Private Tom Lawler was a cop. An Irish cop. One Saturday November evening in 1882 he went into work at the Sixth Precinct. But as his shift went on he started complaining of chills and was sent home around 10PM. A doctor was called but an hour later he died.
He probably died in the vicinity of where we sleep now.
Does this freak me out? No.
It’s been 137 frickin years for one. Two, I have the ashes of a dead woman on my bookcase, and I’d really like her not to be there gathering more dust. Nobody wants their mother in law hovering over them. But I digress.
Here is what I know about this former resident. He was captured in the 1880 Census as Thomas Lawlor, then aged 50. He lived with his wife Ellen, then 30 and their two children Mary (19) and Daniel (12). Mary and Danny were 2 of the 4 kids I know of. They were the only white people on that side of square 509E, if Irish immigrants in the 19th century count as such. Prior to living near 4th and Q NW they lived at K & New Jersey Avenue. When he was appointed as a law man in 1867, a letter of recommendation mentioned he had a large family and that he was a good man. His application said that he didn’t drink. Here I shrug, maybe. Because later in his personnel file (early DC cops have personnel files) he was in a home on North Capitol between P and O Sts (Yay, Truxton Circle) where a grocery was kept (whatever that means) when he wasn’t supposed to be there. This also happened in November, 1880. November was not a good month for Tommy the Cop.
Okay the pages for Squares 507 to 510 East are crap. But the pages for Squares 519-521, 550-555, 614-618 and 668-670 (the NE Truxton) are readable.
What is it?
The National Archives has images of some of their stuff in their catalog. So I pulled out parts that pertained to Truxton Circle, here (for a better image of sq. 507-510E), and here. This is just more evidence for the history of Truxton Circle. If I (or someone else, hint, hint) decide to cross reference this list of property owners with a city directory or the 1930 Census, we could see who were landlords and who were homeowners. All sorts of questions could crop up from the data.
Anyway, here’s the pdf.
Truxton Circle 1933 Property Owners by Mm Inshaw on Scribd
I mentioned this one earlier this month, well its school, as it is one of 3 private schools in Shaw. Anywho, St. Augustine is at 1717 15th St NW, on the upper end of the neighborhood.
It was a big church with a chunk of the parishioners (50%) in the urban renewal survey area. I’m a convert to the church, but the sense I get is back then, when this survey was conducted, there were parish districts and you were supposed to go to the church for the district you lived in. Another interesting thing about the demographics is that it had a tiny white population, 3%, while the rest was Black. It is still a predominately African American Catholic Church.
Anyway, here’s the 1957 survey for St. Augustine:
CS 30 St Augustine by Mm Inshaw on Scribd
I’m going to try something here and see if it fits.
It is from https://catalog.archives.gov/id/140129446 and Truxton Circle, the NW section of it (not that tip on the other side of North Cap), is Census Tract 46. Also “Non-Wh.” is just Black people…. and maybe that one Asian that always shows up in the census.
I should sneak a Shaw church in this run of random churches. Vermont Avenue Baptist is at 1630 Vermont Avenue NW.
In 1957 Vt Av was a HUGE church claiming 3,600 members. They had 3 Sunday services with over two thousand congregants showing up on any given Sunday. It was a predominately white collar Black church with 41% living in the urban renewal area. About half the membership lived in the rest of DC. So about 1000 people coming in on Sunday, where did they park?
CS 20 Vermont Ave Baptist by Mm Inshaw on Scribd
When you think Southern Baptist, what comes to mind? A Black church? Probably not, but that’s just what we have here. Southern Baptist Church at 134 L St NW. If memory serves me right, I believe there’s a bus in their parking lot that says “We Love Black People.” The church sits in NoMa so, not in Shaw.
Anyway there isn’t a lot of information in the 1957 survey, except they are a black church, they had a huge membership (1,300 souls), and the church was newish then.
CS 15 Southern Baptist by Mm Inshaw on Scribd
I’m not even going to search for a photo. But do a quick and dirty post for Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church at 1518 M St NW. In 1957 it was a big church, with 1200 members in 1957, with about 400 showing up on any given Sunday. The professional majority were skilled laborers, followed by Professionals and white-collar members. It was and is, as far as I can tell, still a Black church. It does not give a breakdown but claimed many members lived in the Northwest Urban Renewal area under study at the time.
CS 53 Metropolitan AME by Mm Inshaw on Scribd
So Bloomingdame asked me via a tweet why a clean up would be needed for the area of Florida and Q St NW. Then that Sunday Scott Roberts asked me about this. So during my lunch I looked for an answer in the 1970-1969 City Directory, because someone else asked a similar question for another part of Truxton Circle.
I’m guessing the laundries, the car lot and the dry cleaners might have a little something to do with it. Looking at the 1952 aerial photo, there were structures on that section of the street, so maybe someone is being super duper careful or adding a hurdle to development.
So I’m bopping to Rick Springfield’s Jessie’s Girl in my head as I type this. The Springfield Baptist Church has nothing to do with the 80s crooner.
Springfield Baptist at the corner of P and 6th Street NW, was a steeple church of unknown vintage in 1957, according to its survey entry. I’m not exactly sure what would qualify as a mega-church circa 1957, but Springfield had a large congregation of around 1700 members, 900 of whom showed up on the average Sunday.
So let’s get into the demographic nitty gritty. It is and was a predominately African American church. The occupation spectrum seemed fairly even, a small percentage of professionals, a nice chunk of white-collar workers, some skilled manual and some entrepreneurs. The largest group were unskilled laborers at 45%, not half but a large percentage.
You might be wondering, was this a commuter church? Yes, no, maybe. Twenty percent lived in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area, which was later shrunk to the Shaw School Urban Renewal Area. There is a mention that about 15% of the membership moved out of the renewal area in the last two years. Seventy percent lived in other parts of the District, in NE and far parts of NW. The far part may have been closer to their former education center at Kansas Avenue and 8th St NW in Petworth. The E.L. Haynes Charter School sits around there now.
CS 14 Springfield Baptist by Mm Inshaw on Scribd
This doesn’t provide a lot of information.
So unlike the survey pages I really like, this one is fairly sparse. Anyway, today’s feature is Salem Baptist Church at 917 N Street NW in Shaw. It’s a church building on lot 0809, and a residential structure. Looking at PropertyQuest, there’s another lot the church owns on the other side of the main building. The survey does not tell the racial make up. I’m not 100% sure about the major racial make upof it now, but I’ll guess, African American.
CS 11 Salem Baptist by Mm Inshaw on Scribd