Early River Front
Star Veteran Tells of the First Local Boats
Where They Were Docked
Property Originally Owned by Mr. Young
The First Marine Railway
How The Young People Before the War
Used to "Go Down the River."

By James Croggon, The Evening Star, September 20, 1908 [pt. 4, p. 1]

That portion of Southwest Washington between 9th and 12th streets south of F street and skirting the river has in its transformation from the original conditions undergone many changes. Though a passably well settled neighborhood, with improved streets, etc., there are to be found there some of the primeval conditions to remind one of the high banks which were once along the river's edge.

In colonial times it was the seat of Notley Young, who owned much of the land marked out for building squares, as well as many acres in the northern and southern portions of the District. For years from the appearance of steamboats was it the landing place, and there was some West India trade and much coast and river trade, the latter permanently established.

The most prominent object in the neighborhood was the mansion house of Mr. Young, which, built in 1754, on the platting of the city, fell in the lines of G street between 9th and 10th streets and was sured to remain till about 1807 when it was demolished by the corporation, as it stood in the way of improvements. It was a fine specimen of the mansions of the landed gentry of the province, an oblong structure of brick, two lofty stories with wide halls, and fronted the river southwest, affording a view of many miles in any direction. There were many buildings connected with the farm, and within these lines were four log houses for the white hands between the mansion and the river, near the west line of 9th street, and south was a garden and graveyard. On the west side of 11th street between F and G streets was also a smaller graveyard.

The Old-Time Society
For fifty years Mr. Young lived here, and, being connected with the Carrolls, Fenwicks, Digges and other prominent families with a wide acquaintance with the leading men of the day, the immediate family were seldom alone. Of a hospitable disposition, as his family grew up, there were old-time social functions; and at his board Washington, Smallwood, Howard and others of military renown sat. Being devout Catholics, the clergy when churches were few, were heartily welcomed here; and in one of the rooms titled as a chapel services were frequently held, the many hands and their families, white and colored, attending. Among these priests were Fathers John Carroll, the first bishop in the United States; Neale, Plunkett, the Fenwicks and Caffray, the first priest of St. Patrick's. Robert Brent, the first mayor of Washington, 1802 to 1812, Mr. Young's son-in-law, made his home here till about 1809, when he erected a home of his own on 12th street.

The original lay of the land from the high river bank was very nearly level, and it was nearly cleared and in cultivation when it passed to the government for city purposes. And, indeed, much of it, including the streets, was worked in corn, rye and potatoes till near the middle of the century, so tardy were the city builders. And there can yet be found men who made crops where now are well paved and lighted streets. It is true that before 1820 the foot of 11th street and become a landing for steamers and other vessels, and that street had been cut through the bank, but it was merely a dirt road. This, with the fact that some of the Georgetown and Eastern branch trade by sailing vessels was being shared with this point, was an incentive to settlement along that street, but it came slowly, and, indeed, vacant building sites may yet be found.

The water front for half a century was not very well defined, for over a part of Water street the tide rose and fell. About 1818 the Bradleys came on the scene, William A. Bradley of the Bank of Washington, afterward mayor of the city, being interested in the Southern Mail line service, in which the steamer Washington was engaged, built a wharf opposite square 356, between 10th and 11th streets, in which he had interests. This was long used by the Southern Mail line, which from giving a triweekly service finally before the war ran day and night boats. In front of the square between 11th and 12th streets in 1830 F.N. Kennedy owned a wharf, and six years later James. E. Thubert also built a wharf west. Thomas R. Riley succeeded to the Kennedy wharf in 1840, and it remains Riley's wharf to the present.

At these wharves the Chesapeake from 1836, the Osceola, Columbia, Paul Jones, Hoosatonie, Joe Johnson, Phenix, Augusta, Powhatan, Mount Vernon and others docked, making trips to Norfolk, Baltimore and to river points, the ferry boats to Alexandria three or four times a day.

First Modern Steamboat
The first named made her initial trip on the mail line in 1826, and the Osceola, Columbia, Paul Jones and Hoosatonie were here before 1840. The Jones and Hoosatonie were owned by Capt. Peter Jones of Alexandria, who had before run a boat from Alexandria to the Long bridge, and he had the misfortune to lose both by fire.

The old Columbia is pleasantly remembered by the older Washingtonians. She was a fine excursion craft, whose broad decks afforded facilities for the dance. Having an off day Tuesdays in her schedule, as regularly as clockwork did she then make trips to Indian Head and return. An old lady who has enjoyed a hundred such trips recently said:

"These were about the only outings on the water for us in the forties.

"Such resorts as Marshall Hall, River View, etc., for a single day's outing were unknown, and save by an occasional picnic to Pye's Landing or to Fort Washington, when only a caretaker was there, the young people had to rely on the Tuesday afternoon excursions of the Columbia. Oh, how we did enjoy them, and how sociable were they! They were given by military, fire companies, associations and clubs, and the invitations to the ladies contained a note asking a reply that the stage or bus might call.

"Wasn't it fun for the girls to be packed in a bus and driven to the wharf to meet our escorts, who came afoot, and how we enjoyed the dances! I have participated in various excursions, picnics and other entertainments, but the Columbia's excursions, especially the moonlight ones, shine brightest in my memory."

Builds a Marine Railway
In 1839 William Lambell took lot 1, square 391, corner of 9th and Water streets, and established a marine railway. The well known Kelly Lambell carried on the business here for fifteen years or more, and at times there was much boat building and repair work done. The latter sold out to Thomas Allen, who continued the business, he going to brick making.

Facing the wharves in the thirties were a few taverns or hotels. At the northwest corner of 11th and Water streets a frame cottage was the tavern of John Foy, and afterward was occupied by E.F. Valentine, William Thomas and others. It was known a long time as the "Pigeon Hole," and until a late day was popular with water-men. At the northeast corner of 11th and Water streets in the middle of the thirties a three-storied brick building was erected for hotel purposes and is today a substantial building. It was leased from J.E. Foulkes about 1816 by John R. and H. Washington Queen, and for eight years it was Queen's Steamboat Hotel. Then, as above stated, Capt. Peter Jones, having suffered reverses by the burning of his steamers, entered the hotel business here. The warehouse on Water street, near the corner of 10th street, having been burned Capt. Jones took a long lease of the site, as well as Bradley's wharves, and built on the walls a three-storied hotel building, where for sixteen years he conducted the Steamboat or Jones' Hotel. Capt. Jones had also the contract with the mail steamers for wood, and nearby was his wood yard. In the yellow hotel on the ground floor was for years a ship chandlery, Richard Wimsatt being located here some time.

Advance of Values
The former stand of Capt. Jones was occupied afterward by Capts. Corson and Guyther, George Howard and others. The advance in the ground values from 6 cents to 12 cents per foot indicates an optimistic feeling in the thirties. There were then some improvements listed, Benjamin Young taxed on $5,400 for the mansion house and $700 at the corner of 10th and G streets. No other improvements then appear, though in 1831 there are noted on 11th street James Cull, the afterward well known police magistrate of East Washington; George Mattingly, for many years agent of the mail line steamers; D. Beard and George White, and on F street Robert Allen, shoemaker.

Originally Notley Young's land in square 329, between 11th. F and Water streets, was cut into four lots, three going to Mr. Young in 1797, and his name attaches till 1817, when E.S. Brooke acquired lot 2. In 1828 John E. Smith had three lots, and next year G.C. Grammer had two. F.X. Kennedy, owned in lot 1 in 1830, and the next year W. Lambell and J.E. Foulkes owned in it. John W. Maury had the three other lots which in 1839 were owned by James E. Thumlert, who owned the wharf, and in 1840 Thomas R. Riley owned at the corner of 11th and Water streets. Mr. Thumlert erected on Water street the building now Neitzey's restaurant.

Early Building Lots
The square east between 10th, 11th, F and G streets, No. 355, was vested in Mr. Young, and the four lots were plotted for sixteen prior to 1817, and Mr. Brooke bought lots 13 to 16, on 10th and F streets. In 1827 William A. Bradley bought the southwest quarter, 11th and G streets, and in 1830 E. Lindsley the northwest quarter, 11th and F streets. In this John Morgan and James Cull, above noted, bought the same year, and William Doughty the following year. In 1833 S.J. Todd and J. Peabody bought in the northeast portion. J.E. Foulkes in 1836 bought in the southwest quarter lots 6 to 8, and lot 2, and N.B. Kean parts 9 to 12. In 1837 W.J. Rawlings and Charles Longdon were in part of the same, as also Capt. James Mitchell, and in 1842 John R. Queen owned the southwest corner. Later the corner was owned by Mrs. Patsey Walker and Thomas W. Riley, the latter acquiring other property and living near F street. James Greenwell was here in the forties and B.F. Reiley on G street.

A small triangle formed by G, 10th and Water streets, marked as square 356, of one lot was assigned to Mr. Young in 1797, and in 1802 was in the name of Nicholas Young, from whom it was bought by William A. Bradley in 1820. Its valuation was similar to that above given. This was once occupied by Radcliffe & Waller, grocers, afterward by A. Clark, and finally Capt. Peter Jones' hotel occupied the site. A fruit stand was also here in the forties, known as Capt. Bill Tyler's.

Nothing But Taxes
Mr. Young was assigned square 339, between F G, 9th and 10th streets, in 1796. It was undivided then, but later forty lots were laid out, which until 1821 remained intact in the Young estate, unprofitable save in producing taxes on a ground value of 1 to 4 cents per foot. In that year J. Forrest's heirs had four lots on G street, which the next year were in the name of John Talbott. E. Brook had nine lots at the east end, fronting both F and G streets, in 1826. In 1823 Todd and Peabody had lot 38 and in 1835 William Douglass lots 37, 39 and 40, on F street. In 1836 Mr. Soper had lot 4, Maria Thomas' heirs 13 and 16, William Douglass 1 to 4, all on G street, and Mr. Peabody, 36, 37, 39 and 40 on H street. In 1838 C. Dulany had lot 38, on F street, and George Mattingly 1, 2 and 3, at 9th and G streets.

The mansion house was occupied by some of the Young family till the thirties. In that decade the rooms were sublet to families. In one of the rooms was a tenant occupied in the manufacture of United States mail lots and for a long time a Mrs. Goddard was an occupant.

The square between 9th, 10th, G and H streets, numbered 399, had a small frontage on Water street. It was assigned to Mr. Young and was more profitable to the corporation than others for, chargeable with taxes on ground value at 1 cent in the early days to 4 cents in the thirties, the house on G street was early listed at $5,000 value, and after at $3,000. Of one lot originally before 1820, it was cut into thirty-four, with frontage north and south, but not till 1821 was any sold. The heirs of J. Forrest then had lot 22 and the next year J. Talbott lot 20 on G street. In 1832 W.A. Bradley owned 15 and 16, on H street in 1839 Thomas Carberry 20 and in 1811 Richard Wimsatt 18, on G street. Some parts of this square have been undisturbed and the Thomas residence at 10th and G streets indicates the original grade.

No. 391, between H, 9th and Water streets, until 1838 was undeveloped ground upon which the Youngs were assessed at 4 cents per foot. W.A. Bradley and W.A. Foulke then owned lot 2 and William Lambell lot 1, heretofore described as having become the marine railway, which in war times as known as Thomas Allen's shipyard.

Other residents than those named included William Hicks, Hackman; Mrs. Jacobs, Robert Walters, steamboat pilot, on F street.