Okay, I have a pet peeve and I want to get it off my chest. So I have been documenting the property transactions of African American home owners from the 1920 census who lived in this Washington, DC neighborhood of Truxton Circle. Do I understand the records I’m looking at? Not 100% but I can tell there is some problem when the home owner I am tracking leaves their home to more than one person.
I have a sense of what the owner might have been thinking if they left a will. Maybe they wanted to treat all their children equally. Maybe they wanted to leave something to all the people in their lives who meant something and the only thing of great value they had was their home. That’s sweet. But the problem is all their adult children don’t want to live together in the same house they grew up in.
What I see in the land records are papers where all the heirs have to sign off to let one family member have the property. Or all the heirs, and their spouses, sell the property.
Now let me dig and find something useful from my graduate education. I learned why pre-industrial and industrial England was more prosperous than France and it was because of primogeniture. Primogeniture was when the first born (usually male heir) get the main land, properties, and business interest of the deceased. Second plus sons and daughters were lucky to get an allowance, small plots of land or what have you, but not the main prize. This meant the farm was not broken up. Whereas in France, they broke up the farms and the lands into smaller portions, which meant they were less productive.
So back to Truxton Circle. One could theoretically divide a house if it were a two unit structure. So far I have not seen that.
What I have seen with other property owners of Truxton Circle, are requests to allow wives/widows to remain in the home until their death while the named heir holds the title.
In conclusion, the inheriting parties sell the property or transfer it to one of the heirs, who later sells the property. So one may as well direct the sale of the property and have the proceeds divvied up equally by the heirs and save everyone the headache.
Because of another TC related side project the generational wealth that TC property gives is not in the property itself. It may be more the idea of having property and being a homeowner. My parents are still alive so I’m not getting their old ramshackle house any time soon. But they provided an example of the idea of owning one’s own home.
Examples of several heirs- Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Annie Brown 69 N St NW