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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, December 29, 1929, Image 70

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1929-12-29/ed-1/seq-70/

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their terms, merely stipulating that the streets
should be so laid out as not to interfere with
Jiis house.
Realizing that he was soon destined to become
si man of great wealth, he was now determined
to see that his daughter had proper educational
and social training. She was, therefore, placed
in the home of Luther Martin at Baltimore,
■who, at that time, was the attorney general of
Maryland She attended school with his daugh
ters and ere long developed into a magnificent
young woman and a social favorite.
Davy Burns and Washington, by strange
coincidence, passed on to the great beyond in
the same year-—1799. Marcia inherited his
lortune. It was not long, of course, until good
looking young men were attracted to the Bums
cottage seeking the hand and possibly the
lortune of the charming Marcia. Among these
numerous suitors was the handsome John Peter
Van Ness, a member of the House of Repre
sentatives from New York. John Peter was
bom in the village of Ghent, N. Y., in 1770,
and was educated at Columbia. A popular
critic of that period spoke of him as being
“well bred, well read and well fed.” It is said
that he was a favorite political protege of Aaron
Burr, who was then the Vice President of the
United States. There is an old story to the
effect that one evening Burr and his young
Iriend put on their best suits and made a
lormal call on the popular Marcia, and that
from that time on Burr performed the cere
monies of matchmaker. It is evident that he
made a success of it. In 1802, when John
Peter was 32 and Marcia 22, they presented
themselves before a minister and solemnly
repeated the love, honor and obey words. John
Peter at once assumed control of the manage
ment of the Bums estate. It was rumored in
Hew York at the time of the wedding that the
lather of John, a proud old Knickerbocker and
a distinguished officer in the Revolutionary War,
started to raise a big row when he heard that
his son was going to marry a Washington girl
of humble birth, but that his anger turned to
quiet joy when he became aware of the extent
of her possessions.
It is interesting to observe that William P.
Van Ness, a brother of Marcia’s husband,
served as a second to Aaron Burr in his un
fortunate duel with Alexander Hamilton. He
secreted Burr for a time in the Van Ness
home known as Ktnderhook, where Wash
ington Irving once resided, and wnich later
became the horn? of Martin Van Buren.
, married to the first belle of Wash
ington did not make much of a hit with
the New York political followers of Van Ness.
They were outspoken in their belief that he
should have married one of the home-town
girls. Rumors of his deep interest in Wash
ington affairs added fuel to their indignation.
Things came to a crisis when he permitted
himself to be elected major of a District of
Columbia military company. His home folks
looked upon this as an act of downright dis
loyalty to the district which had sent him to
Congress. A committee hurried to Washing
ton and presented a “constitutional” protest to
Congress, which, after due hearing, resulted in
John Peter Van Ness being expelled from
that body. But this failed to worry the genial
- John Peter. He was as debonaire as ever and
continued to love Marcia and enjoy the com
fortable life of the National Capital and the
many other good things resulting from a hand
borne bank account.
Some years later, "Gen.” Van Ness, as he
became known, decided that the original
Bums house was too small for the character
of entertainment he enjoyed. With $60,000 of
Marcia’s fortune he erected a big brick man
sion a short distance from the old log house.
Some of the details of the new house were
copied from the White House. It was the only
residence in Washington, besides the White
House, that sported a porte cochere. Attached
to the new home was a conservatory filled with
rare plants. It was the first home in Wash
ington to be equipped with hot and cold water.
The marble mantels, designed by Thorwaldsen
and imported from Italy, together with the
rich draperies and carpets, were th? talk of the
town for many years.
No one in Washington entertained more
lavishly than the Van Ness family. Their an
nual dinner to the members of Congress was
always th; biggest social event of the year.
Many authorities make the claim that more
men in public life, and their families, visited at
the Van Ness mansion than at any other
private home in Washington. It was in this
home that Ann, their only child, was bom.
She was educated in a s leet boarding school in
Philadelphia. The reception given in her
honor upon her return home from school in
1820 is said to have b2en the most brilliant ever
{staged up to that time.
Marcia Van Ness was not as much given to
worldly pleasure as was her popular husband,
tehe was very religious and sought to train her
daughter along similar lines by daily reading
to her from the Bible and talking to her about
the various characters of the Scriptures.
Within a year after her return from school,
the dainty Ann was courted and won by
Arthur Middleton, of South Carolina, a son
'of one of the signers of the Declaration of
Independence. A year later Ann died. Her in
fant babe was buried in the same grave with
This loss well-nigh broke the hearts of her
parents. From that day until her death
•Marcia Van Ness lost all interest in social life,
tehe fitted up a little chapel in one of the
rooms of the old cottage where she was born
land spent most of her life, and here she came
'each day to pray.
JLfIRS. VAN NESS was the founder of the
• A Washington City Orphan Asylum, an in
stitution which is still in existence and doing
'splendid work. After the death of her daugh
ter, Mrs. Van Ness devoted much of her time
jto finding homeless children and placing them
in this orphanage. This institution was gen
erously provided for in her will. Her portrait,
With a group of little orphans about her, still
traces the walls of the orphanage.
The funeral of Mrs. Van Ness, in 1832, was
The Burns cottage, ~ where Marcia Burns was born.
Mrs. John Peter f an Ness, who was the first belle of Washington.
one of the most notable ever held in Wash
ington. Her husband, at the time of her death,
was occupying the position of mayor of Wash
ington. Her guard of honor at the funeral
consisted of the little orphans to whom she
had been so kind.
The mausoleum in which her body was
placed, had been erected some years previously,
at a cost of $30,000. It was modeled after the
circular Temple of Vesta at Rome. It was lo
cated on H street between Ninth and T:nth.
Fourteen years later, in 1846, the body of John
Peter Van Ness was placed by the side of that
of his wife.
By 1872 the growth of the city mads it
necessary to remove the mausoleum to Oak Hill
Cemetery at Georgetown. This is the cem
etery, by the way, in which rest the remains
of John Howard Payne, author of “Home,
Sweet Home.” The downtown square on
which the mausoleum stood was sold for
This Is My Fear.
By David Morton.
The wind has gathered up a world of woe
And brought this heavy trouble to the trees —
And this is what me hear beyond the glow
Os evening lamplight, on such nights as these;
So thin a thing as window glass divides
This inner peace of ours from something ... . . there . ,« M
Whose black shape throngs the darkness where it rides,
An evil omen on the innocent air.
Perhaps our door was never tall enough
For such a one to stoop and cuter in,
Perhaps, because wc kept a little love . . .
But I can have no faith in what is thin
As window glass, or roof, or door, or wall,
Or lm>e, that is most pitiful of all.
$160,000, the proceeds being paid to the heirs
of Arthur Middleton.
Eighty years ago the Van Ness mansion
passed into the hands of Thomas Green of
Virginia. He was the first occupant after the
death of Gen. Van Ness. He lived there until
the late seventies. The assassination of Presi
dent Lincoln once more brought the property
into national prominence. A wild story was
started by some excited person to the effect
that the Booth conspirators, according to
previous plans, had arranged to kidnap Presi
dent Lincoln and hide him in the cellar of
the mansion, and from there convey him across
the Potomac River to Virginia. As a result of
the spreading of this story, Mr. Green and his
wife were placed under arrest and kept in the
old Capitol Prison for six weeks. An investiga
tion completely exonerated them.
In 1879 the mansion became the property of
Gov. Swann of Maryland. It was never again
occupied as a residence. For a time the base
ment was used as a tough be;r Joint, and the
beautiful lawns became the gathering place of
boisterous picnickers. The historic place even
sunk so low as to become the headquarters of
thi city scavengers and swill collectors. In
time it became known as the haunted house.
Colored p:opK living in that neighborhood re
lated many weird tales about green-faced
ghosts peering from the windows, and head
less snow-white horses galloping in and out of
the driveway between 3 and 4 in the morning.
In 1902 the property was purchased by the
George Washington University. It was then
a roofl ss wreck. Sufficient repairs were made
to make it possible for it to be used a few years
by their school of engineering. a
In 1908 it was purchased by the creators of
the Pan-American Union, and the old build
ing was replaced by the present white marble
palace, one of the most beautiful and most
useful buildings in the world.
Handling of Holiday Mail.
r J*HE efficiency with which the vast quantity
of Christmas letters and cards is handled
is due in part to a simple but highly effective
system of distributing clerks in the post offices.
When the mail is received, it is first sorted
as to other stations within the city or for
dispatch to other cities. When the clerk gets
a batch of cards and letters for delivery within
- the territory served by his branch, he sepa
rates them in a sorting case by routes. He
must know every street served by each carrier,
and the numerical limits on these streets
when two or more carriers serve portions of It.
When the carrier reports to work, he takes
the matter waiting for him in his portion of
the case and then distributes it through his
route case, which puts the letters in the order
in which he walks along his route.
By this method large quantities of mail are
handled in a very short time. A clerk can
separate from 30 to 40 letters a minute
and sometimes, under pressure, can do even
better. An hour’s work at this speed will take
care of a large amount of correspondence.
Papers, magazines and small packages are
separated in the same manner, except that in
their case the bins into which they are tossed
for the carriers are larger. .
Color Aids Fruit Sales.
VIfHEN an American buys fruit, color haa
been found to be the first consideration.
If the color is good, the buyer then considers
size, maturity, freedom from blight and dam
age, and other factors, but exp?rt marketmen
have found that unless the color is right, the
prospective purchaser will never get near
enough even to examine for other defects.
For that reason, color of fruit has rapidly be
come a prime requisite, If the producer is to
dispose of his crops.
Explosion Loses Its Roar..
THE tremendous roar produced by dynamite
explosions is reduced to a little click at the
Pittsburgh experimental station of the Bureau
of Mines, but along with that click go pres
sures running up as high as 20,000 pounds a
square inch. The explosions are set off within
Iron bembs, provided with gauges to record the
pressure. The confining of the explosion to a
small area such as the bomb prevents the awe
inspiring roar of the detonation in the open
* Simple.
Teacher—Can any one tell me how macaroni
Is made?
Johnny—First you take a big long hole and
then you wrap some dough around it.

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