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H. J. Norton: appointed temporary clerk

1 May 2016


[At the time of his death (1876) Norton was living at 517 A Street, S.E.]

Washington Evening Star, 19 April 1870, p. 1.

“H. J. Norton has been appointed temporary clerk in the Finance Division of the Post Office Department.”

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Edwin Hesse: 1930 census

24 December 2015


Federal census, 1930, 506 A Street, S.E., Washington, D.C.

  • Edwin B. Hesse, head, owns ($15,000), 58, married, first marriage at 28, b. in D.C., father b. in Germany, mother b. in N.Y.
  • Pamela Hesse, wife, 50 first marriage at 20, b. in Ky., father b. in Ireland, mother b. in Ky.
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14 February 2014



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26 January 2013


400 block 1949

[Photo: Historical Society of Washington, D.C.]

As I walk around our neighborhood, I often find myself wondering about the people who have lived here since the second half of the nineteenth century, and I feel intensely curious about their distant lives. On the assumption that many of my neighbors must also share this fascination with the names and personalities of certain persons long dead, I am trying to gather on this blog a good deal of information about the former inhabitants of A Street SE (between Third and Sixth streets) on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. The emphasis is mainly on the people who lived on this street rather than the history of the buildings, though I am compiling any material that I can about the street’s past. There will also be some occasional notes about other addresses in the neighborhood, including of course St. Mark’s Church, which is at the corner of A and Third streets.

The easiest way to find all the posts relating to a particular house is to click on one of the addresses in the dropdown menus under the header above and in the menu Addresses at the right. The tag cloud below it includes surnames, names of institutions, and a few broad categories like photosdeaths, and marriages. The search box at the upper right is useful for doing more miscellaneous kinds of searches.

However, I have gradually become aware that by now so much material has accumulated on this blog that it is increasingly difficult to make any sense out of it. I have therefore decided, as an experiment, to open up my drafts and notes in OneNote Online, where you can see all the entries for an individual house at a glance, organized chronologically. OneNote also allows you to search within the text of the various newspaper clippings. I should add that searching is very slow in OneNote Online, so you will want to continue using the blog itself for most searches and to keep track of the latest posts. Here is the link to the OneNote notebook.

I am grateful to several persons who have supplied material for this blog: Gene Berry, Peter Clark, Eric Freund, Mark Kantor, Paul Cromwell, and Maureen Shea. I welcome further suggestions and corrections.

—Bill Peterson (

Postscript: A quick word about Boyd’s Directory, which is cited so frequently on this blog. In late 2013 I located fifteen annual editions of it online, downloaded them to my hard disk, and then, after searching for individual addresses, posted the results here. Gradually, however, I have gained access to many additional volumes of Boyd’s, and I have therefore found it necessary to bring the lists on this blog up to date from time to time. Since in the twentieth century Boyd’s included a “Street and Avenue Guide,” I have also clipped and uploaded the sections describing the 300, 400, and 500 blocks of A Street in many of those volumes (mainly supplied by Paul Cromwell) in a series of posts entitled “Residents of A Street in [year].” Finally, you should note that the OCR in all the Boyd’s volumes is imperfect; do not be puzzled, therefore, if John Doe appears at an address in 1905 and 1908 but not 1906 or 1907. He’s probably living there in the intervening years as well.

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