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.