Early Land Owners (Between L, P, 9th & 11th)

By James Croggon, The Evening Star, date unknown

There were eight building squares laid out between L, P, 9th and 11th streets northwest which totaled over a hundred original lots, and in half a century the number of men, women and children did not exceed that number.

And, indeed, so little demand was there for building sites that the subdivision into smaller lots seemed out of place. Most of it, the northern portion especially, laid in the open till about 1840, brickmaking being carried on, as well as some gardening. Prior to that time the only sign of improvement was two small frames on the south side of N street between 9th and 10th streets, listed at $200, and in the streets were the tracks made by the brick carts and other vehicles.

It is no, therefore, strange that the valuation of half cent per foot the corporation placed on the ground in 1802 still prevailed in the thirties, though some lots were rated at 1-1/2 and 2 cents per foot. All the eight squares are now covered by comfortable brick residences, etc. A few occupants, however, can recall the shooting of small game and blackberrying on the sites of their homes.

Blodget, Lynch and Sands and John Davidson's heirs were the original owners and some of the ground in the division by the government in 1796 fell to them. In square 369, between 9th and 10th, L and M streets, of twenty lots, the United States took title, but before it had been included in the Greenleaf purchase. The first value was half a cent per foot, then a sixth for twenty years, in 1830 reaching a half cent. In 1843 J.M. Gillis bought lot 1 at the corner of 9th and L streets and lot 3 on L street, for $800. James Caden, lot 2, adjoining, and lots 4 to 20, the remainder of the square. J.M. Ramsey bought lot 20 on 9th street, which, with 19 adjoining, went to John Ferguson. Mr. Caden then made a subdivision of twenty-two sublots. In 1844 Zephaniah Jones bought of Mr. Gillis lot 1, with improvements, for $1,000 and Samuel Butt, a carpenter, lot 2, which he improved.

William P. Howell, in 1845, bought part lot 1, the corner, and was here many years as a grocer and bacon dealer. R.J. Jones hart of this lot, H.B. Sweeney lot 19. In 1846 James W. Garner of the Treasury bought lot 20 on 9th street. Maj. Heiss bought lot 3 and George Gillis resided on the same lot.

J.B. Hillery bought a lot on the corner of 10th and L streets and in 1847 sold the same to John Murphy, who established the grocery which by his son is carried on today.

There resided, about 1845, on this square Zephaniah Jones, long a master bricklayer; James Berry, a carpenter; James W. Garner and George W. Fales of the Treasury, on 9th street, and T.S. Bryant on the east side of 10th, in addition to the above named.

West of the above, between 10th and 11th streets, square 341, was laid off for twelve lots, and Davidson's heirs took the east half and the United States the other. Thomas Snowden in 1803 bought several lots. In 1810 Davidson's heirs made a subdivision into sixteen los, facing east and west. In 1830 C.L. Caitman bought sub 3 for $93.37 and conveyed it to J.J. Fry, and W.C. Eliason bought lot 2. In the next year sub 3 went to R. Butt, sub 4 to William Caitman and parts subs 3 and 4 to W.W. Corcoran. In 1839 A.C. Kidwell had a lease in sub 12, W. Kishner in 6 and 7. In 1840 G. Vondilehr was on 10 and 11, G. Dice on 9, B. Neff on 5; the next year A. Roth was in 5, Aquilla Ricketts in 12, M.R. Coombs in 11 and Sarah Luther in 5 and 6.

These were mostly residents and well known people--Mr. Coombs, long of Chesapeake saloon; Mr. Vondilehr, a stonemason; Mr. Dice, a pressman; Mr. Roth, a saddler; F. Neff, a shoemaker; Mrs. Luther, whose son, Daniel, was a well known painter, and Mr. Kidwell, a corporation contractor.

Afterward J. Russell Barr opened a grocery on 10th street, subsequently moving to 11th and M streets. In 1845 Samson Simms, a Georgetown builder, bought at the corner of 10th and L streets and erected a row of two-story frames on L street; also a carpenter and paint shop. Later a store was opened at the corner. In the row Mr. Simms' family lived for years, as also Gen. H.K. Kalersowski, Oscar Alexander, a printer, and others.

O.P. Hare, engraver, and William J. Douglas, a master painter, resided on the 10th street front, in addition to those before noted, and Richard Bridget, coachsmith; John Shick, carpenter; J. Haupt and S. Cassidy, stonecutters.

The square between 9th, 10th, M and N streets, 368, was cut into twenty lots--Nos. 1, 6, 12 and 17 being corners. In the division Davidson's heirs took title to six lots and Lynch and Sands to the others. In 1797 Joseph Covachichi became owner of four lots, George Lewis of four, F. Atkinson, one and John Atkinson, two.

In 1800 Lawrence Sands owned lots 14 and 15 on N street, and later two small frames were here. In 1803 Thomas Snowden owned lots 8 to 12 on 10th, at N. In 1809 James Martin owned lots 13 and 19 to 21, mostly bounding 9th street. In 1811 Jere and J.H. Warder, lot 3 on M street, and 14 on N street, and 1817 Capt. Peter Lenox owned lots 1, 2, 11 and 12, and afterward made a subdivision.

In 1829 Jane Lynch and others owned lots 16 to 18, including the corner of 9th and N streets; in 1830 W.H. Harrison owned, at 10th and N streets, lot 12, which passed to George Atkinson; D. Serrin Lots 16 and 17, in the northeast part of the square, and C. Fletcher 18, adjoining. In 1831 W.W. Billing owned 8 to 12, and James A. Kennedy succeeded to lots 11 and 12.

In 1831 T.B. Sprigg owned lot 10, and in 1833 Jeremiah Crown owned 9, on 10th street, some years after erecting a frame residence. In 1834 John Kerjohn owned the adjoining lot on the south; in 1838 David Saunders lot 12.

Notwithstanding these transfers little building was done; but in the forties some impetus was given, H.G. O'Neale of the general land office buying lot 3 and Rev. French S. Evans lot 4, on M street, each erecting a commodious residence, where they lived many years.

The square west of 368 of fourteen lots fronting M, N, 10th and 11th streets, known as square 340, was assigned to the heirs of John Davidson, and by them in 1810 thirty-six sublots were made, eight fronting M street, fourteen each on 10th and 11th streets.

In 1803 Thomas Snowden bought five lots on 10th street, and two years after Joseph Bentley had a long lease in one on 11th street which he assigned to George Moore. Not until a tax title was obtained by Michael Sardo in 1830 was there a movement in the property. John McClelland bought lots including the corner of 11th and M streets in 1836; George W. Stewart five lots on 10th street, Lewis Carusi five on 11th street and C. Wagler a lot on M street in 1838.

Joseph Abbott bought four lots fronting M street, 1 to 4, and J.C. Romele one next the corner of 11th in 1840, and the next year C. Jackson had a lot on 10th street. James Norman in 1844 owned a lot on 10th street, and William Durr bought the east half of the M street front, four lots, and four years later J. Russell Barr, at the corner of 11th and M streets.

The eighteen lots of square 367 on ground in which Blodget, Lynch & Sands and Davidson's heirs were interested in 1796 were assigned to the latter though two years before the square was included in the Greenleaf contract. The Davidsons were evidently optimistic, for they recorded a subdivision in 1810 of sixty lots on 9th, 10th, N and O streets. In 1803 Thomas Snowden owned fifteen in different parts of the square, which by decree in 1828 passed to Mary Herbert.

In 1831 Joseph Bryan owned two lots on O street, which the following year went to Charles Longdon and James Baltimore. In 1834 Mr. Pearle had a lot on O street, two years after four lots on that street were owned by W.W. Billing and Ulyses Ward five lots on 9th street. In 1838 four lots on N street went to Allison Nailor and five to Louis Vivans.

S. Thomas the next year bought at the corner of 9th and O streets lot 51, and N. Callan several lots sold for taxes. In 1840 M.P. Callan owned two lots on O street, L. Vivans six on 10th street, J.C. Hall one on N street and Joseph Boston, one on 9th street.

Ten lots on 10th, 11th, N and O streets were marked in square 339, and in 1798 they were allotted, those in the east half to Mr. Blodget, and these went by tax title to William O'Neale in 1815, and ten years after to R.S. Beckley. The west half of the square, lots 2 to 6, were in the name of the Columbia College in 1833.

In 1843 William Nourse bought the east half and two years later sold lot 1, at the corner of 10th and N streets, to C.A. Hassler. Mr. Nourse in 1847 bought the remainder of the square with the exception of lot 1. Mr. Nourse, who was a treasury clerk, long resided here and utilized much of the ground as orchard and garden,, the former being as much appreciated by the boys of that section as the whole was admired by the public.

Of square 366, between O, P,, 9h and 10th, and of square 338, to the west, there is similar history well down to the civil war, the sixteen lots of the former and eight of the latter in 1796 having been vested in Mr. Blodget; in 1801 in Benjamin Stoddert et al., trustees; in 1807 in R.S. Beckley, and seventy years ago passing to Samuel Redfern, who held it for many years. Harvey Cruttenden had here a brickmaking plant some years, and the colored labor employed there lived mostly in the square south, and the name of "Nigger Hill" attached.

Mr. Redfern in 1857 made thirty lots of the eight in square 338, and placed the lots on the market. It was not until 1865 that square 366 was subdivided, and then it was planned for sixty-two lots and for what is now Columbia street.