In praise of the Envirocycle Composter-Update

UPDATE- The universe has semi-answered my prayers. I must thank friend and sometimes reader of the blog Shawn for giving me his unused rotating composter. It sits next to the composter I bought. It’s sturdy and I look forward to turning it into a turny worm paradise.

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Sometimes you never know what you had until it is long gone and you can never get it back. That is how I feel about my-no-longer-mine Envirocycle composter.

Taking another break from the Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle, again. Face it, it’s long and tedious. Also rewarding. Anyway..

When I first moved to Truxton Circle, a co-worker (now department head) gave me his composter. He and his partner had no use for it. They lived a couple of miles where I live now in the Maryland suburbs. He was nice enough to throw it in the back of his truck and deliver it to my Truxton Circle home.

I dumped my old plants in it. I dumped some cherry tomatoes from a house warming party in it. That resulted in having accidental cherry tomatoes growing in the front yard. I put shredded paper from shredded documents in it.

I took earthworms found on the concrete patio in it. At another point I bought some earthworms in the mail and put them in. This resulted in the great worm escape on an unusually hot day where worms were oozing out of the slits en masse. It was a sight.

I used the compost tea and the compost for my container garden. I also donated compost for one of the sidewalk trees Brian and crew placed on 4th St. It was a lovely thing to have.

Did it stink? On occasion, when I failed to balance the ‘greens’ and the ‘browns’. The greens were the romaine lettuce butts, egg shells, whole avocados gone bad, remaining parts of avocados gone good, and all the raw veggies that were composting in the refrigerator. I’ll also include tea bags, loose tea, and lots of coffee grounds from nearby coffee shops, when the neighborhood starting having coffee shops.

The browns were the shredded papers, dryer lint, and maybe the odd batch of leaves.

I took it for granted.

When we decided to sell our Truxton Circle home I had to find a new home for the composter. By this time, 19 years had passed and around year 17-18 some urban wildlife tore a hole in the side.

I suspect it was the big bag of fruit I threw in there.

I put the composter on Freecycle, with pics of the hole, and a fellow with a pick up truck picked it up and took it away.

Fast forward 1 year.

I was in my new suburban home and getting tired of putting food scraps down the garbage disposal drain or in the trash. The place where we moved has a composting program, however, I wanted to get back into gardening, and I want my own compost, where I know what’s in the compost.

So I went looking for a new Envirocycle and holy heck those suckers are $500! I could buy similar tumbling composters and I really don’t need the feature that made it great for my urban back patio, the system that captured the compost tea and kept it from staining the concrete.  But I really like the door for the composter. I like that all I had to do was turn the composter, no lever or having (but I did) to go in and turn the compost myself.

I don’t really like the new style of Envirocycle. The old model had several little slits, and this new one just has a vent at the top. I guess that would prevent the hole problem I experienced.

Since I’m not paying $500, I bought a $80 stationary composter. It’s eh. I’m just happy I’m not throwing perfectly good scraps away. I might break down and buy a tumbler. I just don’t see one that I like for a price that makes sense to me.

I miss my old Envirocycle. I guess you really can’t appreciate what you had until it is gone.


Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Ernest Hawkins- 38 N St NW-Double vision

Looking at the 1920 census for another Black home owner, I came across Ernest Hawkins, who is listed as “Hawkens”. He lived at 38 N St NW in Washington, DC with his wife Sarah and daughter Ernestine.

photo of property

When I do these histories I look at genealogical sites and of course the land records. The land records don’t show much activity, but do provide useful death dates in this case. One interesting thing I should mention is that this family appears twice in the 1910 census.

Ernest F. Hawkins was born in 1872 or thereabouts, in Washington, DC. He married Sarah Walker in March 1894 in Fredericksberg, VA. Their daughter Ernestine was born later that same year in December. In the 1900 census, Ernest is listed as working as a coachman for a livery. The family were renters in a 2 unit property at 1720 5th St NW.

I’m not sure what was going on in 1910. In one, 38 year old Ernest F. Hawkins, 37 year old Sarah W. Hawkins and their 15 year old daughter Ernestine are living in Keyport, NJ. They lived on 3rd St where Ernest was a laborer at a brickyard and they had been married 16 years. That enumeration took place April 27, 1910. The other appearance in the 1910 census was at 53 P St NW, where 36 year old Ernest and Sarah Hawkins lived with their 14 year old daughter Ernestine and 11 year old son Henry Hawkins. Ernest worked as a laborer for the Treasury and the couple had been married 16 years. This enumeration took place on April 19, 1910. They aren’t an exact match but the closeness makes me think they were counted twice.

So when we find the family firmly in Truxton Circle as home owners, Ernest is listed as a 47 year old messenger who works for the government. Sarah is also working for the government as a matron and Ernestine is a Maryland teacher.

As I mentioned earlier, the land records don’t show much activity, just death. The first two are 1953 deeds transferring the property from Ernest and Sarah to Ernestine though a go-between, Zeph P. Moore. The first deed mentioned that Ernest died March 21, 1927 and Sarah W. Hawkins died May 23, 1951. The nest document is a 1970 deed mentioning the death of daughter Ernestine Hawkins-Smith on February 27, 1967. The property was left to Charles R. Walker, who sold it to Charles F. Adams and Clinton W. Chapman There is no mention of how Charles R. Walker is related but I gather he is some relative from Sarah’s side of the family.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: William Bowman- 20A N St NW

William H. Bowman was the African American owner of 20A N St NW, according to the 1920 census. But for looking at his ownership of the property let’s just look at 20 N St NW, Washington, DC, as the A and the B, for the other household hint that this was a two flat unit. It is possible, the Bowmans lived in unit A and the Wrights and Redmans in unit B.

photo of property

When the 1920 census was taken William H. Bowman lived with his wife Mary E. and their teen aged sons, William (Jr?) and James. But when looking at the land records, William died later that year November 17, 1920. This was noted in a 1928 trust (borrowing money) for $2500 with the Washington Loan and Trust Company in Mary’s name. It looks (I can only guess) that this allowed her to pay off an August 1918 debt.

Once again, I’m going to guess, but the next document appears that Mary E. Bowman financed work with the Washington Contracting Company in 1934 for $320.00. She borrowed another small amount, $253.00 in 1936 and $450.00 in 1937 from different trustees.

It appears she refinanced her debt with a $3600 loan from the American Building Association in July 1937, and immediately paid all the previous debts.

Three years later she sold the property to John T. and Ruth King on April 16, 1940. The Kings were a white couple who lived at 25 Randolph Place NW.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Joseph E. Parker- 18A N St NW

We’re getting close to the end of the African American home owners in the TC from the 1920 census. This is one of the handful of posts I have left.

This post’s subject is Joseph Edward Parker and his wife Irene H. Parker. It appears that they purchased this property in September 1910, so they were the owners of this 2 unit property in 1920. The Parkers lived in unit A, with his 14 year old daughter Helen. Unit B, had renters, Mr. & Mrs. Taylor and their boarder, Matthew Brown.

photo of property

Joseph E. Parker was born March 17, 1874 in Virginia. He was a widower when he married Irene F. Haymon in 1914. His first wife Nannie, Helen’s mother, is difficult to locate.  At some point Helen married and her name became Helen Parker Winston. Irene died February 17, 1929. Joseph died September 9, 1945. It appears Irene and Joseph were members of the Mt. Airy Baptist Church.

Since I couldn’t find a lot of reliable information about the Parkers and their lives, I will look at all the borrowing and repayment they did in the land records.

Joseph and Irene borrowed $3,500 March 11, 1924 from the Perpetual Building Association to pay for “existing encumbrances.” This allowed them to pay trustees Theo Judd and Joseph Sullivan for a 1919 debt and a 1910 with trustees Joseph Weller and Burr Edwards within the next month or two. It looks like they refinanced their Perpetual Building Association debt with $3,300 June 1928 as the 1924 debt was noted paid in July. It looks like it was refinanced again with Perpetual in October 1928 at $3,500, and the earlier June debt was released.

As noted above Irene died in 1929. So it was just Joseph alone, just as he was alone in the 1930 census. Her death was noted in a October 1932 trust, where he borrowed $300 at 6% interest from trustees Sol Rothbard and Charles Kaplan. July 1934, he borrows again, $3,531.14 from the Home Owners’ Loan Association and Irene’s death is noted. The next month he paid off the October 1928 Perpetual Building Assoc. debt. In October he paid off the 1932 debt with Rothbard and Kaplan.

He transferred the property to his daughter Helen P. Winston on June 17, 1936. It isn’t until 1940 when she uses the property to borrow money. June 1940, Helen, who was living in Brooklyn, NY borrowed $3000 from the Metropolitan Building Association. Mrs. Winston paid off her father’s 1934 Home Owner’s Loan Association debt. Then in October 1945, a month after Joseph’s death, she sold the house to Harry Wachter, an unmarried man.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Miles C. Maxfield- 1229 1st St NW

Miles C. Maxfield was born in 1851 in Hanover County, VA to Harriett Moore and Frank Maxfield. After his father died in 1868, he moved to Washington, DC working as a porter in a store. In November 1873 he married Eliza/ Elizabeth Stewart. The 1900 census has the Maxfield family, Miles, Eliza and daughter Gonevia, living at 1237 1st St NW. According to the 1902-1903 General Assessment, Miles owned lot 800 on Square 618.

Source: uploaded by elehcim61

Looking at a 1919 map, 1237 is at the corner of N and 1st St NW. It is on the same lot as 1229 1st St, but a different building.

The 1910 census has the three Maxflieds at 1229 1st St NW. In 1909 he was working as a skilled laborer at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing making $939 a year. That’s pretty decent money for the time. He was also a public speaker, with his engagements at Black churches and other activities reported in the Washington Bee. I should note his daughter Gonevia authored a few society articles for the Bee.

Eliza passed away on September 30, 1918, leaving Miles as a widower. In the 1920 census he is all alone at 1229 1st St NW. After years of working as a clerk and skilled laborer he was listed as a watchman. By the 1920 census, his daughter had married Dr. Samuel M. Pierre living at 2124 L St NW with his children.

When Miles died on January 16, 1936 at the Casualty Hospital, officers and other lodge members of Rising Sun Lodge No. 1365 attended his funeral at the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church.  His remaining heir, Gonevia did not immediately sell. The land records reveal that he owned the house free and clear. She eventually sold the property in 1965.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Ernest E. Brown- 34 N St NW- Dead End

Everyso often when searching the 1920 census for African American home owners in the DC neighborhood of Truxton Circle, I get someone who isn’t a home owner. Ernest E. Brown, a printer, reported that he owned the house. When looking at the DC Recorder of Deeds records, it appears it was owned by Alvira A. Buck instead. She sold the property in 1925.

photo of property

So this is a dead end.

Moving on.

1957 Church Survey: Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

I’ve been holding off on this one because it was my church. It was the church of the Glorius family and several other Truxton Circle families of many years past.

In 1957 there was as survey of churches in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area, which included Shaw, Downtown, and the area we’ll call Swampoodle. One of the churches was Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church. 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.

When I was a member Immaculate Conception Catholic Church was a racially mixed church and in 1957 it was mixed, 25% Black and 75% White.

This was not without some complications.

CS 28 Immaculate Conception by Mm Inshaw on Scribd

Image not found
Sq. 423 circa 1919, showing the lots Immaculate Conception owns.

There was more of Immaculate in 1957 than there is now. There used to be more lots, including land where the 1300 Apartments (formerly the Immaculate Conception Apartments) parking lot sits. They also had a parking lot across the street. They had parking for 100 cars. It was much bigger in the day.

Currently there are 4 weekend masses. In 1957 they stated they had 1,600 for Sunday attendance for a sanctuary that seats 900 people.

They had 3 priests in 1957. Now there is sort of 2, after having just one for the longest time. Monsignor J. Joshua Mundell was the priest in charge during the 1968 riots. Speaking of the priests, here is a list of priests.

The church had a school serving children in the neighborhood. It was sometime in the years Monsignor Watkins when the school was closed and was later converted into a charter school.

There is no professional break down of the parishioners. That would have been nice if they had that info.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Ella Lynch- 19 Q St NW

So, Ella M. Lynch owner of 19 Q St NW in the 1920 census, died. She died sometime around 1927.

She bought the property in 1912 from Richard O. Melton. In 1920 she was listed as the owner, a single 50 year old African American woman living with her sister, brother-in-law and a roomer. She worked as a teacher, I believe she was a grade school teacher (there was another teacher Ella Lynch in DC at the same time). She may have lived there with her father, Dines Perry Lynch, who reportedly died there October 9, 1921.

photo of property

According to the Evening Star Ella M. Lynch died at 605 Florida Avenue NW. According to Recorder of Deeds records, that LeDroit property was owned by her brother Harry Lynch and his wife Alice. After her death the family thanked the NAACP and the nurses and internists at Freedmens Hospital. There were some hints that Ella Lynch was a NAACP member.

The first record from the Recorder of Deeds, was a release (payment of debt) in 1924. The next was a release from March 1928 paid by the sister living at 19 Q St NW Evelyn King in 1920. A March 1928 deed is where the other heirs transfer their interest to Mrs. King.

In Ella’s will she left half of the property to her sister Evelyn King and the other half to siblings, Arthur W. Lynch and Lulu Rodrigues. So Arthur W. Lynch and his wife Elizabeth, who lived in Pennsylvania signed over the property to sisters Evelyn King and Lulu Rodrigues.

Also in her will she owned 86 O St NW, also in Truxton Circle, as an income property. She left this property to her brother Harry C. Lynch.

photo of property


Lastly, while looking for her obituary or other info about Ms. Ella Lynch I came across this article from The Washington Herald from [volume], June 22, 1921, p 9-

Wants Statue Restored.
The District branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has gone on record
for the restoration of the Lincoln statue to its former station in Judiciary Square. At the same meeting delegates to the twelfth annual conference of the association, to be held in Detroit, were elected as follows:  J. Davidson and Miss Ella M. Lynch.

Edited for clarity- 12/18/21

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Harry Kennedy- 23 Q St NW

Harry and Bessie Kennedy were the owners of 23 Q St NW in 1920

Harry Lafayette Palmer Kennedy, was born December 6, 1879 in Bowlesville, VA, his mother was Susan Kennedy, a servant. In 1880 he was a baby in Rivanna, VA. In 1900, he worked as a 20 year old live in butler for Dr. George D. Acker at 913 16th St (NW?). In 1918 he worked as a laborer and lived at 1814 North Capitol St NW, while Bessie Kennedy, who is listed as his wife in 1920, lived at 109 P St NW.

photo of property

Harry and Bessie Kennedy lived at 23 Q St NW in 1920. Harry was a mulatto manager who lived with Bessie, listed as his wife, and a family of roomers. I don’t know if the Weir family, a widow with her 2 adult sons and 1 adult daughter were related. Sometimes lodgers and roomers are in-laws, cousins, or other relatives.

By the 1930 census, Harry is no longer around. Bessie, curiously enough is downgraded to a single (not divorced or widowed) seamstress and renter at 23 Q St NW in one of two units. I know she wasn’t a renter.

Harry was elsewhere. I’ll touch on that later.

In the 1940 census, 23 Q St NW is still a 2 flat property. Bessie is once again an owner, but her name is Bettie.

From the Recorder of Deeds this is what we know. The first record is a December 1921 trust (borrowing money) of Harry P.L. and Bessie Kennedy from individuals for $750.00 at 8% interest. They pay this off in 1923. The next year they do one of those weird deed things where they transfer the property from Harry and Bessie to Roy Early who immediately transfers it to Bessie Kennedy. It doesn’t seem to matter because in May 1925 Harry Lafayette Kennedy of 1568 Jay St in Detroit, MI has an “agreement of mortgage” with Benjamin Steinback of Detroit, MI borrowing $531.42 to be paid back in two payments. This was the clue I needed to figure out what happened with Harry.

In the 1930 census Harry had moved to Detroit. By that census he was 50 years old, claiming he was born in Cuba, with Cuban parents. He and his new wife Trinidadian Edith (Edythe L Warwick) lived at 2971 Clinton in Detroit with their two small children Bertram and Joan, along with some lodgers. I cannot locate the family in the 1940 census. I can say he died in November 1953, in Detroit.

But back to Bessie or Bettie.

Bessie alone borrowed $2,300 on 11/18/1927. This document points back to the transfer that happened in 1922 with Roy Early. How legal was the trust or agreement of mortgage that Harry did? Tis a mystery. Moving on. She paid this off in 1928.

But lets go through the debts she takes on between 1922 and 1953. In May 1923 she and Harry borrow $1500 from Ben and William Stein. This is paid in 1925. Later in Nov 1923 she borrows $1800 from individuals. She pays this off in December 1927. She borrowed $2,600 from the Perpetual Building Association in October of 1928. This was paid off in June 1931. Also in June 1931 she borrowed $2500 from the Perpetual Building Association. December 1931 she borrowed $132 from individual trustees. She refinanced in October 1934, borrowing $2,500, and again in September 1940 with $2,200 from the Perpetual Building Association. It appears that in 1941 she financed some work on the property (I don’t feel like looking up permits) by the Kraft Construction Company where she borrowed $375, and paid it off in 1944. This was her last loan.

She died September 1, 1952. Her heirs, Susie E. Hall, John Terrell, Orddie Terrell (and wife Alice Terrell), Sarah Dearing, and Mary Hudnell sold the property in August 1953 to Sol Breiterman. The document does not explain how they are related, if at all, to Ms. Kennedy.

Since Orddie is such an unusual name I started with him. On his WWII draft card he listed Susie Hall as the person who would know where he lived. Unfortunately, their names lead no where and so I’d leave it here.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Ophelia Hurd- 1618 1st St NW

Image not found So 1618 1st St NW no longer exists.  It’s one of many long gone properties where the Northwest Cooperative currently sits. Looking at  1919 map of Square 551 where the property sat, it looks like it was sharing a wall with the Dairy.

In the 1920 census, a widowed African American laundress Ophelia Hurd owned 1618 1st St NW. She lived there with her seven children who ranged in age from 5 to 24. It appears none of the older children had a job, so she was the sole breadwinner.

Mary Ophelia Matthews Hurd was born in 1854 in (Charles Co?) Maryland to seamstress Elizabeth Matthews. She married Alexander Hurd in 1889. In 1910 (and 1900) the Hurds lived at 409 1/2 8th St SW with their nine children: Geneva/Jennie aged 18; Alexander Jr aged 17; Ophelia aged 16; Mabel aged 13; Rudolph aged 14; Albert aged 10; Veronica aged 8; Oramel aged 6; and Roland J. aged 2 years old. Alexander worked as a driver and Ophelia was at home with all those kids. Ophelia and Alexander purchased 1618 1st St NW from Louis R. Klemm in 1912. They had another daughter, Helena around 1913. Sadly a few years later Alexander died in April 1914. Ophelia was probably pregnant with their last child, Anthony, when Alexander died. Their son Albert Lewis Hurd died December 1, 1917 in Vernon, CT (Evening Star December 07, 1917). The funeral was held at St. Augustine Catholic Church.

I mentioned she shared a wall with the dairy, which was a problem. In the September 19, 1922 Evening Star is an article about how Ophelia Hurd asked the District Supreme Court for an “injunction to restrain the milk concern [the dairy] from operating the refrigerating plant.”
Through her attorney Joseph A.  Raffetry, she declared that water and cold air escaped from the ice plant, penetrating into her home,
chilling and dampening the walls, and causing the plaster and wall
paper to loosen and fall.  She asserted that the dairy’s refrigeration rendered her home unhealthy and unfit for occupancy. I don’t know the outcome of the case.

Now what more information can the land records, which goes back to 1921, tell us. In 1928 she borrowed $1,500 from the Perpetual Building Association and paid off an April 1921 debt from trustees. This is followed by another 1928 release (paying off a debt) for a Perpetual Building Association loan.

Her daughter Helena Doris Hurd died April 30, 1929 at 1618 1st St NW. Helena’s obituary mentioned the names of her married sisters Geneva M. Burnett, Mabel Harris, and Veronica Thomas.

Mrs. Ophelia Hurd borrowed $1,400 in June 1935 from the Perpetual Building Association. That same month she paid off the 1928 debt. And then, on June 8, 1943 she sold her home to Embassy Dairy Inc. and it ceased to be a residential property.

Her son Rudolph Hurd, died the same month she sold her home, June 16, 1943. He lived nearby at 507 P St NW and was survived by daughters Dorothy and Mamie Hurd. His funeral at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church.

Then Ophelia died. Her obituary reads as:

HURD, MARY OPHILA. Departed this life on Monday. June 30, 1947, at her residence, 30 R st. n.e., MARY OPHILA HURD, loving wife of the late Alexander Hurd, devoted mother of Mrs. Geneva Burnett,
Mrs. Mable Ragland, Mrs. Veronica Thomas, Mrs. Orimelle Norwood, Alexander, Jr. and Rowland Hurd Jr. She also is survived by eight grandchildren and other relatives and a host of friends. Remains resting at the above residence on Wednesday. July 2, after
5 p.m. Funeral Thursday. July 3, at 9 a.m., from Holy Redeemer Catholic Church. New York and New Jersey Aves. n.w. Interment Mount Olivet Cemetery.
HURD. MARY OPHELIA. The officers and members of the Senior Sodality of Holy Redeemer Church ire notified of the death of Mrs. MARY OPHELIA HURD.
Prayers will be recited at her late residence.
30 R St. n.e., on Wednesday, July 2. 1947, at 8 p.m., for the repose of her soul.