Town of Hamburgh
Settlement Laid Out in 1771 by Jacob Funk
Now Part of Capital
Five Pointed Square, South of 104 Marks Its Center
Curious Deed on Record
"Half Penny for Use of Lord Baltimore"
Receipted for and Mentioned in Document

By James Croggon, The Evening Star, February 13, 1910 [pt. 7, p. 12]

The five-pointed square now known as square south of 104, bounded by lines of New York and Virginia avenues and 20th, 21st and E streets northwest, was once near the center of Hamburgh, the settlement laid out by Jacob Funk in 1771.

Funk disposed of a number of lots shortly after laying out his town. There is a deed on record in which it is recited that on the 26th of October, 1771, Jacob Funk of Prince George county deeded to Jacob striker lot 219, eighty feet front on Walnut street, and running back 230 feet to locust street, for a consideration of “Five pounds of the money of Great Britain,” subject to a yearly quit rent of one-half penny sterling.

Appended thereto is a receipt of the half-penny for the use of Lord Baltimore. This is mentioned in the deed of 1771, recorded in 1811.

Woodland Was Extensive
Prior to its becoming city property, in the locality were vineyards, flower and kitchen gardens where the land was denuded of its primeval growth. There was much woodland at the time of the transfer from town to municipal conditions.

In the early years of the town, in the nineteenth century, the few settlers in that neighborhood had their supply of fuel near at hand. In the avenues, and adjacent, there was an abundant supply of clay, which was made into brick and burnt on the spot.

The residence of William McCreery, representative from Maryland; Charles W. Goldsborough of the Navy Department, Joseph Forest and others, situated north, were built of this material. At the same time the natural grade was lowered toward what became the standard grade thereafter.

Transfer to District of Columbia
In the transfer of the Hamburgh property to city property, under the commissioners appointed to lay out the city, the rights of the original owners were respected and their names connected with the numbered city lots in the square. There were eight lots in this square, No. 1 forming the south half, and the other seven, fronting on E street, were each 140 feet deep.

In the division of 1790, lot No. 2, at the corner of 21st and E streets, was assigned to James W. Chiswell, No. 3 to Elias Youman, No. 4 to Joseph Meddart and S. Liday, and Nos. 5, 6 and 7, running to the corner of 20th and E streets, to Christian Lower and Michael Hofman for Hamburgh lot; the United States taking title to No. 1, which about twenty years later was subdivided into fourteen lots.

In November 1792, however, Uriah Forest and Benjamin Stoddert bought of the heirs of Christian Lower the five lots of Hamburgh, which included this property, for 100 gold guineas of Great Britain. These lots ran through from Persimmon to Walnut street of Hamburgh. In september 1794, James Greenleaf bought of Forest and Stoddert 1,902,995 square feet of ground in part of Widow's Mite, which included this locality.

In 1796 Morris and Nicholson succeeded to part of the square remaining unsold. Capt. W.M. Duncanson, Deakens and Forest subsequently took title to these lots. In 1802 Alexander Kerr had lot 7, near the corner of 20th street. The lots conveyed in 1796 went to John Templeman. In 1802 and in 1803 Walter S. Chandler succeeded, paying $3,210.40 for the lots.

No Improvements in 1803
At this time the assessment in the corporation books was 3 cents per foot and no improvements were listed. In 1804 Capt. Elias B. Caldwell owned lot 1, which subsequently went to Greenleaf; in 1811 George Striker owned lot 11, which he sold to John striker.

In 1817 James M. Varnum owned lot 2, afterward selling it to E. Hildreth. Col. John Tayloe bought lot 1, of over 50,000 square feet, for $1,522.05 – 3 cents per foot.. In 1818 John Lacy leased of Varnum lot 2 at the corner of 21st street, 9,200 feet for twenty years, at $50 per year.

In March 1819, Col. Tayloe subdivided lot 1 into fourteen sublots, and by a deed of gift conveyed the eight sublots to his children. In 1819 John A. Wilson leased sublot 1 in Tayloe's subdivision at $1 per year, with the right to purchase at 25 cents a foot. In 1827 Dr. Henry Huntt had lot 5 and Thomas Marshall lot 6; in 1833 S. Hunt and J. Patterson had lot 8. In 1843 Mrs. Varnum leased the Lacy lot to S. Burche at $35 a year and a payment of $250.

Improvements in 1830
In 1830 there was on sublot 1 a $400 building listed to J.L. Thompson at $400 and two small buildings to Tayloe's heirs, valued at $125; and on lot 2, at the corner of 21st and E streets, a brick house listed to J.A. Wilson at $1,200. This house was forty years ago in the occupancy of a colored family named Holley.

There was but little activity in real estate here till later years, the larger portion being unused except that during the civil war some temporary buildings were used by the military, and to this day more than one-half is devoid of improvement.