J Edgar Hoover, local guy




John Edgar Hoover was a DC resident from start to finish. He was born on New Year's Day in 1895 in Washington, the youngest of the three surviving children born to Dickerson Naylor Hoover and Annie Marie Scheitlin Hoover. (Annie Hoover’s uncle had been the Swiss honorary consul general to the U.S.) Dickerson Naylor Hoover  worked for the government and Hoover’s older older brother worked for the U.S. Steamboat Inspection Service.
The Hoovers lived in a two-story stucco house at 413 Seward Square, then a middle class neighborhood made up mostly of  federalmiddle managers.  Hoover would live there for  forty-three years, moving out only when his mother had died. Hoover's two cousins grew up in the house next door. Cousin  Harold Hitz Burton, would later became the Republican mayor of Cleveland who hired Eliot Ness and eventually a Supreme Court justice.
At age 12, Edgar, dubbed “Speed” carried groceries for extra money" In those daysZ” he once said  “markets did not hire delivery boys, but I discovered that if one stood outside a store, a customer laden with purchases would happily accept a helping hand and gratefully tip anyone who aided with a heavy load. I realized that the quicker I could complete each chore, the more money I could earn, so I spent most of my time running."
Hoover was a dog lover, all seven of which had little graves in the Aspen Hill Pet Cemetery. Spee Dee's headstone said," In Memory of Spee Dee Bozo. Born July 3, 1922. Died May 24, 1934. Our best friend."
 He turned down a scholarship to the prestigious University of Virginia and enrolled in a work-study program for government employees at George Washington University in D.C. and worked part time at the Library of Congress for four years and a half years there (1913 to 1917), at a top pay of  $70 a month. Hoover's first job in the Justice Department was a $900 a year clerk position in the files division. In less than a year, he was promoted to "attorney" with a salary of $1800 a year.
 He is buried with his family at the Congressional Cemetery.

The Congressional Cemetery

The Congressional Cemetery is open to the public. It is located at 1801 E Street, SE, in Washington, D.C., on the west bank of the Anacostia River. It is the final resting place of thousands of people who helped form the city of Washington in the early 19th century. Many members of the U.S. Congress who died while Congress was in session are interred at Congressional. Other burials include the early landowners and speculators, the builders and architects of the great buildings of Washington, native American diplomats, mayors of Washington, and hundreds of Civil War veterans. Nineteenth-century Washington, D.C. families unaffiliated with the federal government have also had graves and tombs at the cemetery. In all there is one Vice-President, one Supreme Court Justice, six Cabinet Members, 19 Senators and 71 Representatives - including a former Speaker of the House, buried there; as well as veterans of every American war. The cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 23, 1969.










 
Notable interments
Robert Adam Mosbacher, U.S. Secretary of Commerce from 1989 to 1992
Joseph Anderson, U.S. Senator Tennessee, Comptroller of the U.S. Treasury
Alexander Dallas Bache, Superintendent of the Coast Survey, Charter member National Academy of Sciences
William Lee Ball, U.S. Congressman Virginia, War of 1812 soldier
Philip Pendleton Barbour, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
Henry Washington Benham, Union army general
James G. Berret, Mayor of Washington - forced to resign with outbreak of Civil War
James Blair, U.S. Congressman South Carolina
Theodorick Bland, U.S. Congressman Virginia, first to die in office
Thomas Blount, U.S. Congressman North Carolina, Revolutionary War prison of war
John Edward Bouligny, U.S. Congressman Louisiana, only member of the Louisiana Congressional delegation to retain his seat after the state seceded (grave unmarked)
Lemuel Jackson Bowden, U.S. Senator Virginia during Civil War
Mathew Brady, photographer
Edward Bradley, U.S. Congressman Michigan
William A. Burwell, U.S. Congressman, Thomas Jefferson's private secretary
Joseph Goldsborough Bruff, architect, U.S. Army Captain, topographer
John Carrington, Fire Chief of Washington, DC, hero of Knickerbocker Fire
Levi Casey, U.S. Congressman South Carolina (Republican Party); Brigadier General, South Carolina Militia, American Continental Army
Warren R. Davis, U.S. Congressman South Carolina
John Dawson, U.S. Congressman
Owen Thomas Edgar, last surviving Mexican-American War veteran
William H. Emory, Army engineer, Western explorer, Civil War general
John Forsyth, U.S. Congressman, U.S. Senator, Governor of Georgia, U.S. Secretary of State
Henry Stephen Fox, British diplomat
Mary Fuller, silent film actress (unmarked)
John Gaillard, U.S. Senator
Elbridge Gerry, U.S. Vice President and the only signer of the Declaration of Independence buried in Washington, D.C.
James Gillespie, Revolutionary War soldier, U.S. Congressman
William Montrose Graham, Jr., Major General in the U.S. Army during the Spanish-American War
George Hadfield, architect
Archibald Henderson, the longest serving Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps
David Herold, conspirator of the Abraham Lincoln assassination
Daniel Hiester, U.S. Congressman Pennsylvania
J. Edgar Hoover, FBI Director
Robertson Howard, attorney, editor for West Publishing, and founder of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity
Andrew A. Humphreys, Army Engineer, Civil War general, prominent scientist
Samuel Humphreys, Chief Constructor of the Navy
Adelaide Johnson, sculptor, social reformer
Horatio King, U.S. Postmaster General
Belva Ann Lockwood, first woman attorney allowed to practice before the Supreme Court
Joseph Lovell, Surgeon General of the U.S. Army
Alexander Macomb, Jr., War of 1812 Hero, Commanding General of the Army
Robert Mills, architect
Joseph Nicollet, Explorer
James Noble, U.S. Senator
Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, Speaker of the House
Daniel Patterson; Commodore U.S. Navy
Thomas H. Patterson; Rear Admiral U.S. Navy
William Pinkney, Attorney General, statesman, diplomat
Alfred Pleasonton, Union army general
Push-Ma-Ha-Ta, Native American (Choctaw) Chief
Edith Nourse Rogers, reformer, U.S. Congresswoman
John Smilie, U.S. Congressman
Alexander Smyth, lawyer, soldier, U.S. Congressman
John Phillip Sousa notable composer created pieces such as Star and Stripes Forever
Samuel L. Southard, U.S. Senator, U.S. Secretary of the Navy, Governor of New Jersey
Richard Stanford, U.S. Congressman
William Taylor, U.S. Congressman
Chief Taza, Apache Chief
William Thornton, architect
Thomas Tingey, U.S. Navy officer
Clyde Tolson, associate director of the FBI
Joseph Gilbert Totten, military officer, longtime Army Chief of Engineers, regent of the Smithsonian Institution
Uriah Tracy, U.S. Congressman: subsequently U.S. Senator
William Upham, U.S. Senator
Abel P. Upshur, lawyer, U.S. Secretary of the Navy, U.S. Secretary of State
Charles H. Upton, U.S. Congressman, consul to Switzerland
William Wirt, U.S. Attorney General
Temporary Internments
John Quincy Adams, the 6th President of the United States, Interred in the Public Vault upon his death in 1848.
Louisa Catherine Adams, First Lady of the United States Interred in the Public Vault in 1852.
William Henry Harrison, the 9th President of the United States Interred in the cemetery's Public Vault in 1841
Dolley Madison, First Lady of the United States, Interred in the vault in 1849.
John Aaron Rawlins Civil War General and U.S. Secretary of War, Buried at Congressional but then remains were moved to Arlington National Cemetery.
Zachary Taylor, the 12th President of the United States, Interred in the Public Vault in 1850.







John Quincy Adams

                                             Quincy's marker at the Congressional cemetery

John Quincy Adams (July 11, 1767 – February 23, 1848) was the sixth President of the United States from 1825 to 1829. Adams was elected a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts after leaving office, the only president ever to do so, serving for the last 17 years of his life with far greater success than he had achieved in the presidency.

On February 21, 1848, the House of Representatives was discussing the matter of honoring US Army officers who served in the Mexican-American War. Adams firmly opposed this idea, so when the rest of the house erupted into 'ayes', he cried out, 'No!'
Immediately thereafter, Adams collapsed, having suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage. Two days later, on February 23, he died with his wife and son at his side in the Speaker's Room inside the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

His last words were reported to have been, "This is the last of Earth. I am content." His original interment was temporary, in the public vault at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.. Later, he was interred in the family burial ground in Quincy across from the First Parish Church, called Hancock Cemetery. After his wife's death, his son, Charles Francis Adams, had him reinterred with his wife in a family crypt in the United First Parish Church across the street.

Scene from the old DC Jail

Thomas Circle is named in honor of George Henry Thomas


Thomas Circle is named in honor of  George Henry Thomas (July 31, 1816 – March 28, 1870) a career Army officer and a Union General during the American Civil War.
Thomas was born and raised in Newsom's Depot in Southampton County, Virginia. (Five miles from the North Carolina Border)  A West Point graduate where his roommmate was William T. Sherman.  He served in primitive outpost of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in the Seminole Wars in the 1840s and later fought in the  Mexican-American War. During the American Civil War, he virtually ran the wester theater.




In response to his service with the union, his southern  family turned his picture against the wall, destroyed his letters, and never spoke to him again. During the economic hard times in the South after the war, Thomas sent some money to his sisters, who angrily refused to accept it, declaring they had no brother.
During the war,  his former student and fellow Virginian, Confederate Col. J.E.B. Stuart, wrote to his wife, "Old George H. Thomas is in command of the cavalry of the enemy. I would like to hang, hang him as a traitor to his native state."
After the war ended,  Thomas commanded the Department of the Cumberland (parts of Kentucky and Tennessee,  West Virginia and  Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama) through 1869.   He acted to protect freedmen from white abuses. He set up military commissions to enforce labor contracts since the local courts had either ceased to operate or were biased against blacks. Thomas also used troops to protect places threatened by violence from the Ku Klux Klan.






In 1869, he requested assignment to command the Division of the Pacific with headquarters at the Presidio of San Francisco. He died there of a stroke while writing an answer to an article criticizing his military career by his wartime rival John Schofield. None of his blood relatives attended his funeral.






A distinctive engraved portrait of Thomas appeared on U.S. paper money in 1890 and 1891. The bills are called "treasury notes" or "coin notes" and are widely collected today because of their fine, detailed engraving. The $5 Thomas "fancyback" note of 1890, with an estimated 450-600 in existence relative to the 7.2 million printed, ranks as number 90 in the "100 Greatest American Currency Notes" compiled by Bowers and Sundman


Blodget's Union Public Hotel


Blodget's Union Public Hotel (AKA Blodget's Lottery Hotel or Grand Hotel, the name is sometimes spelled with two T’s), was also the site of the first General Post Office of the United States. It was located on the corner of 8th and E Streets NW. The White House was originally to have had three stories like the hotel, which was the largest public building in Washington to survive the fires of the War of 1812. The proeprty was designed by James Hoban.

The Long Bridge



The 14th Street Bridge was originally called The Long Bridge (because it was longer than the other bridge in the city the bridge at Little Falls built in 1797. The Long Bridge was completed in  1809.
                                                                                          

Mason Island


Mason's Island or Analostan Island is now officially known as Theodore Roosevelt Island. Over the years the place has also been called My Lord's Island, Barbadoes Island, Colonel Mason Island, and Anacostine Island. The Nacotchtank Indians, upon leaving what is today Anacostia, temporarily relocated to the island in 1668, dubbing the place Anacostine and in 1682 it was chartered as Anacostine Island by Captain Randolph Brandt, who left the island to his daughter Margaret Hammersley, upon his death.

The island remained undeveloped and passed through three generations, from the Hammerslys until Colonel George Mason III, an aggressive real estate speculator and tough minded businessman purchased the Island in 1724. He left it to his son, George Mason who in turn left it to his son John Mason in 1792

John Mason (referred to as John Mason of Analostan Island.)was the eighth child and fifth-eldest son of George Mason IV and his wife Ann Eilbeck and the fourth generation Mason to own the island. He was tutored at his father's estate, Gunston Hall, in Fairfax County by Scotsmen Mr. Davidson and a Mr. Constable. Mason completed his formal education in mathematics in Calvert County, Maryland. He was then apprenticed to a Quaker merchant William Hartshorne of the firm of Harper & Hartshorne in Alexandria, Virginia.

In the Spring of 1788 he then entered into a partnership with merchants James and Joseph Fenwick of Maryland to form Fenwick & Mason. In June of that year,  travelled to Bordeaux, France to conduct business for the firm and remained there until 1791 and only then left due to his ill health.

The firm expanded into other lucrative ventures including bankinging, international commerce, the organization of foundries, navigation, turnpike companies,  flour and wheat trade and tobacco operations. Mason also served on the board of directors of the Bank of Columbia and became its president in 1798. 

Two years before, in 1796, Mason married Anna Maria Murray in 1796, and built and estate in Georgetown at the corner of present-day 25th and L Streets and Pennsylvania Avenue. Later that year, he began construction on his summer home on Analostan Island. John Mason built a mansion, reported to be a handsome, impressive stone house described as  
"one story, with a full basement; the main floor included a drawing and dining rooms, (and) three bed chambers . . . while the kitchens and storage rooms were located in the basement. There was a large brick terrace along the south front of the house and the small entrance portico on the north front faced Georgetown."

To fashion his famous gardens on the island, Mason hired English gardener David Hepburn. (Who published one of the first garden books in America.) Mason grew cotton and maize (corn) on the property and raised fowl and prize winning sheep.  Louis-Philippe Duc d'Orleans, later King of France, was once guest on the property as were  Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe.


 During the winter months the Masons would return to their winter house in Georgetown, leaving the island house in care of servants. In June of 1806, Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Anne Cary Randolph, describes the Mason house catching fire: "one wing was burnt down and the middle nearly so. They saved their furniture. Suspicions arising that it was done by one of his house servants who wished the family to go back to Georgetown, he was arrested and on his way to prison with the constable, he jumped out of the boat and drowned himself. I understand the family will continue through the summer in the remaining wing."

There were other extensive fires in the 1860s, and in 1906.

After suffering a series of financial setbacks, (He could not meet notes on the house to cover his debts, and the bank foreclosed on both his island and Georgetown properties) Mason was forced to give up Analostan Island, and in 1833, although the  family had already vacated the island in 1831 when a causeway stagnated the water in the Potomac River and the Masons had tired of the island muggy climate and the summer mosquitoes. Later that year, the Mason’s moved to Clermont, his newly built home in the Cameron Run valley in Fairfax County, Virginia.

The following year, the island was the site of the first balloon ascent in the District on July 30, 1834.  Nicholas J. Ash,  a painter from Baltimore who called himself an "aeronaut,"charged 50 cents for those who wanted to observe the event. The balloon took off at  6 o'clock, and drifted to the northwest and then back over Georgetown, before floating back to the island.

In 1815, Mason acquired Henry Foxall's Foxhall Cannon Foundry in Georgetown which he operated until his death in 1849. His son Maynadier Mason took over th factory and sold it five years later.

Mason purchased large tracts of land throughout the city and was appointed superintendent of the Indian Trade in 1807 and hld that position until 1816. He was also a brigadier general in the District of Columbia militia and was appointed by President Thomas Jefferson to be the first Commander of the District of Columbia militia in 1802. He also worked as
commissioner general of prisoners during the War of 1812. In 1817, he became the president of the Potomac Company. Mason died on March 19 1849 at age 82.He is buried at Christ Church Cemetery in Alexandria.

After the Mason's lost the Island, the property was advertised for sale in 1834, and again in 1836. In 1842 Colonel John Carter  bought the island and took over the Mason mansion.  Carter died in 1850 and the island was purchased by William A. Bradley, director general of the C&) Canal Company, postmaster for the City of Washington and Mayor. (He was fired as Postmaster after falling on the wrong side of Franlin Pierce in 1853)
During the 1850's, Bradley leased the property to Jacob Powers who used it for commercial gardening. Bradley later built  wharves and a dancing saloon on the property in an attempt to attract people to his island resort but the civil war ended that plan.




For a brief period during the Civil War, Union troops were stationed there, but otherwise the island has been uninhabited since the Mason family abandoned their summer home there. When the first two regiments of black volunteers were raised in the District during the civil war they were stationed on the island (known by the army as  Analostan Island)  to protect them from harassment from other (White) Union troops. Later that year, the Black troops where moved to so-called  "contraband farms" across the river in Virginia and 960 white District residents who had recently been drafted were sent to the camp on Analostan Island. Also stationed on the island, in October of 1863,  were members of the 109th New York State Volunteers who marched to the island from the B&O railroad depot.  Bradley died in 1867

Washington Gas Light Company purchased the island and owned it from 1913 to 1931 and allowed the place to become overun by vegetation and undergrowth. The Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Association purchased the 88.5-acre island from the Washington Gas Light Company in 1931, with the intention of erecting a memorial honoring Roosevelt. Up to that point, the island was widely known as Mason's Island until the Teddy Roosevelt memorial was built there.

How Woodyard Road Got Its Name

 The mother of Archbishop Carroll was born Eleanor Darnall. (Above as a child) Her father, Henry Darnall, owned estates at Woodyard, which was a  plantation on the Potomac.

The Sidney Estate



The Catholic University occupies what had once been the Sidney Estate, which was described as "three miles from the general post office..... The mansion" (now the Paulist House of Studies, "was approached by a long avenue of sycamore and locust trees and the entire way thither from the city was through a woodland of wild and romantic beauty, filled with singing birds and strewn with flowers as soon as spring had dawned."

Sidney was the home of  J. Harrison Smith, founder and first editor of the National Intelligencer.  The paper was started by Joseph Gales (1761-1841) a printer in Sheffield, England, who founded the Sheffield Register and got in trouble with the authorities for supporting the French Revolution. In 1794, he fled to the free city of Hamburg, and immigrated with his family to Philadelphia in 1795, where he worked for the American Daily Advertiser,  covering speeches in the U.S. Senate. In a few years, he founded
Independent Gazetteer and did printing work for a number of congressmen as a side business.  In 1798, members of the North Carolina delegation offered Gales the state printing contract, and he sold the paper  Samuel Harrison Smith in 1799. Gales eventually went on to establish what would become the  New Orleans Picayune.

Gales son,  Joseph Gales Jr., had been expelled from the University of North Carolina (His other son Weston Gales, was expelled from Yale) and bounced back to Philadelphia and formed a partnership with J. Harrison Smith in the National Intelligencer in DC.

Near the estate was  a deep hollow where a spring  ran “and all through the summer throngs of gallants and their ladies rode out to drink the healing waters.”   Thomas Jefferson, a firm believer in the spring’s medicinal properties,  was a regular visitor there and spent hours there talking politics with Harrison Smith “or some chance acquaintance while he quaffed great draughts and then made his Negro servant carry home a jugful.”

Slate Alley

 Slate Alley, which was where the Warner Theatre is today, was home to a few dozen small houses that belonged to tradesmen. Alley dwellers were usually the poorest of city residents who rented tiny houses built by landowners at the rear of their property. At one time, 3,000 of the dwellings existed in the city.  Those who lived in Slate Alley were considered part of the "hidden city" because neither their existence nor their houses were officially acknowledged by the District until about 1860. Census takers, and others, were not eager to visit the alleys, which had a reputation for being unsanitary places that bred disease as well as crime. Slate Alley, named for a slate yard that operated in the alley in the 1850s, has disappeared into a vast excavation hole.

28th Street

28th Street NW was once called Montgomery Street

                                                      The Old Ebbit Hotel




How Largo maryland Got Its Name


Largo is named after the massive estate of  Colonel Ninian Beall which started in what is today Upper Marlboro and ended in about Largo.  The estate was called Fifer Largo which was named after the town he grew up in,   Largo, Fife, Scotland. (Actually Largo, Fifes Shire, Scotland, in 1625.) Beall  had been an officer in the Scottish-English Army, which fought for the Stuarts' Army against Cromwell but was captured and sent into servitude in  Barbadoes for five years. He made his way to Maryland and became rich.
His other plantation was called the Rock of Dunbarton, four hundred and eight acres, which was, basically,  all of upper Georgetown where the Univeristy is today. He gave that to his son, George.


Beallsville Maryland (orignally called Monocacy Church) is named for the Beall familu.




 

Little Falls Virginia

In 1634  Englishman Henry Fleete, an adventurer from a wealthy family,  sailed up the river as far as the Little Falls, in Virginia.  He was interested in trading with the Patawomeke (Potomac) Indians who lived along the river near the area of Rosslyn.
However, the Patawomeke's enemies, the Nacotchtank raided the Patawomeke village in 1623, killed  a lot of people and took Fleete captive for fouryears 1623-1627  (Not twelve as is usually reported)  before the Virginia colony purchased his release.

The Nacotchtanks kept him as their prisoner for five years. Finally, the Virginia government paid the Nacotchtanks a ransom to release Fleet.


How Foxhall Road got its name

Henry Foxhall was the Mayor of the city of Georgetown, Maryland 1722.  He founded the Columbia Foundry in 1799 along the banks of a steam then known as Deep Creek and now known as Foundry Branch.



How Burleith got its name

The Burleith neighborhood in DC is bordered by Wisconsin Avenue to the East, Reservoir Road,  Georgetown center to the south, Whitehaven Park to the North and Glover Archbold Park to the West.
 


                                                              John Threlkeld, Henry's son 

The entire area was once an estate, called Berleith, part of a  1,000 acre track of land owned by  by Henry Threlkeld and his wife Mary who purchased the property in about 1751 when they were married. (Mary was a daughter of Dr. Gustavus Brown of Maryland, and widow of Reverend Matthew Hopkins.)  Henry Threlkeld died in 1781 and Mary died a few years later. Some have written that the house was built in 1716. 
Col. John Cox

 The manor house was probably on the site where Georgetown Visitation School is today. It was later the home to John Cox, who was Mayor of Georgetown from 1823 - 1845(It was then a city in Maryland)
It burned to the ground right after the end of the revolution and was rebuilt.  The pecan trees in the convent garden  around the property was  a gift from Thomas Jefferson to Threlkeld's son, John, when he married Elizabeth Ridgely.  John was also  Mayor of Georgetown, in 1793.  John Threlkeld gave most of the estate to his daughter Jane and her husband John Cox, who also served as mayor of Georgetown (1823 to 1845, a longer term than any other person) Cox built his own mansion on the property, called "The Cedars" on the site of what is now Duke Ellington School. Surrounding the estate was farmland and the Cox place was, essentially, the end of the city for some miles. 

Cox appears to have been a southern sympathizer because the home was confiscated by the government during the Civil War and was used by the Home for Destitute Colored Women and Children. In 1866 it was restored Cox. Less than a decade later, the Cox mansion was converted into Misses Earles' Seminary, an academy for girls.  In 1892, the Seminary, and what was left of the Cox mansion, was replaced by Western High School.



What it was then



Lingan Street is now 36th Street NW

Bridge Street is now M Street NW

High Street is now Wisconsin Avenue

Gay Street is now N Street NW as is First Steet (In Georgetown) 

Lingan Street is now 36th Street NW

Market Street is now 33rd Street NW


Apostolic delegation


The first home of the Apostolic delegation (Roman Catholic)  was on Second and I streets N.W.. The delegate was  Mgr. Francis Satolli, (later cardinal) In 1906, the moved delegation in 1906 from I street to  1811 Biltmore street. It is now the Embassy of the Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See and is located at 3339 Massachusetts Avenue NW .



and thats why they call it Addison Road

In 1713 Col. Thomas Addison and James Stoddert obtained 3,000 acres between Rock Creek and the Potomac River. They called it  "Friendship" after the friendship of their two families . It was later purchased by John R. McLean who called it Friendship Heights.  


The Addisons are a founding family of Virginia and the District.


We don't know much about Mister Stoddert and we could not find a local road named for him. But he was born in Scotland, came here in 1650 and is buried in LaPlata (as are many of his family members) and was the grandfather of Benjamin Stoddert, First Secretary of the United States Navy. he lived at Halcyon House at the corner of 3400 Prospect Street NW. He is buried in the grasveyard at  the Addison Chapel in Seat Pleasant. 


**  We stand corrected. In fact there was a Stoddert Street, named after Benjamin Stoddert, in Washington. When the streets of Washington were rename din 1895, Stoddert street was changed to Q street NW. There is an apartment building at 2900 Q street called The Stoddert 


and that's why they call it Blue Plains

In 1662 Lord Baltimore granted a track of 1,000 acres to George Thompson in an area called Blew-Playne between Oxford Creek and the Eastern Branch, which is now called the Anacostia River.

Washington 1608


In 1608, Captain John Smith (The guy from the Pocahontas story) explored the Potomac River as far as Great Falls. he would later write that the river was  "frequented by otters, beavers, martens, and sables. Neither better fish, more plenty, nor more variety for small fish had any of us ever seen in a place. . .[The fish are] lying so thicke with their heads out of the water. . . neither better fish, nor more variety. . .had any of us ever seen in any place so swimming in the water."



Washington's third mayor


James Heighe Blake (1768 - 1819) of Calvert County, Maryland was a physician, and the third mayor of Washington, D.C., elected by the council of aldermen in 1813 and serving until 1817. The City Council elected him mayor on  June 14, 1813 and relected him three times afterwards.

When the English attacked an unprotected City of Washington on August 24, 1814, as part of the War of 1812, Blake urged First Lady Dolley Madison  to flee the city before the British arrived and then sent his own family over to the safety of Virginia.

Blake rounded up men to defend the city, but by then most of the city’s residents had fled to Maryland, so his ranks were thin. Blake finally had to give up the fight and flee the city or be taken prisoner  "I would exert myself” he wrote  “to the last moment and agree to die in the streets rather than give up the city, but, if all resistance was given over, and our military abandoned it, I would then also leave it and not surrender myself a prisoner to the enemy."

Blake died on July 29, 1819 at the age of fifty two. The remains were interred in the Methodist Episcopal Burial Ground in Georgetown and then moved to the William A. Gordon lot in Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington D.C. on November 2, 1870.


DC's second mayor

Daniel Rapine (born, June 11, 1768 - died, July 28 or July 29, 1826) was a bookseller and printer from Philadelphia who moved to DC with intention of opening a bookstore. He ended up as the city’s second mayor, elected by the city council in June 1812 and serving for one year.


                                                                      DC in 1818

Raphine had served on the City Council from 1802 to 1806 and then again in 1812, when Congress restructured city ordinances to create a council of aldermen for the city, which was empowered to elected  the mayor. However, the incumbent  mayor, Robert Brent, as wanted to be mayor. There was a vote which ended in a tie, so the council held a coin toss to dtermine who the next mayor would be.......Rapine won.   

 Rapine received federal money to fund the city's defenses for the war of 1812...the defenses didn’t do much good, the British, being the British, burned the city to the ground. Rapine also held a lottery to build and fund  two schools and a public water works. He served as Postmaster of the House of Representatives in the 1820s, until his death in July 1826.

The Washington Infirmary


In 1806, the first public hospital in DC, The Washington Infirmary, was opened. It sat at 6th and 7th Streets, and M and N Streets, NW.  Its mission was to provide for "the poor, disabled, and infirm persons."  

In 1842, Congress authorized the conversion of the old jail in Judiciary Square into a hospital for disabled seamen and soldiers and the insane. Across the street from the jail-hospital at about the site where the court of appeals stands today, was a slave a market.

 Two years after the hospital was opened, it was moved to the medical faculty of Columbian College (George Washington University) and was renamed The Washington Infirmary. It was the city's first teaching hospital as well as the city's first general hospital.

It was taken over by the Army durng the Civil War. It burned to the ground in November 1861 and was later replaced by the Judiciary Square Hospital


Washingtons first mayor


                                              By John William Tuohy

Washington’s first mayor was Robert Brent (born, circa 1763–died, September 7, 1819). He was born to American-Irish Catholic royalty, in Woodstock, Stafford County, Virginia, his mother was Ann Carroll, and sister to John Carroll was the first Catholic Bishop of the United States. Brent's father may not have had the best bloodlines but he was rich, he was a contractor and quarry owner. 

Robert joined the family business and sold the sandstone to the U.S. government for the White House, U.S. Capitol, and other early construction projects across the District.

Now wealthy in his own right, in 1789 Brent married Mary Young, the daughter of Notley Young, (He owned most of what is today Northeast DC then called Youngsborough) a plantation owner in Prince George's County, Maryland. (The Carrolls and the Notley-Youngs were crossed in blood line smany times) 

                                     Notley Young and his wife

Notley Young House on Fourteenth and C Streets, SW (now demolished) Designed by Benjamin Latrobe in 1802, it was razed in 1913 to make way for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.


 The young couple lived on property owned by Carrol family (Deeded to him by his mother who also gave him thousands of acres in Montgomery and  Washington Counties.) on what is today Capital Hill but that was property was annexed by the Federal government to make room for the US capital building. (The Carrol’s were shrewd land speculators who sold their DC property off in a lot system that is still used today in the District)
Brent moved to a massive home located on the southeast corner of the present 12th Street and Maryland Avenue SW in Washington and later to another on Florida Ave and 6th Street NE, now part of the Gallaudet University. The town Brentwood, in Prince George's County and the DC neighborhood of Brentwood take their names from his home, which formed most of the original estate.

In 1817, he built the Brentwood Mansion in Washington County as a present for his daughter Eleanor on her marriage to Congressman Joseph Pearson. Brentwood was designed by one of the Capitol's architects, Benjamin H. Latrobe.

In 1802, Congress officially incorporated the city, including in its incorporation and hired Brent as mayor. He was reappointed to the position seven times by Jefferson and three times by James Madison, finally relinquishing the position in June 1812.

It was Brent who built the districts government one office at a time. He established the public school system, a police department, a fire department, and a system for taxation. When city planner Pierre L'Enfant was dismissed before completion of his design, Brent took over and laid out many of the city’s streets.

 Brent never took a salary for his service as mayor.

During his lifetime, Brent also served as Paymaster General of the Army, Judge of the Orphan's Court for Washington County, Maryland and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Public Schools. He was the first president of the Patriotic Bank and of the Columbia Manufacturing Co.


Brent died in Washington, DC, on 7 September 1819 and is buried in Forest Glen (at St. Johns Church).

The Robert Brent Museum Magnet School in D.C. is named in his honor.