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Author Topic: Weird Backyard Find!  (Read 2103 times)
Jim Page
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« on: June 04, 2012, 05:35:49 PM »

Here's a weird one that I hope someone with historic knowledge can assist with!

Today, my son Aaron was working in the back yard and at the very back of our property, while digging up a stump for a flower bed, he found a brick-and-concrete foundation of some type. It's about 5 feet square and set at a diagonal to the house; it's about 60 feet from the house itself. It looks as old as our house, which was built in 1926. It appears to be the foundation of a small structure that had brick walls on all four sides.

Attached are a photo of the thing, whatever it is, and a photo showing its relationship to the house, which you can't really see because our back deck protrudes 20 feet behind the house. The underside of the deck is what you see in the bottom photo.

Patty thinks it's either the foundation of an old outhouse or was built to cover where an old outhouse used to be. I say, no; no one built brick outhouses (regardless of the old joke!) and an outhouse wouldn't have a solid concrete foundation, and no one would go to the trouble of covering up an outhouse site in such an elaborate manner.

Background info: We live in the historic district in Hyattsville, Maryland; just a few miles from DC. Our house was built by T. Howard Duckett, who founded the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission in 1918. He lived in a large house built in the center of six city lots across the street from our house, and put up five Sears kit homes for rentals. Ours is the middle one of those. The original WSSC building is on the block behind our house. So this house has always had city water and sewerage.

Does that have anything to do with this old foundation? I don't know, but would appreciate any info or educated guesses!

--Jim

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BoothBuff
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« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2012, 05:45:24 PM »

     It may be an old septic tank. How deep is it? They were sometimes built as a one tank system years ago as compared to today's where you have one tank for solids and one for the water to seep out of.
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Jim Page
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« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2012, 06:06:16 PM »

Hey, BoothBuff--

I thought about it being a septic tank, but I've never seen one built 60 feet from the house, and usually they are much larger than this thing is. Our farm house in north Florida has a septic tank right near the house, and our old beach house on Amelia Island also had a septic tank adjacent to the house.

My son is busy out back digging down one side of it to see how deep it goes.

My next-door neighbor came over to look at it, and he says he thinks it is the foundation for an old pump house. Now what in the heck a pump house would be needed for in this area, I can't say. We're on the top of a hill.

He also said a neighbor two houses west had an old oak tree fall down a couple of years ago, and in the ground uncovered by the roots, they found lots of old bottles and earthenware jugs, most in very nice unbroken shape. Those folks were thinking that their backyard must have been a dump of some sort a hundred and fifty years ago.

I'm going to contact the Hyattsville Historical Society in the morning to see what they have to say.

Thanks for the input!

--Jim
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Jim Page
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« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2012, 06:19:26 PM »

Here's a better photo taken from the back deck.



--Jim
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Nan
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« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2012, 05:15:15 AM »

Hi Jim:  I grew up in the 1950's in Hyattsville on 42nd Place just across from St. Jeromes Catholic school.  The house was a pre-Civil War farmhouse.  There was an old well in the backyard that was covered up by a cement block to ensure that the kids didn't fall in, but it didn't resemble the foundation of a previous structure.  Old Route 1 just down the street was the major road - north-south.  Before the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel was built we would take Route 1 (through downtown Baltimore) to Philly to visit relatives - it took about 4 hours one way.  There was one of those historical plaques along Route 1 near Bel Air regarding the proximity to Tudor Hall and describing it as the home of John Wilkes Booth, assassin of Lincoln, which is long gone.  I went back to Hyattsville last year to view the old home and wander around - it is virtually unchanged from the 50's.

Thanks for indulging me with some old memories.  It's a small world!
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Jim Page
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« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2012, 07:13:17 AM »

Hi, Nan--

Thanks for the great info. Patty and I love living in Hyattsville; we live on Ingraham which is one block south of Jefferson.

It's a wonderful neighborhood and a real community.

--Jim
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Joe Gleason
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« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2012, 07:46:45 AM »

Jim,

I came across a photo of T. Howard Duckett and thought I'd post it for you. How long have you been living there?
                                                           
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Jim Page
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« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2012, 10:27:06 AM »

Hey, Joe!

That's a great find! Thanks for posting it!!!

We moved here in 2003, and feel we were lucky to find this home. Having Mr. Duckett's place across the street is like living across from a park, because his former home sits smack in the middle of six city lots.

The fellow who owns the Duckett home today says the large place is as nice inside as it is outside, but that evidently the Ducketts had all their food prepared elsewhere and brought in. He says the kitchen reminds him more of a hunting lodge than a residence!

Beautiful old home, though!

--Jim
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Joe Gleason
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« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2012, 05:24:44 PM »

You're welcome, Jim. The reason for asking is because of a little old lady that lived in the house diagonal to the Duckett house on the corner of 41st & Jefferson. (It's just across the street) "Miss Ellen" lived there for more than fifty years before passing away sometime in the late 1980s. Although her father Edward was to young to serve, two of his older brothers were officers in the Civil War. One at Gettysburg and the other was with Stonewall Jackson when he was wounded at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

Jim, can you see the large brick house on the corner of 41st & Jefferson from your front yard? I think it's the northeast corner of 41st & Jefferson.  
« Last Edit: June 18, 2012, 11:56:04 AM by Joe Gleason » Logged
Jim Page
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« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2012, 05:45:01 PM »

Hi, Joe--

Yes; I can see that house from my front yard, and even more so from my back deck. That's a nice house; in fact, the last time it was on the market, about five years ago, I seriously considered buying it so that my daughter and her family could live with us. It is indeed diagonal from the Duckett house on 41st Avenue.

As I recall, that house has 11 rooms. I used to have the write-up that the realtor provided; it had a little history of the place.

The folks who live there now are a nice young couple who have a couple of pre-school-age daughters.

Small world!!!

--Jim
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Joe Gleason
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« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2012, 07:05:11 PM »

I'm not sure what they told you, but I hope that one day you have another opportunity to buy that house.

 Here's a little family history about James, one of "Miss Ellen's" uncles.

James had been appointed as a Lieutenant in the 7th North Carolina Regimant. Like his brother, he too had escaped the dull life of Richmond for a field command. The 7th North Carolina was one of the original regiments raised in that state. He was in Company H which had been recruited in the area around Salisbury and had a short but glorious combat career. His regiment was in the Battle of Chancellorsville in early May, 1863 and took part in the great flanking maneuver by which Stonewall Jackson rolled up on a large part of the Union Army.
 
James' part is best described in the words of General James H. Lane, his Brigade Commander;

                        "As soon as I had formed my whole command as ordered, I rode back from the right to the plank road, to know of General Hill if
                      I must advance at once or await orders. On reaching the road I met General Jackson, who , strange to say, recognized me at first
                      and remarked: Lane, for whom are you looking? ( I was a cadet at the Virginia Military institute under the old hero.) I told him, and
                      for what purpose, and then remarked to him, It would save time were he to tell me what to do. He replied; "push right ahead, Lane!"
                      accompanying his order with a pushing gesture of his right hand in the direction of Chancellor's house, and then rode forward. I
                      at once rode to the right to put my line in motion when the colonel on that flank advised me not to move, as his men had heard the
                      talking and movement of troops on their flank. Our Lieutenant (James) and four other men were sent out to reconnoitre and they soon
                      returned with the 128th Pennsylvania Regiment commanded by Lieutenant- Colonel Smith. On encountering the enemy (James) put
                      on a bold front and advised them to put down their arms, as they were cut off by Jackson's corp's. I was present when the Lieutenant
                      marched them in from the right, between the line of skirmishes and the main line, and they were without arms.

                      Soon after they were halted in front of my right regiment, some one rode up from the front to the right of my skirmish line, called for General
                      Wiliams. Instead of capturing this individual, some of my skirmishers fired upon him, and he escaped unhurt, as far as we know. This
                      seemed to cause a fire along the skirmish line, and the enemy's artillery again opened fire. I was then that General Jackson was wounded,
                      as I have always thought, by the 18th Regiment of my brigade."


 James' "bold front" had carried off one of the the great coups of the war. It was something to rival or surpass Sargent York of World War I fame. Unfortunately, James was killed the next day. In the euphoria of victory and the concern over the wounding and eventual death of Stonewall Jackson, James' achievment was generally overlooked.
                                                                                                                                    William Tidwell
                                            

Cool neighborhood!  Cool
                                                    




                                    
« Last Edit: June 18, 2012, 05:10:08 AM by Joe Gleason » Logged
Jim Page
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« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2012, 08:14:17 PM »

Hey, Joe--

Thanks for the great info! Amazing!!!

That house has gone through good times and bad. For a while, it was a place where four or five college kids lived; we're three miles from the University of Maryland's College Park campus. Then it was a rental for four or five teachers.

Our Boston terrier at that time was in love with the golden retriever belonging to a teacher who then lived in that house, and more than once he slipped his lead and would dash over there. We were horrified because he had to cross 41st Avenue to do that.

The family living there now really seems to enjoy the house, which is on at least two or three lots; their kids are always playing in the side yard on slip-and-slides or in their wading pool. Great fun for Patty and me because it reminds us of when our kids were that young.

When I went through the house years ago, it was in pretty decent repair; lots of small rooms and a 1920s feel. Like my house, most of the doorways and windows were trimmed with black walnut surrounds and the wooden floors were in good shape. This historic district has many neat old homes and buildings, which is what attracted us to the area. That, plus it's seven miles from here to the zero mile marker in DC.

--Jim
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Joe Gleason
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« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2012, 05:52:36 AM »

Renting to college kids is BIG business in the area. They are not always the ideal tenant though. When the thought runs through my mind, all I can remember are scenes from the movie "Animal House" The house looks good, so I guess they weren't to hard on it.

It's nice to know that the family seems to be enjoying it, and if you meet them don't forget to tell them about Miss Ellen and her uncles, James and George. We have had many a discussion about George, so I won't go there. But you can!  Grin  go here..
http://www.lincoln-assassination.com/bboard/index.php?topic=1675.msg18050#msg18050











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Randal
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« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2012, 06:19:31 AM »

A very interesting discussion! Thanks Jim and Joe!
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Jim Page
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« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2012, 10:39:33 AM »

Great info, Joe. I'll do some reading on that!

Here's an iPhone snap I just took of the former Emack home when I was walking Murphy just now:


And across the street is the former Duckett home:


Take care--

--Jim
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