Early Landowners (Between 7th & 11th, North of S)

By James Croggon, The Evening Star, date unknown

That part of the city lying north of S street, between 7th and 11th streets, when the land was being laid out for the Capital city, was included in the tracts of Robert Peter and Samuel Blodget. Though skirted by 7th street, which was virtually part of the road to Montgomery County, and traversed by the old road from Georgetown to Bladensburg, it showed no sign of improvement until the forties, and then very slowly. North of the head of 11th street a small stream flowed in a southwesterly direction to Keedy branch, which came in at 8th street, and along th ebanks was some swamp land. Early in the last century some land was in cultivation, but much of it was covered with a dense scrub growth, and it was regarded as a part of the "slashes." Though unappreciated from a real estate standpoint, it was a favorite hunting ground for sportsmen, small game being found in abundance. It was also a paradise for boys who sought adventure in the labyrinthian growth.

This section was cut by 8th, 9th, 10th, T, U, V and W streets and Vermont avenue into twenty squares, Nos. 302 to 306, 330 to 334, 357 to 362, 393, 394, 416 and 417, and about 175 bhuilding lots plated. It was long before individual lots were disposed of and for that matter even the lines of the squares were not recognized, for when the ground was suitable for working in crops the owner, if he fenced in the street, was not molested. When in 1802 the lots were listed by the corporation for taxation half a cent a foot was the figure set, but shortly after a sixth or eighth of a cent was the rate for most of it. On 7th street the original rate was 3 cents, but this was reduced to one-eighth of a cent. By 1830 one-fourth of a cent was the uniform figure, and at that time the only improvement was a tenant house in square 357, between W, 10th and Boundary streets, listed to Thomas Peters for $1.50.

In the square between S, T, 7th and 8th streets, No. 417, twelve lots were platted and in 1796 assigned to Mr. Blodget. In 1801 these went to Benjamin Stoddert et al., six years after to R.S. Beckley. Forty years after Henry Johnson became the owner. The square north, between 7th, 8th, T and Boundary streets, of five lots, in 1798 was divided, the United States taking two lots and Mr. Blodget the others. The latter were conveyed to Stoddert et al. in 1801 and to Mr. Beckley in 1807. The United States lots were bought by H. Johnson in 1842, and he bought the remainder of the square five years later.

Square 393, between 8th, 9th, T and Boundary streets, of ten lots, in 1798 was apportioned, Mr. Blodget getting title to four, Robert Peter and the United States each to seven. Those of Blodget went to Stoddert et al., and afterward to Beckley. In 1830 N. Frye took title to the Peter lots. Thomas Corcoran in 1843 bought the Blodget lots and two years later R.A. Waters, Manning and W.O. Force each owned a lot. On the east side of the square was a stream from which some sand was taken for corporation work, but the water encroaching on both front and rear lot, it is related, the lot owner ditched and diverted the stream and embarked in the sand business.

Square 394, ,between S, T, 8th and 9th streets, has but litle old histroy; its twelve lots having been vested in the United States in 1798 and title being unchanged until its purchase in 1843 by G.W. Utermehle, who later improved the 9th street front with a row of dwellings.

Between 9th, 10th, S and T streets, square 362, of twenty lots, was assigned in 1796 to the government and title was retained till Peter Force bought in 1843. No. 361, between T, U and 9th streets and Vermont avenue, of fourteen lots, in 1798 was divided, six lots going to Robert Peter, four to S. Blodget and four to the United States. In 1801 Stoddert et al. were interested; in 1807 Ezra Varden owned the east front, four lots, which in 1827 went to William Deming. Thomas Peter in 1812 took those assigned to his father, which he conveyed to Col. Bomford. In 1836 Thomas Crown had lots on 9th street, and four years after the lot at T and 9th streets.

Between U street, Vermont avenue and the Boundary, square 360, the four lots were vested in the United States in 1796 and title was unchanged until 1845, when bought by Thomas Corcoran. No. 359, between Vermont avenue, U, V and 10th streets, of five lots, has the same history. No. 358, between U, V, 10th and Boundary streets and Vermont avenue, came in possession of the Farmers an dMechanics' Bank in 1833, after having passed from Robert to David Peter. Between V, 10th and Boundary streets, square 357, of one lot, had the same history, till 1835, when it was bought by Charles Gordon.

Between 10th and S streets and Vermont avenue, square 334, of two lots, was apportioned to S. Blodget in 1796. In 1807 it was bought by James Matthews and in 1822 by W.J. McCormick. The triangle called square ... of 334, one lot in 1799 was vested in the United States and in 1844 Col. Peter Force had title. Between Vermont avenue, 10th, 11th, T and U streets the twelve lots of square 333 in 1796 were vested in the government and in 1844 was bought by John W. Maury. No. 332, between U, V, 10th and 11th streets, eight lots, was owned by the United States unti 1845, when Daniel Gold bought them. W.H. Gannill, John Purdy and W. Foster each bought a lot and James Frye two lots. No. 331, north of the above of eight los, vested in Robert Peter, in 1796 went in possession of the Farmers and Mechanics' Bank. Between 10th, 11th, W and Boundary streets, square 330, of one lot, remained in the name of Peter until 1844, when the Farmers and Mechanics' Bank took title.

On the latter square the Johnson family, of which James Johnson, ex-lieutenant of police, survives, was the earliest settler and the only settler for some years, but in the fifties there were additions, Henry Woods among them.