White Landladies and Black Renters

My last post ran long and I felt I buried the lede.  I’m just going to rehash it with a clique beatty title.

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

In 1905 the Miller ladies owned several lots on a city block in Washington DC. The square being Sq. 520, which sits between 3rd and 4th, R and Q Streets NW. The Miller ladies being Katharine Miller and her daughters Catherine, Agnes, and Anna. They were white women. According to the 1905-1906 General Assessment they owned under the names Katharine/ Katharina Miller, Catherine A. Miller, Anna B. Gaegler, and Agnes C. Sullivan lots 57-62, 65, 68, 74, 76-78, 86-88, 90-95, 102-106. Using the Library of Congress’ Baist map and Property Quest and trying to match addresses to lots with numbers that may or may not line up with current lot numbers, I think they owned 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.

Map from 1892

A lot of houses in DC say they were built in 1900. They weren’t. Several of these were. The map to the right is a Hopkins map from 1892. There are structures at the corner of 4th and Q and 3rd and R Streets that pre-date 1900. When looking at the 1900 census for residents in these Miller owned properties, they are all African American renters. Those older homes, 1603-1611 4th St NW,  were owned by Millers but rented by the Turners, the Smallwoods, Motens, Dotts and others. They were Black laborers and domestics. But they also owned newer housing that did not exist in 1892 but did in 1900. These newer homes were 1629, 1635, and 1641 4th St NW.

Thomas Jenkins, a porter born in 1850, lived at 1629 4th St NW with his wife, 4 sons and three daughters. He and his wife Rachael were both born in Maryland. Their children were born in the District. His adult son William was a porter like his father. The second son Charles was a teacher. The third, Harry, was a bellman. The youngest, Thomas, was 10. His daughters appear to have been at home, unemployed.

There were 3 households at 1635 4th St NW. The first was a widow woman Cornelia E  Madden. She is listed with a 2 year old daughter and a 17 year old son. The second is Sandford Madden, a 23 year old waiter. I don’t know if he was related to Mrs. Cornelia Madden. He is listed with his wife and their infant son, They also had two ‘boarders’ ages 3 and 4 in their home. Lastly there was William Washington, another young waiter in his early 20s. He lived at 1635 with his wife and their two year old son. Today the house boasts of having about 1500 sq feet.

1641 4th St NW also had three households listed as residents. First, there was 65 year old widow Ann Bowie with her 40 year old daughter Ella. Then there was 50 year old widow Louisa Brooks, a servant, with her 16 year old son Adolphus, a porter. Balancing out the widow women was Benjamin Stiles, a day laborer, He lived with his wife, Sarah, a washer woman and their 3 year old daughter. They had a male boarder, Richard Neale, a hod carrier.

I would examine their White renters from 1910 to see if they were crammed in as much as their Black neighbors, but this post is long enough.

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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319 R St NW- Back On the Market $1.6 Million

So….. nevermind. There is an open house 3/14 from 1-3PM. Redemption may be at hand.

Below is the old post.

At the corner of 4th and R is 319 R St NW and it is a large landmark of a house. I noticed the “For Sale” sign was gone. So it looks like it did not sell. Which is sad because I had hoped someone could redeem the mess that had happened. But maybe $1.6 million was too much to ask in addition to redemption.

So for those of you just joining us and unfamiliar with the saga that was 319 R St NW, here’s a very quick story. When I arrived to Shaw 20 years ago, 319 was mission house for a Virginia Korean church where they fed homeless people and let them hang out. But after many years and the neighborhood got gentrified they sold the house to a developer. That developer wanted to throw on a 3rd story and lop off the corner turret. After some push back, they agreed to throw a dunce hat of a turret on. The house, and almost all the other houses on the block, was an actual Harry Wardman house. The developers’ desire to go the ugly route triggered a nuclear option of making the whole block a historic landmark. Which totally sucked for everyone else on the block. The developers sold the mess they made and someone else finished the renovations and dug out the basement. Then the house went on the market. And it sat on the market. Now it’s off the market.

Links to my previous posts about 319 R St NW:
I provided the gun but I didn’t shoot him: Historic Landmarking of Sq. 519
319 R St NW- There can be a way forward with a turret
319 R St NW- The Turret is Plan B
319 R St NW- Not hoping for the best, but the less ugly with a turret
319 R Street NW- a sign
319 R St NW
319 R Street the plan
Well we need more of this kind of missionary work

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- Ernst Hauser

Image not foundOkay, now that figured out the deeds and trusts and other property document stuff let’s dive in with Ernst Hauser, owner of lots C, D, & E. In 1939, the survivors of Ernest/Ernst Hauser sold the lots to E.M. Aiken Inc.

The lots C-E appear to be what is now Mt. Sinai’s rear parking lot. On the Baist map shown here, the addresses appear to be 233-237 Q Street NW.


The deed has helpful information. The first person mentioned is William E. Hauser (aka William Hauser) and we are told he’s single. After Ernest F. Hauser (who is married to Lottie E. Hauser) we get another single guy Harry Louis Hauser. Then we learn Ernest Hauser is dead. And Sophia E. Hauser, a life tenant, died March 26, 1935.

Continue reading Property Owners of Truxton Circle- Ernst Hauser

Figuring out the Recorder of Deeds Docs

I have admitted several times that I have trouble interpreting the property land records that I get from the Recorder of Deed’s database. It dawned on me to look at my own property records to get a sense of what is what.

For reasons, I’m going to change up some names but I will keep the dates. In 2001 I bought my house with a mortgage. In 2003 I took out a HELOC, or 2nd mortgage with Bank B. That was recorded in 2004. In 2006 the Bank B HELOC was paid off and it looks like I took on another HELOC for 100K for the major renovation with Bank A. In 2009, I refinanced, replacing Countrywide with Bank A and absorbing the HELOC I had with them into the new 30 year mortgage. When 2014 rolled around, we (now married to The Help) refinanced to a 7 yr ARM with some cash to pay for the 4th renovation. What I don’t see is the HELOC I took out that year in my name. Which might explain why the title company couldn’t find it either when we sold the house. Continue reading Figuring out the Recorder of Deeds Docs

Property owners of Truxton Circle– The Bundys

Just out of curiosity I’m going to revisit an image I used regarding an African American female homeowner. But she created a mental roadblock and I lost my rhythm.

Landowner list of Sq 551

This image is part of the 1933-34 property tax assessment page for part of Sq. 551, which is between R, 3rd, Q, 1st and Florida. Continue reading Property owners of Truxton Circle– The Bundys

Well that’s almost over- Still here, just different digs

SOLDOkay, one thing down, some other stuff to go.

Despite plans to blow this pop stand, I’m still here. We’re still here. Our block is so awesome, we’re renting a couple of doors away and will stick around until something better comes around. The usual thing is to go looking for a house, buy it and then sell your house. Having 2 mortgages wasn’t particularly appealing prospect. We’ve got a pretty cool arrangement with our former neighbors/ landlords. Our block has great people on it. I hope our buyer/ new neighbor will be great too.

I look forward to the feeling of being able to just pick up and go.

Anyway, we’re still here to enjoy the restaurants, the Bloomingdale Farmers Market and all the wonderful things DC still has to offer, despite the Covid. I know where we’d like to relocate to and have become acutely aware of what we’d lose when we move. Off the top of my head, quick and cheap Uber rides. Followed by bars with good food. Followed by restaurants with good food. Followed by an embarrassment of grocery store choices in walking distance. Yes, everything revolves around food.

Now that that part will be over in about 30 days. I can get back to figuring out where I am with Church Surveys and Black Homeowners of Truxton Circle and other random bits of Truxton/Shaw history.

Renovation #2- Unsexy and unseen

So the things you get to brag about when you have a big renovation are things you can point to and see. I did that. The cool things you can see are the exposed brick wall, the clawfoot tub, the updated bathrooms, and the improved layout. What you couldn’t see or wouldn’t notice were the more appropriate sized radiators, insulation, updated wiring and plumbing, and central air.

Prior to the 2007 renovation the radiators in some areas were above or right at the bottom of the window. This was noticeable when putting in the window AC units. The iron pipes that feed the 2nd floor radiators were behind unsightly (and dangerous) false walls on the first floor. The iron was replaced with copper and those pipes were neatly tucked behind the wall. Some of the old radiators were reused, and others were replaced with more appropriate sized radiators. All that cost money, but it was a small change that I felt made a world of difference.

Insulation is another thing you don’t see but made a world of difference. There was no insulation in the wall when they were opened up during the demolition. I got insulation in the exterior walls. I asked for insulation along the party wall that wasn’t exposed. And I even put some insulation between the 1st and 2nd floors. Later this and the improvements with the radiators helped keep the house toasty warm, especially the master bedroom.

The Spacepak system I put in actually came in 2008. As I mentioned in the previous post, I ran out of money. So the AC was tabled until the next year when I saved up enough for it. The vents had already been installed, I just needed the mechanical parts. I chose this system because I didn’t like the boxy look that came with most AC systems.

There were some other updates and things not in the house. The Ethernet wired system was messed up with renovation #3. I’m not sure what happened but something in the basement was cut or damaged. Wi-fi kind of made the system unnecessary. The 1st floor bathroom is larger than need be because I was going to put a shower in it. That never happened. There are pipes to feed water to a shower in the wall, but not a drain. We wound up just using the space as a pantry area. The new layout made the rear bedroom cramped. That was corrected in renovation #4. But in changing the layout it lost a closet. A closet was planned for renovation #4 but I wanted flexibility and figured a wardrobe would work just as well, so it never got its closet back.

Renovation #2- Down to the Bricks, part 1

Renovation #2 is the renovation I am most proud of. It is the renovation where I went down to the bricks and the joists. I replaced the floors, changed up some of the radiators, and completely changed the floorplan. Since it was such a big project, I’m dividing this into a couple of posts.

Let’s start with the permits. I was able to get the permit myself, with my own drawings. The poor Sikh gentleman at DCRA was patient with me, pointed out things I needed to correct and I think he really wished I had used an architect. But I sort of did. Ira, my architect neighbor, had given me a book on how to draw up plans and advice. This was 2007 so no Google Sketch-up, I hand drew the plans. So I got permit, and it cost me $1000. Just for the permit. All the permits are up on SCOUT, so anyone can look at them.

Then there was the money. I vaguely remember budgeting $87K for the project. It wound up costing around $100K. I had a sweet loan with Countrywide where the 30 year loan had a very low interest rate for the time because of the DC Housing Finance office. But for this project I refinanced with a bank and wound up with a higher rate. My mortgage went from $600 a month to over a thousand. It was worth it. I may explore in another post why I can dare to try  to sell a house I bought for $108K for $750K.

With any large project like this there were unfortunate discoveries made when all was demolished away. One scary thing were joists that at some point in the past had been hacked away to make room for plumbing. Or joists rotted from leaks in the bathroom. I had told our Realtor we didn’t mess with the joists, but looking back at construction photos, those were replaced. Another scary thing was the big hole in the load bearing wall, hidden by a false wall. Anyway, I fixed, or had things fixed and made decisions that made the costs creep up.

People would say old houses had good bones. Because of unhappy discoveries the contractor found hidden behind the walls and ceilings, that saying I found to be an annoying lie. You don’t know until you go down to the bricks and joists. The bones are now fine.