History of Southeast
By James Croggon, The Evening Star, June 9, 1907 [p. 11]
The Navy Yard, as that section to which the name of Southeast Washington now applies, was almost a town to itself in the olden days. Northward and westward little continuous settlement was perceptible, and the section had its own market house, private schools, volunteer firemen, military company, secret societies and temperance and benevolent associations and churches. The marine barracks and the navy yard naturally attracted as the majority of residents of the neighborhood the mechanics in the daily employ of Uncle Sam, and the number of officers and attaches of the navy, particularly the Marine Corps. Some of the officers had homes on newly opened highways, which were streets in name only. At the barracks were the headquarters of the corps and the residence of the commandant.
Gen. Henderson was the commandant for thirty years or more, and in the officers' quarters from time to time resided major Parke G. Howle, adjutant and inspector and long a resident of South Washington; Lieuts. E. J. Weed, G. W. Walker, James Edelin, H. N. Crabb, A. Edson, H. W. Gardner, T. A. Linton, John Lowry, C. F. Spear, W. Delany, J. G. Williams and others. Mr. Edelin reached the rank of captain, and in the forties resided in the Simms house on the south side of G street between 7th and 8th. Mr. Walker became a major and lived on Pennsylvania avenue near 2nd street. Major Samuel Miller of the marines commanded the battalion in the war of 1812, and afterward resided at the northwest corner of 11th and G streets, the place then being called the "Hermitage."
Commodore Thomas Tingey occupied the commandant's house in the navy yard for many years, as did also Commodores Hull, A. A. Wadsworth, Cassin and Shubrick in turn. Another resident of the buildings in the yard was David Eaton, a veteran boatswain, who entered the navy in 1795 and did valiant service in the Hornet in the war of 1812. He was the grandfather of Mr. George G. Eaton of South Capitol street.
Salvatore Calalano, one of the first sailing masters of the yard, served with Decatur and was the pilot when the U. S. ship Philadelphia, held in the harbor of Tripoli, was burned. Calalano brought out the attacking party. Under Commodore Preble he was conspicuous for his bravery in subsequent engagements. Coming to this country he was rewarded by appointment as sailing master and resided in the yard to the time of his death.
Eighth Street Well Populated
Matthew Wright located a grocery at 8th and I streets and long resided there. At the northwest corner of K and 8th streets resided Andrew Forrest, sutler of the Marine Corps, and on the opposite corner John B. Forrest, commissioner of the fifth and sixth wards. The port or cellar of the section was in the basement of Andrew Forrest's dwelling, and it was conducted by Capt. Michael Bulley and his son, A. F. Bulley, for fifty years or more. The Kealy family lived for years at the southeast corner or Virginia avenue and K street. Daniel Kealy, one of the sons of the family, was a tobacconist and was also the "penny post" or letter carrier, serving all of the city east of the Capitol. William Prout, the original owner of the land of that section, was in the dry good business at 8th and L streets in the twenties, and on the east side of 8th street Samuel H. Hilton and James Spratt were in the same business. J. Jenkins had a dry goods store on L between 7th and 8th streets. William Wood conducted a tavern near the navy yard gate and was also a silversmith. P. Moss kept another public house on L street between 7th and 8th streets. Mr. John Dobbyn settled in K street east of 8th street shortly after 1800, and he maintained the hay scales on that street near 9th street. George Adams, collector of taxes for the fifth and six wards, also had an auction and commission business on 8th street near the navy yard gate.
Many Grocers in the Section
Dr. Alexander MacWilliams had his office and dwelling on I street between 6th and 7th. Dr. John Harrison lived at 6th and G streets, and Dr. John B. Hamilton near 8th and G streets. Prior to 1812 Dr. Harrison lived near Pennsylvania avenue and 14th street southeast. William Smith, who lived on E street between 8th and 9th streets; Rebecca Russ and Ann Nesmith, on 7th between L and M streets; W.T. McPherson, Virginia avenue and 9th street, and Thomas Wheat, Virginia avenue between 4th and 5th streets, were school teachers.
Thomas Young of 7th street near M street and James Rhodes, Chas. Miller, H. Hanna and Phillip Otterback, on 9th street, and Wm. Baldwin, on 11th street south of M street, were butchers. James Danford, 7th street between K and L streets, and James Friend, at K and 11th streets, were bakers. Mr. Otterback afterward owned and resided on the west side of 18th street.
Other residents of Virginia avenue were M. Booth and D. Munro, Rev. Robert Elliott, S.N. Smallwood, mayor, John Thomas, ship carpenter; and Luke Hanson and Thomas Smith, colored, between 3rd and 4th streets; Jas. Scanlon, foreman plumber; Robert Rose, foreman gun carriage maker; S. Groves and James Enslow, blacksmiths, between 5th and 6th streets; Wm. Venable and Chas. Venable, tinners; Eli Pumphrey and Francis Pope, blacksmiths; Jere Perkins, John Naughton, Mr. Dunn, painter; George Grant, A. Fowler, Deborah Essex and John Knox, between 7th and 8th streets; Daniel Doherty, C. Kelly and Eli Cole, near 9th street.
In I street were Lieut. Joseph Cross, U.S.N.; Timothy Winn, purser U.S.N.; Moses Stickney, M.O. Brien and John Davis, between 10th and 11th streets; Wm. Burdine, carpenter, Dr. A. MacWilliams, Wm. Speiden, a clerk in the purser's store; Jas. Berry, blacksmith, and D. Page, between 6th and 7th streets.
The Citizens of K Street
Wm. Aiken resided at the corner of 9th and M streets, and Thomas Keithly and Thomas Young, ship carpenters, and James Martin, blacksmith, in the same neighborhood.
On Georgia Avenue were Wm. B. Ellis, engineer, father of William M. and Jonas B. Ellis, for many years machinists in the navy yard, and the pioneers in the business in the District. William Parsons, blacksmith, Henry and Cornelius Smith, ship carpenters, and Joseph Funston and Thomas Goodaw, carpenter, lived on Georgia avenue east of 8th street.
On 4th street, E. Tyler, M. Peters, A. Cannon and Moses Baker, blacksmiths, resided between K and L streets; Peter Marche, plasterer, between D and E streets; Mrs. Howard, at the corner of D street, and south of L street were Mr. Beard, F. Hurley, Patrick Kain, master painter, Mary King, John Martin, colored, Mr. Peake, H. Scott, blacksmith, Jacob Small and Joseph Fugitt, grocer, and George Collard, carpenter.
Property holders on 5th street included William John and Dennis Vermillion, Mrs. Tate, Tobias Martins, Mrs. Howard, Wm. Howard, John and Jesse Burns.
Sixth street residents were George Bell and W. Duvall near the navy yard; I.S. Middleton and Mrs. E. Tucker at G street; and John Watkins near Virginia avenue. Adam Lindsay, Robert McCloskey, Phillip Inch, F. McCarthy, James Herbert, William Preston, T. Foyles, A. Serra, John Suit, E. Ranscom, O.T. Vermillion, James Smith and Joseph Baker all resided on 7th street near the navy yard. On that street Camilear & Obear, carpenters and builders, conducted a shop; on Virginia avenue F. Clifton at G street, Joseph Criddle, millwright, P. Craven, H. Hogan, T. Reddish, and Joseph Venable lived between G and I streets. Two admirals of the navy, Phillip and Richard Inch, played as boys on 7th street. On 8th street near the navy yard gate were J.V. Thomas, John Rose and S. Fowler.
William Easby, the master boat builder at the navy yard and afterwards a ship builder on his own account, was once commissioner of public buildings and resided near E and 9th street in the building which was conducted as a hotel before the year 1800 by William Tunnicliffe. Opposite the old hotel on E street lived John Goss, a blacksmith noted for his stalwart figure, especially when he impersonated an Indian chief in the parade of the Anacostia fire company. Mrs. Rachael Steele and William Smith, a school teacher, resided nearby.
From the vicinity of the hotel there were few residences until the neighborhood of L street was reached. Mrs. Esther Murphy lived on 9th street east of the barracks, and H. Steer and R. Armstead between L and M streets. Mrs. Bradman, Robert Cole and Richardson and Thomas Butter resided on 10th street near the navy yard.
Another Settlement at the Bridge
John Boylayer, a butcher who located at the southwest corner of 9th and I streets in the twenties, lived there for many years. He was a survivor of Napoleon's army and was at the battle of Waterloo.
The Marche family took up residence in the Southeast in 1808. Marche, sr., was a plasterer, and he worked on the Capitol before 1812. He resided on 4th street and eleven children were born and reared in the Marche home. Mrs. Jane America was engaged in making shoes, with a store on L street between 7th and 8th streets. William Speeden was proprietor of a grocery and dry goods store at the southwest corner of 8th and L streets, in the building which was afterwards occupied by Luckett Adams and others as a tavern. John Stillings had his cabinetmaker's shop at the northeast corner of 7th and L streets and resided nearby. Mr. Stillings was a pioneer in the undertaking business. Some years later he removed to the corner of 7th and G streets northwest.
Other business men in the neighborhood of 7th and L streets southeast in the early years of the century included Robert Brown, carpenter; Barnes & Milburn's tavern, Cook and Janney, southeast corner Virginia avenue and 7th street, and Short and George Duckworth, 7th and L streets, grocers; Susanna Serva and Hester Murphy, taverns on 7th street below L street; Andrew Forrest, grocer, northwest corner of 8th and K streets; Martin King, northwest corner of 8th and I streets; and James Elder, opposite the barracks. Scattered all over the region were the residences of the musicians of the Marine Band.