By James Croggon, The Evening Star, March 18, 1911 [pt. 2, p. 2]

"So you want to know something about the Washington of my childhood?" said an eighty-year-old lady resident to the writer.

"Well, it was a most pleasant place to live in, in spite of the absence of the conveniences which we enjoy in these days. There were no skyscrapers or palatial dwellings, no asphalt streets with stone trimmings, and the homes of the people were mostly two-story brick or frame, the latter predominating. Three-story structures were scarce, and he who lived in one was regarded as prosperous, and the few who could boast of a four-story were then considered in the same light as the millionaire of today. No impassable barrier between the middle class and the more fortunate ones existed and character was placed above mere financial or business ability.

"My infancy and youth," continued she, "was spent near The Star office. I well remember the Nailors, who owned what is now the site of the municipal building. Allison had a coach factory, blacksmith shop and livery stable on that place. Thompson, who was a coachmaker, resided on the south side of D street opposite that site, and Dickenson kept a grocery at the west end of Nailor's row of small two-story bricks extending east on D street from the corner of 13-1/2 street. Mrs. Rabbit, Richard Downer, a well known carpenter, John Glover and Miss Hess were nearby. Miss Hess was a fortune teller, and in those days she had a large custom.

Early 11th Street Home
"It is my 11th street home to which I moved in the early thirties I particularly remember. On the east side of 11th street between E and F streets was Henry Smith’s row of fine houses extending from the corner of F street. Mr. Smith lived here and was a leading carpenter and builder, as also Samuel Kirby, who became a leading cabinetmaker and undertaker, and built up a large business on 8th street near the avenue. The Proctors and McGongiles were there and southward Mrs. Glover and Mrs. Lydock, who kept a boarding house. Her daughter married Capt. James H. Blake of the infantry, who was a leading bookbinder. On the northeast corner of 11th and E streets, in a frame house, "Hut" Stewart lived, and he and his wife kept what was probably the earliest second-hand furniture store.

On the west side of the street at F was the dwelling and grocery of Jacob Dixon, who was well known in the District as a trainer of race horses, having charge of those of Dr. Thornton, and he also kept a stable south of his house on the site where he later built houses for his two daughters. Joseph Peck lived about midway of the square and south of him lived the Laporte family. There was then a gulley running down the street, where a stream had run. It would not do to give the names of eloping parties from this section, as I knew several girls to walk off to a minister's.

On the site of the present Star building, at Pennsylvania avenue and 11th street, was a two-story frame occupied by Charles gautier, a noted French confectioner and chef. North was the cabinetmaking shop of William McL. Cripps and at the E street corner Andrew Noerr had his bakery and residence. At the northeast corner of 11th and D streets the Madisonian office was located during the Harrison campaign in 1840, and later Robert Farnham established a bookstore there. Above Daniel Hauptman had his tinshop and dwelling. Old Mrs. Barry had a small shop known to the boys for the "cent-a-stick" taffy. Mrs. Langvoight lived north of this and had a number of goats who gave the boys much sport; sometimes more than they bargained for.

Goat Attacked Henry Clay
Mrs. Langvoight’s goats had no respect for persons, especially Billy, and often the public was treated to an encounter between him and a pedestrian, the boys delighting in tantalizing him and bringing about a rumpus. One one pleasant afternoon, several distinguished senators, walking up the Avenue, at the corner of 11th street, met Billy the goat. Henry Clay, being the tallest, was singled out and the goat was in the act of butting him when Mr. Clay grasped the situation as well as the horns and for some minutes engaged in a desperate struggle with Billy. A crowd of men and boys with ladies on the outskirts gathered, and Mr. Clay looking up called, "What must I do, boys?" The answer was, "Let go, and run like h---!" And he streaked it to Hancock's, where he joined his companions at the bar.

"I well remember," continued the old lady, "the 'fantastical parade' in 1835. The major-general of the militia was impersonated by a well-known plasterer, mounted on a scarecrow of a horse, and my brothers participated therein. I witnessed also the Indian war dance in Franklin square about the same time and well remember the campaign of '40 with its log cabins, hard cider, 'coon skins, etc. At the inauguration of Harrison, with a companion, I was in the Perseverance engine house, corner of the Avenue and 8th street, and on the market sheds in the rear there were crowds. When the procession appeared and the people were waving and cheering, I missed my handkerchief. For a time that of my girl companion's was used alternately by us. Soon my chum got so excited that she would not give me a chance to wave, and determining to wave something, I unbuttoned one of my pantelettes and used it in unison with the handkerchief. We scampered up after the procession to the White House, where the crowd was pressing to shake the hand of the President, and I succeeded in wriggling between the legs of the crowd until I almost reached him. A man who was engaged in keeping the crowd from pressing was very tall, and, watching my chance, I dodged between his knees and got hold of the President's hand.

Burning of Post Office
"I can’t recall the Treasury fire in 1833, but I remember well the burning of the post office on E street in 1836. I had attended school for a short time in the Washington engine house, just north of the building, Miss Mary Wannell being the teacher. The room was over the apparatus and had been used by the Washington Guards, whose muskets were still there. We learned the primer, Comly's speller and definer, used Murray's English reader and geography, Pike's arithmetic, with slates and copy books. There were no printed copies for writing and the teacher set the copies, the elementary ones being straight lines, o's and pothooks. Quill pens were used, as also pencils made of a pointed piece of lead, and the original slate pencils were of that material, followed by soapstone. I remember the first steel pen I ever had. Mr. Lambert Tree of the post office gave me one, and when I used it at school it caused such commotion as to almost stop studies.

"We had our pleasures in those days, among them the parties of school children. It is difficult to believe now that we held picnics is what is now Franklin Square, then the 'public lot,' and in other places not half a mile from F street. I saw the laying of the corner stone and the opening of St. Matthew's Church, at 15th and H streets, in 1839, I believe, and I also heard the celebrated Lorenzo Dow, though I was a small child at the time. He was conducting revival services at what was known as the Radical church. This was a frame building erected by the Methodist protestant congregation on the west side of 12th street, south of H street, Sluice run being on the side of it. The proper name of this church was the Tabernacle, and the congregation moved to 9th street near the patent office and is now the Rhode island Avenue congregation. There were but four Methodist churches in the District, and the Foundry, then on the site of the Colorado building at 14th and G streets, was the one I attended in my younger days.

A Foundry Church Episode
There was an episode in the Foundry congregation many years ago, not a very agreeable one. The Sunday school and friends met on a Fourth of July morning to go to the woods to celebrate. A storm of a few hours kept them indoors and caused a change of program. When the storm was over preparations were made to celebrate under the sycamore trees on the side of the church, and benches and tables were arranged. About noon a small boy ventured home carrying a hymn book he had found near the gate. The owner discovered his loss and learned of the boy's action. On the boy returning, the owner said to him, 'Go back home and get the book you stole.' The boy returned and when his mother had learned what the brother had said, she sent word that it would not be returned until a proper apology had been made. This the owner agreed to do, but the widowed mother insisted that the apology should be made before as big a crowd as was present when he made the remark. There was no love lost between them for some time, but finally the suitable occasion arrived, the holding of the Sunday school missionary meeting. During the program the mother sent word to the indiscreet brother that now was the time to settle the little matter, and shortly after, in a little speech, he acknowledged his error and tendered an apology. This was promptly accepted, and amid the applause the little fellow ran from his mother to the platform and restored the book.

Cost of Living Lower
"I might as well tell you that though mechanics’ wages were less than now, the cost of living was much less than now, except possibly potatoes. Then butter was 13-1/2 and 15 cents a pound, eggs from 6 to 8 cents a dozen; chickens, two and three for a quarter; turkeys, 50 cents to $1.00; strawberries, capped, 3 and 4 cents a quart; beef, 8 to 15 cents; bacon and lard, 6 and 8 cents. I don't quote blackberries, because the girls and boys supplied families without going out of the city.

"Military and other companies for parades, balls, etc., secured the services of Williams & Warren's band of colored musicians, for there were no other bans outside of the Marine Band. The pleasure of the balls are yet remembered by some of us old women. Then it was customary not to make any lavish display in dressing, all the ladies appearing in white tarlton or book lawn, and it was universal for unmarried women to appear in white in the summer season with a crimson shawl. I well remember that ball of the Walker Sharpshooters at odd Fellows' Hall in 1840, and it was a great affair. And, by the way, do you remember the camps at the city hall and back of the patent office when the First Baltimore Sharpshooters, Maryland Cadets and other companies took part in the laying of the corner stone of the Washington Monument July 4, 1848?"