Archive for June 14th, 2012

Death knocked on the door of the Frederick Douglass family too often, Douglass outlives his wife, two children, and numerous grand-children

Death knocked at the door of the family of Frederick Douglass all too frequently. When a parent buries a child the natural evolutionary order of life is upset. Frederick Douglass buried two of his children. Just nine of Douglass’ twenty-one grandchildren lived to adulthood.

When his youngest daughter Annie died in March 1860, less than two weeks short of her 11th birthday, Douglass was in Glasgow, Scotland, having fled the country after he was implicated in John Brown’s failed raid of the Federal Arsenal at Harpers Ferry in November 1859.

Anna Murray Douglass passed away on August 4, 1882 and nearly ten years later, as a heat wave swept through the city, on July 26, 1892 Douglass’ middle son and namesake, Frederick, Jr. died. He was fifty years old.

From the National Tribune, 4 August, 1892.

Tuesday, July 26. – Frederick Douglass, jr., a son of the noted colored man of that name died at Hillsdale, a Washington suburb, today. Mr. Douglass was for some time employed in the office of Recorder of Deeds in the District of Columbia, having gone there while his father was the Recorder, but for the past five years has been a clerk in the Pension Bureau.

And from the Washington Post, 5 November, 1887.

Death in Fred. Douglass’s Family

Charles R. Douglass, son of Frederick Douglass, is at present sadly afflicted in the loss of his two elder children, Chas. F. and Julia A. Douglass, of typhoid fever. The disease was first taken by the son about five weeks ago and by the daughter about two weeks ago, since which time the three other children have been attacked and one of them is now lying at the point of death. Charles was about twenty years of age and the daughter about fifteen. The son’s death took place Wednesday night and the daughter’s the following night. The two bodies will be interred at Greenwood this afternoon.

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While Civil War still going on, Robert F. Martin appointed local postmaster of Uniontown


Nearly one-hundred and fifty years ago there was a hotel and a post office in Uniontown. Today, there’s no post office or hotel within Historic Anacostia.

According to Arthur Hecht’s extensive research into the history of the postal service in the city for the Washington Philatelic Society, Anacostia’s first post office was established on February 6, 1849. It was discontinued on December 3, 1855 and then reestablished less than three months later on February 26, 1856.

The name was formally changed from Anacostia to Uniontown on March 9, 1856 and then changed back to Anacostia on February 8, 1869. (I need to consult another set of notes but the name change from Uniontown to Anacostia is reflected in the Congressional Record.) The post office in Anacostia was then discontinued on July 31, 1900.

Among Anacostia’s Postmasters were Robert F. Martin (appointed March 9, 1865), Henry A. Griswold (appointed October 31, 1881), and George Pyles (appointed twice), and Julias Tolson (appointed November 6, 1894). According to Hecht the annual compensation was $25 in 1865, $66 in 1867, $40 in 1869, and $80 in 1871.

In the Baltimore Sun’Washington Letter” column from March 13, 1865 it was announced that Robert F. Martin was appointed postmaster.

“A post office has just been established by the Postmaster General at what is called Uniontown, Washington county, D.C., with Mr. Robert F. Martin as postmaster. The location of this town is immediately opposite the Washington navy yard, on the east side of the Anacostia River, at the termination of the bridge and being near to Giesboro’, the great cavalry and quarmaster’s depot, the post office there will be of great advantage to the large number of mechanics and other workmen, soldiers, & c., there stationed.

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