Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Emmett Woodfork 234 O St NW

Once again, another address that no longer exists, 234 O St NW, because it eventually got absorbed by the Dunbar campus. This post looks at Emmett Woodfork, a Black chauffeur working for the US government, who, according to the 1920 census, lived at 234 O Street NW with his wife Mattie J. , and newborn son Willis (Emmett Willis Woodfork, Jr). It appears they were the landlords for the Coleman family (parents Howard & Anne, with daughters Sophia and Blanche) who are listed living at the same address.

Emmitt Woodfork
Emmett Woodfork 1897-1962 Credit: FIREGRUNT2000 originally shared this on 04 Sep 2018 on

The available land records start in 1921/1922 so his first land record is a trust from August 1922, where Emmett and Mattie borrowed $1,500, from the Perpetual Building Association, which they were released from (paid) in 1923. The next land record was a release for a 1919 debt managed by trustees. In 1923, they borrowed $1,800 via the Perpetual Building Association, again. They borrowed and repaid money until 1925. The Perpetual Building Association was one of the lenders or facilitators, so was the United States Savings Bank. In 1926 the Woodforks sold the property to Martha G. Baylor.

To see where the Woodforks went after 1926 we must turn back to the genealogical records. The reason being, they owned four other DC properties and the genealogical records show which ones were investments and which were homes. In 1930 they lived in what looks to be Adams Morgan at 2472 Ontario Road NW. Their family had grown from one son to 6 children. When all was said and done they had 10 children. They were at the same house in the 1940 census, and Emmett was working as a chauffeur for the US War Department.

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.


Black Homeowners of Truxton Circle: Edward Coleman 230 O St NW

At first I was busy looking for Edwin Coleman but thankfully the land records set me straight, his name was Edward. Sadly this post is not as rich as the previous post, and will be very basic.

Whatever was at 230 O Street NW, got torn down for Dunbar High School’s needs. From the 1920 census, Edward Coleman was a self-employed African American messenger. He lived at 230 with his wife Josephine, his brother Walter and a roomer, Walter Miles. In 1880 the Coleman brothers lived at 131 R St NW, with their father Jesse (listed as a begger, could be bagger) , their mother Laura, a servant, and their sister Henrietta. And in 1910, Edward, then a porter, and Josephine rented 1518 3rd St NW. All in Truxton Circle.

Image not found

Edward S. Coleman first appears in the land records, which start in 1921/1922, in a 1922 where he and Josephine E. Coleman borrow $2000 at 7% from the National Savings and Trust Company. a few days later there is a deed, which looks like it is acting as a release for a debt from 1919, managed by trustees. In 1925, the Colemans sell the property to the District of Columbia for $4000. They get a release from the National Savings and Trust and that is the end of their ownership on that block.

I did a name search for Josephine Coleman and it looks as if she and Edward moved to another part of Truxton Circle buying 1628 3rd St NW in 1925. On November 21, 1925 they bought the property from Marietta V. Scarborough. The deed history of that property is ‘interesting’. In 1924, Patrick J. Daly sells/transfers it to Thomas F. and Irene Harper. There is a trust indebiting the Harpers to Daly for the sum of $4000 for the delayed purchase of the property. In addition to a debt of $3000 delayed purchase money to Daly and a Thomas Walsh as trustees. In 1925, the Harpers transfer/sell the property to Christina A. Mack, who was another former O St resident, who agreed to pay the money owed to Daly and Walsh. Mack must have defaulted on $7,500 owed, because the property was auctioned to Ms. Scarborough, who sold it to the Colemans.

Something must have happened between 1925 and 1935 because Josephine’s name is removed from the 1628 3rd St NW property and replaced by Bertha Coleman. In a 1935 deed of trust Josephine E. Coleman is referred to as Edward Coleman’s former wife and Bertha as his current wife. But when I looked at earlier trusts, I see that Josephine died. Going by the land records, it looks like she died sometime between 1928 and 1930.

There is a fair amount of borrowing and other land records but I peaked into 1966. In 1966, Edward Coleman is dead and Bertha is a widow. Via a trustee named J. George Gately, Chester C. Lee is added to the deed. Who the flip is Chester C. Lee? Whoever he was, I’d probably have to search court records to locate him, because the next land record is from 1976. In that deed, Chester C. Lee is removed from the property, and his wife Marie C. Lee is the surviving sole owner. He also died but there is a line reading, “CHESTER C. LEE who was seized by operation of the law…” There’s a bit more to this rabbit hole but I’m stopping here.

George Basiliko Keeps Showing Up in My Truxton Circle Property Searches Pt 1

So I as I go through the Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle series, I keep running across the name George Basiliko in the transactions. Him and his wife Sophia. He has shown up with with Harry Brown, Arthur B. McKinney and John Robinson in real estate transactions.

So who was George Basile Basiliko? He was born in Washington, DC to Basil (Basile) Stergin Basiliko a Greek immigrant, and Calliope Papazoglis (Papasoglou) Basiliko a Greek-Turkish immigrant on January 14, 1917.

In 1929 it appears the family lived at 50 Randolph Place NW in Bloomingdale. The father Basil was a contractor with a business address at 600 E St NW. In 1930, Basil was a merchant and owner of a cigar business and the family lived at 54 P St NE in NE Truxton Circle (some times I acknowledge that part of the TC).

He graduated Langley Junior High in 1933. Married Sophia Cokenias, also a child of Greek immigrants, in June 1947.

At the age of 26, he and his brother Nick Basiliko were charged with operating a “disorderly house” in April 1943. The house in question being the Logan Hotel at 912 N St NW. He received his real estate license, using 912 N St NW as an office in July of 1943. The Basiliko brothers were cleared of charges in the disorderly house case in September of that year by a municipal judge and the Evening Star said the hotel was at 13th and Logan Circle. December 1943, the United States Attorney’s Office kept pursuing the case because the house raid involved 100 police officers. The Evening Star restated the location of the hotel at 13th and Logan Circle, and George’s address being on the 6200 block of 8th St NW. In a 1944 Evening Star article, the police raid was reported as being on September 1942 and only 70 police involved.

After that brush with the law, his appearances in the Evening Star were classified ads advertising commercial real estate and trust notes. At some time in the 1950s he moved his office to 1113 Eye (I) Street NW. But staying out of trouble didn’t last long.

The Basiliko name popped up again regarding an investigation and court case regarding Route 240 and the claim of defrauding the Maryland State Roads Commission in 1953. Several Basiliko family members were named, including George, and a man named Ben Du Pre, who was the main target. Looking at Basiliko v State, this thing dragged on through the late 1950s.

In the Home and Real Estate section (B section) of the October 3, 1959 issue of the Evening Star, there is an article about rehabilitating properties in Truxton Circle, particularly Bates Street, in an article, “Some Plain Words About City Decay” by Robert J. Lewis. The article noted how George Basiliko “bought a lot of rundown properties” and was in the process of rehabbing them with assistance of the Perpetual Building Association, another familiar name to the Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle series.

I want to dig into this article a bit more so I will do that in part 2, as it deals with so many TC homes.

Sources: Continue reading George Basiliko Keeps Showing Up in My Truxton Circle Property Searches Pt 1

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: John Robinson

Going back to the 1920 Census our next Black American home owner is John Robinson, a 34 year old cook who lived at 1417 New Jersey Avenue NW.  He lived there with his wife Annie B., their 7 year old daughter Dorothy M., his brother Sam, and his widowed aunt-in-law Belle Pryor.

John W Robinson
Credit: JKROBIN3571 originally shared this on 30 Nov 2010 via

Because of the amazingness of, we have a photo of Mr. Robinson. This is a nice reminder that these people who I write about were real people who lived in Truxton Circle and who are our neighbors from the past.

On March 14, 1885 John Robinson was (probably) born in King William County, Virginia to John B. Robinson and Oney Smith. He was still in Virginia, as a school boy in 1900. By the 1910 census he appears in Washington, DC living as a lodger with J Walker Robinson at 1222 4th St NW and working as a cook in a cafe.

In 1911 Continue reading Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: John Robinson

1957 Church Survey: Third Baptist Church

I’m posting this church survey earlier than I had planned because of a Black Home Owners of TC post that I plan to put up and I wanted this to be available. This is the 1957 Church Survey for the Northwest Urban Renewal Area. It was probably the one spot for in depth information about individual churches, big and small, in Shaw, and a little bit outside of Shaw. This post is about the Third Baptist Church at 1546 5th St NW.


photo of property
This was the church of a previous Black Home Owner of Truxton Circle, Officer James S. Boswell who had long since died before this survey was done. But let’s take a look.

CS 19 Third Baptist by Mm Inshaw

Third Baptist was and still is an African American church. In 1957 it reported to have 600 members of which a majority lived in the NW Urban Renewal Area. However there was a mention that members were moving from NW and Georgetown to NE DC. They didn’t report any numbers for their occupational distribution, saying that there were many white collar workers and the majority were unskilled manual workers.

1957 Church Survey: Church of God and Saints of Christ

This is a church from the 1957 Church Survey that provides no information. 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.

The Church of God and Saints of Christ was located at 401 New York Ave NW, which technically puts it in Mt. Vernon Square. Currently the First Tabernacle Beth El sits there. The church survey doesn’t provide a lot of information except it had a “bishop” who lived around the corner at 405 M St NW.

photo of property

CS-36-Church of God and Sai… by Mm Inshaw

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: The Garretts of 1408 3rd St NW ver.2.0

I posted before about the Garretts, but I wasn’t as familiar with the land records and Ancestry has improved a bit.

In my last post about the Garretts, I wrote:

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.

Looking at the land records there isn’t much. But I understand it. In the 1920 census the house was listed as being owned free and clear, and they kept it that way. Under the Garretts there are no trusts (mortgages). We don’t see anything until 1951 when the daughter Beatrice Garrett and granddaughter Marjorie Ellen Rand sell the house to Violet M. Barbour, who took out a loan for $4,500 at 6% interest.

photo of propertyNow back to John W. Garrett. He was impressive in the census. For the 1910 census he claimed to be a fireman Continue reading Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: The Garretts of 1408 3rd St NW ver.2.0

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Barbra Smith of 1430 3rd St NW

In the 1920 Census Barbra Smith was pretty old. She was born in Maryland around 1840, which made her 80 years old. Looking at past census records, she’d been at 1430 3rd St NW for a long while, as in been there since the 1880 census long while.Image not found

So lets go back to the 1880 census. In 1880 Henry Smith, an illiterate Black laborer, lived at 1430 3rd St NW with his also illiterate wife Barbra, a laundress, their literate children William and Frances, and baby Victoria. They also lived with his mother Deliah Bond, and adult step-relatives. He died in the Summer of 1915, leaving Barbra, William and Victoria as survivors.

I could not find a lot about the Smiths in the record. It doesn’t help that ‘Smith’, is a really popular name. Continue reading Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Barbra Smith of 1430 3rd St NW

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle- James W. Aiken

Looking at the 1920 Census our next African American Truxton Circle home owner is James W. Aiken. Aiken was a 25 year old waiter from North Carolina living at 1429 3rd St NW. He lived there with his wife Isabelle, daughter Mignon (like the filet), and son James W. Aiken Jr.

photo of property

The land records are confusing, as usual. The first record is from October 1925 and it is a trust, which means money was being borrowed, between J. Wills Aiken et ux and Baltz & Owens Trustees. It appears the Aikens borrowed $2,400.00. Then in November 1925, are two deeds between the Aikens and Wilber C. Wiley. The deeds are right after each other, Aikens transfer to Wiley then Wiley transfers it back to the Aikens, on the same day. I’m not sure what that was about.

Then there is another document, a release, which means whatever loan has been paid off or fulfilled,  also from 1925 where J. Wills Aikens pays off the debt of James R. Clarke and his wife Mary M. Clarke. Those names sounded familiar and they were Black TC home owners from an earlier post. James Clark/e was a waiter too. I’m not sure what that’s about either.

The Aikens borrow and pay off several loans from 1926 to 1946. But in 1949, Isabelle Aiken took out a loan for $4,500 with the Perpetual Building Association, alone. But that same day J. Wills and Isabelle transfer the property to Anna Pararas, who then transfers it back to Isabelle Aiken. In 1970, Isabelle pays off a loan, alone.

The genealogical record shows the Aikens lived at 1429 3rd Street NW for a good long while. But that’s not the most interesting thing. James Willis Aiken, or Wells J. Aiken, or J. Wills Aiken was born in Brevard, Transylvania, North Carolina April 17, 1891 to Mary Pardon Aiken and James P. Aiken. He had 1 or 2 half siblings and 13-16 full siblings one of whom was Loretta “Jackie Moms Mabley” Aiken , if the family tree is to be believed. If you are unfamiliar with Moms Mabley, you obviously didn’t watch the last season of the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Anyway here she is:

I wonder if she stopped by to see her brother when she was performing at the Howard Theater? Maybe not. My half sister didn’t even bother to say hi to me when she came up from Florida for Obama’s first inauguration.

Anyway, back to boring old James Aiken. Waiter. As I wrote, they were there for a while. A World War II draft card has James at 1429 3rd St NW as an unemployed waiter. In the 1930 Census James is, Wells J Aiken, hotel waiter and Isabelle a federal government employee.  In 1940 they were on 3rd St, living with their 24 year old son. James was back to being James W. Aiken and a waiter, and Isabelle a clerk at the Government Printing Office. James died in September of 1971. Isabelle died in December of 1974. Their children sold the house in the mid-1970s after their mother’s death.

Edited 8/24/22- Original video removed because it was made private. Paragraph edited.