Memorial: Patentees Memorial, or Colonial Settler’s Monument
Location: on 15th Street NW, across from the Department of Commerce
Architect: Delos Smith; Sculptor: Carl Mose
Dedication: April 25, 1936, 2:30 p.m.
Cost to taxpayers: $0
On the west side of Fifteenth Street, NW, just north of Constitution Avenue, NW, is a plain, granite stone dedicated in 1936 in memory of the patentees who gave their land to create the Nation’s Capital. The memorial is inscribed with the names of the 18 original patentees here, who lived before 1700.
It’s easy to miss, and since 2019 “landscape” fencing went up and hasn’t been taken down.
Memorial Approval and Design
The memorial was approved for placement in Washington, D.C., by an act of Congress on February 12, 1936. The legislation authorized “a memorial to the early settlers whose land grants embrace the site of the Federal City.”
The architect for the memorial was Mr. Delos Smith of Washington, D.C. The memorial is 7 feet in height. It has a base of 3 feet square and 2 feet 6 inches high. On the base is a 4 feet 6 inches high by 2 feet square column.
On the street facing side of the base is an inscription, and the other three sides of the base have been inscribed with the names of the early settlers, together with a small bronze tablet commemorating the presentation to the National Government by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Colonists.
On the four panels of the column are symbols that would be important for the pioneers. According to the National Society of the Daughters of the American Colonists website, the symbols are “a wild turkey, a large ear of corn or Indian Maize, and a Potomac herring, symbolizing the products of the woods, earth and water that furnished subsistence to the colonists. The fourth panel shows a tobacco plant, representing the chief commodity as well as the “currency” of the Colonial period.”
The symbols in relief were carved by Carl Mose.
(East side,, facing 15th Street, under the image of tobacco)
To the original patentees
prior to 1700 whose land
grants embrace the site of
the Federal City. This monu-
ment is erected by the
National Society of the
Colonists. April 25, 1936
On the south facing side are listed six names:
Walter Thompson, 1686
Ninian Beale, 1687
John Watson, 1687
William Hutchison, 1696
Walter Evans, 1698
William Atcheson, 1698
On the north side are listed these six names:
Robert Troope, 1663
George Thompson, 1663
Franes Pope, 1663
John Langworth, 1664
John Lewger, 1666
Richd (Richard) and Wm (William) Pinner, 1666
On the west side of the base are these six names:
Zachariah Wade, 1670
Richard Evans, 1685
Col. Henry Jowles, 1685
Andrew Clarke, 1685
John Peerce (Pierce, Pearce), 1685
Walter Houp, “Houp Yard”, 1686
The Dedication Ceremony
The dedication of the memorial was held on April 25, at 2:30p.m., just west of the Department of Commerce on “the White Lot” on Fifteenth street between E Street and Constitution Avenue.
The ceremony was organized by the National Society of the Daughters of American Colonists as part of their general assembly, which had convened at the Carlton Hotel for a three-day gathering.
During the ceremony relatives of two the the patentees, Ms Virginia Beall and Ms Nellie Pinner unveliled the memorial; and the Marine band played.
The ceremony was presided over by Mrs. Joseph Calfee of St. Louis, MO, the national president of the DAC. According to The Evening Star, Mrs. Calfee explained that the memorial was “part of a program to teach history in the most interesting form by the erection of memorials and markers at all points of Colonial interest.”
During the ceremony, C. Marshall Finnan, director of National Capital parks, was quoted in The Evening Star as remarking that “Washington is the only capital in the world which was “carved out of the wilderness and definitely planned before the beginning of development.””
America Colonists will meet Tomorrow. The Evening Star, Friday April 24, 1936, B-6
Shaft unveiled to 18 Patentees. The Evening star., Sunday, April 26, 1936, Page B-3
National Society Daughters of the American Colonists (NSDAC): http://nsdac.org/work-of-the-society/historical/markers/patentees-monument/
Commission of Fine Arts, Report. v.13 1935-1939.