Growth Was Slow
Southeast Section a Hundred Years Ago
Land At Low Values
Prices for Half a Century Below a Cent a Foot
Some Early Taxpayers
Gardens and Fields Growing on Sites of Streets
Surveyed, But Not Fenced Off

By James Croggon, The Evening Star, date unknown

A very similar story to that in the last Sunday Star applies to the corresponding section of Washington south of East Capitol street and north of B street between 6th and 11th sreets southeast, at least in ancient history. The squares then formed by A, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and B streets and North Carolina avenue were in the lands of George Walker, who owned east, and William Prout west, and even the change from the original conditions came so slowly that some of he natives of Washington were very aged before they began to show evidence of settlement. Indeed, until the middle of the last century there was no evidence of growth except one or two houses with gardens and some little worm fencing against the foraging horses and cows on the open fields. No sign was there of care by the corporation for the streets, and the beds of these were in some instances included in cultivated fields or gardens. Evidently the corporation officers other than those assessing and collecting taxes were ignorant that such squares existed, and taxes amounted to so little on small holdings that payment was neglected and some were saddled with tax titles. It was by fractions of a cent per foot that the corporation valued the ground, and mills per foo were used in the sales of lots down to about 1850.

Division of the Squares
The pointed square in the lines of East Capitol, 10th and 11th streets and North Carolina avenue, 967, consisting of three lots in George Walker's tract in 1795, was vested in the United States. The square south, 968, of fourteen lots on North Carolina avenue, 10th 11th and B streets was divided at the same time, Mr. Walker taking title to six lots. Greenleaf's operation covered the first and most of the latter. With the except of Robert Gilmore purchasing lot 3, square 967, and Saunders Lewis lot 3, both on 10th street, in 1829, there were no changes in title for fifty years, and an eighth of a cent was the assessed value of the land. In 1799 Charles Menifee and others were interested in the latter square, and Charles Humphreys included these lots with others in 1816. Mr. Menifee was engaged with a number of contracts for furnishing timber and was a city father in 1803.

George Walker, in 1795, had title to six lots and the United States to four in square 942, between East Capitol, 9th and 10th streets and North Carolina avenue. Greenleaf, Groenvelt and others figured till 1820, when A. Kerr had interests, and afterward the history was the same as that of the square north, 941. In 1802 the ground was listed at a quarter cent per foot and this was the rate for fifty years.

The same valuations ruled as to square 943 south, in which were eight lots, fronting North Carolina avenue, 9th, 10th and B streets. Mr. Walker owned five and the United States three of these in 1795. The latter were included in Moses Young's purchase in 1809 and the government lots in 1822 went to R. Parrott. In 1829 R. Gilmore had lot 3, on B street, and Burd et al. lot 5, and nine years later Saunders Lewis owned lot 4, which afterward passed to J.W. Rowland. In 1838 Mrs. E. Baldwin was vested with lots 1, 2, 6 to 8. These were sold by Tabbs, Weightman & Wallach, trustees of Mr. Carroll, for $33.76 to Benjamin Bean at public sale and he assigned his purchase to Mrs. Baldwin.

Assigned to the Government
Fourteen lots fronting East Capitol, 8th, 9th and A streets formed square 920, and in 1795 they were apportioned. Seven lots in the east half of this square were assigned to the government, 3 to 5 to William Prout and 10 to 13 to Mr. Walker. The government lots for years were included in Mr. Greenleaf's operations; Walker's lots in 1826 went to E.W. Laight, and in the forties lot 2, on A street, belonged to Henry Lee and James Espy. One cent was the initial value assessed, but soon after it was reduced to one-half. The only record evidence of improvement appears in the twenties, a house listed to Gillies at $350, on lot 14, on 9th street between East Capitol and A streets.

But two lots were platted in square 921, formed by North Carolina avenue, A and 8th streets; and the east lot was Mr. Prout's. In 1803 Pratt, Francis, Miller et al. owned here, but no evidence of building operations is found. In 1812 George Higdon bought part of a lot for $270. The history of square 920 applies to 922 of two lots on North Carolina avenue, B and 9th streets till 1826, when Ellen Judson owned the west lot.

Square 898 of sixteen lots on East Capitol, 7th, 8th and A streets passed into the hands of Mr. Prout and the United States in 1795, the former taking the west half. Greenleaf was early interested. In 1803 Pratt, Francis, et al., and later N. McCubbin had the government lots. One cent per foot was the assessment of the ground in 1802, and a half cent in 1806, but it was reduced to one-fourth and remained at that figure nearly fifty years.

The ten lots in square 800, fronting North Carolina avenue, 7th, 8th and A streets, were shared by Mr. Prout and the government, the former taking 3 to 7. In 1809 Moses Young's purchase included the government lots 1, 2, 8, 9 and 10, the consideration being $85 each. In 1826 these were partitioned among the Young heirs. It was not until 1847 that George B. McKnight bought lots 3 and 4. The valuations were as above.

Between East Capitol, A, 6th and 7th streets fronted the twenty-six lots of square 869, which were vested in Mr. Prout, but they were included in the Greenleaf agreement. Two cents was the early assessed value of the ground, but for thirty years or more one-fourth of a cent was the value. In 1829 an improvement of $200 is listed to Elizabeth McWilliams on lot 3 fronting A street. In 1860 P. Donaho bought at 7th and A streets.

In square 870, of like size to the above, the lots were divided, Mr. Prout and the government receiving an equal number. Little did the lots figure in the land records, those of the government not being transferred until 1837, when the Georgetown College took title from the commissioner of public buildings and Mr. Prout's title descended to his heirs for generations. No other changes took place until 1860.