Today’s Black home owner from the 1920 census who lived in Truxton Circle is William E. Davis Jr of 1605 NJ Ave NW. DC native William E. Davis was the son of William A. Davis, and later the husband of Annie M. Henderson, it is with these two people, and his sister Nannie Bellows, I am hoping that I have the right William Davis out of the couple of dozen William Davis living in DC at the time.
Because his name was so common, it is hard to piece together a history and be sure it is him. But here is what I think I know.
In 1908 William E. Davis married Annie M. Henderson at St. Augustine’s rectory. In the 1910 census he and Annie lived with his father William A. Davis home owner of 1605 New Jersey Avenue NW, along with his sister Nannie Bellows, his niece Pauline Bellows. The younger William was working as a coffee roaster. Moving on to the 1920 census, William Sr. is assumed dead and William Jr is the head and owner of 1605 NJ Ave NW, living with wife Annie, sister Nannie Bellows and his niece Pauline. He moved from coffee roasting to being a houseman for a hotel. And then he seems to disappear from the record.
So let us turn to the land records which are available after 1921. Sadly they don’t provide much insight about William Davis. The earliest record is from 1937 trust where Nannie Bellows borrows $1800 through the Northern Liberty Building Association. This is followed by a release for a debt taken on in January 1917 by William Davis (the senior), William Davis, Annie Davis, and Nannie Bellows. This is followed by a March 1949 deed labeled as a trust, which informs us that Nannie Bellows was deceased and Pauline borrows $500 from trustees. There was a release for this debt the following year and we are alerted to another property under Pauline’s control, 654 E St SE.
There are many more trusts and releases, but I will focus on the last two transactions involving Pauline Bellows, the sole owner of 1605 NJ Ave NW, borrowed $700 at 6% interest from trustees on February 4, 1958. A year later in March 1959, a trustees deed was issued to Cora Mae Pope, because Pauline had defaulted on her loan and lost the house.
I don’t know what happened with Pauline. I looked her up in Ancestry and discovered she made a social security claim in 1966. Her father’s name was Thaddeus Bellows. Like the other family members, she faded into obscurity.