Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Mary Armistead -1223 NJ Ave NW

This is part of a long series of posts about African Americans who were home owners in the Truxton Circle neighborhood.

In the 1920 census Mary Armistead is listed as a doctor. According to the census she lived at 1223 New Jersey Ave NW with her cousin Mary E. Griffin, a widowed teacher, Sarah Tolliver, another widowed cousin, and boarders, the Martin family and Ester AB Popel.

photo of property

There aren’t a lot of land records for this property. The first record is a release from 1923, listing Mary E. Armistead and her cousin Mary E. Griffin as joint tenants. The release was for an August 1917 debt with a trustee. The next record is a 1951 trust. From the document we are told Mary E. Griffin was deceased (and we can assume so is the unnamed Mary E. Armistead) and Mabel A. Griffin Lewis was the owner. Ms. Griffin-Lewis borrowed $3000 from the National Savings and Trust Company. Griffin-Lewis died and her executor Beulah J Murphy sold the property in 1978.

According to the 1919 city directory, Mary Armistead was a midwife and the widow of Howard M. Armistead (former Government Printing Office worker). According to FindaGrave her obit read as:

Evening Star
Washington, DC
30 Aug 1934

ARMISTEAD, MARY E. On Tuesday. August 28, 1934, at her residence, 1223 New Jersey ave, n.w.. MARY E. ARMISTEAD, widow of Howard M. Armistead, devoted sister of J. Randolph Minor and James L. Minor, cousin of Mary E Griffin. She is also survived by many other relatives and friends. Remains resting at the John T. Rhines funeral chapel. 3rd and Eye sts. s.w., until Thursday evening: thereafter at her late residence. Funeral Friday, August 31, at 1 pm. from Israel C M E. Church, New Jersey ave. and Morgan st..n.w. Interment Woodlawn Cemetery.

In the 1910 census she was working in the medical field in Obstetrics and living at 1320 Montello Ave NE (Sq. 4064 lot 0037) in a house she owned. So back to the land records to see what other properties she owned and I found 317 10th St SE (Sq. 0945 lot 0823/007) in the Eastern Market area.

If she used her maiden name as a middle initial she could be the same Mary M. Armistead who is listed as a registered midwife in the Report of the Health Officer By District of Columbia. Health Department · 1895 working out of 1343 K St SE.

Sorry this post is all over the place. I went down the wrong rabbit hole chasing this woman.

no Twitter with current id

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Rev. Alfred J. Tyler- 67 N St NW

Normally, I pick the name of a Black home owner from the 1920 census who lived in Truxton Circle, and try to track their life in this DC neighborhood. Why? Because I have picked Truxton Circle as a place to study and I’m going to study this ‘hood into the ground. This post looks at Alfred J. Tyler, who according to the 1920 census lived at 67 N St NW.

photo of property

Sometimes, I decide to do a Google or ProQuest search if I think the person may have been more than a normal citizen. Search and ye shall receive. Rev. Alfred J. Tyler is mentioned in Mount Horeb Baptist Church’s history:Reverends Alfred J. Tyler (1902-1903), Marzy V. Morris (1904), and J. T. Clark (1904–1916) served as the fifth, sixth, and seventh pastors of Mount Horeb. ” He also shows up in a church history for Mt. Airy Baptist Church: “On June 1, 1906, Rev. Alfred J. Tyler, formerly of the Bethlehem Baptist Church of
McKeesport, PA, was installed as Pastor. He found the church again in need of larger quarters and led the congregation in a building program. Groundbreaking for a new edifice occurred in September 1925, and “A Monument to Jesus” was erected. After 30 years of toil and preaching, Rev. A. J. Tyler went to his rest.

[Mari head tilts] I wonder if Mt. Airy knew of his very short stint with Mt. Horeb?

Little matter. The next paragraph reads: “On February 18, 1937, one of the sons of the former Pastor, Rev. Earl K. Tyler, was unanimously elected Pastor. This young preacher quickly brought new congregants into the church and good works continued. Rev. E. K. Tyler organized new clubs, sponsored a Sunday School of over 350 children, and formed a “Junior Church,” attesting to his love of young people. Rev. Tyler licensed and ordained various sons of the church who went on to extend the influence of Mount Airy Baptist
Church throughout the city. Rev. Earl K. Tyler was called to his reward on May 13, 1955, after a pastorate of approximately 19 years.

From the church histories we know Rev. Tyler was in DC in the early 1900s. In the 1900 census the Tyler family was living in Allegheny, PA, where Alfred was already working as a preacher. He shows up at 67 N St NW in the 1910 census and the 1911 city directory. In the 1910 census he was shown as renting and living in the house with his wife, Sarah A. (nee Slaughter), his 69 year old mother Elizabeth, daughters Sadie B, and Annie E, and sons Allin J. and Earl K. He listed his occupation as a minister.

The earliest land record from the DC Recorder of Deeds online site (1921-Present) is an agreement from 1925. The agreement is between Alfred J. Tyler and the American Security and Trust Company where it appears Tyler had requested an extension on a note. The document notes that the initial promissory note dated back to September 1908. The next record is a September 1928 trust where Alfred and his wife Belle ( apparently Sarah is Belle) borrow $4000 through the Columbia Building Association. The next month they are two releases, both for 1908 debts, including the one with the American  Security and Trust Company.

In the end the Tylers lost the property due to the $4000 1928 debt in 1940. Rev. Tyler died in 1936, so this appears to be a failure of his estate. I will note an owner or two later in 1966, George Basiliko became an owner.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Buck and Lizzie Thomas- 65 N St NW

Welcome back to the Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle, where I pick the name of a Black home owner from the 1920 census who lived in Truxton Circle, a NW neighborhood in Washington DC, and research them.

photo of property

The Thomas don’t lend themselves to easy tracing in the Census and the land records don’t really help either. Buck doesn’t show up at all in the land records. The on-line land records starts around 1921, and the first thing for 65 N St NW is a 1928 trust between Lizzie Thomas and a trustee for $299.00 at 6% interest. This debit is paid off in 1936 and that is the last document with Lizzie’s name on it. The next document after that is a quit claim deed from 1944. In the deed it is claimed that his sister Birdie Anthony is the heir of Edgar Thomas (a son of Buck and Lizzie) according to his 1939 will. So she and her husband Percy Anthony transfer the property to Ruth Lucille Trent. This is followed by another deed in 1957 when the executor of Birdie Inez Anthony, Lottie Anthony Fambro, transfers the property to Ruth Lucille Trent.

Edgar Thomas was easier to locate in Ancestry. Through him I learned Lizzie was Lizzie and not short for Elizabeth. What I learned was Buck Thomas is too common of a name in Georgia.

The Thomas’ lived in the Atlanta Georgia area and are found in the 1900 census with their five children, Birdie, Willie, Ruth, Edgar and George. At that time they had been married for 21 years.  It’s hard to make out Buck’s occupation but it looks like cashier in a dead letter office. In the 1910 census they are living at 65 N Street NW with 4 of their children (Willie is not there), with Buck working as a messenger for some government department. By the time the 1920 census rolls around the Thomas’ are both 60 years old, living with only one son, George.

Edgar wound up living back at 65 N Street NW. On his WWI draft card, circa 1917/1918, he was living at 217A V St NW in Washington, married with child and working as a messenger for the State Department, which could have been the undecipherable government department where his father Buck was working. But by the Second World War, his draft card showed him back on N St, living with his sister Birdie Anthony, still working for the State Department. In between, in the 1920 and 1930 census he was living with his wife, Bessie C. and step-son, Arthur Brooks, at 1126 Girard St NW in a home he owned.

I couldn’t really locate Birdie Thomas Anthony, instead I searched her husband, Percy Paul Anthony. Percy was also from Georgia and in 1910 he was living with Birdie, and their 2 year old daughter Dorothy Inez, working as a tailor in Atlanta in a house he owned. In 1920 the Anthony’s moved up to DC and were renting from the Thomas’ at 65 N St with their 10 year old daughter, Lottie. In 1930, the Anthony family is living with the widow Lizzie and her adult son George (who is also working for the State Department), his wife and daughter Lottie I. For some reason Birdie is listed as Bertha. In 1940, Lizzie Thomas was 74 years old and still the head of the household. George was still single but didn’t appear to be employed. Edgar Thomas was working as a messenger for the government, as was Percy. However the Anthonys were downgraded from relatives to just lodgers in the 1940 census. I’ve seen this in other BHOoTC series posts, I don’t know why that was.

Yes, a lot of different people in this post. You may have needed a score card to keep track of them all. Thanks for sticking with me.

1957 Church Survey: Church of Ascension and St. Agnes

When I last visited Ascension & St. Agnes, many years ago, it was an Episcopal church offering a high church service. It is located at 1215 Massachusetts Ave NW.  It’s in Mt. Vernon Sq, but I’m going to count it as a Shaw church.

Anywho, this church was part of the 1957 Church Survey for a urban renewal area that got broken into other parts, such as Downtown and Shaw. 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.

It was pretty much a White church when I visited and was so in 1957. It’s parish boundaries were pretty much that of the map above, but they said they drew their membership from all over the metro area, as the greatest bulk came from Maryland and Virginia.

CS-33-Church of Ascension a… by Mm Inshaw



Black Homeowners of Truxton Circle: Alexander White -212 N St NW

In this post we look at a Black man named Alexander S. White. He lived at 212 N St NW with his wife named Minnie B. and a roomer named Caddie Love, also a clerk (Mari raises a judgemental eyebrow).

photo of property

Alexander L. White born May 30, 1880. 1917/1918 was a Stenographer for the US Forest Service. This according to his WWI draft card.

Prior to the 1920 census in 1910 the White family lived at 2351 Champlin Av, with daughter Ida & sister in law Jennie L. Anderson.

Looking at the online land records (1921-2021-ish), the earliest set of documents are a set of deeds on February 1, 1923. In one part, Alexander and Minnie transfer the property to Benjamin Gaskins, who then turns around and transfers the property to Minnie and daughter Ida N.D. White. The property had a $2,400 debt at that time. Minnie borrowed $650 in 1924 and $500 in 1926 from trustees. In the 1924 trust, Minnie is described as the surviving tenant, and the 1926 trust describes her as unmarried.

In 1926, Ida and Minnie paid off a January 1921 debt taken out by Alexander and Minnie and the 1924 debt. Minnie takes on more debts with trustees. In 1934, she incurs a debt with the Washington Loan and Trust Company for $3000.

It appears Minnie lost possession of the property with a November 1937 trust, where she borrowed $225 from Ida and Isadore Schwartzman. There is a May 1938 trustees deed where the Schwartzmans transfer/sell the property to Warren T. Cathern. The Schwartzmans published a legal notice in the May 4, 1938 Washington Herald Newspaper. The property was in $3511 of debt. According to the trustees deed, Minnie was in default and failed to pay her debt.

Turning back to Ancestry, there is something interesting. From experience, there are many couples who happen to have the same name. I came across divorce records for an Alexander L. White from a Minnie B. White. The November 16, 1925 divorce decree is from Virginia and the persons are listed as white. The Whites were listed as Black in the 1910 & 1920 census. The chances are possible, IF the Whites were light enough to “pass” for white, or this was just a clerical error. The divorce is a little after Alexander’s name is removed from the property. The coincidences are too much to ignore. I initially listed Alexander’s middle initial as “S” as it is indexed for with the WWI draft card. I looked at the card again, and it is written in a way (cursive) that it could be a S or an L. I went back to the property records and he was listed as Alexander L. White.

The Whites marriage fell apart in 1921 (I wonder if Ms. Love had anything to do with it?). They got a divorce in Fairfax, VA, in 1925, claiming residency there. Alexander is listed as living in Rockville and he is the plaintiff in the matter. I can’t really make out the reason, but it looks like ‘desertion’. From the land records, Minnie B. White got the house and that transfer happened in 1923. It doesn’t look like desertion as it appears to be an agreed separation and dissolution.

Alexander moved on with his life. In September 1926 he married Nellie E. Davis. By the 1930 census Alexander and Nellie were living on Braddock Road in Fairfax county. He had taken up farming, but was still working as a clerk for the US Forest Service. Nellie, was also a clerk for the Department of Agriculture. The 66 year old retired Forest Service employee, Alexander Lindsey White, died April 2, 1947. Henry S. Washington and Sons at 467 N St NW in Washington, DC handled the funeral arrangements.

It’s very hard to say what became of Minnie White. Looking in the city directory it appears she left N St the year of her divorce. In the 1924 city directory she was living on N St, by 1925 she was elsewhere and replaced by a Jas. H. Johnson. There were about 4 Minnie Whites in DC, and no Ida N. Whites. There is a Minnie I suspect is the same Minnie B. White who was a laundress or cleaner of clothes, who in 1930 lived on N St near 8th St NW. But I’m not sure this is the same woman. And so ends the history on the Whites.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Benjamin Holland – 206 N St NW

In 1920 ’twas a man, a Black man, who operated in the business of chickens and owned a house on N St NW. His name. Benjamin Franklin Holland. Just say that name five times fast, sounds like a mantra.

Around 1917, he sold chicken at the market at O and N, right where the Giant Supermarket sits right now. He sold those chickees at stall #15, and I imagine that is where the previously frozen chicken sits in a chiller may have been.

photo of property

Sadly, his story is not a long one. We meet the poultry man in the 1920 census, living with his wife, Cecelia Valeria (formerly Jackson), their son Benjamin, and an aunt, Julia I. Davis. By the 1930 census, he’s dead and Cecelia V. Holland is a widow. At the age of 53, she was living with her 14 year old son Benjamin and roomer from the British West Indies, William A. Thomas.

Once again there is something in the land records that confuses me. There are the usual releases and trusts, the paying and borrowing from investors through trustees. It would help to know when exactly Ben Holland died because there is a 1929 deed with just his name, Cecelia is missing, selling the property to a Peter P. Richardson. Without Cecelia’s name on the deed, something looked off. February 17, 1930 Lottie and Peter Richardson transfer the property to Ester L. Jackson, who transfers it to Cecelia on the 19th. Also on 2/19/1930, Cecelia was advanced $2,100 from the Washington Permanent Building Association. In 1949 she borrowed again from teh Washington Permanent Building Association, for $2,500 and changed her name from Cecelia V. Holland to Cecelia V. Tildon. In 1952 Cecelia Tildon sold the property to the Seventh Realty Corp out of Delaware.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Chas A. Booker- 202 N St NW

In 1920 city Post Office clerk Chas A. Booker lived at 202 N St NW with his wife Mary C. and their young daughter Gladys. Chas is another way of saying Charles.

Charles Alexander Booker was born October 1, 1878 in Jetersville, VA to Churchill Booker and Lucy Alice Johnson. In 1902, he married Mary C. Scott in Amelia, VA.

The Bookers lived in Bloomingdale prior to Truxton Circle in 1910. They lived at 1942 3rd St NW. They appeared to be the primary renters and had the Morton family (four adults and two children) were lodgers at that address.

photo of property

It appears Charles Booker lived at 202 N St NW for a long time. He was at the address in 1913 and 1954 city directories. For the 1941 World War II draft card he was on N St living as a 63 year old retired government employee.

The earliest record from the Recorder of Deeds online records starting in 1921, is a trust from August 1937. In 1937 the Bookers borrowed one thousand dollars via the Washington Loan and Trust Company. The next set of documents are two deeds on November 19, 1940, moving the property from and to Charles Booker as Mary C. Booker died September 2, 1939. These kinds of deed pairs are confusing to me, but it appears the purpose of this was to remove Mary’s name from the property. In 1947 the 1937 debt was paid and the document for that release has daughter Gladys B. Walker as a co-owner. The end of the Booker family’s ownership came in June 1964 when the executor of Charles A. Booker’s will, James E. Walker, Gladys’ husband, sold the property to George Basiliko. G.B. Basiliko turned around and transferred the property to Ms. Kay Monte who turned around and transferred the property back to Basiliko the next month. Basiliko held on to the property until 1974.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Malinda Powell- 71 N St NW

The timeline on this one will be short, because the subject, Malinda Powell, a 66 year old Afro-American woman who lived at 71 N St NW during the 1920 census, died in 1925. But let’s explore what we can.

Normally, I pick the name of a Black home owner from the 1920 census who lived in Truxton Circle, and try to track their life in this DC neighborhood.  In the case of the Powells, I’ll be doing more of a mini-genealogy.
photo of property

Malinda Orange was born in 1855 in Petersburg, VA to Patrick Orange and Mary Cooley. She married David Powell May 10, 1881 in Alexandria, VA. She was listed as a widow but after searching Ancestry, I found an Alexandria county divorce. It appears David Powell sought the June 24, 1918 divorce and claimed ‘desertion’. I’m figuring that Mr. Powell was the one who left his wife, as Malinda Powell was at 71 N St in 1910, prior to the divorce. They were married 37 years and had 5 children.

In 1900 the Powell family rented a home at 223 3rd St NE. David J. Powell was a hotel porter. He lived in that house with Malinda and their 5 children, Mary B., Gladys H., James C., Samuel M., and Lillian B, along with his mother in law Mary Orange.

In 1910 the Powell family was living at 71 N St NW, as renters and without David J. as the head. James C. Powell was no longer living at home and understandably neither was Malinda’s mother. When we get to the 1920 census, James returned to living with his mother and his siblings had married. Mary became Mrs. Rhambeau, Gladys became Mrs. Jacob L. Reid and Samuel was married to Daisy, who was not living on N St. Their sister Lillian was not living at 71 N St either. Lillian B. Branch eventually lived in Tom’s River, NJ.

I want to note that Malinda is described as a widow in the 1920 census.  And to remind the reader, David her husband divorced her in 1918, two years before. Divorce, 100 years ago, was seen as a very shameful affair. It would have been reasonable, given her age (64 in 1920) to proclaim herself a widow.

There aren’t a lot of land records. The available online land records start around 1921 and the earliest for this address is a release from August 28, 1944.  Normally the releases are documents acknowledging the payment of a debt, but in this case it appears to be a transfer, between James C. Powell’s siblings and his widow Lucille B. Powell.

The next record is a January 27, 1959 deed. This is a genealogical info dump so forgive me. And it is proof that you should just name one person to inherit your property, not a slew of family members. So Samuel Powell, his wife Daisy W. Powell, Miss Clara Reid Willis (their niece I guess), Miriam Reid Felder (another niece?), and her husband Allie C. Felder Jr., who all were heirs of Malinda and James C. Powell, Gladys Powell Reid, Mary Powell Rhambeau and Lillian Powell Branch, sold the property to Arline M. Neal and Ruth Malone.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: John and Cecelia Pinkett – 208 N St NW

UPDATE 8/20/2021: I usually keep my eyes on the main owners and everyone else are extras. I want to thank Betsy McDaniel for pointing out that one of those extras, Flaxie Pinkett, was a notable Bloomingdale person. Her Wikipedia page mentions John R. Pinkett Inc., also mentioned in passing below.

From the 1920 census I take the names of African American home owners, and do some very basic research. I have both the husband and wife because she was listed first in the census as the head of household.

Ancestry has a family tree for John Pallard Pinkett, Jr. born in 1862 to John Pollard “Park” Pinkett Jr (say that 10 times fast) and Elizabeth Ann Maria Scott in Virginia. The family lived in Falls Church according to the 1870 & 1880 census. He was enlisted in 1886 in the U.S. Army, and his occupation was that of a barber. He was discharged in 1891. He married Cecelia Beckley in 1887. They had three children, John Randolph, Rosco Dewitt, and Roberta Maude (later Muse?). In 1920 only one (adult) child was living with them, and he was Rosco. I have my doubts about the existence of Roberta as she’s logically would be in the 1920 census if born in 1913. There is a VA birth certificate with her name and John’s name (mother’s name is missing), and her daughter’s death certificate but very few other documents about her.

In 1910 the Pinketts were still in Virginia.

In the 1930 census they are still on N St NW. John P. does not show up in the 1940 census, but his wife was listed as a widow.
photo of property
In the 1935 city directory, John P. Pinkett, married to Cecelia, is listed as a reverend. Right under it are several lines for John R. Pinkett, married to Flaxie H, living at 122 V St NW, was the president of John R. Pinkett Inc., which I think was a real estate company working out of 1302 New Jersey Ave NW.  John R. Pinkett Jr of 122 V St NW, was also a laborer for the Evening Star.

The on-line land records begin around 1921 so the first document for this property is from 1923. It was a release, meaning they paid off a 1914 debt associated with the property, for Cecelia B. and John P. Pinkett with the Washington Loan and Trust Company. And…….. then nothing for 30 years. The land document is a deed from 1953. The Pinkett sons and their wives, sold the property to Boyd B. Middleton. Notably, Roberta’s name is nowhere to be found.


Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Robert E. Coleman – 210 N St NW

Another day, another Black male head of household owning a home in 1920s America. More specifically, 1920s Washington, DC.

In 1920, Robert Edward Coleman, born in Spottsylvania, VA, lived alone with his wife Elizabeth. He worked as a Pressman for the government. A few years before that he referred to his position as a ‘Helper’ working at the Government Printing Office on his WWI draft card. Also on this card from 1917-1918, it lists his address as 210 N St NW.

photo of property

In 1910 Robert E. Coleman and his wife Elizabeth or Lizzie J. (formerly Lizzie J. Lewis) who he married in 1908, lived as lodgers at 1716 4th St NW. This was also in Truxton Circle. His landlord was Robert P. Chandler, who was a bar tender who was a renter as well. Robert worked as a clerk for the government.

By the 1930 census the Colemans had moved on to 1217 Kenyon St. NW, where they once again lived alone, with each other. It appears they did not sell their N Street home until 1935.But there was an earlier deed transferring the property and something must have happened. In December 1927 the Colemans seemed to have sold the house to Mary and Randolph B. Carter. The Carters signed papers to borrow $4000 at 6.5%. There is a trustee’s deed in 1931, and it appears the Carters defaulted and possession fell back to the Colemans some how. This is my best guessing here. In 1935 it gets sold to Edith M. and James W. Smith.

When the draft for the second World War rolled around he was 60 years old, bald, and still living on Kenyon and working for the GPO, which is where we will leave him.