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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Barry Farm in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Hillsdale

An East of the River View

 

—Anacostia Heritage Trail —

 
Hillsdale Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
1. Hillsdale Marker
Inscription. You are standing in the middle of what once was a large estate owned by James Barry. The Washington City merchant, land speculator, and councilman purchased part of the "St. Elizabeths" tract hoping to profit as the city expanded eastward.

By the end of the Civil War (1861-1865) some 40,000 refugees from slavery had arrived in Washington. They settled where they could, often in terrible conditions. To provide them with housing and education, the U.S. government established the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands. In 1867 the Freedmen's Bureau bought 375 acres from Barry's heirs to establish a model community. The Bureau sold one-acre lots here, induding building materials, and required buyers to construct a 14 X 24-foot two-room house with a peaked roof.

Within two years, more than 500 African American families, both refugees and established Washingtonians, had bought lots. Together they cleared trees and built houses, a church, and a school. After working all day, many families trudged out to Anacostia in the evenings to dig, saw, and hammer by candlelight.

Most Barry Farm men worked blue collar Jobs, often at St Elizabeths Hospital or across the river at the Navy Yard or the Washington Gas Light plant. But some made livings as government clerks, teachers or professionals. Prominent
Hillsdale Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
2. Hillsdale Marker
among these were Frederick Douglass's sons Charles, Lewis, ,and Frederick Jr., and attorney and justice of the peace John Moss, the first African American judicial officer in DC. Smithsonian Institution employee Solomon Brown may have been the most respected. In 1811 voters black and white alike elected him to represent Anacostia in the DC House of Delegates for the first of three terms. Brown introduced the measure changing Barry Farm's name to Hillsdale.
 
Erected by Anacostia Heritage Trail. (Marker Number 4.)
 
Location. 38° 51.509′ N, 76° 59.739′ W. Marker is in Barry Farm, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue Southeast, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2627 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue Southeast, Washington DC 20020, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Campbell African Methodist Episcopal Church (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Curative Powers of Nature (about 600 feet away); Faith and Action (approx. 0.2 miles away); St. Elizabeths Hospital (approx. ¼ mile away); A Navy Town
James Barry of Barry Farm image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
3. James Barry of Barry Farm
Close-up of photo on marker
(approx. ¼ mile away); Barry Farm - Hillsdale (approx. ¼ mile away); Birney School (approx. ¼ mile away); Nichols Avenue Elementary School/Old Birney School Site (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Barry Farm.
 
Categories. African AmericansNotable PlacesSettlements & Settlers
 
General O. O. Howard headed the Freedmen's Bureau image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
4. General O. O. Howard headed the Freedmen's Bureau
Close-up of photo on marker
On April 26, the <i>Evening Star</i> reported the purchase of 375 acres to be resold to Freedmen. image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
5. On April 26, the Evening Star reported the purchase of 375 acres to be resold to Freedmen.


R. M. Hall sold yesterday, at his Real Estate Exchange, 71 Louisiana avenue, to John R. Elvans, Esq., for $52,000 cash down, the large farm of Mrs. Barry, adjoining the Insane Asylum, and next to Uniontown 375 acres. This, including other sales, makes over $100,000 worth of property sold at Mr. Hall's exchange during the present month. We are informed that this purchase is made by Mr. Elvans, in trust to General O. O. Howard, Senator S. C. Pomeroy, and himself, as trustees, for the purpose of dividing the Barry farm into one or two acres, to be sold on a credit of three years to deserving freedmen, at a maximum price of $125 per acres, in order to test the capability of colored farmers to be self sustaining, when offered the incentive of ultimate land-ownership. The proceeds of these sales and the interest, to be appropriated to the use of freedmen's colleges in the District of Columbia, Virginia, and North Carolina, in equal proportions, in accordance with an act of Congress.
Close-up of image on marker
Anacostia Hills 1944 by John Robinson image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
6. Anacostia Hills 1944 by John Robinson
Artist and Anacostia resident John Robinson (1912-1994) painted substantial Hillsdale houses and an eroded hillside in “Anacostia Hills” in 1944. Across the river is the Navy Yard.
Close-up of painting on reverse of marker
Potomac City image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
7. Potomac City
This 1878 map shows Potomac City (Barry Farm) with streets named for abolitionists and Freedmen's Bureau officials. Roads followed the contours of the land.
Close-up of map on marker
Original Barry Farm House image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
8. Original Barry Farm House
In 1942 the Stanton Rd. house above was one of the few remaining Barry Farm originals.
Close-up of photo on marker
John Moss's House image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
9. John Moss's House
Attorney John Moss, a former slave and a Civil War veteran, posed with his wife Ellen and family at their Nichols Ave. Home/office, later replaced by the Barry Farm playing field.
Close-up of photo on marker
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on March 7, 2017. This page originally submitted on March 4, 2017, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 144 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on March 4, 2017, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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