Royall-y Ever After

 

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If there is one word that can be used to describe Anne Royall (Range 26, Site 194), it would likely be “eccentric.” As Senate Doorkeeper Isaac Basett put it, Royall was “homely in person, poor in purse, and vulgar in manners.” Royall did not care much about her physical appearance, she was said to have had a “tart tongue,” and she stuck firmly to her strong, unfashionable opinions. Nevertheless, Royall made significant contributions to social history and journalism. Royall’s work offers a glimpse on social customs, institutions, and personalities of her time while also demonstrating the power of the press to serve as a watchdog of freedom against government corruption and abuse.

Anne Newport Royall was born on June 11, 1769. As a young child, Royall’s father taught her how to read and write before Royall briefly attended school in a log cabin. In 1787, after the likely death of her father, Royall and her mother moved to Sweet Spring Mountain, now in West Virginia, to work for William Royall. William Royall is credited for introducing Royall to the works of notable philosophers, including Thomas Paine and Voltaire, and instructing Royall on Freemasonry. In 1797, Anne Royall married William Royall. Consequently, Anne Royall managed her husband’s estate until his death in December 1812. Fortunately for Anne Royall, she had no children, which gave her the freedom and ability to travel and write.

After her husband’s death, Royall sold her husband’s plantation and gave into her urge to travel. From 1824-1830, Royall traveled extensively across the United States. Royall supported herself and her adventures primarily through writing; Royall documented adventures that were subsequently published in nine different volumes. Royall also petitioned the federal government for a pension because she was a Revolutionary War widow. While Royall did continue to travel across the country, she ultimately settled down in Washington D.C.

Royall’s Sketches of History, Life, and Manners in the United States (1826) discussed politics, education, religion, and social vices across the United States by depicting colleges, schools, churches, hospitals, museums, prisons, theaters, libraries, and alms houses in various parts of the United States. Additionally, Royall incorporated information about population, crops, and trade statistics.

In 1827, Royall tested the waters of fictional writing when she published The Tennessean, a historical romance novel that described a secret expedition of frontiersmen to Spanish-ruled New Mexico.

On December 3, 1831, with the help of Sarah Stack, Royall launched a four-page weekly newspaper, Paul Pry. This newspaper contained ads, humorous and poetic fillers, local news, political news, and editorials. Paul Pry was notable for its exposés on government graft and the Bank of the United States, editorials pleading for civil service and health reforms, and attacks on anti-Masons and evangelicals. The last issue was published on November 19, 1836 before it was succeeded by the Huntress, where Royall denounced beef monopoly, defended Catholic foreigners, berated legislators for hindering improvements to western states, and argued against the tactics of abolitionists (although Royall opposed slavery). As Royall got older, she depended more on the help of other for the Huntress.

Supposedly, if a member of Congress subscribed to Royall’s newspaper, she only wrote positive things about them. As a result of her articles and exposes, Royall is credited as being the first female Congressional Correspondent. Royall was particularly passionate about the dangers of merging church and state.

Royall was convicted of “common scold” (public nuisance) for berating members of a neighboring evangelical congregation, who allegedly “tormented” her with heckling and stones, usually at night. Typically, a conviction of common scold resulted in dunking. However, Judge William Cranch fined Royall $10 with a $100 bond as a guarantee for her Royall’s future conduct. The congregation met in a federally-funded firehouse near Royall’s home. Royall did not approve of the merging of church and state and vocalized her opinion.

Royall died on October 1, 1854. She had very little money at the time of her death, and she did not receive a headstone until 1911. Royall is just one of many notable women buried at Congressional Cemetery.

 

Works Cited:

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Anne Newport Royall.” Encyclopædia Britannica. September 27, 2018. Accessed March 07, 2019. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Anne-Newport-Royall.

Malloy, Jeanne M. On file at Congressional Cemetery.

Maxwell, Alice S., and Marion B. Dunlevy. Virago!: The Story of Anne Newport Royall (1769-1854). Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1985.

McKelway, John. “The Rambler…Meets Annie Royall.” Star, June 14, 1965.

“Royall Treatment.” Roll Call, April 23, 1990.

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Marion Barry

 

Marion Barry

Marion Barry after his 2004 victory in the Democratic primary race for a seat in the D.C. Council. Photo Credit: Carol T. Powers from the New York Times

Civil Rights pioneer. “Mayor for life.” These are just two of Marion Barry’s notable achievements.

On March 6, 1936, Marion Barry, Jr. (Range 20, Site 191) was born to Mattie Carr and Marion Barry, Sr. in Itta Bena, Mississippi. It is unclear if Barry’s parents separated or if his father died when Barry was young. Regardless, Barry’s mother relocated to Memphis without Marion Barry, Sr. While in Memphis, Carr met and remarried a butcher, David Cummings. Together, Barry’s mother and step father raised eight children, including Marion Barry, Jr. In his childhood, Barry helped his mother and step father financially by picking cotton, waiting tables, bagging groceries, inspecting soda bottles, and delivering newspapers. In high school, Barry became an Eagle Scout.

In 1958, Barry earned a degree in chemistry from Lemoyne College in Memphis. During his sophomore year of college, Barry joined the Lemoyne chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). As a senior in college, Barry was the chapter President of the Lemoyne chapter of the NAACP. After earning his undergraduate degree, Barry went on to receive a Master’s degree at Fisk University in Nashville, where he organized a chapter of the NAACP for Fisk University. In 1960, while living in Nashville, Barry helped organize the first lunch counter sit-ins in Nashville. In April of 1960, Barry and some of his peers met with Rev. Dr. Marking Luther King, Jr. to establish the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), an organization that organized demonstrations, sit ins, and boycotts. Barry was elected as the first national chairman of the SNCC.

After graduating from Fisk University, Barry worked as a teaching assistant at the University of Kansas for about a year. Then, Barry decided to attend the University of Tennessee to work towards a doctorate degree in chemistry. Barry was a few credits short of earning a doctorate degree when he left the University of Tennessee to work full time for the SNCC. In June 1965, Barry moved to Washington D.C. for SNCC, and resigned from his position in 1967.

In 1966, Barry led a one day “mancott,” protesting a fare increase requested by the D.C. Public Transit.

After about two years in D.C., Barry created a job program, Pride Inc., for poor African-Americans living in D.C. and won federal grants worth several million dollars to help fund the program.

In February 1971, Barry won his first election for an at-large position on a citizen’s board designed to improve relations between police officers and African-Americans in Washington, D.C. Barry then became the President of the school board (1972-1974) and a city council member (1974). While serving on the D.C. Council, Barry was instrumental in defeating a 1% gross-receipts tax on all city businesses. Additionally, Barry fought for a pay raise for the D.C. police department, and he was an LGBTQ+ rights supporter. Consequently, Barry was a popular candidate during his first stint on the D.C. Council and received 78% of the vote to serve a second term.

In March 1977, Barry was shot by members of the Hanafi Muslim sect during a takeover of a Washington office building. The bullet narrowly missed his heart.

On January 2, 1979, Barry was sworn into the D.C. mayor’s office for the first time by Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. In total, Barry was elected as the mayor of Washington D.C. four times: in 1978, 1982, 1986, and 1994. Barry also served fifteen years on the D.C. Council.

During Barry’s first term as mayor, downtown D.C. boomed, leading to the revitalization of several neighborhoods. Vacant lots became filled and abandoned buildings became offices, hotels, and restaurants; at least 23 million square feet of office and retail space was created downtown. The sports arena then known as the MCI Center was constructed. Barry was praised as a “national symbol of self-governance for urban blacks.” The programs initiated by Barry offered summer jobs for youth, home-buying assistance for working-class residents, and food for senior citizens. Barry was also recognized for his efforts in placing African-Americans in D.C. in upper and middle level management positions within the city’s government; many of these positions were previously “reserved” for white Americans. Barry also appointed about a dozen women to positions that were, at the time, not traditionally for women. Another accomplishment under Barry’s tenure included the institution of budgetary and fiscal accounting procedure for the D.C. government; D.C. had its first successful audit under Barry.

However, Barry’s critics complained that D.C.’s poorest neighborhoods were still deteriorating. Barry’s tenure as mayor coincided with a national cocaine epidemic. D.C. also had the highest infant mortality rate and highest homicide rate of any city in the United States while Barry was in office. Critics of Barry’s tenure as mayor argued that he neglected part of his duties. For instance, residents of a city-operated nursing home had limbs amputated due to infected bed sores and the fire department was unable to fight major fires. The dropout rates in high school were unusually high, while test scores were low. Crime and unemployment increased, and there were minimal improvements made in improving the efficiency of city agencies. Consequently, an estimated 115,000 people turned to the suburbs of D.C. in hopes of obtaining better educational opportunities for their children, having their garbage picked up consistently, and ensuring that the streets were plowed during snowstorms.

It is no secret that Barry struggled with alcohol and drug addiction, relapse, and recovery. In 1989, Barry was called before a federal grand jury, investigating whether a woman sold drugs to city officials, including mayor Barry. Barry acknowledged that he had a relationship with the woman but denied buying drugs from her. On January 18, 1990, Barry was arrested at Vista International Hotel while smoking cocaine and groping a woman. After a long trial, Barry was convicted of a misdemeanor of cocaine possession and sentenced to six months in prison. Additionally, Barry received treatment for addiction at a rehabilitation facility. The jury couldn’t agree on 12 other counts Barry was charged with, including three felony charges that he lied to a grand jury. If Barry had been convicted of the felony charges, he wouldn’t have been able to run for office.

In 1992, Barry was elected to a position in the city council. In 1994, Barry ran for mayor for the fourth time. Three months after the start of his fourth term, Barry unveiled a “miracle budged” that relied on Congress to provide hundreds of millions of dollars to bail out D.C. As a result, Congress quickly created the D.C. Financial Control Board to oversee city spending because members of the federal government complained of graft, corruption, and gross mismanagement of Barry’s administration. In August 1997, Congress essentially stripped Barry of most of his remaining power by turning nine major operating departments to the board.

On May 21, 1998, Barry announced that he wouldn’t seek another term as mayor and in 1999, Barry left the mayor’s office for good. Barry then worked as an investment banker. In 2004, Barry was elected to the D.C. Council, representing Ward 8. He still held this position on the city council when he died.

In 2009, Barry underwent a kidney transplant. It was combination of kidney disease, prostate cancer, diabetes, and hypertensive cardiovascular disease that led to Barry’s demise.

Marion Barry Grave

Sources:

Barnes, Bart. “Marion Barry Dies at 78; 4-term D.C. Mayor Was the Most Powerful Local Politician of His Generation.” The Washington Post. November 23, 2014. Accessed February 28, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/marion-barry-dies-4-term-dc-mayor-the-%20most-powerful-local-politician-of-his-generation/2014/11/23/331ad222-c5da-11df-94e1-c5afa35a9e59_story.html?utm_term=.274458afccf1.

Stout, David. “Marion Barry, Washington’s ‘Mayor for Life,’ Even After Prison, Dies at 78.” The New York Times. December 21, 2017. Accessed February 28, 2019.  https://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/24/us/politics/marion-s-barry-jr-former-mayor-of-washington-dies-at-78.html.

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The Pearl

Introduction

Our blog posts over the last several weeks have focused on African-Americans interred at Congressional Cemetery. As promised, this week’s blog entry focuses on The Pearl. While relatives of Ann and Lucy Bell are directly involved in the events pertaining to the Pearl, those relatives are not actually buried at Congressional Cemetery. There are, however, white men interred at Congressional Cemetery who were involved in legally defending and financially supporting people involved in the events leading up to and surrounding the Pearl. The purpose of this blog post is to summarize the Pearl, with a particular focus on the Bell family and people interred at Congressional Cemetery.

There is a lot of information about the Pearl and its impact on abolitionists and the movement to fight slavery in the United States. If you want to learn more about The Pearl, I encourage you to check out the sources in the “Bibliography” section of this blog post.

The Pearl Incident

On the evening of April 15, 1848, around 77 slaves boarded the Pearl, a 54-ton bay-craft schooner that was anchored in the Potomac River, as part of an attempt to secure their freedom. This attempt is the single largest known escape attempt made by enslaved African Americans. The people seeking refuge from slavery came from different walks of life–they were men, women, children, mothers, fathers, old, middle-aged, and young. Most of the enslaved people were descendants of Africans who were brought to the mid-Atlantic region on Liverpool slave ships to be sold to tobacco planters in Maryland and Virginia. The slaves that boarded the Pearl primarily worked in homes, boarding houses, and hotels. Allegedly, Dolley Madison owned one slave who boarded the Pearl. One of the enslaved people was also believed to have worked in the White House while James K. Polk was in office.

In order for the escape attempt to be successful, the schooner would have had to remain undetected and travel over 100 miles down the Potomac River to the Chesapeake Bay. Then, the schooner would have had to travel about 120 miles up the bay, across the Delaware Canal, and along the Delaware River to reach its final destination in New Jersey.

The night of April 15, 1848 was slightly foggy and windy. Unfortunately, the wind died down after the schooner moved about half a mile. The wind did pick up the next morning, but it was too late. On the morning of April 16, 1848, several slave owners quickly realized that their slaves were missing. Immediately, the hunt to find the missing slaves began. The slave owners and other civilians searched surrounding roads. A group of civilians boarded the Salem, a steamboat owned by the Dodge family of Georgetown who owned slaves aboard the Pearl. The people on board of the Salem came across the Pearl in Cornfield Harbor, near Point Lookout State Park in Maryland.

The Aftermath

Initially, the unarmed slaves tried to fight off their capturers, but Drayton convinced the slaves to surrender. The Pearl was then towed back to Washington D.C.  Daniel Drayton, Captain Edward Sayres, and Chester English were taken from the schooner and interrogated. Drayton, Sayres, and English were manacled before they were taken to jail. English convinced the capturers that he believed the slaves were on a pleasure cruise and he was released. During the procession to jail, the owner of Cannon’s Slave Mart lunged towards Drayton with a knife and cut Drayton’s ear. Drayton and Sayres were ultimately charged with 77 counts of theft and 77 counts of illegal transportation of slaves. Their bond was placed at $77,000 each.

 

Horace Mann, a well-known advocate of public education, defended Drayton and Sayres in court. Initially, Mann consulted with David Hall (Range 34, Site 63), who had successfully represented John Bush in court when Bush was caught working with Charles Torrey and Thomas Smallwood in an Underground Railroad operation. Hall informed Mann that Philip Barton Key, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, would receive $10 for each indictment. Therefore, Key had a financial stake in the outcome of the trial. Most notably, Hall guided Mann, who was unfamiliar with the D.C. court system, through the intricacies and customs of the Washington D.C. court system. Hall later withdrew as counsel for the defense. On June 28, 1848, Drayton and Sayre’s case went before a grand jury. Drayton and Sayres were both convicted of 36 indictments of larceny (one charge for each of the 36 slave owners with slaves on board of the Pearl). Drayton and Sayres also faced $10,000 in damages. After four years and four months in jail, President Millard Fillmore pardoned Drayton and Sayres.

As for the slaves on board of the schooner, the women and children were left unfettered. Brian and Hill, an Alexandria-based slave trading business purchased the captured slaves from their owners and sent most of the slaves to New Orleans, securing the fate of most, if not all, of the refuges to a life of enslavement. Yellow fever hit New Orleans. Consequently, the slave traders transferred the unsold slaves back to Alexandria.

The Edmonson and Bell families tried to buy back as many of their family members as possible. Reverend Henry Ward Beecher’s congregation used their funds to ensure the freedom of members of the Edmonson family. In 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Reverend Beecher’s daughter, published Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s affiliation to the Pearl incident may have inspired her, at least in part, to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Meanwhile, Thomas Blagden (Blagden Vault), a wealthy landowner in the Anacostia area of D.C., provided funds to Daniel Bell to buy his wife and youngest son so that they could be free. These funds were provided to Bell with the expectation that Blagden would be fully reimbursed. Blagden also served on the grand jury in Sayres and Drayton’s trial.

The events of the Pearl caused the Washington Riot of 1848 due to accusations regarding the planners behind the attempted escape. The events are believed to have strengthened the cause against slavery and may have inspired Abraham Lincoln to ensure slaves in Washington D.C. were granted their freedom in 1862.

Key People

Three men were involved in securing and operating the Pearl: Daniel Drayton, Captain Edward Sayres, and Chester English. Daniel Drayton chartered the schooner for a total of $100. With assistance from two other men, Drayton brought the Pearl to a secluded spot near the 7th street wharf, where the Wharf Marina is currently located. Drayton was also was responsible for securing the schooner’s “cargo.” Captain Edward Sayres owned the Pearl. Sayres took charge of the ship and its one-man-crew, a sailor and cook named Chester English.

Three other men were directly responsible for informing enslaved members of Washington D.C.’s African American community about the Pearl and their plans to achieve freedom. These men were: Paul Jennings, Sen. Daniel Webster’s butler who was freed on the condition that Jennings would repay the purchase price of his freedom of $120 made in monthly installations in the amount of $8 a month; Daniel Bell, who financed the Pearl because he wanted to free his wife and children; and Samuel Edmonson, a “hired-out” slave with several family members that planned to board the Pearl.

Daniel Bell was employed as a blacksmith at the Navy Yard in southeast Washington D.C. Bell’s family was owned by Robert Armistead, a master caulker who signed manumission papers freeing Daniel Bell’s wife, Mary, and reduced the terms of slavery for Mary and Daniel Bell’s six children. The freedom of Daniel Bell’s family was threatened when Susannah Armistead filed an inventory of her husband’s property with the orphan’s court about three years after the death of her husband. In the inventory, Bell’s children were described as slaves for life, ignoring the manumission papers that reduced the Bell children’s period of enslavement and freed Mary Bell. One year later, Armistead submitted a final account of her husband’s estate, and in 1843, Armistead applied to Judge Nathaniel P. Causin of the orphan’s court to appraise the Bell children, which would allow the Bell children to be divided amongst Armistead’s children. Bell hired a lawyer, Joseph Bradley, to legally represent his family. Then, Daniel Bell turned to James Mandeville Carlisle to block the intended division of his family. In October 1847, Bell’s petition for freedom went to trial. In the trial, Armistead argued that her husband was mentally impaired prior to his death, during the time when he signed the manumission papers that freed Mary Bell and reducing the terms of slavery for the Bell children. Furthermore, Armistead claimed that Daniel Bell tricked her husband into signing the papers by waiting until Mary Bell was away from the house, taking her husband to a poorhouse, and with the help of the city’s guardian of the poor for their ward, Edward W. Clarke, forced her husband to sign the manumission papers. Unfortunately, the jury sided with Susannah Armistead. Daniel Bell appealed the court’s decision and hired Joseph Bradley to request a new trial under the premise that new evidence had materialized. In March 1848, the appellate court upheld the original jury verdict. Daniel Bell was low on funds, so Bell decided to make arrangements with the DC’s Underground Railroad Network. Bell’s legal letdown led him to create plans to escape via the Pearl.

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Ann Bell does not have a gravestone, but her mother, Lucy Bell, does. Lucy and Ann Bell are buried in the same plot at Congressional Cemetery.

At the same time that Daniel was fighting for better conditions for his family (in circa 1836), Bell’s sister, Ann Bell (Range 24, Site 113), filed a petition for freedom on behalf of herself and two sons against Gerald T. Greenfield, who had inherited Ann Bell. With the help of Joseph Bradley, Ann Bell won her suit for freedom against Greenfield.

 

Bibliography

Blakemore, Erin. “The Largest Attempted Slave Escape in American History.” History.com. August 23, 2017. Accessed February 14, 2019. https://www.history.com/news/the-largest-attempted-slave-escape-in-american-history.

“Pearl Incident / Daniel Drayton.” National Parks Service. Accessed February 14, 2019. https://www.nps.gov/nebe/learn/historyculture/pearlincident.htm.

Ricks, Mary Kay. “Failed Escape Sheds New Light on D.C. Slavery.” NPR. May 09, 2007. Accessed February 14, 2019. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=10103500.    

Ricks, Mary Kay. Escape on the Pearl: The Heroic Bid for Freedom on the Underground Railroad. New York: Harper Perennial, 2008.

The Washington Post. Accessed February 14, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/horizon/aug98/pearl.htm.   

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African American Women at Congressional Cemetery Part 2

Betsy Jane Fairfax (Range 86, Site 315)

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Betsy Jane Fairfax was born in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Fairfax was born into slavery and served the Swingle family for 80 years. She traveled with the Reed family, who were related to the Swingle’s, to Honolulu to help care for the Reed children. In her old age, she could still remember details from the Battle of Antietam. Fairfax also received an award from the District Federation of Women’s Clubs for her long and faithful service. Fairfax is buried in the Reed/Swingle family plot at Congressional Cemetery.

 

Rosa Marks (Gadsby Vault)

Not much is known about Rosa Marks, who is buried with the Gadsby family in the newly restored Gadsby Vault. However, it is known that Rosa Marks lived and worked in the Gadsby family home, even after she was emancipated. Rosa Marks died on May 30, 1866.

 

Lucy (Mamie) Gray (1894 Thompson Vault)

Like Rosa Marks, Lucy Gray is also interred in the vault of the family she served. Gray’s obituary states that she worked for Virginia A. Thompson for 48 years. On November 5, 1914, Gray died at the age of 65 years old.

 

Annie Bell and Lucy Bell (Range 24, Site 113)

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In a span of 15 years, the Bell family brought forth 7 cases to the D.C. court system. Each of the cases were steps taken by the Bell’s to support and ensure their freedom. Ultimately, the courts failed the Bell family. Although the Bell family fought hard to keep their family together and to fight for their freedom, the slave trade, war, and slaveholders separated the family. Furthermore, death in the Greenfield family meant that the Bell family would become separated and uprooted. As a result of these seven court cases, there is quite a bit of information available about several members of Bell family. Since Lucy and Ann Bell are the only members of the Bell family that are buried at Congressional Cemetery, they will be the focus of the blog post. For more information about the Bell family, please click here.

Not much is known about Lucy Bell, but there is a lot more information known about several of her children. Lucy Bell was born around the start of the Revolutionary War. Lucy Bell was the mother to at least five children: Ann, Daniel, Caroline, Prisseller, and Harriet. Although Lucy was born into slavery, by 1850, Lucy Bell claimed her freedom. Before 1796, Lucy Bell and an infant Ann were held as property of Gerrard Truman Greenfield. After the death of Gerrard Greenfield in 1796, Lucy became enslaved by Greenfield’s widow and Ann was enslaved by Greenfield’s son, Gabriel. In the 1820 census, Lucy was listed as living north of the Navy Yard. On June 8, 1862, Lucy Bell died.

Ann Bell was most likely the first in her family to arrive in Washington D.C. It is believed that she arrived in 1813 or 1814 with the permission of Gabriel Greenfield. Ann Bell conducted herself as a free person after she moved to Washington D.C. until 1836, when the Greenfield family claimed that Ann was enslaved. On December 24, 1836, Ann Bell filed a freedom suit in D.C.’s circuit court. The summons went unanswered because the defendant, Gerard Truman Greenfield, primarily resided in Tennessee, not Washington D.C. Ann Bell’s case focused on her freedom and whether or not she was freed by the 1815 will of Gabriel. P. T. Greenfield. In 1840, Ann Bell’s petition for freedom went to trial. The jury gave Ann Bell of verdict in support of Bell’s freedom because she purchased real property, built a house, and hired a servant from the defendant. On April 15, 1890, Ann Bell was granted her freedom, making her the only member of the Bell family who successfully won her court case. Ann Bell lived with her great-niece, Caroline (Daniel Bell’s daughter), in 1870. Ann Bell died on May 3, 1873. She is buried in the same plot as her mother, Lucy Bell.

In February 1848, Daniel Bell reached out to a ship captain, Daniel Drayton, who was affiliated with anti-slavery circles. Although initially hesitant to help the Bell family due to a lack of a vessel, Drayton made arrangements to charter a ship, the Pearl, to Washington to rescue the Bell family. Daniel Bell’s plans spread throughout Washington D.C. By the time the Pearl left the wharf on April 15, 1848, over 70 people were on board. On the morning of April 18, 1848, a steamer was sent out by slaveholders who learned about Daniel Bell’s plot. By 7:30 am, the vessels were docked back in Washington D.C., and the people on board of the ship were sent to the prison before ultimately being sold back to slavery. Daniel Bell was able to purchase his wife Mary and two of his children with help from Thomas Blagden, a lumber merchant who lived near the Bell family when the family lived at the Navy Yard.

The next blog post will provide more information about the Pearl.

 

Works Cited

“O Say Can You See.” Early Washington, D.C., Law & Family. Accessed February 05, 2019. http://earlywashingtondc.org/stories/emancipating_bells.

 

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The Howard Family

Several members of the Howard family are buried at Congressional Cemetery, in the area near the small pond known as the “doggy day spa.” All of these graves remain unmarked, but by sharing the information we have about the family, we are hoping to carry on the legacy of this family.

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The Howard family is buried to the left of the two Veteran’s headstones. Their plots are currently unmarked.

In 1864, Theophilus Howard, Sr. (Range 22, Site 253) worked a sexton at Christ Church. His position as a sexton likely meant that he was freed. In 1864, Theophilus Howard and Jeremiah Cross, a sexton of Congressional Cemetery, were both drafted into the military to fight in the Civil War. Theophilus Howard survived the war. According to the 1880 census, Theophilus, who was about 62 years old at the time, worked as a “white washer,” could not read or write, and was suffering from rheumatism. Theophilus Howard died on April 1, 1891. In his will, Theophilus Howard left his “estate to his four grandchildren, with the proviso that if any become drunkards or gamblers or pursue an immoral life the proceeds of the estate shall be shared only by those who do not violate the moral law.” His wife, Diana Howard (Range 22, Site 255), who was born in circa 1815, died from cardiac failure on May 14, 1885.

Theophilus Howard, Sr. had at least one child, Theophilus Howard, Jr., who was born in circa 1853. In the 1880 census, Theophilus Howard Jr. (Range 22, Site 254) was listed as 26 years old. Theophilus Howard Jr. could read and write and worked as a teacher. By 1880, Theophilus Howard Jr. was married to Mary Ella (Echdige) Howard (Range 22, Site 252), who was born in August 1860. In the 1880 census, Mary Howard and Theophilus Howard Jr. had two children, Eugene, 3, and Alice, around 1. Theophilus Howard Jr. died on December 8, 1883. According to census records, after her husband’s death, Mary Ella Howard worked as a house servant in 1900, and as a laundress in 1910. Mary Ella Howard could read and write, and she owned a house in Washington, DC. Mary Ella Howard died on February 24, 1937. When she died, Mary Ella Howard was a widow and living at with her daughter and son-in-law, James F. Butler, at 35 Florida Avenue in Northeast, Washington D.C. Mary Ella Howard was the mother of Eugene, Alice, and Losceola Howard, all of whom preceded her in death. Additionally, she had a son, Herman W. Howard, and a daughter, Grace Howard Butler, who died later.

In 1905, the Howard family experienced two deaths: Eugene Howard and Alice Howard. Eugene Howard (Range 22, Site 251) was born on February 11, 1877 and died on March 27, 1905 from pulmonary tuberculosis. In the 1900 census, Eugene was listed as a 22-year-old porter who could read and write. Eugene Howard’s obituary sheds some light on the role of religion on the family and indicates that the family was Christian: “Sleep on, our darling; We love thee well, But Jesus loves the best.” Alice Howard (Range 22, Site 252) died on June 26, 1905 from military tuberculosis. Alice was born in April 1879 and worked as a house servant in 1900.

Eugene and Alice’s sister, Losceola Howard (Range 22, Site 254), died over twenty years later, on March 3, 1931 from a cerebral hemorrhage. Losceola Howard was born in October 1881, and she worked as a house servant in 1900. She may have gone by the name “Cenie.” Additionally, she may have worked as a cook in 1910. Losceola Howard could read and write.

Herman Howard (Range 22, Site 251) was born in July 1884 and died on May 31, 1946 from bronchial pneumonia. Herman Howard worked as a porter in 1900. In 1910, Herman, who was about 23 years old at the time, worked as a laborer at a government printing office. In his obituary, Grace Howard Butler was listed as his half-sister, and Marietta Howard was his wife. Marietta Howard is not buried at Congressional Cemetery, but Grace Butler, who was born in September of 1894, is buried in Range 22, Site 252. It is not known who Grace Butler’s father was since she was born after Theophilius Howard Jr. died. Grace Butler died on April 9, 1972 from a pulmonary embolism. Grace Butler was married to James F. Butler (Range 22, Site 253), who died about two years before her on September 18, 1970 from carcinoma of the colon.

 

howard family tree

It is likely that there are surviving family members of the Howard family. If you or someone you know is related to the Howard family, please feel free to reach out to us. We would love to hear from you to learn more about the Howard family. Alternatively, none of the family members have marked graves. If you are interested in raising money to memorialize the Howard family, please email us at staff@congressionalcemetery.org.

Works Cited

District of Columbia, Select Births and Christenings, 1830-1955

Year: 1900; Census Place: Washington, Washington, District of Columbia; Page: 6; Enumeration District: 0123; FHL microfilm: 1240163

Year: 1910; Census Place: Precinct 5, Washington, District of Columbia; Roll: T624_152; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 0100; FHL microfilm: 1374165

 

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African American Women at Congressional Cemetery

Exploring African American history is challenging for historians. This is, in part, because African American history contains many instances of difficult history including slavery, discrimination, prejudice, and segregation. Additionally, there is little surviving written documentation about African Americans, especially in early American history. Most of the written documents that do exist were not written by African Americans because enslaved Africans had little to no ability to keep their own records. Therefore, African American history is primarily viewed through the lens of white Americans and white society. Consequently, things important to African Americans– such as relationships, skills, and forms of knowledge– are often erased. Historians have to rely on cultural practices and material objects to complement the surviving written records of African Americans in order to gain a better understanding of African American history.

At Congressional Cemetery, we do not have much surviving documentation about African Americans, especially in the 1800s and early 1900s. Many of the sources we rely on were written by white Americans, which limits our understanding of African American history. While the existing documents offer some glimpse into the lives of some of the African American residents at the cemetery, there is much that remains unknown.

Harriet Gordon (Range 22, Site 249):

Harriet was born in Maryland and never learned how to read or write. Harriet and her son, David, were owned by Ann Roberts (Range 17, Site 103) who purchased Harriet from her brother, John Loker in circa 1842, when Harriet was about 26 years old. While Harriet was enslaved to Ann, David was born. In a petition, Ann described Harriet as a “dark mulatto, about five feet three inches in height…[Harriet was a] first-rate cook, washer and ironer- honest, willing capable and obedient.” Ann received compensation in the amount of $1,160.70 for her four slaves. After Ann’s death in 1866, Harriet became a servant in the home of Dr. William E. Roberts (Range 18, Site 101), Ann’s grandson, who died in 1892. It is unclear the fate of Harriet’s son, David. Harriet died on December 25, 1874 at the age of 50.

Eliza Rivers (Range 22, Site 250):

Eliza Rivers was born in Virginia and died on March 14, 1877 at the age of 86. In the 1860 Census, Rivers was listed as a “nurse in the home of Jesse B. Haw,” and in the 1870 Census, she was listed as the “head of house, keeping house.” At the time of her death, she was living at 415 5th Street in SE Washington, DC.

Jane Walker (Range 37, Site 193):

Jane Walker was the “faithful and devoted friend and servant” in the family of Col. William Bell. Walker died on December 26, 1913. It is unclear how old she was when she died.

Mary Otto Rozier (Range 33, Site 223):

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Many of the African American graves at Congressional Cemetery remain unmarked. However, Mary Rozier has a marble stone. Rozier’s stone will be cleaned in the spring, once the cold weather breaks.

For several years, Mary Rozier was a “faithful and beloved domestic in the family of Dr. L.D. Gale” in Washington, DC. Rozier died suddenly on November 14, 1880, and her funeral was held at Wesley Zion Church. It is unknown how old Rozier was when she died.

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Alain Leroy Locke (1885-1954)

 

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Photo taken by Gordon Parks/The Gordon Parks Foundation

Alain Locke was born September 13, 1885 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Pliny Ismael Locke and Mary Hawkins Locke. Pliny Locke obtained a law degree from Howard University and worked as a mail clerk in Philadelphia, while Mary Hawkins Locke worked as a teacher. The Locke’s were engaged for 16 years and only had one child, Alain. When Alain Locke was six years old, his father died, forcing his mother to financially support him through teaching. At some point in his childhood, Alain Locke contracted rheumatic fever, permanently damaging his heart and restricting his physical abilities. Consequently, Locke spent much of his childhood reading and playing both the piano and violin.

A 1949 note written by Locke revealed both his reflection and struggles with the intersectionality of his identity: “Had I been born in ancient Greece, I would have escaped the first [his sexual identity]; in Europe, I would have been spared the second [U.S. racial segregation policies and discrimination]; in Japan I would have been above rather than below average [height].”

In his short life, Locke made several notable accomplishments. One of Locke’s most notable accomplishments was that he became the first African-American and openly gay man to be awarded a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University. Furthermore, Locke is credited as one of the “originators” of the Harlem Renaissance and New Negro movement. Locke contributed to both movements by: promoting and emphasizing values, diversity, and race relations; and encouraging and challenging African-Americans to identify, appreciate, and embrace their cultural heritage–along with the traditions of other cultural groups–while simultaneously making the effort to integrate into the larger society.

Locke was clearly well-educated, which established a foundation for his career and his role in both the Harlem Renaissance and the New Negro movement. From 1904 to 1907, Locke attended Harvard University, completing a four-year philosophy degree in only three years and graduating magna cum laude. While at Harvard University, Locke was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, a highly distinguished honor society, and won the Bowdoin Prize. Locke then attended Oxford University from 1907 to 1910, where he received another undergraduate degree in literature. Locke was the first African-American Rhodes Scholar. The next African-American Rhodes Scholars were not until 1963, when John Edgar Wideman and John Stanley Sanders were selected. While it is uncertain if the 1907 selection committee members knew that Locke was African-American when they selected him as a scholar [although evidence has been discovered that they may have known], it is certain that some of Locke’s fellow American colleagues were not “ready to share the pedestal with a black man” and refused to live in the same Oxford college. In 1911, Locke attended the University of Berlin in Germany. About a year later, Locke became an Assistant Professor at Howard University in Washington, DC. Locke later returned to Harvard University in 1916, where ultimately earned a PhD in Philosophy in 1918, before he rejoined the faculty as a full-time Philosophy professor at Howard University. In 1921, Locke became the chair of the Philosophy department at Howard University and remained in that position until he retired in 1953. Upon his retirement, Locke was awarded an honorary doctorate from Howard University. Throughout his academic career, Locke closely studied African culture and traced its influences on western civilization. Primarily through his career and efforts in vocalizing his ideas about the role of African-Americans in American society, Locke established close relationships to Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Jean Toomer, Rudolph Fisher, and Zora Neale Hurston. Furthermore, Locke is said to have inspired Martin Luther King Jr., who considered Locke to be an “intellectual leader on par with Plato and Aristotle.”

Throughout his career, Locke made significant contributions to the field of philosophy. Locke emphasized the necessity of depending on and determining values to help guide human conduct and interrelationships. Furthermore, Locke praised the idea of respecting the uniqueness of each personality in a society because he believed that this respect would allow personalities and society to fully develop and remain unique within a democratic ethos. Locke also argued that race is a fabrication and that culture created visions and interpretations of race. This was a shocking statement to make during a time when he—and other African-Americans—faced segregation and discrimination daily. Locke is considered one of the founders of pragmatism. However, pragmatists did not include him in their history because they believed that his ideas were a reflection solely of African-Americans.

Locke familiarized American readers with ideas and key people in the Harlem Renaissance and New Negro movement. For example, Locke edited a special issue for Survey Graphic in March 1925, which expanded into the New Negro, an anthology of fiction, poetry, drama, and essays. Additionally, Locke edited the “Bronze Booklet” studies of cultural achievements by African-Americans, annually reviewed literature by and about African-Americans in Opportunity and Phylon, and frequently wrote about notable African-Americans for the Britannica Book of the Year. Locke’s published works include: Four Negro Poets (1927), Frederick Douglass, a Biography of Anti-slavery (1939), Negro Art: Past and Present (1936), and The Negro and His Music (1936). Before his untimely death, Locke was working on a manuscript for a definitive study on the contributions of African-Americans on American culture. While this manuscript was left unfinished, it formed the basis for Margaret Just Butcher’s The Negro in American Culture (1956).

Locke encouraged African-American painters, sculptors, musicians, and other artists to utilize African sources for inspiration in their work. Specifically, Locke encouraged artists to reference African sources to better understand African and African-American identity and discover African-based materials and techniques to create and express different art forms. In literature, Locke pressed African-American authors and writers to explore subjects in African and African-American life and to set high artistic standards for themselves. Additionally, Locke was an early advocate for recognizing the importance of African-American slave songs and spirituals to better understand America’s musical history. Locke claimed that “the very element that make them [slave songs and spirituals] spiritually expressive of the Negro make them, at the same time, deeply representative of the soil that produced them…They belong to a common heritage.”

Locke died on June 9, 1954 in New York City at the age of 68.

After his death, Locke was cremated and his ashes were given to his close friend and executor, Philadelphia activist and educator Arthur Huff Fauset. When Fauset died in 1983, his niece, Conchita Porter Morrison, contacted Rev. Sadie Mitchell to act as an intermediary between Morrison and Howard University.

In the mid-1990s, J Weldon Norris, Howard University’s coordinator of music history, was visiting St. Thomas Church for a concert when Rev. Mitchell approached Norris, asking to give him Locke’s cremains to take back with him to Howard University.

Locke’s papers are housed in several gray archival boxes at Howard University’s Moorland-Springarn Research Center. Locke’s cremains were also stored inside a brown paper bag in the research center. The paper bag was inscribed with “Cremains given to Locke’s friend Dr. Arthur Huff Fauset. Arthur is deceased. I kept the remains to give to Howard. —The Rev. Sadie Mitchell, Associate of St. Thomas Church.” In 2007, the cremains were transferred to Howard University’s W. Montague Cobb Research Laboratory in 2007. This lab also housed the remains from New York’s African Burial Ground along with 699 [mostly] African-American skeletons. Mack Mack, the director of the lab, ensured that the cremains were repackaged in a simple urn. Locke’s remains then stayed in the urn at the lab until spring 2014.

60 years after his death, Locke was finally given a permanent resting place at Congressional Cemetery (Range 62, Site 90). The funds for Locke’s inurnment and memorial service were planned and funded by African-American Rhodes Scholars. Locke’s plot location is very fitting—his plot is adjacent to the first director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, Warren Robbins. Locke was not buried with his mother at the Columbian Harmony Cemetery because the cemetery is now a metro station. In circa 1959, 37,000 graves from the Columbian Harmony Cemetery were transferred to Landover, but these graves were left unmarked.

 

 

Locke’s black granite gravestone is inscribed with four symbols on the western elevation. The symbols are: a 9-pointed Baha’i star; a Zimbabwe bird, representing the African country formerly called Rhodesia, which the American Rhodes community adopted; a lambda, representing gay rights; and the Phi Beta Sigma symbol. A simplified reproduction of a bookplate created by Harlem Renaissance painter Aaron Douglas sits at the center of the stone. The emblem portrays a dramatic art-deco depiction of an African woman’s face set against a sunburst. The words “Teneo te, Africa” translate to “I hold you, my Africa.”

Works Cited:

“Alain Locke Biography.” Encyclopedia of World Biography. Accessed January 16, 2019.                 https://www.notablebiographies.com/Ki-Lo/Locke-Alain.html.

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Alain Locke.” Encyclopædia Britannica.                              September 09, 2018. Accessed January 16, 2019.                                                                              https://www.britannica.com/biography/Alain-LeRoy-Locke.

Emanuel, Gabrielle. “Alain Locke, Whose Ashes Were Found In University Archives, Is                      Buried.” NPR. September 15, 2014. Accessed January 16, 2019.                                                     https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2014/09/15/347132309/alain-locke-whose-ashes-were-found-in-university-archives-is-buried.

Haslett, Tobi. “The Man Who Led the Harlem Renaissance-and His Hidden Hungers.” The                   New Yorker.   May 31, 2018. Accessed January 16, 2019.                                                               https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/05/21/the-man-who-led-the-harlem-renaissance-and-his-hidden-hungers

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“It was a scene I can never forget”: The Greely Expedition

As I write this, Washington, D.C. is officially entrenched in winter. Temperatures have plummeted and winds are gusting. It’s unpleasant, to say the least. However, in researching this article, I’m immensely grateful for my warm winter coat, my mostly-desk job, and the space heater I employ if I’m a tad uncomfortable. Any mild discomforts are put to shame when compared to the disastrous Lady Franklin Bay Expedition. The members of this ill-fated entourage, better known as the Greely Expedition, suffered far worse a fate than dry skin and chilly toes.

Many are perhaps more familiar with the famous British Franklin Expedition, which set out for the Artic in 1845. The Franklin ships became entrenched in ice, and ultimately the entire expedition was lost (until recently – but that’s a different story). The American Greely expedition departed over thirty years later but was similarly beset by troubles. Twenty-five men departed Newfoundland for the Artic in 1881. In 1884, when the party was finally rescued, only seven remained – and only six made it back to safety. The first to perish was William Cross, who is buried at Congressional Cemetery.

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Greely Expedition Crew. National Archives. William Cross noted by red arrow.

The goals of the Greely Expedition were twofold: first, to establish a research station to collect weather observations; second, to reach a new “Farthest North,” the highest latitude reached by explorers, and a record long held by the British. The expedition used Fort Conger, their camp on Ellesmere Island, as their home base. The trip was designed to take a year: the U.S.S. Proteus dropped the expedition off on the island and a relief ship was scheduled to arrive in the summer of 1882. However, a relief ship never came.

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Fort Conger, completed. Inuit Jens, Lt. Greely, Cross and Lt. Kislingburg haul ice. Library of Congress.

Anticipating problems, the expedition came with three years of supplies. However, after the relief ship still had not arrived in 1883, First Lieutenant Adolphus Greely made the executive decision to abandon Fort Conger and relocate to Cape Sabine, as the Army had planned to drop supplies at three points further south in case they were unable to reach the men at Fort Conger.  The party endured a traumatic journey south to Cape Sabine, and once they arrived, they were not rewarded for their sacrifices. There was only a small cache of supplies at Cape Sabine, enough to last only an additional few weeks.

From there, as the popular saying goes, things went from bad to worse, and this certainly was the case for William Cross. Cross was an engineer for the expedition, and overall was not well-liked by the rest of the expedition. His disposition was surly and he often overindulged in alcohol. His drunkenness – and the many incidents of falling into water that resulted – made it into the pages of others’ journals. In August 1882 Greely wrote:

“The engineer is drunk today. He fell from the launch into the water, where he would have drowned if he had not been rescued by Brainard. I learned from Lieutenant Lockwood that he had stolen a portion of the alcohol which was sent for the launch for fuel on the late trip up Archer Fiord, and was drunk at that time. He evidently avails himself of every opportunity to purloin and conceal a portion of the fuel alcohol sent out with parties.”

Alcohol problems aside, Cross also endured numerous other ailments over the course of three years. He suffered frostbite in his feet and his ear as well as a painful toothache that resulted in a swollen cheek. By the time the party arrived at Cape Sabine, Cross was already an unhealthy man. He persisted throughout the fall, but by January 1884, he grew weak and was unable to leave his tent. He died on January 18, 1884 of scurvy and malnutrition. On the following day, Sergeant Brainard described the services for Cross and noted poignantly:

“One cannot conceive of anything more unearthly – more weird and solemn – than this ghostly procession of emaciated men moving slowly and silently away from the wretched ice-prison in the uncertain light of the Arctic night, having in their midst a dead comrade about to be laid forever in the frozen ground. It was a scene I can never forget.”

The situation did not improve for the rest of the party. Following Cross, men continued to die of starvation, hypothermia, and drowning. One member, Private Henry, was even executed for stealing shrimp from the community pot. By the time a rescue party finally made it to Cape Sabine, only seven, near-death men remained, including Lieutenant Greely. One man died on the journey home from his wounds, leaving a remaining six men alive.

The remains of the fallen members of the Greely Expedition were retrieved at the time of the rescue. Cross’ body was transported to his home of Washington, D.C., and he was buried in Congressional Cemetery. According to his obituary, 5,000 people cycled through the Cross residence to view William Cross’ casket prior to the funeral. The victims of the disaster were lauded as heroes.

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William Cross headstone. Epitaph reads: William H. Cross. Born January 20, 1845. Perished while exploring the Arcic Region under Lieut. Greely. January 18, 1884. at rest.

For the survivors, however, the story was quite different. Rumors of cannibalism tainted the reputation and the achievements of the Greely Expedition. Many of the rescuers claimed that the recovered bodies showed evidence of cannibalism, and some families of the deceased upheld these disturbing claims. Greely continued to deny these rumors until his death – even appearing in a diorama depicting the expedition at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.

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Diaorama of the Greely Expedition, at the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition, showing Lt. A.W. Greely, U.S. Army, welcoming Lt. Lockwood and Sgt. Brainard back to Ft. Conger. Library of Congress.

 

To end on a gruesome note – while it is possible, and even probable, that cannibalism did occur, it is unlikely that William Cross’ remains suffered this fate. As the first to die before starvation truly set in for the party, it is improbable that his fellow team members used him for that purpose, and they certainly wouldn’t have resorted to digging up his frozen remains when the situation became truly dire. William Cross – likely all of him – is buried in Range 90, Site 299. Though not well loved by his comrades, the courage he exhibited in going on this mission in the first place should be remembered, especially on wintry days like today.

Lauren Maloy, Program Director

Resources:

Website that includes summaries, photos from the expedition, and journals. American Experience: The Greely Expedition. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/greely/

Bytes of History: William Cross articles and obituary: http://bytesofhistory.org/Cemeteries/DC_Congressional/Obits/C/C_PDF/Cross_WilliamH.pdf

“The Greely Expedition. Alleged Cannibalism.” Daily News. New York, August 12, 1884. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/43815941

Urness, James. 25 Brave Men: Tales of an Arctic Journey. Tucson: Wheatmark, 2013.

 

 

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Veterans at Congressional Cemetery

On November 11, 1919 “Armistice Day” was first observed to commemorate the first anniversary of the end of the first World War. In 1926, the United States Congress called for annual observance of the end of World War I and by 1938, November 11 became a national holiday. In 1954, “Armistice Day” officially evolved into “Veterans Day,” which honors all people who have served in the military–both the living and the dead.

            Although Veterans Day occurred last week, we wanted to highlight some of the veterans who are buried or inurned at Congressional Cemetery. Some of the veterans featured in this blog post likely sound familiar to you, while other veterans are not as well-known. A veteran from several of the major conflicts in U.S. history has been selected, and information about their lives and military service is shared. While we do not have the exact number of veterans who are buried at Congressional Cemetery, we do know that the number is in the thousands.

Revolutionary War: Jacob Gideon

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            On March 3, 1841, Jacob Gideon, 87, died in Washington D.C. Jacob Gideon served in the Revolutionary War as a trumpeter and a private in the Pennsylvania Militia. Two of Gideon’s descendants, Philip F. and John B. Larner, are members of the Columbia Historical Society and the Sons of the American Revolution.

On January 29, 1863, it was reported in The Evening Star that a marble “statue about three feet tall, in a standing position, with the hands folded across the breast, representing, Meditation” had been stolen from Congressional Cemetery.

The War of 1812: General Alexander Macomb

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In 1799, General Macomb was first commissioned in the U.S. Army, where he helped negotiate treaties with the Cherokee Nation. In 1802, General Macomb was commissioned into the Army Corps of Engineers. While in the Army Corps of Engineers, General Macomb spent five years in charge of coastal fortifications in the Carolina’s and Georgia. General Macomb attended West Point as both a student and an officer, and he eventually became appointed as a judge advocate. Consequently, General Macomb wrote a treatise on martial law and the practice of court-martial, which established standard work for the U.S. Army.

Right before the War of 1812, General Macomb was promoted as a Lieutenant Colonel. During the war, he became a Brigadier General and he was in command of the frontier of northern New York. As a result of his conduct in the Battle of Plattsburg, where he successfully fought an invasion made by British forces that were larger than his own forces, General Macomb was promoted to Major-General. In May 1828, President John Quincy Adams appointed General Macomb as the Commander General of the U.S. Army. General Macomb held this position until his death in 1841. President Adams attended his funeral, along with all of the “Officers of the Government, both Houses of Congress, the Diplomatic Corps, [and] Military and Naval Officers.”

The Mexican War: Truman Cross

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Truman Cross was born in Prince George’s County, MD in April 1776. At the age of seventeen, Col. Cross enlisted as an Ensign of the 12th Regiment of Infantry. During the War of 1812, Cross served in Maryland before he joined the staff of General Taylor. Cross was killed in service during the Mexican War on the Rio Grande while serving as the Quarter Master General for the Army of Occupation. It is believed that Col. Cross was captured and taken into Mexico.

The Civil War: Littleton Quinter Washington

Col. Washington was a well-known newspaper correspondent and writer for political affairs in DC for about fifty years. Col. Washington was born in Washington D.C. on November 3, 1825 and died on November 4, 1902 in the home of his brother-in-law, Dr. Warwick Evans.

After the start of the Civil War, Col. Washington fled to the south and joined the Confederate military. Soon after enlisting, he became appointed as the Chief of Clerk of the Department of the State of the Confederacy. In this position, he had “confidential relations” with Secretaries Benjamin and Hunter. By the end of the Civil War, Washington was the acting Assistant Secretary of the State of the Confederacy.

After the Civil War, Col. Washington returned to Washington D.C. and began his career as a newspaper correspondent on political affairs. In 1869, Col. Washington entered the press gallery as a writer for the National Intelligencer and a correspondent for the London Telegraph. He was also a correspondent of the New Orleans Picayune and other southern newspapers.

Col. Washington never married and spent fifty-four years living with Dr. Warwick Evans. His bachelor apartments were described as being filled with “rare books,” which Col. Washington enjoyed reading. Furthermore, Col. Washington was very knowledgeable about southern history, and he frequently entertained distinguished statesmen.

Col. Washington had been confined to his room for the last year and a half of his life, and he had been confined to his bed for the last five months of his life. Col. Washington spent the last week of his life destroying large quantities of his private papers, including all of his correspondences and his personal journal.

Right before his death, Col. Washington told his niece that he would die just like his mother had–by choking. A few minutes later, he was seized with convulsive choking and passed away.

Col. Washington is related to the Washington, Mason, Stuart, Dade, Foote, Strother, Lund, and Townshend families of Virginia.

The Civil War: Benjamin F. McAlwee

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            McAlwee worked at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. In 1961, McAlwee enlisted in Company B, 1st District Volunteers for three months. After three months passed, he re-enlisted in Company D, 3d Maryland Volunteers for three years. McAlwee then re-enlisted, serving until July 1865. In total, McAlwee engaged in twenty-seven engagements during the Civil War.

On July 30, 1864, McAlwee, who was part of Company D, 3d Maryland, was serving in Petersburg, Virginia. During combat, McAlwee picked up a shell with a burning fuse, threw it over the parapet of a trench, and saved the lives of many men in his company. Consequently, he was awarded the Medal of Honor by Congress for “most distinguished gallantry in action.”. After his service, he worked as a watchman in the Treasure Department for thirty-five years.

World War I: Elizabeth Lambert Hebb

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Hebb was the daughter of Clement Dorsey Hebb, a former Marine Corps Commandant. During World War I, Hebb served as a Yeomanette. In 1919, Hebb joined the Veterans Administration, where she worked for twenty-three years. She composed several songs and piano compositions, where were performed during recitals in Barker Hall of the YWCA in Washington D.C.

World War I: Samuel Walter Sowerbutts

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Captain Sowerbutts was killed in Jametz, France on November 10, 1918–the day before the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. Captain Sowerbutts quickly advanced in the U.S. Army. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant shortly after World War I was declared and was appointed as a Captain-Adjutant of the “6th” before he was deployed to France. Captain Sowerbutts was a cadet at Business High School but had no real military experience prior to enlisting in the Army. Captain Sowerbutts’ remains were brought back to the U.S. in 1921. His remains were interred in the Public Vault and then were buried in the family plot in October 1921.

World War II: George Spiegel

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George Spiegel was a lawyer who specialized in public utility law. He was a founding partner of the Washington-based law firm Spiegel & McDiarmid (1967). In the 1960s, Spiegel legally represented several municipalities in the electric, power, and gas businesses in cases against for-profit entities. His cases were presented before federal agencies, the U.S. Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court. Spiegel initially became interested in utility law after he successfully challenged bus fare increases proposed by the Capital Transit Company (later known as the D.C. Transit System). In 1971, Spiegel won a case before the Supreme Court that challenged a large company’s attempts at collecting payments from a smaller municipal power for backup service.

George Spiegel was born in Salem, MA and graduated from Amherst College in 1941. During World War II, Spiegel served with the Navy in the South Pacific. He then went on to receive a law degree from Harvard University before working with the Office of the General Counsel of the Navy Department. Until 1960, Spiegel served as a legal member of the Navy Contract Adjustment Board.

Spiegel was also a longtime supporter of conservation efforts. For example, in 1995, Spiegel donated over 700 acres of lakefront land in Vermont to the Vermont Land Trust and the Nature Conservancy of Vermont and New York. Additionally, Spiegel made another donation of nearly 500 acres, which completed a 20-mile black bear migration corridor in Central Vermont.

Additionally, Spiegel was actively involved in the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of Metro D.C. by serving as a spokesman for fifteen years.

On October 23, 1997, Spiegel died of a stroke in his home in Silver Spring, MD.

The Korean War: James Messer Ruedin, Sr

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Reudin served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. From 1954 until 1961, Ruedin worked in the advertising and purchasing department at the New York Daily News. From 1961 until 1991, Ruedin was the Vice President of Niemand Brothers and Niemand Industries. Ruedin died in 2005.

The Vietnam War: Leonard Matlovich

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Sgt. Matlovich served in the U.S. Air Force for twelve years. Sgt. Matlovich was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his service. While serving in Vietnam, Sgt. Matlovich stepped on a Viet Cong land mine, and he killed two soldiers during a Viet Cong attack while on sentry duty.

Sgt. Matlovich was dishonorably discharged in the military because of his sexual identify. The military banned gay men and lesbians from the military under the premise that they would be susceptible to blackmail. For five years, Sgt. Matlovich legally challenged his discharge in military and civilian courts. Sgt. Matlovich’s case drew national attention and became a symbol of the struggle to end discrimination against lesbians and gay men. Ultimately, Sgt. Matlovich settled out of court with the Air Force for $160,000 and agreed to give up his battle for readmission into the military. Sgt. Matlovich became active in the gay and lesbian battle for equal rights, and he was active in several organizations involved with AIDS.

Sgt. Matlovich made his decision to legally challenge the military’s ban on gay men after conversing with Franklin Kameny. At the time, Sgt. Matlovich had served in the Air Force for about eleven years, and he was a technical sergeant and human relations specialist at the Langley Air Force Base.

In September 1975, Sgt. Matlovich’s picture appeared on the cover of Time Magazine, making him the first openly gay man to appear on the cover of a widely circulated national magazine. Matlovich died of AIDS on June 22, 1988.

 

Schmidt, Sandy and Rebecca Roberts. “4. In The Line of Duty.” In 2007 HCC Commemorative Book. 2007.On file at Congressional Cemetery.

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National Day of Service and Remembrance

In 2009, the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act made September 11 an official, federally recognized holiday. Since then, Americans across the country have been volunteering with various organizations for the September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance. The purpose of the day is to serve as a way to honor those who passed away in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and to reawaken the spirit of unity that brought people from all over the country together after the devastating attacks.

Every year, Congressional Cemetery serves as one of the host sites for the National Day of Service and Remembrance. This year was no different. On September 8, 2018, we hosted approximately 250 volunteers at the cemetery. The volunteers worked on a total of ten projects.

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Posing after completing their project. Photo taken by Sean McCoy.

One of the biggest projects was the creation of two gravel pathways in the eastern section of the cemetery. The pea gravel, which was a mixture of sandstone and sand, was selected based off of a poll that the cemetery posted on social media. One portion of the path had to have metal edging installed along the perimeter, which involved a lot of physical labor. Meanwhile, the portion of the path that leads to and surrounds the Methodist Memorial has brick edging that was dug up by our Grounds Conservation Manager, Kymberly Mattern. The bricks used in the brick edging are the same bricks that historically lined a gravel pathway around the memorial.

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Working hard to install the metal edging. Photo taken by Sean McCoy.

Another team was responsible for pulling weeds and re-mulching the flower beds on Mausoleum Row. If you visited in the cemetery in late July and August, you likely noticed that the flower beds were overgrown. The team pulled all of the weeds out of the flower beds, added a new layer to serve as a barrier for the weeds, and re-mulched the flower beds. Their work significantly enhanced the view of Mausoleum Row while also benefited the health of the plants.

A smaller team was also responsible for maintaining some of the abandoned plots in our Adopt-a-Plot program. They focused primarily on adopted plots near the gatehouse and around the chapel. Additionally, a different smaller team was responsible for pulling weeds in the historic cobblestone swales, near where the new pathways were created. This team went above and beyond—they also dug up some of the cobblestones that had been buried under years of sediment, dirt, and debris. Concurrently, another team worked on pulling weeds outside of the cemetery, near Barney Circle. This particular area was severely overgrown and was unsightly. Their efforts improved the view of the cemetery that people have when turning on to 17th Street.

In previous years, one of the projects was to paint the fence that runs along E Street and Potomac Avenue. This project was finally completed this year. A large group of volunteers applied a Rust-oleum black paint to the fence, which will help extend the life of the fence by acting as a protective barrier to the iron.

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The rain held out for us, so the fence was able to be painted. Photo taken by Sean McCoy.

Finally, another team worked on pruning trees around the cemetery. Trees in every part of the cemetery were pruned to approximately 6 feet in height, helping to restore the historic viewshed of the cemetery.

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Working together to trim some of the limbs off of a tree near the chapel. Photo taken by Sean McCoy.

The work done by the volunteers on Day of Remembrance always makes a huge difference on the grounds of the cemetery. Since there is a small staff and an even smaller grounds crew, the work that was completed on Day of Remembrance is equivalent to a year’s worth of work on the grounds—all done in a day. The cemetery wouldn’t be as beautiful as it is today without the hard work of all of the volunteers. It is our hope that this event instilled the same sense of unity and community that this country experienced after 9/11 and that the volunteers held the victims of 9/11 and their loved ones in their hearts while volunteering at the cemetery.

We are incredibly grateful for Frager’s Hardware Store and Subway for supporting the volunteers for Day of Remembrance by providing supplies and tools (respectively) for the event.

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People of all ages came out to volunteer last Saturday. Photo taken by Sean McCoy.

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