Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Another very interesting piece, this one detailing some of the history of our neighborhood, from the news of yore:
"Editor Post: An article in a city paper of the 10th instant recounting the death and career of John W. Van Hook, one of the founders of Uniontown, now Anacostia, D.C., is suggestive of what, it seems to me, ought to be put on record, for the reason that the geography and material facts touching the true history of that, the largest and most flourishing suburb of the Capital, ought to be better known, especially by members of the press.

Prior to 1853 or 1854 the property was owned and cultivated as a farm and market garden by Enoch Tucker, who during one of those years sold it, about 100 acres, to John Fox, John Van Hook, and John Dobler, who subdivided it into streets and lots and called it Uniontown.

The post-office had previously been established under the name of Anacostia, but the first post-office there bore the name of Buena Vista, which, however, survived but a very short time.

Uniontown originally embraced but a comparatively small part of its present area. It was bounded by Monroe (MLK), Harrison (Good Hope), Taylor (16th), and Jefferson (W) streets*. Among other provisions set forth in its charter, the founders thought proper to prohibit negroes from ever acquiring title to a lot there. This accounts for the fact that it remained, notwithstanding the change of status of that race, almost exclusively a white man’s town.

A notable fact is that one of the founders of this place, through his misfortune, had to surrender his beautiful and spacious home to the Freedman’s Bank, and a negro, to the late Fred Douglas, became its occupant and owner. Some twenty years ago, realizing the awkward situation growing out of the difference between the name of the post-office and town in which it was located, they were, by act of Congress, through the agency of your correspondent, made synonymous. ~W. Lee White."
excerpt from letter to editor "Origin of Anacostia", The Washington Post, April 17, 1905

Click to Enlarge

1886 map portion courtesy of the library of congress

*note: present-day street names added in parentheses

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Let us not neglect historical origins of Uniontown. Prior to being developed on, this land was occupied by Native Americans, and latter tended by a majority Black population who were forced into slavery. Additionally, let us not forget that as the Captain sailed the Anacostia river his entourage included blacks as well. Uniontown existing as a whites-only community was only a blink-of-an-eye moment in history. Additionally, it was a financial loss for Van Hook and crew as buyers only trickled in over, not years, but over a decade.