Bryantown

 

Bryantown appears to have designated a string of houses on 35th Street north of Reservoir Road, but may also have applied to houses on Reservoir Road east of 35th Street. The origin of the name may have been the 1807 purchase by a man named Bryan Duffy, of land on the east side of Fayette and 8th Streets (i.e. 35th and R Streets).  Duffy seems to have been a contractor: at about the time of that 1807 transaction, he donated material for the plastering of the new Georgetown College. Duffy was later described as being the father of the builder of the second Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown (1851). He is also remembered in connection with excavation work on Analoston Island: “General Mason ordered a workman (Bryan Duffy) to cut through them.” Bryan Duffy’s 1813 will mentions “Duffy’s Town, on Fayette street”.

(John Threlkeld to Bryan Duffy, DC Liber S18, f. 113/93; Father McElroy to Father Stonestreet, Dec. 30, 1856, cited by Joseph Zwinge, S. J., The Novitiate in Maryland, Woodstock Letters, Volume XLIV, Number 1, 1 February 1915; David Bailie Warden, A Chorographical and Statistical Description of the District of Columbia, 1816, p.136); DC Wills, 1813, box 4; Wesley Pippenger, District of Columbia Probate Records, 1801-1852)

“Anon. col’d child, 4 mos., found in Bryan Town”.  (Holy Trinity Death Register, November 28, 1834)

The 1836 will of Dr. Charles Worthington mentions “sundry lots on Fayette St. in Duffy’s Town”.  (DC Wills, box 13; Pippenger, District of Columbia Probate Records, 1829-1840, p.205)

In 1845 a mission school of the Methodist Episcopal Church was started at Bryantown, West Georgetown, but was discontinued in a few years. (History of Methodism in Georgetown, vertical file, Peabody Room, Georgetown Branch Library.)

The 1853 directory of Georgetown says Henry Angell lives “in Bryantown.“

“Sale. By E.S. Wright, Auctioneer. I shall sell without reserve, at the late residence of Mr. Duffey, in Bryantown”. (Evening Star, May 30, 1854, p.3)

The Bear Pump––and previously the  Bear Wallow Spring––at 7th and Fayette Streets (Reservoir and 35th) was specified by the city of Georgetown as being “at Bryantown”.   (Georgetown Ordinances, July 1, 1865; Georgetown Courier, April 3, 1869)

“Affairs in West Washington. The Route of the New Water Conduit.––The projected new conduit strikes this place on the side of Fayette, between 8th street [R Street] and Madison street [Whitehaven Parkway], near Mrs. Duffy’s cottage”. The landmark referred to is the house of Elizabeth Duffy, of 214 Fayette Street, born in about 1804, with real estate worth $6000 in 1870. The conduit passed under 35th Street at about S Street. (Boyd’s Directory of Georgetown, 1860; 1870, 1880 census; Star, September 17, 1883, p.1).

“Yesterday morning officers Bradley and Harry arrested Geo. Jackson, a well-known offender, for assaulting the Minor family in “Bryantown” and giving the members some facial decorations.” (Star, June 29, 1891, p.8)

“Affairs in Georgetown. Diphtheria and Scarlet Fever Prevalent in Bryantown Section. A number of diphtheria cases in the northwestern part of Georgetown are reported, and the residents of the neighborhood are somewhat alarmed, The disease is prevalent in the belt north of Q street and west of 32d street, including a large portion of the town known as “Bryantown,” an old-established locality.” It’s quite likely that “old-established locality'” was meant as something other than respect: post-Civil War Georgetown directories and censuses show numerous households of black laborers.  (Star, August 27, 1898, p.3)

The five single-family houses and five tenements in Georgetown north of Reservoir Road, owned by Alfred Pope (1821-1906), may be part of Bryantown.  After the name fell out of use, and ceased to appear in print, it was more likely to be remembered as Brinetown.  (Lesko, Babb, Gibbs, Black Georgetown Remembered, 1991)

 

 

Bryan Town Woods and Bryan Town Ball Ground

Edgar Farr Russell, the author of A Short History of Burleith (1955) mentions Bryantown, and also B.T. Ball Ground (which he refers to as “their own ballfield“). Francis McKinley, who grew up in Glover Park in the 1940s, recalled that Whitehaven Park was called B.T. Woods. That B.T. Woods could also mean the present-day Hillandale is suggested by news items concerning a band of gypsies who were reported to have pitched their camp on the outskirts of Georgetown. The encampment, described as being “near Western High School”, can be located with greater precision because it was remembered––by a child, born in 1904 at 3416 Reservoir Road––as having been north and west of the intersection of 39th and Reservoir Road.

“We’d go out to what we called the “B.T.” woods where the big estate is now, which was right across from Georgetown Hospital, where the Archibald Estate [i.e. Anne Archbold’s Hillandale] is on this same location now.  Every couple of years a big tribe of Gypsies in their wagons and horses and covered wagons would show up over night and they’d have big bonfires around with kettles of soup going.”

(That B.T. refers to Bryan Town, note T.T. Garage, in Judith Beck Helm, Tenleytown, D.C.: Country Village into City Neighborhood, 1981,  p.207; “Gypsy Band Quits Georgetown For Warmer Clime––Hungarian Wanderers Suddenly Leave For Virginia”, Washington Times, November 2, 1911, p. 13; Oral History, Raymond R. Brown, 1969, Peabody Room, Georgetown Branch Library)

 

 

Post Script

At 1710 35th Street––very near Bryan Duffy’s 1807 purchase––stands a house built in 1859. Although it was described as a farmhouse in 2018, this seems unlikely, as Arthur Schott (1814–1875) was a noted topographical engineer, cartographer, botanist, and geologist, and not a farmer.

The house was later the residence of another German, Gustav Friebus (1813-1912) who came to America with his father in 1848, and became an architect. Friebus assisted in directing the completion of the Washington Monument.

(Lost Farms and Estates of Washington, D.C., Kim Prothro Williams, 2018; Gretchen Gause Fox, “Arthur Schott: German Immigrant Illustrator of the American West”, M.A. thesis, George Washington University, 1977; “Gustav Friebus”, January 7, 1912, Evening Star, p.15; New York Herald, January 18, 1912, p.9)

 

 

 

___________________________________________________________

Carlton Fletcher

 The citation and acknowledgement of my research is greatly appreciated.

All rights reserved.

 

 Questions and corrections may be directed to

carlton@gloverparkhistory.com

 

The support of the Advisory Neighborhood Council (3B) is gratefully acknowledged.