1920 to 1930- White to Black- 1701 New Jersey Avenue pt 2

photo of property

In part one, we looked at two of the three white families who lived at 1701 NJ Ave NW (in Washington, DC) in 1920 before the African American Benjamin Johnson family purchased it.

The third 1920 household were the Saxtys.

Because names get misspelled in the census, the Saxty family show up as Saxtey. It was headed by Lawrence Spalding Saxty (1879-1922), a Navy Yard machinist. He rented their part of 1701 NJ Av with his wife Mary Emma (nee Burton)(1875-1945), his minor children Florence (later Thompson or Thomas) (1914-1993) and Edwin R. (1918-1979), and stepchildren Samuel B (1895-1925) also a Navy Yard machinist, Earl S. (1904-1968) and assistant operator, Howard (1905-1982) and Mildred Virginia Fitzhugh (later May)(1907-1983).

In 1910 Lawrence Saxty was a single man living with his uncle at 630 15th St NE and running a pool hall. Mary was married to a salesman Samuel S. Fitzhugh (1859-1911) living at 1410 D St NE with their children Samuel Burton, Earl, Howard and Mildred. After Sam S. died in 1911, Mary married Lawrence in 1913.

By 1930, Lawrence Saxty and Samuel Fitzhugh were dead. Mary, Florence, Edwin, and Howard managed to avoid the 1930 census. Earl was living with his in-laws at 717 3rd St NE, and working as a rail road station news dealer. Mildred is a little harder to pin down. Ancestry points me to her marrying Edward Delehanty in 1925. But her mother’s obituary has her last name as May, as well as a notation on her brother’s Find a Grave bio. This other route has her married to John James May. So I am going to ignore Mildred going forward. By the 1940 census, Howard was living in the College Park, MD area with his wife and children. Mary, Edwin, Florence and Earl (divorced) were living together with Florence’s two sons at 454 Maryland Ave SW. Edwin was working for the W.P.A. and Florence worked as a waitress.

In 1930, the residents of 1701 New Jersey Ave NW were 57 year old African American USPS postal clerk Benjamin S. Jackson and his wife Grace B. Unfortunately, I hit a dead end. Benjamin does not appear anywhere in the land records. The first document is a 1923 loan document with only Grace L. Jackson’s name. She borrowed … $20? (that can’t be right) at 7% interest from trustees Edmund Hill Jr and Thomas Walker. Usually this is where I would see a mention that the spouse died and when. Here. Nada.

Then I looked at where Grace L. Jackson’s ownership of 1701 ended. It’s interesting, but not helpful. In 1955 the house was sold to Watha T. Daniel…. yes, that Watha T. Daniel for whom the Shaw Library at 7th and Rhode Island Ave NW was named. But the person who sold it was Leonard S. Hayes acting as a trustee in relation to civil action 576-55. Hunting down court cases is a PITA for me, and I’m sure there are answers there.

The last document with Grace L. Jackson’s name is a June 1939 loan document with the Washington Loan and Trust Company (for the Equitable Co-operative Building Association. The loan was for $2,900 and she was released from the loan the next month in July 1939. And there is no mention of anybody else.

Ancestry doesn’t help either.

Jackson is a very common name so I get pushed towards too many false positives. Ancestry wants me to go to Silas Benjamin Jackson. However that man is married to a gal named Bertha, who also has an “L” for a middle name. But that couple is in Free Union, VA and had a boatload of children who were minors in 1930.

But the Library of Congress’ newspaper website is helpful. Benjamin S. Jackson died January 9, 1944 at his residence at 1701 NJ Ave NW. He was a mason and member of the John F. Cook lodge. There was a “session of sorrow” at the Elks Lodge at 301 Rhode Island Ave NW. He left behind Grace L. Jackson and nieces and a brother in law in Ohio and Indianapolis. There was no mention of any children. There was a wake at his home and the funeral at Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church.

Grace L. Jackson died in 1953 at her home on New Jersey Ave. There was no mention of any relatives or loved ones in her small obituary. The funeral home handling her arrangements, Melvin & Shay, were at New Jersey and R, so across the street. I wonder if the funeral home was the same building her husband protested the classification as commercial of 414 R St NW, where the daycare Home Away from Home sits? In 1936, Benjamin S. Jackson was the named representative of a group of Black residents objecting to the commercial classification. He and his neighbors were concerned that the classification change would bring in a liquor store. Ah protesting possible liquor stores, things never change…..

So in conclusion with this change from white to black, it is the same as with 1735 NJ Av, people move on. All three of the 1920 households were renters, and renters move around.  They weren’t at 1701 NJ Ave in 1910 so why would they still be there 10 years later? Several of the 1920 girls grew up, got married and started families. A few residents died, never making it to 1930. Besides sometime between the 1920 census and 1923 when Grace L. Jackson took out a loan, the house was sold to the Jacksons so the Saxtys, the Smiths and the Comelys had to vacate anyway. The idea of blockbusting doesn’t apply here because the three renting households weren’t owners, so they could have been pressured to sell what wasn’t theirs.

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