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By Patricia Patula, Town Archivist

According to the July 3, 1880 issue of The Washington Post, the camp-meeting of the Methodist churches was set for August 12, 1880, but by July 3 most of the cottages were already occupied. The author of The Post article speculates that “This is but carrying out one of the original designs in purchasing the grove viz.: to make it a quiet summer resort for those whose religious inclinations find no pleasure in the bustle and worldliness of fashionable watering places.” After observing that a number of new cottages had been built over the past year, and that some existing cottages had been enlarged with kitchens and dining rooms, the writer follows a news reporting custom of the time, and proceeds to list in great detail who was where.

“The families now upon the grounds are as follows: Upon First Avenue, in the cottages erected by Commissioner Morgan, Mrs. H. C. Baker and family, Mrs. A. M. Linvill and family, Mr. and Mrs. William Burris, Mrs. Moulton and Miss Belle Moulton, Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Nye and family, Mr. Beaman and family, Mr. and Mrs. Seville and the Misses Seville. Mrs. Wise and daughters and Mr. George R. Taylor, with his wife and family, are also occupying their cottages on this avenue.”

Providing housing for “renters” is a not just a modern phenomenon as is revealed in this observation: “On second avenue Mrs. Kilgore opens today a boarding tent, which has been recently erected.”

A number of current Grove residents still live in the cottages on the Circle and will, most likely, be interested to learn who lived there before they did. Here is a list of cottages occupied as of July 3, 1880. Regrettably, the reporter did not include addresses.

“Mr. Thomas W. Sumerfield and family; Alfred Wood and family; Mr. E. F. Simpson and wife, their popular daughters, Misses Lula and Kittie; Mrs. Martin; Richard Willett and family; Robert Cohen and family; Mr. Wood and family. The latter occupies the cottage built by Mr. Burris, but now owned by Joseph F. Birch.”

This next section is quoted in full to further demonstrate the social reporting style of this era.

“The cottage now being built on Fourth Avenue by the Fourth Street M. E. church is almost completed, as is also that in course of erection on Fifth avenue for Mr. Lewis Alsehuh, of Foundry church. The list of those who own cottages, but who have not yet left the city, includes Commissioner Morgan, who will probably go out next week; Mr. J. W. Wade, L. W. Worthington, John Gordon, H. C. Craig, Mr. Sinclair, Mr. Franklin, of Dumbarton street church, Georgetown; Messrs. Ireland and Hiss, of Annapolis, and W. R. Woodward, who will go to the camp ground when he returns with his family from Rehoboth Beach; Mr. Thomas Woodward, of Georgetown, has erected a large tent and will shortly move out with family.”

The writer concludes his lengthy article with a description of the activities of the “young people” attending the Grove’s camp meeting events. Their sources of entertainment would probably cause today’s “young people” to raise their eyebrows in disbelief – or in sympathy.

“The young people at the grove, and there are quite a number, find plenty of amusement in picking cherries, blackberries, huckleberries and in excursions into the woods. Croquet and archery are staple games. There are two rival archery clubs, under the captaincy of Messrs. E. H. Linvllle and W. K. Cohen. At night an impromptu choir makes the woods resound with music until 9 or 10 o’clock, when all retire and silence reigns supreme.”

The moment when all retire, especially the “young people,” and silence reigns supreme about 10 p.m., was probably just as desirable in 1880 as it is now.

Sources: Newspaper quotes are from The Washington Post (1887-1992); Aug. 6, 1897; Proquest Historical Newspapers.

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