Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Clementine Branham- 1604 4th St NW

Okay. Another Basiliko house. 1604 4th St NW was previously owned by Nick and Helen Basiliko, relatives of George Basiliko, slum lord.

In 1944 Dewey Branham bought 1604 4th Street from the Basilikos. He borrowed $1963.25 from trustees Herman Miller and Vernon J Thomas at 6% interest as part of the deal. In 1947 he transferred the property to his wife, Clementine. In 1954, she borrowed $2,000 from the Perpetual Building Association. Later that year, she paid off the debt Dewey had taken on in 1944. She cleared her Perpetual debt in 1965. Then in 1970, she transferred the property from herself and her husband to herself and a person named Leonard White. Sometime between 1970 and 1981 White died and as the surviving joint tenant, Clementine sold the property to Antoinette L. and James H. Ford and Evelyn Lewis.

Once again this is another 1950’s home owner and information about the home owner is spotty.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Mary & Johnnie Walker- 1600 4th St NW

400 blk of Q St NW btwn NJ and 4th St NW.

I tried finding a good photo of the parking lot where 1600 4th St NW used to be, but came up empty. Instead, enjoy the map above.

Let’s discover what the land records tell us. In 1944 Johnnie and Mary Walker purchased their home 1600 4th St NW from, sigh, Helen and Nick Basiliko. The Basilikos were all over Truxton Circle in the mid-20th Century and brother George Basiliko was declared by the Washington Post to be a slumlord. The Basilikos are another story for another day. As part of the purchase they borrowed $2,961.48 at 6% interest from trustees John Swaggart and Herman Miller. The 1944 loan was cleared/paid off in 1948. In 1956, it appears they took out a new loan with the American Security and Trust Company for $5,250 at 5% interest.

Then something happens.

In 1971 Johnnie Walker signed over full ownership to Mary. There are so many John Walkers married to women named Mary that I have no idea what happened. Did they divorce? Was he unwell? I don’t know. What I do know is that his signature was on the deed.

Then in the eighties the story comes to an end. In 1985 there is a document (#8500028432) to cancel the condemnation of the building at 1600 4th St NW. And according to the document, it was mailed to 1903 D St NE. I am left to assume that the home was either vacant or severely run down. For whatever reason, the condemnation was cancelled, but we know from the vacant lot that is there, it was eventually torn down.

The next year, Mary Walker sold/transferred the property to James Floyd Young Jr. I wonder if it was a sale because I could not find a loan associated with the sale/transfer. Also when I was trying to find information about the Walkers, there was a woman Mary Young who married a John Walker. There was a James Floyd Young (Sr) who had a sister named Mary. So IF James was her nephew, and I am not sure there is a connection, this may have not been a regular sale.

A decade later, in 1999, Mr. Young sold the property to the current owners, the church.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Alvin and Edna Jackson- 1630 4th St NW

I’m looking at the history of the ownership of Alvin and Edna Jackson and saying, “Well, that didn’t last long.”

Here’s the short history of their ownership:

An African American clerk/messenger for what appears to have been an early version of Pepco named Alvin Lee Jackson and his wife, bought 1630 4th St NW in November 1949. So when the 1950 census rolled around, they were recorded as living there with their son Alvin L. Jackson Jr, and brand new baby daughter, Caroline born in February. They borrowed $3,000 from the Washington Housing Corporation, which had owned the house prior to transferring it to the seller, Ida P. Sheppard. The interest was 6%, which was normal then. But in 1955 they lost the home to foreclosure.

Unfortunately, Jackson is one of those common names but I have figured that the husband was Alvin Lee Jackson Sr. and Edna was formerly Edna Wise. Strangely, there were several Alvin Lee Jacksons and tons of Alvin Jacksons in the US at the time, including a baseball player.  I’m discovering the homeowners appearing in the 1950 census are a little harder to locate information about.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Mary Logan- 1606 4th St NW

Sooooo Mary Logan bought 1606 4th St NW from Nick and Helen Basiliko, who were relatives of “Slum Lord” George Basiliko in 1944. The Basilikos are all over the Truxton neighborhood and I looked at George and I felt like I was looking a little too close to the abyss. Maybe one day I will address this, but not today Satan.

Mary Logan was a single woman who lived with her sister and a renting family according to the 1950 census. In the prior 1940 census she was renting a unit at 1618 7th St NW with her older sisters, Elizabeth and Cora Logan, nephews Ronnie and Richard, and niece Martha Logan. She worked as a presser at a laundry.

Mary purchased 1606 4th St NW in June 1944 and borrowed $1,923.25 at 6% interest. In 1954 she took out a couple of new loans, $2,200 from the Perpetual Building Association and $750 from trustees, and paid off her initial 1944 loan.

In the 1950, according to the census, Mary was the head of the household. The house had Mary, her sister Cora, her brother Albert, her nephews Richard and James, and nieces Elaine, Maryanne and Martha. In addition to family, crowded into the home were a family of roomers, a single mother Edna Wenley and her three sons and a laborer named Luther Cullins. That’s 13 people.

According to Redfin, 1606 4th St NW has 1,234 square feet. There is a basement unit and a two bedroom unit on the above ground floors. So if the roomers were only in the basement, that’s still 8 people upstairs.

In 1959 the house was foreclosed for failure to pay the Perpetual Building Association loan. In 1950 of the 5 adults, only 3 were employed. Albert, who was a delivery man, married in 1952 and may have moved out. I’m don’t know what happened there.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Charles and Louise Penny- 1632 4th St NW

I’m noticing something with the 1950 census. There are lots of female headed households….. but the husband is there. Normally the husband gets listed as the head. It’s probably nothing.

Anywho, our next homeowner is Louise Penny of 1632 4th St NW, an African American homemaker. She lived with her husband Charles, a drug store porter, and their nine, yes, 9 children. Charles was from Rocky Mount, NC. Louise was either from Maryland or Massachusetts, as the location isn’t consistent.

Charles L. and Louise E. Jenifer Penny purchased 1632 4th St NW, after living across the street at 1631, in October 1944 from Teck Construction Company. You may remember Teck Construction from Lula Lee of 1614-1616 4th St NW.  They borrowed $2,800 and $1,054.07 from Mount Vernon Mortgage Corporation. Then in 1951 the borrowed $2,100 from the Perpetual Building Association. That allowed them to pay off their initial 1944 loans. Something happened and they lost the house to foreclosure in 1959.

So yes, the Penny family lived on 4th Street prior to becoming owners. In the 1940 census the family of five were lodgers at 1631 4th with home owners William and Elnora Lewis, and four other lodgers. The houses on the odd side of 4th are much larger and probably could have accommodated 11 people. They moved away and lived at 1303 Corcoran Street NW when Charles had to fill out a draft card.

Not sure what happened to the Penny family after they lost 1632. Charles Lee Penny died in February 1977 in the District of Columbia. Louise Penny died September 5, 1990.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: William and Ida Harrison- 1613 New Jersey Ave NW

This will be short because it seems the Harrisons, and African American family of 1613 New Jersey Avenue, briefly show up and then quickly disappear.

Independent truck driver William and his wife Ida Harrison purchased 1613 New Jersey Ave NW in October 1921. For the 1920 census the family lived at 2030 L Street NW. The 1930 census showed the couple lived with their four daughters (Elnora, Edna, Sylvia and Mary), one remaining son William Jr., and two lodgers Luke and Alberta Goodwin.

The Harrisons took out several loans for the time they owned 1613. When they purchased the house they borrowed $3000 and $1500 at 7% interest from two separate sets of trustees. Then in 1927 and 1928 they engaged in a flurry of borrowing. They borrowed a small amount, $225, in 1927. Then it appears in January 1928 they refinanced their 1921 loans, borrowing $3800 from the Perpetual Building Association, and $800 from other trustees. They refinance their 1927 debt between February and April 1928. Then it looks like they refinance the January debt in August. They take out one new loan in 1929 for $485. One of the August 1928 wasn’t paid and they lost their home in 1935 in foreclosure.

The family moved on after that. In the 1940 census, Ida was head and William Sr. not with her at 1410 11th St NW. She lived with daughters Mary and Edna, son William, son-in-law Sandy Warren and married daughter Elnora Warren.


Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Lula Lee- 1614-1616 4th St NW

photo of propertyI’m not sure where to go with this because I cannot find any helpful information about Mrs. Lula M. Lee. It did not help there was a very active Mrs. Lula Lee running around Alexandria, VA and other Mrs. Lula Lees in DC. I know these are the wrong Mrs. Lees because the correct Mrs. Lee was married to Alexander Lee. The other Lees were married to Robert and Tommy. Plus, she owned both 1616 and 1614 4th Streets NW and seemed to have occupied both.

Typically, the owner appears in several other censuses, but not in her case. She seems to have only existed in the 1950 census. She was the head of 1616 4th St and lived with her cousins Agnes Jones, her spouse, Leroy Jones, their children, Butch William and Estella Jones, as well as adult cousins Jennie, Davis and Iza Montgomery. It was a very full house. I don’t blame her for buying a second home next door.

Mrs. Lee bought 1616 4th St NW from the Dardens, who I already wrote about in 1942. She had one loan for the property, solely in her name, with the purchase of the home, for $1,600 with trustees Dickson and Franklin. It was settled in 1952.

In 1944 she purchased the house next door, 1614 4th St NW from the Teck Construction Company. Teck also provided her with a loan to purchase the property for $1,300 and $2,400 at 6% interest. It appears she refinanced with the Oriental Building Association in 1954. She fulfilled her OBA loan in 1964. She had some financing deal with Washington Gas for a new boiler in 1971.

She and her husband Alexander Lee (the only time he shows up in the paperwork) sold 1616 4th St NW in 1962. It appears that she may have moved over to 1614 4th after that because the 1971 & 1973 paperwork for the Washington Gas has her at 1614 4th St NW. She died, sometime before 1981, and the executor of her estate sold 1614 4th St NW to Loball, Inc.

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

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.