WSIC- Property Owner of Sq. 552- William R. Riley

When looking at the General Assessment for 1902/1903 one of the biggest property owner for the block bounded by 3rd, Q, 1st and P St NW, Sq. 552, Wm. R. Riley, not the Washington Sanitary Improvement Company (WSIC). WSIC’s time will come later.

William R. Riley owned lots 1-2, 4-6, and 29-32.

552-LC-1903

Who was William Robinson Smith Riley? He was born July 19, 1817 in Appomattox County, VA and died in DC on January 15, 1893.

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According to his obituary published in the Evening star. January 16, 1893, page 6:

William R. Riley Dead
A Well-Known Citizen Expires After a Short Illness

In the death of Mr. Wm. R. Riley this city loses one of its substantial citizens. His death occurred yesterday at his late residence, No. 7 Iowa Circle [Now Logan Circle]. Mr. Riley had reached the advanced age of seventy-five years. He was, however, a man of active habits, and while not exactly vigorous, yet he was seldom ill. His last sickness lasted only six days. On Monday just a week ago he was taken sick in his office in the Riley building, 9th and E streets. He was removed to his residence and by Thursday pneumonia developed which resulted in his death at 1 o’clock yesterday.
He had planned to leave for Florida today where his wife was staying. Mrs. Riley was at once informed of the illness of her husband and reached home Saturday morning. Mr. Riley had spent practically all his life in this city. He came here with his father from his birthplace in Accomac, Va., when only four years of age. When quite young he entered a dry-goods’ house as a clerk, and when still a young man he became the owner of the store in which he had started in life as a clerk.
The same business ability which marked his early career enabled him to amass a considerable fortune. He was identified with a number of the substantial business enterprises of the city.
He was the founder of the Arlington Fire Insurance Company, and a director in that company at the time of his death. For a number of years he was one of the directors of the Washington Gas Light Company. He established the West End Bank and until recently was the president.
He was a member of the old city council, was connected with Columbia Lodge of Odd Fellows, and was an active member of Ascension Church.
Six children survive him, two sons and four daughters.
The funeral services will be held at the Church of the Ascension Wednesday morning at 11 o’clock, and Rev. John H. Elliot will officiate. The interment will be in the family lot in Congressional cemetery. Continue reading WSIC- Property Owner of Sq. 552- William R. Riley

Mulatto vs Black in the 1920 Census

As you may know I am working with the 1920 census looking at and for Black home owners in Truxton Circle. I have noticed in the 1920 census African Americans are not called African Americans, that is a more ‘recent’ term. In 1920, we were described as either Black or Mulatto.

I have seen in the census where some members of the family are described as Black and others as mulatto. This confused me, but I tended to dismiss it because those descriptions went away in the 1930 census and I clumped Black and mulatto into one group for my research.

So one day I asked an expert if there were any studies about what made someone mulatto vs Black. As an undergrad I studied the country that is modern day Haiti and the term mulatto has a definition as well as other like terms (quadroon) recognized in law and culture. Outside of Louisiana, it is meaningless in the US if not offensive to those who take offense.

The expert pointed me to the Instructions to Enumerators.My mind was blown because I was under the impression that people were self identifying as mulatto or Black for the census. I was wrong, it was the enumerator who determined if someone was Black or mulatto. It was the enumerator’s subjective opinion that Morgan H. Dawkins was Black but his wife was mulatto.

Above I have an image of a snippet from the enumerator’s instruction book. It reads:

121. For census purposes the term “black” (B) includes all Negroes  of full blood, while the term mulatto (Mu) includes all Negroes having some proportion of white blood.

I believe the African American is a unique person who is of America. Made in America with a percentage of non-African heritage reflecting the diversity of America. With a little bit of Native American here, a little bit of European there, and a whole lot of West African everywhere. So most everyone would be mulatto. I know what they meant….

This makes me wonder if I should take a closer look at census enumerators. Then I remember I have the rest of 1920 to do and then 1930.

Rando Truxton History- Love & Marriage September 16, 1952

So I was looking for other bits of information an came across page 20 of the Evening Star for 9/16/1952 and found an article “Marriage License Applications” on some rando website. A safer website would be the Library of Congress’ site Chronicling America for the page.

There are two Truxton Circle addresses in there. And as part of my effort to research the bejezus out of the TC here they are-

Isiah Thompson 50, 3432 Warder St NW to Susan Craven, 45, of 1431 New Jersey Ave NW.

David Tyson, 18, 1618 4th St NW to Willie West, 17, 2022 4th St NW.

So I went digging. DC native, Willie Mae West Tyson (link only works if you are logged into AncestryLibrary) was the daughter of William Henry West and Grace Jenkins, born January 13, 1935. In the 1940 census her mother was listed as a widow seamstress working for the WPA project. They lived at 2022 4th St NW. According to her social security info, she was also known as Willie Mae Ebb. I couldn’t find anything on her husband David.

Nor could I find anything I felt worth noting about Susan Craven or Isiah Thompson.

1920 Asians of Truxton Circle

I was thinking of doing Asian Home Owners of Truxton Circle, but none of the six Asian residents were home owners in the 1920 census, which is where I’m pulling my data for the Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle.

So let’s look at the residents, all men.

Tom Kee, b. 1851, China. Tom Kee lived at 1412 North Capitol St NW working as a laundryman. Almost all of the men in this post will be in the laundry and clothing cleaning business. He only shows up in this one census. I hunted him down in the 1919 city directory and found him via an address search. He was at 1422 North Cap. but that looks like a typo as it was between 1410 and 1414. I could not locate him under the Kees but found him under Tom, making me wonder if Tom is his surname. I switched the names around, but did not come up with any plausible leads.

Lee Bock Wing, b. 1873, California. Lee Bock Wing lived at 400 R St NW. Like Kee Tom, he too was in the laundry business. Interesting thing, in the 1940 census Lee Bock Wing shows up at 1412 North Capitol, Kee Tom’s 1920 home. Wing won’t show up as Chinese in the 1940 census because that field is unclear and Ancestry indexed him as White.

C.A. Suzuki, b. 1870. Pffft. I’m not going to find this guy. He was a roomer at 222 Florida Ave NW, the home of Wilson Lavender, an African American home repair man. Suzuki was the Lavender family’s only roomer. Suzuki being Japanese, was a manager, according to the census. In the 1919 city directory there were two Suzukis. One, CS Suzuki, was a butler, the other S Suzuki, was the manager of ladies furnishings. In the 1925 city directory there are three Suzukis, but I’m not sure if any of them are the same person who lived on Florida Avenue.

The Chen Brothers, Charlie b.1895 and John b. 1885- The Chen (maybe Chin) brothers lived at 1632 1st St NW, which no longer exists. Like many Chinese immigrants in DC, they were involved in the laundry business. In the 1920 census it was unclear if Charlie was the owner of the home. Checking the Recorder of Deeds, he was not. The search for Charlie was unfruitful. The search for John was confusing. The 1930 census lead me to two different Chens. One being Sam Chen who had the same estimated birthyear as John. Sam also lived at 1632 1st St NW. Is John Sam? Is Sam John? Moving on.

Frank Sing, b. 1870- He is listed as being White in the 1920 census. He and his parents were reportedly born in China, so I’m taking a leap and guessing he was Chinese. Mr. Sing lived at 1237 1st St NW as a roomer.  His landlord was an African American man, Herbert Johnson, who was also renting. Frank was one of two roomers. Today, he would probably considered a roommate.  Ancestry hints that his name could also be Frank Gury. It doesn’t matter, I can’t find him past the 1920 census. He was 50, and it’s 1920, so he could have died.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Peter M. Murray- 1645 New Jersey Ave NW

As part of this series, I pick the name of a Black home owner from the 1920 census who lived in Truxton Circle, and try to track their life in this DC neighborhood.  This is another sad story where someone loses their home.

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One little note, I have the man’s name as Philip M. Murray from the 1920 census. But other records have him down as Peter M. Murray.

Let’s hit the land records and take a look at what happened.

The DC Recorder of Deeds’ online records start around 1921. The first record for 1645 NJ Ave NW (E0509 0020) is a trust, which means money was borrowed, between Peter M. and his wife Charlotte M. Murray and trustees on June 10, 1925 for $5500. The debt was paid or released and recorded on May 28, 1931.

This was followed by a release, the next month on July 3, 1925. A release is usually a document to show the debt was paid. This release was for a debt taken out on January 21, 1921.

May 21, 1931 the Murrays were forwarded 30 shares from the Oriental Building Association which amounted to $6000. In November 1932 there was a trustees deed filed. It appears the Murrays defaulted on their loan. The Oriental Building Association ran a notice in the Evening Star and so the Murray’s lost their home.

So who were the Murrays? Peter Marshall Murray (must be logged into AncestryLibrary.com for link to work) was born in 1888 in Houma, Louisiana to John L and Lavinia Murray. Charlotte was born Charlotte M. Wallace in 1885 South Carolina. They married in Washington, DC July 2, 1917 when she was 32 years old.

In 1920 they lived at 1645 New Jersey Ave NW with Charlotte’s mother, her 23 year old sister, and a live in domestic servant.  Peter Murray was a physician, Charlotte and her sister Sametta were teachers. In July 1921, the Murrays had a son John Wallace/Walker Murray (d.2001).

According to the 1930 census the Murrays had departed DC and were living in a 7th Avenue apartment building in New York City. According to his World War II registration card Dr. Murray and his family lived at 2588 7th Ave Apartment 2P in central Harlem. So by the time they lost their DC house they were settled in New York.

One of the last records of him and Charlotte was a 1952 trip to the United Kingdom on the Queen Mary out of NYC to Southampton England. Dr. Murray died in December 1969 in New York. Charlotte died much later in 1982.

Charlotte Wallace Murray Dies - March 17, 1982

From Gerald D. Dorman, “Presentation of the Academy plaque to Peter M. Murray, MD.” Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine 45, no. 8 (1969): 729.

There is more information about Dr. Murray after he and his family left DC.

New York Academy of Medicine First Black Fellow- https://nyamcenterforhistory.org/2021/02/23/nyams-first-black-fellow/

The Second Annual Post Graduate Seminar for Physicians Nov 3-5, 1941 held at the Howard University College of Medicine- listed as a presenter https://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/forallthepeople/img/698.pdf

Peter Marshall Murray, M.D. 1888-1969- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2611885/

 

UPDATE 9/8/2021- I strongly suspect there is a portrait of Dr. Murray at the National Portrait Gallery- https://npg.si.edu/object/npg_S_NPG.67.21 painted by Betsy Graves Reyneau.

Look’s like I got my self a famous man-The American Medical Association  included him for Black History Month in a Facebook post.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Malinda Powell- 71 N St NW

The timeline on this one will be short, because the subject, Malinda Powell, a 66 year old Afro-American woman who lived at 71 N St NW during the 1920 census, died in 1925. But let’s explore what we can.

Normally, I pick the name of a Black home owner from the 1920 census who lived in Truxton Circle, and try to track their life in this DC neighborhood.  In the case of the Powells, I’ll be doing more of a mini-genealogy.
photo of property

Malinda Orange was born in 1855 in Petersburg, VA to Patrick Orange and Mary Cooley. She married David Powell May 10, 1881 in Alexandria, VA. She was listed as a widow but after searching Ancestry, I found an Alexandria county divorce. It appears David Powell sought the June 24, 1918 divorce and claimed ‘desertion’. I’m figuring that Mr. Powell was the one who left his wife, as Malinda Powell was at 71 N St in 1910, prior to the divorce. They were married 37 years and had 5 children.

In 1900 the Powell family rented a home at 223 3rd St NE. David J. Powell was a hotel porter. He lived in that house with Malinda and their 5 children, Mary B., Gladys H., James C., Samuel M., and Lillian B, along with his mother in law Mary Orange.

In 1910 the Powell family was living at 71 N St NW, as renters and without David J. as the head. James C. Powell was no longer living at home and understandably neither was Malinda’s mother. When we get to the 1920 census, James returned to living with his mother and his siblings had married. Mary became Mrs. Rhambeau, Gladys became Mrs. Jacob L. Reid and Samuel was married to Daisy, who was not living on N St. Their sister Lillian was not living at 71 N St either. Lillian B. Branch eventually lived in Tom’s River, NJ.

I want to note that Malinda is described as a widow in the 1920 census.  And to remind the reader, David her husband divorced her in 1918, two years before. Divorce, 100 years ago, was seen as a very shameful affair. It would have been reasonable, given her age (64 in 1920) to proclaim herself a widow.

There aren’t a lot of land records. The available online land records start around 1921 and the earliest for this address is a release from August 28, 1944.  Normally the releases are documents acknowledging the payment of a debt, but in this case it appears to be a transfer, between James C. Powell’s siblings and his widow Lucille B. Powell.

The next record is a January 27, 1959 deed. This is a genealogical info dump so forgive me. And it is proof that you should just name one person to inherit your property, not a slew of family members. So Samuel Powell, his wife Daisy W. Powell, Miss Clara Reid Willis (their niece I guess), Miriam Reid Felder (another niece?), and her husband Allie C. Felder Jr., who all were heirs of Malinda and James C. Powell, Gladys Powell Reid, Mary Powell Rhambeau and Lillian Powell Branch, sold the property to Arline M. Neal and Ruth Malone.

George Basiliko Keeps Showing Up in My Truxton Circle Property Searches Pt 1

So I as I go through the Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle series, I keep running across the name George Basiliko in the transactions. Him and his wife Sophia. He has shown up with with Harry Brown, Arthur B. McKinney and John Robinson in real estate transactions.

So who was George Basile Basiliko? He was born in Washington, DC to Basil (Basile) Stergin Basiliko a Greek immigrant, and Calliope Papazoglis (Papasoglou) Basiliko a Greek-Turkish immigrant on January 14, 1917.

In 1929 it appears the family lived at 50 Randolph Place NW in Bloomingdale. The father Basil was a contractor with a business address at 600 E St NW. In 1930, Basil was a merchant and owner of a cigar business and the family lived at 54 P St NE in NE Truxton Circle (some times I acknowledge that part of the TC).

He graduated Langley Junior High in 1933. Married Sophia Cokenias, also a child of Greek immigrants, in June 1947.

At the age of 26, he and his brother Nick Basiliko were charged with operating a “disorderly house” in April 1943. The house in question being the Logan Hotel at 912 N St NW. He received his real estate license, using 912 N St NW as an office in July of 1943. The Basiliko brothers were cleared of charges in the disorderly house case in September of that year by a municipal judge and the Evening Star said the hotel was at 13th and Logan Circle. December 1943, the United States Attorney’s Office kept pursuing the case because the house raid involved 100 police officers. The Evening Star restated the location of the hotel at 13th and Logan Circle, and George’s address being on the 6200 block of 8th St NW. In a 1944 Evening Star article, the police raid was reported as being on September 1942 and only 70 police involved.

After that brush with the law, his appearances in the Evening Star were classified ads advertising commercial real estate and trust notes. At some time in the 1950s he moved his office to 1113 Eye (I) Street NW. But staying out of trouble didn’t last long.

The Basiliko name popped up again regarding an investigation and court case regarding Route 240 and the claim of defrauding the Maryland State Roads Commission in 1953. Several Basiliko family members were named, including George, and a man named Ben Du Pre, who was the main target. Looking at Basiliko v State, this thing dragged on through the late 1950s.

In the Home and Real Estate section (B section) of the October 3, 1959 issue of the Evening Star, there is an article about rehabilitating properties in Truxton Circle, particularly Bates Street, in an article, “Some Plain Words About City Decay” by Robert J. Lewis. The article noted how George Basiliko “bought a lot of rundown properties” and was in the process of rehabbing them with assistance of the Perpetual Building Association, another familiar name to the Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle series.

I want to dig into this article a bit more so I will do that in part 2, as it deals with so many TC homes.

Sources: Continue reading George Basiliko Keeps Showing Up in My Truxton Circle Property Searches Pt 1

It’s Black History Month- Blame Shaw’s Own Carter G. Woodson

Carter G. Woodson statue at night
Memorial for Dr. Carter G. Woodson at 9th and RI Ave NW.

It’s February so that means it’s Black History Month. And eventually somebody says something about February being the shortest month of the year and African Americans getting short shrift. Which is really ignorant because the “Father of Black History” Carter G. Woodson picked a week in February for Black History Week. That week turned into a month and that brings us to where we are. He could have picked another week in another month, but he didn’t. Please shaddap about February.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson (PhD, Harvard, 1912) noticed there was a lack of history documenting and telling the story of Black Americans in America. So he saw a problem and then fixed it. Quoting the NPS biography of Dr. Woodson, “The public knew very little about the role of African Americans in American history, and schools were not including African American history in their curriculum. He worked tirelessly throughout his life to remedy this problem, becoming nationally recognized as “the Father of Black History.” ”

Dr. Woodson lived and worked at 1538 9th Street NW, which is in Shaw. This would explain the statue, if you missed it, at 9th and Rhode Island Avenue NW. And the National Park Service complex at his historic home’s location. And of course, there are programs going on this month to celebrate the man. On February 15th and 29th at 1PM an actor will lead a 3 hour tour (a three hour tour) in the life of Dr. Woodson. The historic house is regularly open 3 days a week, Thursday through Saturday, 9 to 5.

Sex, consent and local government- trigger warning

Crop of Marion Barry Vincent Gray
Credit: dbking via a Creative Commons License
Last night our Truxton Circle book group came together to talk about Dream City by Harry Jaffe and Tom Sherwood. It was my second time with the book. The first time I “read” (I cheat with audiobooks), it was prior to the #metoo movement and the many public discussions and arguments that regarding sexual and romantic relationships.

Just a quick review of the book: it is a sandwich. It’s local government bread holding a rise and fall and rise and decline of Marion Barry fixin’s. It’s about 75% Barry, going into his rise from his civil rights days as a student, to his messy relationships with and use of women, and his challenges with substances from booze to drugs.

Considering “Mayor for Life” Barry’s struggles with drugs, that horse has dang near beaten to death. However, Barry and women hasn’t really been reviewed in light of the new zeitgeist. This is probably because a)he’s dead and b) many women who enabled and or had sexual relationships with Barry are still alive and may still be involved in local government.

But back to the book and my title regarding consent, there were two ‘scenes’ in the book that struck me. There was one event that shocked me the first time I was aware of it. The authors’ claimed that in a hotel room in the Caribbean, various women were shuttled to Barry’s hotel room under the promise that the women could get jobs with the city government. Barry was under the influence and when one woman expressed not wanting to have sex with the mayor, he forced himself on her. The authors did not use the word “rape” for this instance, but it was rape. The other incident happened when the police were called to the apartment of a woman because of a disturbance. When the police arrived, the woman refused to let the police in because Mayor Barry was hiding in her bedroom. She protected and provided sexual favors to the Mayor because she did not want to endanger her program that needed city government support.

That second incident got me thinking, if a city contract or grant or job is in play is the sex consensual? If you swap out Barry for Harvey Weinstein and the grant/contract for a role in a movie, is it different? This also reminded me of the July 10, 2009 Washington City Paper headline, “You Put Me Out in Denver, ‘Cause I  Wouldn’t Suck Your ____” As I remember the lady in question was a city contractor and Barry was a City Councilman at the time. If she did provide the sexual act, would that have been consensual? Was the relationship consensual? It sure wasn’t ethical.

Yes, powerful men in this town have been receiving sex for jobs, money, votes, or whatever since they moved the capitol from Philadelphia. However, Barry’s corruption and problems with women was such an open non-secret, like Harvey Weinstein in Hollywood, but more in your face. Despite everyone knowing, too many people did not care if he had consent or not.

Meaningless Carter G. Woodson Post

So I was rooting around in my electronic files and found this. I’m still pecking away at the Black Home Owners of 1940 in Truxton Circle, but 9th Street NW is more Logan Circle, than our triangular section of Shaw. So, no surprise. Carter G. Woodson, noted African American historian was a home owner, tax payer on Square 365.

That’s all. Visit his house if you’re bored. Make the National Park Service’s investment in the place worth it. They are open Sunday, Thursday and Saturday.