanders she walked over to a dance club and ran into Spencer Heywood. They hatched a plan to bump off Sanders. Initially, he supposed she went to the Baker’s Dozen on 4th Street to dance her cares away, until I pointed out it didn’t open until 1944, after the 1940 census, and after Thomas’ death. Finally that damned plaque is good for something.

 

UPDATE- So it’s Heywood in the Census but Haywood in the record.

Black Home Owners of 1940: College Educated Women part 2

Please see Part 1 to read about 2 of the 5 women listed as college educated homeowners in Truxton Circle.

So in this post I’m going to try to find the story behind the remaining women; Miss. Eliza Matthews (60) of 1239 New Jersey Ave NW; Mrs. Blanch Lewis (60) of 1225 New Jersey Ave NW; and Mrs. Lucille Powell (46) of 69 Hanover Place NW.

Ms. Matthews bought 1239 NJ Ave NW in 1922 for what appears to be $9,000. I’ll have to admit, I’m not 100% sure about the various documents I’m looking at, but it looks as if this single black woman was able to get a loan to buy this house at 7% APR. And I can’t tell if she refinanced or got a second mortgage in 1932 from the Washington Loan and Trust Company (Riggs Bank?) for $4,000. In the Census record her name appears to be Elira Matthews, who at the time was living with her ‘sister’, also aged 60, Josephine Butts. Sometime around 1948 Ms. Matthews died and in a will Josephine E. Saunders (nee Thomas) became the owner of the property. Is this Josephine a different Josephine? Curious.

 

Blanch Lewis, or Blanche I. Lewis was listed as the owner in the 1940 Census, but when looking at other records it doesn’t look as if she really owned the place. In 1937 Edward Wellington Lewis buys 1225 NJ Ave NW from Czech or Serbian couple Ivan and Dorothy Mikalaski. Looking back at other earlier census records for a Blanche Lewis, I found her living in 1910 with her father Edward W. Lewis Sr. and sister Harriet. In 1940 she is still with her 55 year old sister Harriet who was working as a teacher. I’m guessing the Edward W. Lewis who really owned 1225 was a brother, as her father would have been extraordinarily old by 1937. To purchase the property, the loan Edward takes out with the Washington Loan and Trust Company is for $2,500. By 1954 EW Lewis is dead. His siblings William and Harriet E. Lewis are his only surviving relatives mentioned in the land records. It is possible Blanche was a widow and either married another Lewis or changed her surname back, but I think the Lewis sisters were probably spinsters.

Lastly, Mrs. Lucille Powell. I couldn’t find 69 Hanover on a map. I looked at the census page again. The last name isn’t clear, and page seems to be a mix of streets. The last two pages of this enumeration district appears to be a hodgepodge of different addresses. I decided to search for her by name, not location and found a record of a Lucille B. Powell, widow of James C. Powell on Square 617, lot 141 (71 N St NW) from 1944. Looking in a city directory for 1939, a Lucille Powell lived at 69 N Street NW.  Samuel M Powell lived at 71 N Street. Close enough. Regarding the property records, let’s just say it becomes confusing because it appears someone wanted to leave their property to 4+ family members and it just looks like a nightmare to figure out. Those family members include Mary B. Rhambeau (nee Powell), Gladys Powell Reid, Samuel M. Powell, Clara Willis (nee Reid), Miriam Reid Felder, and Lillian B. Branch. I quit. If I wanted to look up the history of a complicated family, I’d do my own.