Early Land Owners (Between P, S, 7th & 11th)
By James Croggon, The Evening Star, date unknown
Within the lines of 7th, 11th, P and S streets northwest, though now there are few lots which have not been utilized as sites for homes or business houses, there are many who know when there was not a house to be seen there. On 7th street alone there was no sign of progress seen then, and there was only the travel of country wagons to and from the Center market from northward by the Montgomery turnpike road. Seventh street was then but a continuation of that road, and for many years was unimproved, save by a simple bridge over a stream in K street. As noted in a former article, this stream came down 8th street. At about 8th and K streets a stream from the northwest joined it. There was much marshy land adjacent to the latter stream, and for years no attempt was made to improve the land, if we except the inclosing of a few squares in which some gardening was done. Indeed, this was not the case until about 1840. For a full half of a century it was covered with a wild growth known as the slashes, and for a number of years "Horse Heaven" was the correct name given it because of the many dead and dying horses that were carted there.
Later in the fifties the northeastern portion became "Goose Level," and in the sixties "Hell's Bottom" described the northwest part. These terms have long since been relegated, as have "King's garden," "Abbott's hay field," etc. This section is now well built up, and churches for both while and colored, school buildings and residences, many imposing ones, occupy the squares, and most of the improvement is of permanent character. The branch of "Reedy branch," which united with the Tiber that coursed through it, exists now in hidden sewer only, and all trace of marsh has disappeared.
Early Property Owners
Between R, S, 10th and 11th streets was square 335, platted for twelve lots, which were vested in the United States in 1796 and for half a century there was no change. In 1843 John Barnes acquired title from the commissioner of public buildings, and worked much of the ground as a market garden. He paid but $274.72 for it.
Square 336, comprising twelve lots fronting on Q, R, 10th and 11th streets, was vested in Mr. Blodget, but in 1801 was held by Benjamin Stoddert et al. for the Washington Association, and six years later R.S. Beckley acquired it. Thomas Corcoran became the owner in 1843, and the same year conveyed it to Harvey Crittenden, who was engaged in the brickmaking business. The triangular lot in the lines of Rhode Island avenue, Q and 11th streets, known as square north of 337, had similar history prior to 1815. It then passed to John Orr, and in 1838 was conveyed to Cornelia V. Holmead.
Contrabands Die of Smallpox
The same history applies until 1832 to square 337, between Rhode Island avenue, 10th, 11th and P streets, embracing five lots. In that year N. Frye, jr., acquired lot 1, and Jacob Gideon, jr, the other lots, through tax title. Two years after Elizabeth Bradley owned lot 5, and in 1839 John Barnes bought one lot, and shortly after he acquired the whole square. Here, in a two-story brick house, fronting 11th street, the family lived some years, working the land as a vegetable garden.
Between 9th, 10th, P and Q streets and Rhode Island avenue seventeen lots were platted in square 365 and vested in Mr. Blodget in 1796. Mr. Greenleaf's contract with the Commissioners two years before, however, included them. The United States then had title which, through Blodget in 1801, went to Stoddert, and six years after to Beckley. W.W. Corcoran in 1832 passed title to W.S. Nichols, and in 1843 Joseph Abbott, a well known liveryman, became the owner, paying $300 therefore. Later Henry Turner, also a liveryman, bought it. For many years it was profitable for garden uses, much hay, oats, turnips, etc., being harvested. It is needless to say that for city purposes Columbia street has made two squares of it, and sublots to the number of a hundred or more as the sites of homes, etc. Hamline M.E. Church occupies the corner of 9th and P streets.
The square north of 364, comprising fifteen lots, on 9th, 10th, Q and R streets and Rhode Island avenue, was vested in the United States, and title was undisturbed until purchased in 1843 by W.W. Corcoran. Between R, S, 9th and 10th streets twenty lots were located in square 363. This had a similar history to the other Greenleaf squares, the names of Blodget, Stoddert and Bickley attaching. In 1843 Thomas Corcoran was the owner, and Peter Force in 1846, took title. Subsequently in the fifties the ground was worked as a flower and vegetable garden by John King. Now there are many dwellings on the five streets, French street having been laid off between R and S streets.
The owner of the ground, Samuel Blodget, was vested with the twelve lots of square 397, between P, Q, 8th and 9th streets, and after him came Stoddert and Bickley. There were no changes for many years, and on the title records and assessors' books it was carried as a whole. In 1842 it was bought by John H. Wheat. Before 1860, there was some slight improvement, a few frames being erected on 8th street, and later on 9th street a primary school was conducted in a frame building. North, between 8th, 9th and Q streets and Rhode Island avenue, the three lots in square 396 were vested in Mr. Blodget. Stoddert et al. had title in 1801, Charles H. Varden in 1807, and Joseph S. Clarke in 1861, but it was not until 1849 that there were single lots sold. G. Whitaker then bought two lots. Between Rhode Island avenue and R street there was a square north of 396, embracing five lots, assigned to Blodget in 1796. Stoddert and Bickley were the only names associated with it for half a century, W.W. Corcoran becoming the owner in 1852.
Wesley Church Mission
The twelve lots fronting P, Q, 7th and 8th streets, forming square 421, were vested in he United States in 1796 and in 1838 were sold to William Jones, and he was the owner until 1866, when he sold to Thomas Young and Samuel Fowler for $2,000. Square 400 in the lines of Rhode Island avenue, Q, 7th and 8th streets, representing five lots, was held in the early years by the government. In 1842 William Brent bought it for $128.99.
Square north 420, represented by one lot in the lines of Rhode Island avenue and R street, was owned by the government, but in 1843 it passed to W.P. Elliott.
The twelve lots in square 419, between R, S, 7th and 8th streets, were vested in the Unied States for over forty years, Henry Naylor and Andrew Rothwell buying them in 1842.