1957 Church Survey: The Methodists

There hasn’t been a church survey posting in a while. I think I posted all the main ones I wanted to post. Unfortunately, I wasn’t uniform with my file naming so I’m figuring out which ones are and aren’t in the survey.

What survey? Well in 1957 there was as survey of churches in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area, which included Shaw, Downtown, and the area around Union Station. The Northwest Urban Renewal Area was a precursor to the Shaw Urban Renewal Area, which later was known as Shaw. To learn more about the 1957 Church Survey read my previous post Church Survey Northwest Urban Renewal Area October 1957.

There were six ‘steeple’ Methodist Churches in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area. They were Galbraith, Hemingway Temple AME, Israel CME, John Wesley AME, Miles Memorial CME, and Mt. Vernon.

There were three fringe area churches captured by the survey: Asbury, Metropolitan and Turner Memorial.

The list of storefront churches, unfortunately don’t seem to line up. There was a Free Methodist Mission at 28 Eye St NW, but I can’t seem to find a corresponding survey sheet for it. Not every storefront was surveyed.

Most of the steeple churches were Black and middle class with a majority of their membership being white collar, professional and/or skilled labor.

I’m currently suffering through the father of Black History, Carter G. Woodson’s History of the Negro Church, which is providing some explanation of how the AME (African Methodist Episcopal) and CME (Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (the C was changed to Christian in 1954)) churches were formed.

I’ll save any lessons learned from Woodson’s book that may be applied to these surveys for Black History Month. I should be done with the book by then.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Sidney Dyson- 1645 New Jersey Ave NW

When we last left 1645 New Jersey Ave NW it was owned by Dr. Peter Murray and his wife Charlotte. They lost the house in 1932 to foreclosure. But on the upside, by relocating to New York City Dr. Murray’s career skyrocketed. As they say, if you can make it there….

So by a decade or so later, in April 1946 Charles, Sidney and Thomas Dyson became the new owners of 1645 NJ Av NW, buying it from the Washington Housing Corporation. By the 1950 census only Sidney Charles Dyson shows up as the sole resident of the house. It’s a short story so lets look into that.

When the three men purchased the property it appears they took out a loan with the institution that sold the property to them for $13,250 at 6% interest. In 1951 Charles Sidney Dyson sold his interest in the property to Sidney Dyson, his father. I’ll get into the family tree later. Right now I’m doing the land records. In 1954 there was another loan, $1,088.39 at 6% interest, from the Washington Housing Corporation where the three Dyson men all signed for it. Then it appears they defaulted on the debt from 1946 and in 1955 there was a trustees deed and the Washington Housing Corporation reclaimed the property.

Despite losing the house it appears it was still Sidney A. Dyson’s home after the foreclosure. 1645 New Jersey was listed as his home address when he died December 19, 1958.

The Dyson Family

Sidney Artis/Artic Dyson was born in Charles County, Maryland on October 4, 1883 to Sydney T. Dyson and Sophia Gillum. In the 1900 census he was one of nine children living in Nanjemoy, MD and working as a 16 year old laborer. In the 1910 census he was living in Piscataway, MD in PG county working in a saw mill with his wife Ella (nee Bowman) Dyson. They had three young sons, two of them were Charles Sidney and (Thomas) Roland.

On May 29, 1915, he was  supposedly a widow and married Ms. Cenie/ Cenia Thomas. I couldn’t locate the family in the 1920 census.

In the 1930 he was a roomer living at 1848 5th St NW working as a taxi driver. He was married but not living with his wife.

He didn’t live with his wife as captured by the 1940 census. But he was living with his son Charles at 1645 New Jersey, as renters. They shared the property with the Edwards family. He was still a cab driver. His other son, Thomas R. Dyson was also working as a cab driver during the 1940 census. Thomas was living at 320 Maryland Ave SW with his wife Katherine, their son and a cousin.  Earlier, in 1936 when he married (Katherine?) Lucille M. Robinson, he was living at 1511 Marion St (NW?), working as a truck driver. As far as I can tell, Thomas did not live on New Jersey Ave.

In Sidney A. Dyson’s obituary it read that he was the father of Mrs. Rhodis Owens, Mrs. Annitia Blair, Charles A. and Thomas R. Dyson. So two daughters I did not find in the record. He had a sister, Mrs. Sophie Green and a surviving brother George A. Dyson.

Memory Lane: Richardson Place, 2005

I was looking through my old Flickr account because I am going to either shut it down or something where I am not paying a large annual fee to keep it.

1700 Blk Richardson Place NW, Dec 2005

So flipping through some old photos, I found this old gem from  2005.

Comparative White DC Home Owner- Capitol Hill- James McCracken- 219 E St SE

photo of property

So just to get an idea to see if what I am seeing with the Black Homeowners of Truxton Circle is normal, or not, I am comparing them with white home owners.  I am looking at blocks that were over 90% white in 1950 but also in the same “red lined” zone, which was F1. I should explore that more. There is a lot I should do.


So over in Capital Hill we’re going to look at James McCracken who according to the 1930 census was the head of household and owner of 219 E St SE. He worked as a steam engineer. Well according to the paperwork, his wife Barbara was the owner. His name didn’t get on the property until 1944.

James Joseph McCracken was born July 1st, 1880 in Washington, DC. His parents might have been James and Mary McCracken of Ireland. “Appears” because a James McCracken appears twice in the 1900 census. Once with his parents and siblings on Maryland Ave SW working as a government clerk and again on the USCG Steamer Blake in Puerto Rico. Same birth date, birth place, same parental linage, and same address (for ships they list home address).

In 1916 he married Barbara E. Morgal, a dry goods clerk. They were in their 30s, she was a little older. It appears they had no children.

When the first World War draft came around in 1917-1918 he was living at 219 E St with his wife. The online records from the DC Recorder of Deeds starts around 1920, and so the first record is release for a loan Barbara McCracken took on in November 1919 from trustees Frank Johnson and J. Walter Stephenson.

In 1930 Barbara took on another loan, which she alone signed, on a document that acknowledged she was a married woman, with trustees Frank Johnson and William Church Jr. for the Mutual Building Association. The loan appears to have been for $1,500 (maybe $20,000 max).

In a June 1930 release for a loan with the Mutual Serial Building Association (idk if it was the same building assoc. but Frank Johnson is the trustee) they note Barbara McCracken was a married woman contracting as a separate estate.

The 1933 release for the 1930 loan is….interesting. Normally I just look to see which loan it is for, maybe an institutions name, but something caught my eye.

So….. if she sold the house to someone like me*, there would be a $2,000 lien on the property. Being that it was 1933, I chucked that number into the Inflation Calculator and that’s $45,662.77 in today’s money.  This forced me to look back at the 1930 loan doc and there it was buried on the 2nd page (a page I ignore). I currently live in a house that had a similar covenant or legalism attached to it. I’m the 1st Black person to own it. Okay back to Babs McCracken.

In 1944 Barbara does this thing that I’ve seen several of my Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle do when they want to get someone’s name on the property. She transferred it into the name of someone, this someone being Etta H. Groff, who in the next document transfers it to Barbara and James McCracken.

And then nothing happens for 20 years.

James McCracken sold 219 E Street SE on August 4, 1964 to J. Harry Brogden. The deed notes that Barbara died on June 10, 1963. James died several years later in 1969.

*I may be pale because I haven’t seen the sun since 1995, but I am 100% African American.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Maggie Taylor Strother- 404 R St NW

photo of property

It appears that Ms. Maggie Taylor bought 404 R St NW from Ethyl M. Rutty on November 3, 1926 for $3000. She borrowed $2,600 at 6% interest from trustees William P. Benson and Francis B. Saul.

Then there is a document from 1950 and I’m not sure what it is. It is labeled an ‘Agreement’ and an ‘Extension Agreement’ on the form. It appears that four promissory notes, totaling $1,650, a debt from Ethyl M. Rutty to Earl D. Thompson was extended by Maggie Taylor Strother. I looked and it appears to be a debt from 1926. This was settled in February 1954. And now I can’t tell if Taylor took on 2 debts or one to purchase the property.

Maggie Taylor Strother borrowed $1,290 in October 1952 from trustees David I. and Marge Abse. The next year she cleared her 1926 debt. In December 1953 she borrowed $2,800 from the Perpetual Building Association. February 1954 she settled the Abse debt.

Then there is another, concerning document, a ‘notice’ between Strother and the DC Department of Public Welfare from 1957. The document has her shaky signature. In 1958 there is a trustees deed, which means it went into foreclosure for the Perpetual Building Assoc. debt. Maybe the DC government’s involvement was an effort to save her from being removed from her home?

Unfortunately, Maggie Taylor was a common name and there were too many Maggie Taylors around to figure out which one was she. But I did find one little nugget. Maggie Taylor married William Strother in January 26, 1943. She was 58, he was 57. He died January 16, 1947 at his home, 404 R St NW.

Also she doesn’t show up in the 1930 census. Despite owning 404 R St NW since 1926, she didn’t seem to live there. In 1930 Dorothy Waters rented the house as the head, along with two lodgers from North Carolina. In the 1938 city directory and the 1940 census a Charles Long is listed as the occupant of 404 R NW. In the 1938 city directory, there are scores of Margret Taylors, one Maggie. That Maggie worked as a maid living at 1226 Congress Alley.

Afternote: I tried finding more information about Maggie Strother and searched by address. Didn’t find much. I did find that a Charles Hayden, 21 yrs and Claudette Williams, both of 404 R, filed for a marriage license in Fall of 1947.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: James R. Broaddus- 410 R St NW

A different Broaddus, spelled differently than the New Jersey Avenue Broadus, just one ‘d’.

photo of property

James Richard Broaddus was born November 28, 1884 in Monticello, Georgia to Marry V. Broaddus. During the draft for the first World War, he worked as a brick mason in Atlanta, Georgia. By the 1920 census he relocated to Washington, DC working as a clerk for the government. He lived as a lodger with Miner & Sallie Williams at 2248 13th St.

I don’t know when James married Mamie Traverse, daughter of Rev. Matthew W. Traverse and Mary E. Hall, step-daughter of Nettie. But they married and apparently had no children.

In December 1922 he bought 410 R St NW from Gertrude E. Holmes (she owned a whole lot of property around town) and borrowed $1,725 from trustees Henry J. Brown and Wriley J. Jacobs at 7% interest. Then in 1928 he borrowed $2100 from the National Savings and Trust Company at 6%. For some reason, his name is on a 1928 release of an October 1922 debt taken out by Gertrude E. Holmes. His first mortgage was settled in 1929 and the second in 1939.

James Broaddus does not show up in the 1930 census. In the 1934 city directory he is listed as Broadus (one d) living at 410 R St NW and working as a messenger at the Veterans Administration. When he filled out his draft card for World War II, at the age of 57, he listed Grady Carter as the person who would know where he’d live (next of kin). In the 1940 census he was listed as married but lived alone.

It was the 1950 census where he and Mamie are recorded as living together. The year 1950 is also the year when Mamie died. Not too long after that, James Broaddus died July 27, 1951. His surviving sister Irene B. Kenner of Cleveland, OH sold the property in 1957 to Edward Schweitzer.

One note, the lot number changed. 410 R St NW is now lot 807. It used to be lot 71.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Edward Downing- 1627 New Jersey Ave NW

1627 New Jersey Avenue NW has been reviewed before, when it was owned by another African American owner, Ernest Lomax the plumber. There was a strong connection between the Lomax and Downing families, not reviewed before.

1627_NJ-Ave_NWSo a quick recap- Ernest Lomax first appeared at 1627 NJ Ave NW in the 1919 city directory. He married a woman named Mamie and in the 1930 census her relatives, the Downings lived with them. Ernest Lomax died April 17, 1941. In 1946 the property was transferred to Mamie M. Lomax, and her male relatives, Edward H. , Elmer H. and Leon E. Downing.

Because of the connection via Mamie Downing Lomax I took another look at the land records from Lomax to Downing.

Mamie Downing was born September 1880/1879 in DC to Horace and Sophia Garnett Downing. In the 1880 census they lived at 211 L St and the census taker identified them as Black (as opposed to mulatto). In the 1900 census the family, including 13 year old brother Edward Horace Downing, lived at 172 Pierce Street NW. Their 47 year old father was a restaurant waiter, Mamie was a dressmaker and Edward was a lamplighter. In 1905 Mamie was a Federal employee working at the Bureau of Engraving & Printing as a Printers Assistant, making $1.50 a day. The 1910 census had them at 124 Pierce St NW and without Edward being there, they were perceived as mulatto. Edward was there at some point because the 1909 city directory has him there. I’ll do Edward’s bio after the fold.

In the 1913 city directory, Mamie Downing shows up at 1627 New Jersey Ave NW. So does father Horace, listed as a bartender and brother Edward, who was working for the Government Printing Office. Mamie was still working at the Bureau of Printing & Engraving. Looking back at the land records, in June 1922, Ernest Lomax, paid off a 1912 mortgage with the Washington Loan and Trust Company. Lomax purchased the house in April 1912. In 1913 the Lomaxs were living elsewhere (337 L SW & 211 G St NW).  By 1920, Mamie and Ernest are married.

In my post about Ernest Lomax, I assumed his much younger wife moved her relatives in with her. Apparently, they were there all along.

As mentioned previously, Ernest died in 1941. In 1946 there are two deeds to transfer the property into the names of Mamie and her brother Edward and his two sons, Elmer & Leon.

In the 1940 census the ‘renting’ residents of 1627 NJ Ave NW are Robert Downing (a previously unmentioned brother) who worked for the Govt. Printing Office, as head of household; his wife Ethel; Edward, also working for the GPO; Edward’s wife Virginia; and Herbert E. Lomax, the son of the late Ernest Lomax, a laborer.  I do wonder what the dynamics of that household was. In 1944, Herbert E. Lomax was living at 406 Eye St NW when he married Gertrude Mills. Herbert died 01/05/1949 at 406 I Street NW he had no children. Mamie died October 14, 1949, her funeral was held at the Nineteenth St Baptist Church.

By the 1950 census, Edward Downing is the head and after the death of his sister, Mamie, the owner of 1627 NJ Av NW. So let’s now look at Edward. Continue reading Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Edward Downing- 1627 New Jersey Ave NW

WSIC- Did they accomplish their goals?

Okay, back to the Washington Sanitary Improvement Company.

So what was the goal of the WSIC? According to the April 1897 Alexandria Gazette, which reported on the chartering of the company, it was to “buy, sell, and improve real estate in order to provide sanitary dwellings.”

Whelp. They did that. They bought many, many lots in Truxton Circle and elsewhere in DC. They bought and improved properties and in the end sold them. So mission accomplished.