Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Rufus Jones- 1613 New Jersey Ave NW

photo of property

Rufus E. and his wife Lucy E. Jones bought 1613 New Jersey Ave NW in 1935.

So let’s talk about Lucy and Rufus Jones. In the previous 1920 census the North Carolina couple lived in Harlem 100 W 128th St in NYC. It may have been another Rufus & Lucy as the NYC couple had a 15 year old daughter Jessie Mae Jones who did not appear in the 1920 or 1940-1950 censuses.

Side note regarding Jessie Mae. When the house is sold the administer of the Jones estate is a Willis R. Taylor Jr. Ancestry pointed me towards a Jessie M. Taylor but the Social Security Admin had her alternative names as Jessie Mae Seales and Jessie M. Boones. According to a not so great Ancestry family tree, Willis Rollins Taylor Jr. is Lucy’s grandson via Jessie. And Lucy Jones was Lucy Elizabeth Williams. The 1950 census supports this as she is Lucy E.W. Jones.

A strikeout in the the 1950 census supports the idea that the 1930  couple was in NYC. In 1930 Lucy was a hairdresser for a beautician. The 1950 census had her as a beautician, but it appears that it was struck. From the 1920-1950 census Rufus was a laborer.

Okay let’s get into the land records since the common names of Jones and Williams are sending me on a lot of wild goose chases.

In 1935 Anne L. Carroll obtained 1613 NJ Ave NW via a foreclosure and later that year sold the property to the Jones. In 1943 there is a release of a debt incurred by the owners who were foreclosed upon. These sort of documents pop up.


So they bought the property in 1935 and the mortgage with it was $2,200 at 6% interest from trustees Evans & Miller. The document for that loan was tied to another property, on a square that has been since absorbed by the Howard University campus (Sq. 3085, lot 36). They seemed to have bought the LeDroit property at the same time.

They refinanced in 1943 with the District Building and Loan Association. They borrowed $4,600 and paid off the 1935 loan. This loan was closed (released) 1955.

The property was transferred out of Rufus’ name with one of those oddball transfers. In 1947 Rufus and Lucy E. Jones transferred the property to Angela Fitzgerald, who two documents later transferred it back to just Lucy E. Jones.

And then nothing happened for 30 years.

What happened to Rufus? Don’t know. He was still at 1613 NJ Ave NW in 1950 and 1954.

Lucy E. Jones died Jan 23, 1982 according to land records related to the LeDroit Park property. She had a will and it appears her grandson sold the property in August 1982.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Chester Richardson- 1612 4th St NW


This was a confusing one.

The problem with Sq. 509E is that sometimes, someone forgets to add the E for East of Square 509. So that was one problem. The other problem was that the Richardsons seemed to have a problem of holding the title of their home. There also seemed to be some family troubles or lack of stability, which made this research difficult.

Chester Richardson was born October 24, 1894 in Richland, South Carolina to Wilson and Matilda Richardson. At some point before 1917 he married Ellen/Ella while living in South Carolina. Sometime after the 1920 census the couple moved to Washington, DC. After this, things get confusing so I am going to tell in in a timeline:

1925- Former farm laborer Chester Richardson and wife Ella buy 1612 4th St NW. They borrow $2,150 from trustees.

1928- 1612 4th St NW is foreclosed upon and sold to J.M. Camalier.
-Ella Richardson alone purchases 1612 back from the Camaliers.
-Ella Richardson, alone, borrows $2000 and $1450 from trustees.

1930-Renting tenants of 1612 are ‘widower’ Chester Richardson, his 15 year old nephew Samuel Brow, and lodger Anna M. Coleman.

1931- Ella Richardson loses 1612 to foreclosure and J.M. Camalier.
-A relative, Samuel Brown, purchases 1612 from the Camaliers.
-Sam Brown borrowed $475.75 from trustees.

1937- Samuel Brown sold/transferred 1612 to Chester Richardson.

1940- Chester lived with his wife Viola and two lodgers Leonie DuBois and Moses Suggs. Chester owned his own barber shop and Viola worked as a charwoman at the Supreme Court.

1943- With a builder and designer, Chester got a permit to erect a 2-story cinder block addition to the rear.

1950-Chester and Viola live separately and are recorded as separated in the census. Chester lived at 1612 with two lodgers and was working as a painter. Viola lived at 42 Randolph Place working as a domestic for a private family. She lived with her niece Victoria Weston.

1952- Chester and his wife Viola E. Richardson borrow $4000 from the Washington Loan and Trust Company. When this loan is repaid in 1969, it’s Riggs Bank.

1954- Chester Richardson died in March and was buried in Arlington.

1956- Sam Brown and his wife Cornelia L., Margaret Weston Brown, and William and Cecilia Shiver sell/transfer the property (or their interest in the property) to Viola E. Richardson.

1973- Viola Richardson died and was buried at Arlington.

1975- The devisees of Viola E. Richardson’s will (Lillian Weston and Carroll Williams) sell 1612.

photo of property

Comparative White DC Home Owner- Capitol Hill- Frieda Humpries- 215 E Street SE

I’m going to try something new. For a few years I have been looking at the African American home owners of Truxton Circle. As a part of it, I look at land records and then I get confused. I wonder if the borrowing activities are unique to Black home owners. So I am looking at DC white home owners from another part of DC that isn’t a “suburb” like Adams-Morgan.

According to the 1950 census German immigrant Frieda (nee Bohraus) Humphries lived at 215 E Street SE. She worked at a hospital for a number of years as a seamstress and as an office clerk. Looking at the land records she owned 215 E St SE prior to 1923. She took out very few loans. Because a release (cancelling/payment of loan) in 1923 we are aware of a few loans Frieda and then husband George Milton Humphries made in 1913 and 1915. However, according to the 1920 census they were renting 2310 Pennsylvania Ave NW.

George was a carpenter turned auto mechanic. They married in 1905, a month after she arrived in Baltimore from Europe. At some point prior to 1930 the marriage failed. She was listed as a widow in the 1930 and 1950 census but George didn’t die until the 1970s. They had two children, Carl W. and Cara/Cora Humphries.

During the years at 215 E St SE, as head of the household Frieda housed relatives and lodgers. In 1930 she lived with her children, son-in-law James Bristow, sister in law Myrtle Humphries, and two roomers Sidney S. Ball and Erma Brewer. In 1940 it was just her daughter, sister-in-law and a lodger William M. Hobbs.

For the 1950 census the home appears to be 3 units. Frieda, her daughter and new son-in-law Malcolm N. Walters, a house painter, lived in the first unit. Reginald and Gertrude Burns from West Virginia lived in the second unit. Divorced Pentagon telephone operator Alice C. Jennings, her son William F. and her brother George Myers, a mechanic, lived in the 3rd unit.

Mrs. Humphries took out a loan in her name of $2,500 at 6% interest from the Permanent Building Association in 1925. That loan was settled in 1943. The next document came in 1960 when she sold the property to Sharon and Thomas Lias. Frieda was 79 years old at the time of the sale.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Herman Darden- 1616 4th St NW

Herman Darden bought 1616 4th St NW in August 1936. According to the 1940 census, where he appears, he was an African American taxi driver. He wasn’t on 4th Street long. In 1942 he and his wife Janie sold the property to Lula Lee.

When the Darden’s bought 1616, they borrowed $1,800 from the Perpetual Building Association and $750 from trustees. The day they sold to Ms. Lee, the borrowed $2,500 from trustees. That debt was resolved 10 years later after the sale, not sure what that was about.

Since the land records don’t tell much of a story, let’s look at Herman Darden the person. He was born November 1896 (or 1894) in Duplin (?) County, North Carolina. He served in the Army in World War I. He married Janie (sometimes spelled Jannie) Gainey on February 9, 1918 in North Carolina.

And then they had a slew of children. In 1928 they were nearly killed by gas when they were living at 1345 1st St NW and the Evening Star reported that they had 4 children. When the 1930 census rolled around they and one of their ‘lodgers’ from the gas leak rented 1964 2nd St NW. All in the house (which is currently more than 3000 sq ft) were Herman, then a building fireman, wife Janie, children Dorothy, Catherine, Herman Jr., and Lindwood, along with lodgers Arthur and Lillie Taylor, the Little family, sister-in-law Eva and niece Mattie Darden. When the 1940 census rolled around and they were on 4th St, they had added 3 more sons to their family, Orlando, Frederick and Mordecai.

1616 4th St NW isn’t that big. It seemed tight in the 2000s when a family of mom & dad, two boys and one grandpa lived there. Despite living with seven children, the Dardens managed to squeeze two lodgers in there, a mother and daughter. It’s footprint hasn’t changed and it is around 1,200 sq ft.

In 1942, they sold. In 1943, Herman Jr. graduated from Dunbar High School and then got a B.S. from Howard in 1950. The 1950 census had the Dardens living with adult and minor children at 633 Irving Street NW at an even smaller home of about 1,100 sq ft.

Herman died in 1964 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Lucinda Brooks- 1628 4th St NW

Lucinda Brooks was a 77 year old widow woman when she first appeared in the 1940 census as a Black home owner in Truxton Circle.

Lucinda James was born in Fauquier County Virginia in February 1862 to Jas. F. and Mahala James. On January 29, 1891 she married Lewis Edward Brooks. In 1900 when they lived at 1425 11th Street with their children, Lewis was a day laborer and Lucy/Lucinda was a laundress. In 1910, they moved closer to the TC at 1535 6th St NW. At that time, Lucinda was keeping house and Lewis worked as a Lineman for the rail road. In 1920 they were still there on 6th St. housing lodgers and their children gone elsewhere. Lewis worked as a laborer and Lucy as a charwoman (cleaning lady) for a department. In 1928 Lewis died.

photo of property

Prior to his death in July of 1925 Lucinda purchased 1628 4th St NW in her name only.  It was listed as Lewis’ residence at his death. She also borrowed $2,050 from trustees, in her name only. It appears she refinanced in 1931 getting a $2,000 loan from the Perpetual Building Association. And then the records of lot 58 disappear into a black hole. There is nothing between 1931 and 1974.

Searching her name with the Recorder of Deeds on-line records, in 1932 she may have obtained a property from A. George and Annie V. Brooks on the 2000 block of 11th St NW. However, looking at a document from 1953, this appears to be a different Lucinda Brooks.

That’s because in January 1944, Lucinda Brooks of 4th Street NW died. She was survived by son Lewis Brooks Jr, Lottie Kane, and step-daughter Florence Smith, as well as sisters Ella Pollard and Elizabeth Temple.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: James H. Wheeler- 408 R St NW

James H. Wheeler was another African American property/ home owner who lived in the unassuming neighborhood of Truxton Circle, before it was called Truxton Circle. He and his wife Mary E. Wheeler purchased 408 R St NW on November 2, 1926 from Ethel E. Rutty.

James H. Wheeler was born James Newman to Ross Newman and Georgiana Woodland Newman on October 25, 1876 in Maryland. His mother remarried John Wheeler and had seven or more children. At some point around the 1880s James took on his step-father’s surname. James married Mary Ellen Smith (maybe in 1901 in NJ). From the 1910 census on he worked as a laborer for the US Government (GPO). James and Mary (aka Mayme) had two children, Chauncey Alexander Wheeler born in 1903 and Hertha Eunice Wheeler born in 1906.

In 1930 Hertha married Olmstead Henri Perry, then a soldier in the Army. The newlyweds lived with James and Mary/Mayme.

The land records confuse me. In document #205, the deed from November 1926, there is a stated debt between the Wheelers and Rutty of $3000. The next document #206, is a trust (loan) with trustees Saul & Benson for $2,500 at 6.5%. Did the Wheelers deposit $500 of their own money? I don’t know because there were two releases for the debts in 1936, so the total debt could have been $5,500 for the house?

Anyway in 1936 the Wheelers appear to refinance their mortgage with $2000 from the Perpetual Building Association. Then refinanced again with Perpetual in 1940 and 1941. James died on July 25, 1944. In 1953 Mayme borrowed $1,900 from Consolidated Engineering and Distributing Co. This leaves me to guess this was work on the house.

Mayme died on June 17, 1959. Her heirs were the widow Hertha Eunice Wheeler Perry and Edith E. Wheeler (2nd wife of Chauncy A. Wheeler) sold the house to Jacob and Sadie B. Feldman in 1960.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Nannie and Pauline Bellows- 1605 New Jersey Ave NW

Instead of focusing on a particular census and looking at Square 551 (the block with the NW Co-op/ Florida Ave Park/ Mt. Sinai), I’m focusing on a particular block. The block is Square 509E or E. 509, which is bounded by R, New Jersey, Q, and 4th Sts. NW.

Nannie and Pauline Bellows of 1605 New Jersey Ave NW have appeared in the Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle Series before. So we will start with the August 2021 post about her brother William Davis.

In the 1910 census William E. Davis and his wife Annie lived with his father William A. Davis, home owner of 1605 New Jersey Avenue NW. He also lived with his sister Nannie Bellows, and her daughter Pauline Bellows. We are left to assume that William E. Davis inherited the property from William A. Davis and Nannie inherited the property from her brother. According to a Washington Herald piece, both she and her brother were left the property in their father’s October 1913 will. In the end Nannie’s daughter Pauline Bellows became the owner who lost the property to foreclosure in 1959.

William E. Davis was featured in a previous post because in the 1920 census he was listed as the owner. In the 1930 and 1940 census Nannie Bellows was identified as the owner. Looking at the on-line records of the Recorder of Deeds, the paperwork starts in the 1930s.

Who was Nannie E. Davis Bellows? She was born in Alexandria, Virginia around 1869 to Catherine and William Davis Sr. Possibly in 1890, she married Thaddeus Bellows. Their daughter Pauline was born in 1897. Her mother died on February 24, 1919.  In 1925, Thaddeus died and she was a widow. She received a widows pension from her husband’s service in the military. I am not sure if her husband who was the same Thaddeus Bellows (also AfAm) who was found guilty of grand larceny in 1912 for stealing a horse.

When Nannie died on October 28, 1945, she was a Bureau of Engraving and Printing retiree after working 34 years in government service. The Federal Annuitants Relief Association noted her death and funeral. She was a parishioner at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church. Friends and family celebrated her life before she was interned Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

I could not find anything on Pauline. It seems she never held a job. Never married. She seems to have disappeared in time.

WSIC- Taking a break

Well, the newspaper search was very tedious and right now I am Washington Sanitary Improvement Companied out.

There is more to explore.

I was telling a friend who doesn’t live in the DC metro area about this project and about the WSIC. It started as an experiment in housing, mixing charity with capitalism. She asked if WSIC achieved their goals. Answering that question is something I’d like to take a stab at. Unfortunately, the answer would involve other areas of the city that I am less knowledgeable about.

So I’ll get back to it. If I don’t remind me would you?

I’m also going to slow down on posting on the blog. I want to garden, do stuff with the family, yadda, yadda. Blogging and researching are great when it is cold and horrid outside. I’ll probably ramp up when it is too hot and sticky and buggy to go outside.

1930 Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Robert B. Davis- 1608 1st St NW

Robert Bernard Davis was born in Amherst County, VA to George and Emeline Davis in either 1873 or 1869. He married Nannie Virginia King in that same county on May 23, 1900. They lived in Amherst Co. with their growing family (8 children) until at some point when they moved to DC and wound up at 1608 1st St NW in 1930.

The 1930 census is where we first encounter the Davis family. Robert Davis was an African American hotel janitor. Previously in Amherst he was a laborer in the coal industry. By 1930 he was 58 years old, his wife, Nannie was 54. They lived with their 3 adult children, 2 minor children and eight lodgers. Their adult sons, 29 year old John J. and 24 year old King Davis worked as cooks at a cafe. Their 18 year old daughter, Geneva, 16 year old son Robert and 14 year old George King were unemployed. Also in the house was Robert’s brother Nashville King who worked as a laborer for the railroad.

In June of 1926 Robert Davis obtained 1608 First Street NW (0551/0201) from Emma Johnson. He and Nannie borrowed $4500 from Hane & Hill; $3000 from Crittenden & Hill; $1349.26 from trustees King & Smith within a few days of becoming owners of 1608.

Robert cleared three debts from previous owners in 1926.

They didn’t stay long. There is a trustee’s deed from September 1935 for the $4500 debt. The property was auctioned and the Rohrback family ( at least 6 named individuals) were the new owners. They transferred (sold?) it in 1936 to Etta B. and Isaiah Liseby.

Looking at the 1940 census the Davis family had moved to and were owners of 1524 Washington Place NE. It’s over where the Rhode Island DMV is, over there by the world’s worst Home Depot. By then Nannie had died (2/18/1931) and Robert B. was living with his son Robert, daughter in law and grandson.

WSIC-Newspaper Search part 5

This is a continuation of parts 1, 2& 3. I search the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America site for newspaper articles about the Washington Sanitary Improvement Company (WSIC) and Truxton Circle. I lost the data I had for auctions and decided to stop including them because they were too much work.

For Rent- Flats–  Evening star. [volume], November 17, 1897, Page 12,; The evening times. [volume], November 25, 1897, Page 3. The times. [volume], November 26, 1897, Page 3.  “FOR RENT Sanitary Flats for white tenants only; Bates St., between P and Q, N. Capitol and 1st sts. nw.; 3-4 rooms; baths; cellar; separate entrance and yards; modern improvements; price, $10 to $12.50; erected by WASHINGTON SANITARY IMPROVEMENT Co. office 1819 Q st. nw. 8-9 a.m 12-1:30.4-7 p.m.”

Improved Alley Dwellings- Project of Sanitary Company Placed Before CommissionersEvening star. [volume], June 07, 1898. “Ex-District Commissioner George Truesdell and Mr. George L. Andrews of the board of directors of Washington Sanitary Improvement Company had a conference with the District Commissioners yesterday for the purpose of enlisting the support of the Commissioners In the work of the company, and particularly to ask them to direct the improvement, at the rst [sic] opportunity, of Bates street between 1st and North Capitol and P and Q streets. The object of the company is to supply to wage-earners improved, wholesome houses at reasonable rents, not in any special locality, however, although until the principal inhabited alleys in the city shall have been converted into minor streets, a measure which the
company advocates in the interest of public health and morals, the dwellings erected by the company will be located upon established streets and avenues.
Two blocks of two-story brick apartment houses have been erected by the company on Bates street, there being sixteen buildings and thirty-two apartments In the two blocks, one of which is already occupied and the other block will be completed and occupied some time this month.
Four of the completed, houses contain apartments of four rooms each, with three large closets, and four have apartments of three rooms each; with two large closets, each apartment being provided with the best sanitary fixtures and with hot and cold water, together with a good range and 30-gallon boiler. These apartments were occupied as soon as completed last fall and the demand for them is now far In excess of the supply.
All this was told the Commissioners by Messrs. Truesdell and Andrews, who stated that the company, which is composed of people here of prominence in charitable matters, has no money-making purpose in view, but merely to supply houses of convenience and of the best sanitary arrangements to wage earners and thereby not only improve the health, but also the morals of the city, in that way setting an example which may be followed by owners of alley houses. Bates street in front of the buildings is in need of improvement, and the Commissioners were asked to put it at the head of the new streets to be improved.
The Commissioners expressed great gratification with the report made to them, remarking that in view, of the public character of the work of the company it is deserving of support. They stated that they will be very glad to have the improvements made at the first opportunity.”

Municipal BrevitiesThe times. [volume], October 04, 1898, Page 5.  The DC Commissioners refused a request to plant trees on Bates Street.

Building Permits IssuedEvening star. [volume], August 03, 1901, Page 2. “Washington Sanitary Improvement Co., for repairs in rear of 77 Bates street northwest; cost $100.”

Building Operations- Evening star. [volume], March 08, 1902, Page 15. “A large addition Is to be made to the number of houses that have been erected by the Washington Sanitary Improvement
Company. The new structures will be thirty-four in number, and will be located on Bates, L, and Warner streets northwest. The type of house will be similar to those built by the company, and will consist of two stories, each containing a suite of rooms with separate entrances.
The work of building Is to be done under the direction or Mr. F. B. Pyle.”

Added to ScheduleEvening star. [volume], May 21, 1902, Page 16. and The evening times. [volume], May 21, 1902, Page 6. “At the request of Gen. G. M. Sternberg, president of the Washington Sanitary and Improvement Company, the District Commissioners have directed that Bates street be sprinkled dally.”

Bates Street Not to be Open at PresentThe Washington times. [volume], March 16, 1903, Page 12. WSIC had to wait on Bates Street on Sq. 552 because alley dwellings needed to be condemned.

Real Estate TransfersThe Washington times. [volume], August 06, 1904, Page 8. “Alley between First and Third and P and Q Streets northwest District of Columbia Commissioner to trustees of Washington Sanitary Improvement Company, part square 552, $787.52”.

Plans for New BuildingsThe Washington times. [volume], January 08, 1905, Metropolitan Section, Page 7. Article about building 21 houses in Truxton Circle.

Sanitary Houses Quickly Rented- Sixty-eight snapped up as soon as completed The Washington times. [volume], November 19, 1905, Real Estate News of Washington, Page 3. WSIC homes on Bates, Q, and P were very popular.

Improvement Company will Build Six HousesThe Washington times. [volume], June 24, 1906, Metropolitan Section, Page 8. Article about building 201-205 P Street NW and 200-204 Bates Street NW.

BloomingdaleThe Washington times. [volume], July 01, 1906, Woman’s Magazine Section, Page 6. “A building permit has been issued to the the Washington Sanitary Improvement Company for the erection of three two-story brick buildings at 201-205 P street northwest, at an estimated cost of $11,500.
It has also secured a permit to build three houses of the same class at 200-204 Bates street northwest, just around the corner from the others. The plans have been furnished by Architect Appleton Clark and represent a class of houses which have become very popular in that neighborhood. They will all have the most modern conveniences and will be built in a substantial manner. Thomas Melton has secured the contract for building them and will have them ready for occupancy during the late summer.”

Brick Flat BuildingEvening star. [volume], October 08, 1932, Page B-2. Building of 130 Q St NW for WSIC by the Mutual Construction Co.

Bates Street Mass Migration Leaves Many of 400 in DazeEvening star. [volume], November 09, 1950, Page A-29. WSIC planned to sell 400 units and the residents, particularly long term renters were stressed. Long article by Robert L. Lewis.