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Land Transfer Deed Timeline
for the Holt House, Columbia Mills
and Union Benevolent Association Cemetery

Date Documentation
1703-60 Beall family grants, later encompassing Pretty Prospect: Rock of Dumbarton patented to Ninian Beall in 1703
Addition to Rock of Dumbarton patented to George Beall in 1720
Bealls Lot patented to George Beall in 1741
(deeds not listed at DC Recorder of Deeds since earliest records start in 1790; information gathered from a report by Ethel Traylor Howard, State Historical Research Committee, 1936)
1/30/1793 Thomas Beall deeds to Benjamin Stoddert 863 1/2 acres for 6,908 pounds
"Three tracts of land: Rock of Dumbarton, Addition to Rock of Dumbarton and Bealls Lot lying and being in Montgomery County near George Town ... together with all and singular the rights, property and appertenances thereunto belonging." Note there is no mention made of any buildings or improvements.
(DC Recorder of Deeds, Land Records A1 Park 1, folio 255-257)
12/1/1800 Benjamin Stoddert deeds to Walter Mackall 42 1/2 acres for unspecified amount
"being part of a tract or parcel of land called Pretty Prospect ... being whole of the aforesaid tract of land to which the said Benjamin Stoddert has any title to, lying in east side of Rock Creek excepting that part heretofore contracted to be sold by Uriah Forrest [527 acres sold in 1797] to Gustavus Scott & Richard A. Contee bounding the south... together with all and singular the buildings, improvements, priviledges, advantages and appurtenances to the said part of a a tract of land ..." Note that Stoddert made improvements to the land; the "buildings" most likely refer to the mill structures since personal correspondence confirms that he owned a mill in DC during this time.
(DC Recorder of Deeds, Land Records F6, folio 95-97)
1/2/1804 Walter Mackall deeds to Jonathan Shoemaker 42 1/2 acres for $3,800 with mortgage - total cost $9,600
"together with all and singular the Mills, Mill seats, way waters, buildings, improvements, priviledges..." This is the earliest specific reference to the mill structures.
(DC Recorder of Deeds, Land Records K10, folio 117-118) also
(DC Recorder of Deeds, Land Records W22, folio 112)
1/2/1808 Jonathan Shoemaker deeds to Samuel Lukens, et al. for Quaker cemetery less than 1 acre given to the Quaker community
(DC Recorder of Deeds, Land Records T19, folio 81-82)
7/6/1809 Jonathan Shoemaker deeds to Roger Johnson 42 1/2 acres for $7,500
"part of a tract or parcel of land called Pretty Prospect to Plain Dealing on south ... together with all and singular the buildings, improvements, ... except land which has heretofore been sold by the said Shoemaker for a Quaker burying ground."
(DC Recorder of Deeds, Land Records W22, folio 109-111)
7/6/1809 Anthony Holmead deeds to Roger Johnson 3 acres and 38 poles for $226.62
"part of Lamars Outlet now called Pleasant Plains, ... together with all and singular the improvements, woods, way waters, water courses..." This land along Rock Creek was added to improve the mill operation.
(DC Recorder of Deeds, Land Records W22, folio 108-109)
11/9/1818 Roger Johnson deeds to James Dunlop, Jr. of the Bank of Columbia 28 acres, 2 rods of Pretty Prospect and 3 acres, 38 poles of Pleasant Plains were given as lien against George Johnson's (son of Roger) debts totaling $28, 161.55 with interest. Note that 13 3/4 acres of Pretty Prospect, later becoming Holt House property, remained in Roger Johnson's possession.
"together with all and singular the Mill houses, dwelling houses, buildings, improvements, ... erected thereon ... it shall be lawful for said James Dunlop Junior to set up and sell at public sale for cash or upon credit..."
(DC Recorder of Deeds, Land Records AT44, folio 39-42)
8/16/1823 James Dunlop deeds to John Quincy Adams 28 acres, 2 rods of Pretty Prospect and 3 acres, 38 poles of Pleasant Plains for $19,990
"together with all and singular the mill houses, dwelling houses, buildings, improvements, water courses, ... erected thereon."
(DC Recorder of Deeds, Land Records WB9, folio 157-159)
2/14/1831 Roger Johnson dies, leaving 13 3/4 acres of Pretty Prospect to his sons, Joseph A. and Charles Johnson. He requests that the land be sold to cover outstanding debts.
"shall sell either at public or private sale ... to discharge my debts ... the house and lot of land adjoining the Columbia Mills in the District of Columbia." Note that Holt House was already standing by 1831.
(Frederick County Recorder of Wills, Frederick, MD, Liber GME1, folio 212)
1/29/1835 Joseph A. and Charles Johnson (Roger's sons) deed to Ashton Alexander 13 3/4 acres and 21 perches for $1,350
"together with the buildings, the appurtenances and all the way rights liberties priviledges and so forth thereunto belonging."
(DC Recorder of Deeds, Land Records WB51, folio 280-282)
12/21/1844 Ashton Alexander deeds to Henry Holt 13 3/4 acres and 21 perches for $2,750 with mortgage - total cost $4,250
"together with all and singular the buildings and improvements thereupon erected, made or being, and all and the rights..."
(DC Recorder of Deeds, Land Records WB114, folio 205-208) and
(DC Recorder of Deeds, Land Records WB113, folio 1-2)
12/6/1845 Joseph Sholfield et al deed to Jonathan Seaver et al, Quaker members for a Quaker cemetery, approximately 1 acre transfer of title, no cost
"And whereas the said lot or parcel of ground has been continued to the uses for which it was granted and the said Society of Friends being desirous to perpetuate the title to the said lot or parcel of ground in the names of living members of the Society." The Quaker cemetery was to continue in perpetuity for the Quaker community.
(DC Recorder of Deeds, Land Records WB122, folio 58-60)
12/3/1850 John Little deeds to Charles Francis Adams (son of John Quincy Adams) unspecified acreage and price, acquired to include in mill property
"Beginning at a point on the left hand side of the County Road (leading from Georgetown and the City of Washington ...) where the dividing line of fence between the land of the said John Little and the land of Doctor Henry Holt joins the said County Road and thence running north ... west... to the intersection of the land dividing the land of the said Charles Francis Adams Trustee and the land of the said Henry Holt... together with all and singular the rights and appurtenances thereunto belonging." A small parcel of land was added to the Columbia Mills property.
(DC Recorder of Deeds, Land Records JAS19, folio 232-234)
4/26/1870 Charles Francis Adams (son of JQA) deeds to Julianna Hobbie 39 1/100 part of an acre for $200
"formerly a part of a tract known as Pleasant Plains and more recently known as the Columbia Mill Property ..." This small parcel was located along the boundary to a larger tract of land owned by Mrs. Hobbie, and it adjoined the Quaker cemetery.
(DC Recorder of Deeds, Land Records Liber 614, folio 110-111)
12/7/1870 Charles Francis Adams deeds to Gurden Snowden et al of the Union Benevolent Association for use as an African American cemetery 6 3/4 acres for $2,500
"in trust for the benefit of the Union Benevolent Association of the District of Columbia, colored, all that land forming a part of the entire tract formerly called Pleasant Plains and more recently known as Columbia Mills Property ... together with a right of way to said premises over the road ... used by the occupants of the Columbia Mill property."
(DC Recorder of Deeds, Land Records Liber 630, folio 382)
2/6/1872 John Quincy Adams (descendant) deeds to Peter McNamara 2 deeds: 20 acres, 3 rods, 26 perches and 3 acres, 38 perches purchased for an unspecified amount
"together with all the improvements, ways, easements, rights, priviledges and appurtenances." Note that the mills are no longer listed in the transfer of property. They disappeared from tax records by 1867.
(DC Recorder of Deeds, Land Records Liber 670, folio 293-297)
1880-82 Peter McNamara conveys the Columbia Mill property to James Christmas and William Whitney who turn around and convey the property to James Edwards. McNamara was obliged to give up the property since he failed to make his mortgage payments.
(recorded in Equity Cause No. 4877)
2/18/1884 James Edwards deeds Columbia Mill property to Pacificus Ord 2 tracts: 20 acres, 3 rods, 26 perches and 3 acres, 38 perches for $1,600
"together with the improvements thereon and all the rights ways easements priviledges and appurtenances thereto belonging ..."
(DC Recorder of Deeds, Land Records Liber 1074, folio 13-16)
11/21/1889 Henry Holt et al deeds to the Commissioners of the Zoological Park 13.36 acres for $40,000
The US Geological Survey team platted a map of the newly formed National Zoological Park boundaries, listing the acreage purchased from each owner.
(DC Recorder of Deeds, Land Records Liber 1424, no page number listed)
11/21/1889 Pacificus Ord deeds to the Commissioners of the Zoological Park 24.57 acres for $16,836.48 by condemnation
The US Geological Survey team platted a map of the newly formed National Zoological Park boundaries, listing the acreage purchased from each owner.
(DC Recorder of Deeds, Land Records Liber 1424, no page number listed)
11/21/1889 Union Benevolent Association deeds to the Commissioners of the Zoological Park 1.7 acres for $2,000
The US Geological Survey team platted a map of the newly formed National Zoological Park boundaries, listing the acreage purchased from each owner.
(DC Recorder of Deeds, Land Records Liber 1424, no page number listed)

This timeline completes the land purchased by the Zoo of the Holt House property, Columbia Mills and Union Benevolent Association Cemetery. For later deed transfers of cemetery land outside the Zoo boundaries, see the summary report on Holt House and Surrounding Lands.


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