1920 to 1930- White to Black- 1731 New Jersey Avenue

1700 Block NJ Ave NW, 1930. Brown= AfAm residents; White= No data

In this series of looking at the odd numbered side of the 1700 block of New Jersey Ave NW from 1920 to 1930, I decided to look at the other end of the block. The change from 1920 to 1930 for most of the block was from white renters to black home owners. My post The sell off of the 1700 block of New Jersey Ave NW pretty much explains the why.

The Renters
George & Ida Macintosh. Credit: Christy Rosario via Ancestry

In the 1920 census the 1731 NJ Ave NW was occupied by George MacIntosh and his family. George Williamson MacIntosh was a DC born White 37 year old ice cream truck driver. He lived there with wife, Mary Ida (nee Taylor) and their four of their eventual 12 children.

George was born July 15, 1882 to Ida Virginia (nee True) and Charles Richard MacIntosh in DC. In 1900 he was a 17 year old living with his mother Ida at 3101 K St  NW and a boarder.

I could not locate George’s location for 1910. So I looked for Ida. I found Ida in 1910 under another name. Ida Posey, who’d been married for 9 years but living with her parents at 1053 31st St NW with her 6 year old son and 1 year old daughter Agnes. Her father’s name looked familiar and I swore I’d seen James F. Taylor before. Then I looked at who else was in the house, 20 year old John Miller. There was a John Miller living next door in 1920 at 1733 NJ Ave, who also drove an ice cream truck. Were they some how related? Dunno. Not going down that rabbit hole.

The Owner

1731 NJ Ave NW (Sq. 507, lot 25) sold to Salvadora E. Smith by M. Harvey Chiswell  September 10, 1920. She used a loan from Chiswell’s brother W. Wallace Chiswell and developer Harry A. Kite, which Smith paid off in May 2023. July 2023 Ms. Smith took out a $2,300 loan from the Washington Loan and Trust Company. It appears she refinanced in 1931, talking out at $2,500 loan, then again in 1932 for $1000, and again in 1941 for $2,500 with Washington Loan and Trust. The home was sold after her death by her will’s administrator James P. Donovan.

So who was Salvadora Elizabeth Smith? According to the 1900 census she was an African American public school teacher who was born around 1863. She grew up at 440 Massachusetts Ave NW, in downtown DC. With the exception of their father, USCT Civil War veteran Moses Smith Sr, everyone was identified as ‘mullato’ in the household. Her father worked as a printer at the Government Printing Office and her mother was a homemaker. She attended Howard University, graduating from the Normal School in 1883 (PDF).

Looking up her background, it appears she purchased 1731 as a rental or investment property. In the 1930 census she was not there, instead there were renters. Nor was she on NJ Ave in 1940. When the Evening Star announced her death in May of 1942 it said she died at her residence at 460 Massachusetts Ave NW.

She is not getting the “Black Homeowners of TC” tag as I cannot prove she lived at 1731 New Jersey Avenue.

1920 to 1930- White to Black- 1733 New Jersey Avenue

1700 Block NJ Ave NW, 1930. Brown= AfAm residents; White= No data

In this series of looking at the odd numbered side of the 1700 block of New Jersey Ave NW from 1920 to 1930, I decided to look at the other end of the block. The change from 1920 to 1930 for most of the block was from white renters to black home owners. My post The sell off of the 1700 block of New Jersey Ave NW pretty much explains the why.

At this point, I’m just seeing who lived there, where did they go, where did they live before, and who were the African American buyers who purchased the property and where did they live before.

1920 Renters

There were two white households living at 1733 New Jersey Ave NW in 1920. The Tidmeyers (actually Widmire), headed by 47 year old plasterer Charles, and the Millers headed by 30 year old driver John. Neither household had children in their households at the time.

I can’t give a history for the Millers because there was another John Miller in DC, living on Wisconsin Ave NW, married to a Florence. Their birthyears are around about the same time. But the John Miller at 1733 was married to Flossie and drove an ice cream wagon. I need to note his neighbor at 1731 also drove an ice cream wagon.

Ancestry confuses Charles F. Widmeyer who was also married to an Elizabeth with Charles A. Widmire married to Bessie (a variant of Elizabeth). The tip off was that Chas. F’s wife died in 1907. So I am not 100% sure I picking a Chuck based off my best guess.

Charles was born in Washington, DC around 1870 to German parents. He married Bessie around 1890. Bessie brought 3 sons (Eugene, John J. and Frank Convoy) into the marriage and together had daughter Helen. In 1900 and 1910 the family lived at 520 R St NW. 1920 was not a good year for Charles. In the Evening Star he brought a complaint to the Rent Commission in March 1920. It appears the commission made their decision late in the year after M. Chiswell sold the property. The new owners, the Whiteheads could up the rent to $40. Charles died March 18, 1949 at 1227 6th St NW, and was predeceased by his wife.

The Owners

1733 NJ Ave NW (Sq. 507, lot 26) based on a July 1926 release from a loan with W. Wallace Chiswell, Harry A. Kite, James A. and Coralie Whitehead purchased the property November 1, 1920.

James Arthur Whitehead was born Continue reading 1920 to 1930- White to Black- 1733 New Jersey Avenue

Redlining and Truxton Circle teaser

I’d been quite busy with preparing for the DC History Conference and while writing up my presentation I discovered redlining in Truxton Circle.

I had previously thought red lining did not apply to Truxton Circle. Black homeowners bought and sold homes and used institutional and private lenders to get mortgages. The definition I had heard was the complete lack of financial sources.

As I was rewriting my script for the conference, I put two separate ideas together and the scales fell from my eyes. I saw it as clear as day. Which then meant I had to rewrite my whole pitch.

I do plan to share this revelation but it needs to be a several part series. This is my teaser.

1920 to 1930- White to Black- 1737 New Jersey Avenue

1700 Block NJ Ave NW, 1930. Brown= AfAm residents; White= No data

In this series of looking at the odd numbered side of the 1700 block of New Jersey Ave NW from 1920 to 1930, I decided to look at the other end of the block. The change from 1920 to 1930 for most of the block was from white renters to black home owners. My post The sell off of the 1700 block of New Jersey Ave NW pretty much explains the why.

At this point, I’m just seeing who lived there, where did they go, where did they live before, and who were the African American buyers who purchased the property and where did they live before.

1920 Renters

There were two White families recorded as living at 1737 NJ Ave NW in the 1920 census. The first family was 36 year old piano polisher Alfred Fowler and his 46 year old wife Mary E. Fowler. The second family were the Sissons (spelled Sison in the 1920 census). William Sisson was 35 year old father and husband working as a machinist at the Navy Yard. He lived with 25 year old wife Mary A. (nee Noyes) and 1 month old son William L. Continue reading 1920 to 1930- White to Black- 1737 New Jersey Avenue

1920 to 1930- White to Black- 1739 New Jersey Avenue NW

1700 Block NJ Ave NW, 1930. Brown= AfAm residents; White= No data

In this series of looking at the odd numbered side of the 1700 block of New Jersey Ave NW from 1920 to 1930, I decided to look at the other end of the block. The change from 1920 to 1930 for most of the block was from white renters to black home owners. A bit of the ‘why’ can be found in The sell off of the 1700 block of New Jersey Ave NW.

As you might be able to see from the featured image at the very top. In 1920 there was no recorded tenant at 1739 New Jersey Ave NW for the 1920 census. Knowing these homes were sold to Black home owners in late 1920. and this home in particular to John Holmes Jr. who purchased the property September 23, 1920. So let’s go straight to him.

The Property History

In 1923 John and his wife Ida C. Holmes borrowed a fair amount of money. There were three back to back trusts (borrowing money). Two were with trustees Samuel A. Drury and James B. Nicholson for $3K and $1K at 7% APR. The third was a smaller loan with trustees William A. Bowie and Clarence M. DeVeile for $390 at 7%. Then a few months later in October 1923, the Holmes were released from their original 1920 loan with W. Wallace Chiswell and Harry A. Kite.

The Holmes did a fair amount of borrowing money in the 1920s and I will not recount them all.

October 1930 the Holmes sold their home to Leo Paul Conners. Connors transferred the ownership to his company Conners and Foster Inc., in 1932 and the property was merged with nearby lot 30 creating lot 89. The company kept the property in their hands until 1963.

Who Were the Holmes?

Information about the Holmes is scarce. They both appear in the 1930-1950 census together. Thankfully the Evening Star has filled some blanks.

John Holmes was born August 3, 1887 in Washington, DC. Ida was born in Maryland in August of 1884. As times change, so does her estimated birth year. In 1913 John Holmes Jr. married Ida C. Bowman. Ida was the adopted or foster daughter of Mary Jackson. Mary E. Wells was another foster daughter. Ida was an independent laundress when she married and continued in the profession at least to 1930.

In 1920, the couple was living with Benjamin Young, a US government laborer at 413 1st St SE, with Young’s niece Mary E. Wells, grandniece Beatrice Wells, niece Ida Holmes who is listed as an 8 year old, daughter Thelma Hawkins, roomer John Holmes (not nephew in law?) and roomer Mary Jackson. In the previous census, Young was Jackson’s boarder at 404 B St SE. In 1920 John was a laborer working for the railroad.

So we know from the land records the Holmes left the Young household to form their own in Truxton Circle in Fall/Winter of 1920. The couple had their son John Jr. (making the elder John a Sr.) in 1922. They had another child in 1927 who only lived for 20 minutes. In 1930 they were pm New Jersey Ave living with their son, John A Holmes, Mary E. Wells, and lodgers Mary Winston and Thelma Brooks (she does not appear to be Thelma Hawkins).

In 1940 the family were renting a home at 509 S St. John was still a laborer working in the transportation industry. He lived with Ida, their son John, and Mary and Beatrice Wells.

In 1950 it was just John and Ida at 2415 E St NW. In their 60s, Ida kept house and John worked as a janitor for an apartment building.  January 23, 1961 John died.

Memory Lane: 23 N St NW

I’m going to guess it was 2005 when I visited 23 N St NW to look inside the home. I was impressed by its storage.

So many cabinet doors…. Interesting floors. It had a slightly arty bo-ho look. A look that has been renovated away by the looks of the real estate photos from its 2017 sale of over a million dollars.

I vaguely remember it having a loft in the bedroom, along with wooden bookshelves. It was a neat home.

1920 to 1930- White to Black- 1741 New Jersey Avenue

1700 Block NJ Ave NW, 1930. Brown= AfAm residents; White= No data

In this series of looking at the odd numbered side of the 1700 block of New Jersey Ave NW from 1920 to 1930, I decided to look at the other end of the block. The change from 1920 to 1930 for most of the block was from white renters to black home owners. However, in the case of 1741 New Jersey Ave NW, which no longer exists as a house, but part of the parking of a corner gas station, there was no Black resident recorded for the 1930 census.

But then again, the 1930 census had some house number errors, so maybe there was someone there.

The Renters- The Sussans

First we’ll look at the white renters who lived at 1741 NJ Ave NW in 1920. Look back to 1910, see where they were or learn more about them. Then where they were in 1930. The reason why they vacated is simple, their homes were sold to M. Harvey Chiswell, who then sold the row of homes to African American buyers. They didn’t have much of a choice in the matter.

In the 1920 census, the recorded tenants were the Sussan family. It was headed by a 41 year old baker Charles Sussan, and his wife Lillian. They lived with their three children Charles Jr. (18 yo) (1901-1968); Emily (16); Frank (7)(1912-1987) and Charles’ sister Elizabeth (58 y.o.). Ten years prior the family was living at 612 L St with Charles Sr. working as a baker and Lillian as a dressmaker. They lived with their sons and Lillian’s mother Willey Burgess (1858-1933).

After they left New Jersey Ave the family had moved to Arlington, VA by the 1930 census. Charles Sr. had remained a baker, and lived in the home he owned with his wife and their two sons. Daughter Emily Elizabeth had married and was living with her in-laws at 3110 Connecticut Ave NW.  That year Emily would give birth to daughter Hazel Louise Macwilliams (later Brown).

The Owners- The McCalisters

From previous work, we discovered the row of homes on the 1700 odd numbered block of NJ Ave NW were purchased, repaired for sale to African American home owners in Fall and Winter of 1920. 1741 New Jersey Ave NW doesn’t exist, but we can find lot # 30 on a Baist map from the time period.

The first document is a 1923 trust (loan doc) between Mr. and Mrs. James I.(18721952) and Lulu (nee Phifer) McCalister and trustees Jesse H. Mitchell and William H. Cowan for $151.89. A November 1923 release document between the Mitchells and W. Wallace Chiswell and Harry A. Kite points to a September 30, 1920 loan. M. (Mary) Harvey Chiswell and W. Wallace Chiswell were part of the operation to sell specifically to African Americans.

1923 was a very busy year as it was also the year James and Samuel McCalister sold 1741 to James M. Woodward, who a few months later sold it to  A. Lynn McDowell. In 1925, A. Lynn McDowell, his wife Elizabeth C. and a Julian N. McDowell sold the house to John G. Walker. A little less than a month later Walker sold the property to Mary Hummel. Sometime between 1928 and 1932 the ownership changed to where Conners & Fosters Inc took control of it.

So who were these people? The McCalisters were an African American couple who in 1924 lived at 1509 5th St NW. Prior to that for the 1920 census they were renting 345 Elm St NW. I think that was in LeDroit Park. Mr. McCalister was recorded as a laborer working for the Government Printing Office. I was able to confirm his federal employment by searching the 1919 Official Register of the United States (p.811) to find he was paid 35 cents an hour. In 1930 the McCalisters lived separately. Lulu lived at 946 T St NW, supporting herself as a chiropractor. James was not located for that year. But for 1940 he was a resident at the US Soldier’s Home and Lulu can’t be found. They were back together for the 1950 census living on H St with a lodger. James died in 1952 and is buried at Arlington Cemetery.

Comparative White DC Home Owner- Capitol Hill- Catherine B. Hough- 228 South Carolina Ave SE

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.  It helps to look at blocks that were over 90% white in 1950 but also in the same “red lined” zone, which was F1.

photo of property

Looking at the Library of Congress map this sits on lot 78 on Square 765 in Capitol Hill. It could also be lot 804, but the earliest the info goes for 804 is 1949, and the Houghs had sold their property by then. Document 1943031037, for lots 78 and 79, has the only instance where Catherine B. Hough appears. The document noted that Catherine B. Hough was the surviving tenant, when her husband William I. Hough died June 17, 1928. The document was a deed where Mrs. Hough sold the property to Therese S. Merrill.

With a search of the Hough name on Sq. 765, lot 77 pops up. However, that appears to be a different house. The first is a 1925 document to release Emma V. Hough and William H. Hough from a 1915 loan from trustees Henry H. Bergmann and George M. Emmerich. December 1944, Emma V. Hough Baker sold the property to Frances, Levi T., and Levi T. Wellons Jr.

William Ira Hough married Katie Bertha Dice in 1887. In the 1900 census, they lived at 600 E St (SE?). William was a machinist and Catherine was a home maker raising their three children, William, Arthur and Helen. In the 1920 census, only two of their adult children lived in the home, Arthur, also a machinist at the Navy Yard, like his father, and Helen, a government stenographer. In 1928 William I. Hough died at home from asphyxiation in the bathroom. Mrs. Catherine Hough died in 1945, after a long illness at Leland Memorial Hospital.

It appears the owner of neighboring lot 77 was the son William Hiram Hough, born in 1891. In 1914 he married Emma V. Speiden.  Apparently the daughter of Charles Speiden, who I profiled earlier, and lived a few doors down at 232 SC Ave SE. In the 1920 census they were at 230 South Carolina Ave SE. They had no children. Something must have happened with their marriage because in 1937, William H. Hough married Frances Alice Hall in Fredericksburg, VA and listed his home address as 5414 2nd St NW. He died a few years later in 1940 from an illness. In the Evening Star his obituary noted that his widow was Frances, and they lived at 256 18th St SE. At the time of his death he was a senior engineer aide at the Navy Yard.

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.

1920 to 1930- White to Black- 1701 New Jersey Avenue pt 1

photo of property

In 1920 the odd side of the 1700 block of New Jersey Ave NW was 100% White. So let’s look at 1701 New Jersey Ave.

In 1920 census there are three households living at 1701 New Jersey Ave NW. The first is headed by George Richard Comley (Conney in the census), a 31 year old hotel chauffeur on his 2nd marriage. He lived with wife Gertrude Hattie Scheuch (1900-1923), baby Marguerite, and daughters from a previous marriage, Ruth (1908-1991) and Ethel.

I was able to clear up the Comley’s name discrepancy and discover the 2nd marriage via George’s daughters Ruth Mae (later Scott), then 11 and 9 year old Ethel Elizabeth (1910-1993). In 1910, driver George and then wife Florence (nee Arrington) were living at 1014 7th St NE with son George and daughter Ruth M..  Ethel was born August 10, 1910 and her social security docs say Florence was her mother. When WWI rolled around (1917), George was divorced with 3 dependent children.

I can’t find George R. Comley past the 1930 census. It is possible he died of a heart attack in 1931. It also appears he was an optimist on his 3rd marriage with Helen Hogan (1893-1952) living at 1607 O St NW. That census year he was still working as a chauffeur, living with 10 year old daughter Margaret E. (later Hutchins) (1919-1996) and 7 year old Marie G. (1922-1997). By 1930 Ethel had become Mrs. Pitcock, living in Colesville, MD with her husband and two young boys. Older sister Ruth managed to disappear until her death. Maybe because she was in jail from a vague embezzlement 1935 arrest?

The second household were the Smiths, headed by 27 year old traffic cop Ellis W. Smith (1892-1975). He lived with his 21 yr old brother, Leon S. Smith (1898-1982) an electric car conductor, 17 yr old sister Grace (later Tubbs)(1902-1995) a cigar store saleswoman, and 59 year old widowed mother, Annie E. Smith (nee Hodgeson) (1860-1927). Ellis briefly served in the Army during WWI.

By 1930 the Smiths had moved on but not far. The mother Annie was dead. Sister Grace had married Victor Tubbs and was mother to two girls, Iva & Emma, and a son, Nelson. She lived at 139A Bates St NW. Looking back at the newspaper search for 139 Bates, I see Annie Smith died there. That same newspaper search reveals son Nelson Tubbs was there in 1949 when marrying, literally the girl next door, Beverly J. Trite, of 137 Bates St NW. By the 1950 census, Victor and Grace were empty nesters. In 1930, Ellis was a White House policeman, and had moved to Cottage City, MD in PG County. He lived there with his wife Lucy, daughter Barbara and son Robert.

Brother Leon Standford Smith was in Cleveland, OH in 1930 working in the auto industry. At age 31, he married Ida Maude Miller in 1929 in Homer, MI. By 1940, he was back in DC working as a guard, and back in Truxton Circle at 219A Bates St NW with his wife, an adopted daughter and a couple of lodgers, Mrs. Morgan and her baby Nancy. In 1950 the Smiths were at 3940 Blaine St NE, with their 20 year old daughter who was separated, their 2 grandchildren, and a 10 year old lodger by the name of Nancy Morgan. In the 50s Leon worked for the US Post Office. When he died in Florida, he was a retired mail handler.

This is getting fairly long, I will deal with the third household of the Saxtys in part 2.