George Basiliko Odd Notes

I’m going to admit this is a super dull post. Feel free to skip it.

So I looked for information about this man including obituaries. Obits are very informative. They tell you about connections you might not have been aware of.

From Legacy.com

On Friday, April 27, 2007, of Washington, DC, preceded in death by his loving wife Sophia; loving daughter, Katherine and his long time companion, Helen Verstandig and his brothers, Nick, Gus, Harry, Gregory and John. Survivors include his son, William and William’s partner, Marcus and his nephew and right hand man, John Swagart. Surviving siblings include, Marche, Oscar, Eftehia, Achilles and his loving brother and best friend Arthur. Also surviving are loving friends, John Verstandig and Joan Lipnick. He leaves many nieces, nephews, and life long friends.

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Findagrave.com

Preceded in death by wife, Sophia Basiliko, in 1989, daughter, Katherine; his companion, Helen Verstandig; brothers, Nick, Gus, Harry, & John. Surviving are his son, William; nephew, John Swagart; siblings, Marche, Oscar, Eftehia, Aschilles, & Arthur. Interment followed funeral services conducted at the St. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church, Washington, D.C., Tuesday, May 1, 2007.

Both inform us of Helen Verstandig, his late partner/companion, a relationship that does not usually make itself known in the usual genealogical resources. Legacy informs us that his son had a partner named Marcus, who is left off the FindaGrave site. Legacy said his brother Arthur was his best friend.  Legacy included non-family, friends John Vertandig (relative of Helen?) and Joan Lipnick. There was another paragraph about the funeral and the church with Legacy, which FindaGrave has in one single paragraph.

I want to point out John Swagart, who is the nephew, of so many nieces and nephews, who is singled out by both Legacy and FindaGrave. His name has shown up in the odd newspaper article or two with his uncle George Basiliko, so they have done business together.

George Basiliko Keeps Showing Up in My Truxton Circle Property Searches Pt 2

When we last left I was looking at an Evening Star article in 1959 about George B. Basiliko’s plans to rehabilitate several Truxton Circle homes. The thing that caught my eye was that these homes were the subject of a post-Home Rule later rehabilitation project that was to take place in the Marion Barry years.

I decided to expand my research to the Washington Post and the Post calls Basiliko a slum lord. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to 1959 and what the Evening Star said.

The October 3, 1959 article, Basiliko, with the help of of the Perpetual Building Association was supposed to rehabilitate 125 units. Several of those units in Truxton Circle. His target areas were specifically the 100 block of O St NW, the 100-200 blocks of Q and Bates Streets NW, the 200 block of P St and outside of the TC but in Shaw the 400 block of Warner. Despite the press, he did Jack.

The more I got into the Washington Post and Evening Star, I don’t know if disgusted or overwhelmed would describe it. Because it opened up a Pandora’s box relating to greater Shaw’s slum history. He profited off it. His target renters were African Americans. When he was found guilty of 8,000 housing violations, Basiliko and the city hashed out a deal. The Redevelopment Land Agency (RLA) bought many of his Shaw properties. And as far as I could tell he avoided jail time.

The Truxton Circle houses he sold to RLA were 47 row houses on Bates Street, 8 on P St, 9 on Q, and 8 on 3rd. He also sold one house on French Street and 33 properties on the block bounded by 8th, 9th, S and T Streets, in Shaw. It appears the money RLA used came from HUD.

One of those P street houses was probably 229 P St NW. It was featured in an article about the 8,000 housing violations. There were holes in the ceiling and the walls. There was defective wiring, plumbing, rotted stairs and missing doorknobs.

The RLA paid Basiliko $1.1 million in 1970 for 106 Shaw properties. What RLA did or didn’t do, is another story for another time.

 

Property Owners of TC- Harry L. Black

This was an earlier post, but I noticed it didn’t have an address.

So today’s owner from the 1933-1934 General Assessment snippet for Sq. 551, the block the NW Co-op and Mt. Sinai sit, is Harry Black (1884-1945). According to the snippet he owned lot 859. But a search of the Recorder of Deed records show he owned lots, 144-148, 154 and 155, which he bought from Dennis Lawrence of NYC in 1931. He also bought lot 218 from Warren F. and Maud G. Brenizer in 1922. Then other lots, 156-157 from two separate people in 1926. Lot 182 from Allen C. Clark in 1927. Lots 149-153 from William and Adelaide E. Muehleisen.

Lots 144-157, 191, 218-219 were alley facing properties, so I have no street for it.

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Lots 182, 224, 226 and 227. I can’t find them on the 1919 Baist map.

Lot 221 was on 1st St NW, but the number was somewhere between 1618 and 1630 1st St NW.

So what do we know about this real estate mogul? Harry Leslie Black was born in MoCo, married to Nora Elliot (1881-1955), and as far as I can tell had no children. In the 1930 Census he’s a Dairyman, working for a dairy. So when he sells many parcels (more than listed above) of land to Fairfax Farms Dairy, Inc. it makes sense. He was listed as a proprietor in one census, so was he bought out? Was he planning on retiring from the dairy biz anyway? Was he an investor in Fairfax Farms Inc?

In an earlier version of this post I wrote that the Blacks lived near Truxton Circle, in Bloomingdale, at 52 Adams Street NW. On this go around I found him at 108 Florida Avenue NW when he was registered for the World War I draft. Sometime after Harry retired they were living way up near Friendship Heights at 3640 Fessenden St. NW, when he registered for the Second World War draft.

We’re getting close to the end of this series. Well maybe a season. I will get back to Black Homeowners of the TC and focus on 1930 and 1940 home owners.

 

Police of Truxton Circle- Thomas Lawlor

Here’s a quick story of Thomas Lawlor. In November 1882 Ofc. Thomas Lawlor, an Irish immigrant, who lived on 4th St NW in Truxton Circle, was at work and fell ill. Then he went home, and died.
Thomas Lawlor lived at 1618 4th St NW with his wife Ellen, and their two children Daniel and Mary in 1880.

The 1880 census didn’t ask if people were owners or renters. I only discovered that Lawlor owned the property because I was searching for the newspaper announcement that he had died. In addition to finding his funeral arrangements, I found a mention of a real estate transfer.

Sept 9, 1878

For some reason Thomas Lawlor, the resident of 1618 4th St NW in 1880, sold/ transferred the property (0509E-0053) to James Lawlor in 1878. I don’t know if James is a relative.

Nov 15, 1882

It seems to be a very Irish thing, of that time, to have something at the home of the deceased. It appears they departed from 1618 and made their way to Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. I wonder if the German George Glorius and his family, one block over, joined the procession? The Glorius family also attended Immaculate, which from personal experience, is a 15 minute brisk walk away from 1618.

There is very little of interest in his personnel file (see https://catalog.archives.gov/id/145835884). He seemed to have wandered into a grocery on North Capitol, where he wasn’t supposed to be, and was written up for it.

 

Property Owners of Truxton Circle: The Kat Millers

The Recorder of Deeds website was being unhelpful. So this is mostly from Ancestry and the Historic Washington Post. Genealogy is hard. I refuse to do my dad’s side of the family because most of it could be summed up in the phrase, “Grandpa James shoulda kept it in his pants.” There are two James, two Roberts and two Johns. Families seem to like to recycle names, which makes things confusing and I was, and probably still am, confused by the Kat Millers of Sq. 520.

I mentioned Kat Miller, as I will call them, in an earlier post, Rando thoughts ending in a music video. For 1905-1906, on Square 520, which is bounded by R St, 3rd and 4th Sts, and Q Street NW, I saw a lot of Kat Millers as the owner of many lots. Katharine Miller owned lots 57-59, 62, 76-78, 88-86, and 90-91. Katharina Miller owned lot 92. Catherine A. Miller owned lots 60, 93-94, and 102-106. There was another lady Miller, Agnes R. Miller who owned lots 61, 65 and 95.

Katharina Nau Miller (1839-1916) Credit Ann Gaegler. Ancestry.com

Like my family, they reused the names. Katharina/ Katrina Elizabeth Nau Miller (1839-1916) was the mother. She was married to a John Miller and they used to live at 452 H St NW. They were members of St. Mary’s Catholic Church. They had three daughters, Catherine Appollonia (1871-1944), Agnes Rose (1878-1930), and Anna Barbara (1876-1950).

The Recorder of Deeds site (when working) helped with something that is very hard when looking up women, married names. Apparently Katharina had a will. I haven’t seen it but I’ve seen evidence of it. But according to land records there was a will and Catherine Appollonia Miller became Catherine Ruppert. She and her husband John Anton Ruppert (1861-1939) were the executors of Katharina’s will. In her will she left property to the surviving children of Agnes Rose Sullivan (lots 57, 78, 88, and 90) along with lots on Sq. 509 (maybe 509E?). In the September 16, 1916 Washington Post (p. 3) she left property and money to Catherine Ruppert, Agnes’ kids, and Anna Barbara Gaegler. Mrs. Gaegler owned lots 68 and 74 in 1905.

I’m not sure who John F. Shea is, but he was the surviving trustee of Catherine Ruppert’s estate.

Sq520-1909-BaistMap
1909 Baist Map of Sq. 520

Okay. Let’s see who these ladies were landladies for. I’m ignoring all the lots owned by Sullivans, who could be relatives of Agnes Rose. So let’s look at lots 57-62, 65, 68, 74, 76-78, 86-88, 90-95, 102-106. Not all the old lot numbers line up with the current lot numbers, and the Baist addresses can be wrong, so bear with me. 1603-1611 and 1629 4th, 1635 4th, 1641 4th, 1646 3rd, 1638-1642 3rd (empty lots), 1618-1622 3rd, 1602/4?? 3rd (empty lot 95), 1604-1614 3rd, and 304-312 R St NW.

In 1900 the residents of 1603-1611 and 1629 4th St NW were all African American. Basically everyone on Square 520 in 1900 was Black and renting and on 4th St NW. Unless I have another hole in my data (and I probably do), these white ladies had black tenants in fairly, newish houses. I live on the even side of the 1600 block of 4th St NW and the houses on the odd side are way bigger than the even side. They have room for parking. We don’t, for most of us.

Moving to 1910, I see I probably have a hole in my 1900 data because, I see White people.  In 1910 the Miller ladies rented to African American and White families.  Fourth St remains African American, but the R Street and 3rd Street houses are rented to White families. I have one odd-ball I need to check. A White man named Anthony A. Ryles of 1646 3rd St NW claimed to own the property in the census. 1646 is currently Mt. Sinai’s education center and the original lot 74, Anna Barbara’s lot, no longer exists. People lie, he could have bought it, or there is another logical explanation.

Okay. That’s enough researching for now.

Redlining vs Urban Renewal

I’m seeing the term redlining popping up more and more. Some of my relatives mentioned it during our Christmas Zoom gathering. It seemed new to the Festivus-like list of grievances that get trotted out by particular relatives, and it seemed to be short-hand for something else. I’m going to go with the simple definition of redlining being the denial of government backed mortgages to non-whites based on geography. Yes, redlining was bad, but urban renewal was much worse.

I’m tacking this on the end of the Kat Miller post because, I see that the landladies were interested in green, as they rented to both Black and White. Poking around the property and census records I see loans get made and a lot of people rent. In cities, you’re more apt to rent than own.

Urban renewal impacts both homeowners and renters, more so renters. It it easier to level a quadrant like Southwest when the majority of landowners don’t live there. The Northwest and later the Shaw School Urban Renewal Area plans were to knock out whole blocks, which would have displaced thousands of residents. In the plan, I-395 was supposed to continue up and meet up with U St, destroying what was to become my house in the process. The homes destroyed to make the freeways, the public parks and the low-income housing aren’t coming back. The scars of urban renewal are forever on the landscape.

Sources: Must login to DC Library's various database accounts-
https://www.ancestrylibrary.com/family-tree/person/tree/150627590/person/180246330315/Gallery?_phtarg=Kyj110
https://www.ancestrylibrary.com/family-tree/person/tree/150627590/person/180246330336/facts
https://www.ancestrylibrary.com/family-tree/person/tree/150627590/person/180246330337/facts
https://www.ancestrylibrary.com/family-tree/person/tree/120179064/person/222225869459/facts
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Property Owners of Truxton Circle- Corinthian Baptist Church

Landowner list of Sq 551Last one in this particular series looking at the above segment of the General Assessment 1933-1934. I was not going to look at Ms. Julia W. McGuire, as she is in a trustee position. My dad is a trustee at his church (why. lord. why) and so his name shows up on the tax database for his county for his church’s parking lots. But another quick look at the Recorder of Deeds database showed that she transferred ownership to Corinthian Baptist Church July 23, 1931. I guess I’m looking up Ms. McGuire.

Mrs. Julia Wise (Grayson?) McGuire (1862- 1952), lived at 531 T St NW was the widow of Robert L. McGuire, and was an African American woman. That’s as much research as I want to do. I’ll write a bit about Corinthian Baptist Church. It was part of the 1957 Church Survey, so I have that link here.

Corinthian Baptist was at 3rd and Q before they moved to the unit block of Q. Corinthian Baptist at some point gave way to Ebeneezer Baptist. They sold their property to Mt. Sinai Baptist in July 23, 1948. The database says 7/20/1948 but that is definitely a 3 not a 0. Seems like July 23rd is a special date.

As you can see with your own eyes, the lots owned by the church managed to survive the urban renewal which created the Northwest Cooperative and Florida Avenue Park.

 

Property Owners of TC- Harry L. Black

So today’s owner from the 1933-1934 General Assessment snippet for Sq. 551, the block the NW Co-op and Mt. Sinai sit, is Harry Black (1884-1945). According to the snippet he owned lot 859. But a search of the Recorder of Deed records show he owned lots, 144-148, 154 and 155, which he bought from Dennis Lawrence of NYC in 1931. He also bought lot 218 from Warren F. and Maud G. Brenizer in 1922. Then other lots, 156-157 from two separate people in 1926. Lot 182 from Allen C. Clark in 1927. Lots 149-153 from William and Adelaide E. Muehleisen.

So what do we know about this real estate mogul? Harry Leslie Black was born in MoCo, married to Nora Elliot (1881-1955), and as far as I can tell had no children. In the 1930 Census he’s a Dairyman, working for a dairy. So when he sells many parcels (more than listed above) of land to Fairfax Farms Dairy, Inc. it makes sense. He was listed as a proprietor in one census, so was he bought out? Was he planning on retiring from the dairy biz anyway? Was he an investor in Fairfax Farms Inc?

At one point the Blacks lived near Truxton Circle, in Bloomingdale, at 52 Adams Street NW. But sometime after Harry retired they were living way up near Friendship Heights at 3640 Fessenden St. NW.

We’re getting close to the end of this series. Well maybe a season. I will get back to Black Homeowners of the TC and focus on 1930 and 1940 home owners.

 

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