Mapping Georgetown: Six Generations of Local Family History


As a tribute to the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and our local Black history, Mapping Georgetown is pleased to share this particular Georgetown mapping story from Neville Waters whose family and local history stretch back over a century through six generations.

Active in the Georgetown community, Waters is a cherished neighbor. We were so pleased when he drew us a map and told us stories from his family’s deep history, now a valuable part of our Mapping Georgetown collection.

Neville’s charming personality disguises the passion demonstrated in his many acts of kindness, one of which is his role as President of the Board of Mt. Zion-Female Union Band Society Historic Memorial Park.

A 2018 interview with The Citizens Association of Georgetown’s Samantha Herrell gives a sense of what Waters and his family bring to our community:

A sixth-generation Washingtonian, Mr. Neville Waters III has been coming ‘home’ to Georgetown for 61 years. Neville’s grandfather, Mr. Waters bought the home on P Street in the 20s for around $2,000 when it was a predominantly Black neighborhood. It has remained in the family ever since, once holding all three generations of Neville Waters under one roof. Be it community parties, games of Bridge, basketball meetings, Epiphany Church gatherings, Black Georgetown reunion, and a revolving door for Mrs. Waters’s cherished BLT sandwiches, the home has taken on a spiritual quality for Neville, his life and legacy here.

From playing sports in Rose Park throughout childhood to his teen years grabbing burgers at Little Tavern and attending the Sidwell Friends School, to a dream fulfilled earning his MBA at Georgetown University, his memories of Georgetown are vivid and immense. He is currently President of the foundation that supports the Mount Zion Female Union Band Society Cemetery where he works to restore, maintain, and extend the legacy of the cemetery and the contributions of Black people in Georgetown. (Cagtown.org.)

Neville Waters III at Georgetown University’s front office on the occasion of speaking about the book “Black Georgetown Remembered.” 

Here is the map-story Neville submitted to Mapping Georgetown:

My family roots in the Georgetown community are broad and deep extending throughout multiple generations and locations including the Mt. Zion-Female Union Band cemeteries. The sacred space is the burial site of my Great Great Grandparents – Hezekiah and Martha Turner – and their sons Charles (my Great Grandfather) and James. The property also served as a refuge on the so-called “Underground Railroad” with the crypt used for that purpose still standing along the hill overlooking Rock Creek which follows the path to freedom for those fleeing enslavement. Learn the stories and share your support.  Visit www.blackgeorgetown.org 

Neville Waters III’s map for the Mapping Georgetown Project.

 

Neville Waters III’s story for the Mapping Georgetown Project.

Particularly, my parents both grew up here, in this neighborhood. My grandmother was very involved with the church, Epiphany Church, Catholic Church, around the corner. I think she was among one of the founders of the church. There would be church meetings or activities here. I actually was an altar boy there. I would say probably it was predominantly, but it was not founded as a Black church per se. It was more a matter of a church that was not segregated. I think that was the bigger issue. 

We most gratefully thank you Neville!

Neville Waters III with his grandparents Neville Waters Sr. and wife Gertrude Turner Waters. Photo courtesy Neville Waters III.

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For a moving tribute to Neville Waters II, see this eulogy from The Washington Post’s Michael Wilbon:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/sports/1995/04/09/neville-waters-the-man-to-talk-to/8cb0680a-2708-4c7b-893c-2a1eaad645f8/

So many of our Georgetown stories thread together in unexpected and beautiful ways. If you’re interested in some stories which are tied to this one, try: https://georgetowner.com/articles/2021/10/18/georgetowns-african-american-history/  or this one by Bobbie Liegus https://georgetowner.com/articles/2022/01/03/an-inspiring-story-of-growing-up-in-georgetown/ .

We invite you to add your story to our Mapping Georgetown collection. Blank templates can be printed from the home page of www.mappinggeorgetown.com, picked up from The Georgetown Public Library or by contacting mappinggeorgetown@gmail.com.

To learn more about the Mapping Georgetown project see https://georgetowner.com/articles/2021/07/19/marilyn-butlers-vision-for-mapping-georgetown/. Marilyn Butler can be reached at marilyn.butler@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

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