Joyner Avenue


Joyner Avenue, now Goucher Drive and 57th Avenue, was named for the Joyner family, who owned large tracts of land that became part of Berwyn Heights. Originally from Chittenden, VT, the Joyners came to the District of Columbia in the 1860s to work for the federal government. Francis Joyner (1818-1878) served as a postmaster (1853-1861) and station agent in Richmond, VT, and in Washington D.C., became a clerk at the Patent Office. His daughters Ada Jane (1845-1917) worked at Internal Revenue until 1915 and Elsie Fannie (1851-1934) in the Patent Office until 1895. In 1874, the Joyners purchased 122 acres from Edward Carrington and 10 acres from Anna B. Staples. In the years following, Ada, Fannie, and their mother Joanna (1821-1901), expanded, mortgaged, and sold their holdings. The largest sale, of 126 ¼ acres, was to James Waugh in 1887, who resold this and other land to Edward Graves to set up the Charlton Heights Improvement Company. The Joyners’ remaining properties in Berwyn, were sold by Elsie in the 1920s.


The Joyner (Joiner) family originally came from Chittenden, Vermont. Francis Joyner (1881-1878) served as a postmaster in Richmond, Vermont from 1853 to 1861, and as a station agent. Francis, his wife Joanna (1821-1901) and daughters Ada Jane (1845-1917) and Elsie Fannie (1851-1934) came to Washington, D.C. in the 1860s and obtained employment in the federal government. Francis became a clerk at the Patent Office, Ada worked at Internal Revenue, and Elsie was a copyist at the Patent Office. Joanna kept house and farmed.

In 1870, the Joyners purchased land in Piscataway, MD, but began to sell the property soon thereafter in 1872. In 1874, they purchased their first tracts of land in the area that would later become Berwyn Heights: 122 acres from General Edward Carrington, and 10 acres from Ana B. Staples. The property was recorded in the name of Ada and Elsie Joyner. At the same time, they sold their remaining Piscataway property.

In the years after their father’s death in 1878, the Joyner sisters began to mortgage and then sell parts of their estate. In 1888, they sold 126 acres to James E. Waugh, who with Edward Graves and Benjamin Charlton established Charlton Heights east of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. They also owned land on the west side of the B&O tracks, which became part of the growing community of Berwyn. After her elder sister Ada died in 1917, Elsie moved back to Washington D.C., and in the 1920s, sold off the remaining pieces of property in Berwyn.

The Joyners’ social life was closely tied to the first Protestant churches in the area. According T. Raymond Burch’s history of the area, the Joyner sisters were founding members of Haddaway Chapel, a Methodist Episcopal church built in 1874 at the current intersection of 60th Avenue and Greenbelt Road. The Chapel was named after its first pastor, the Reverend Samuel Haddaway.

At Haddaway Chapel, the Joyner sisters became members of the Golden Chain, a mission founded by Henry and Isador Viles and Frank Middleton around 1882. In 1885, the Golden Chain separated from Haddaway Chapel, affiliated itself with the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Washington, and built a new church near the Branchville Station on the B&O Railroad. The congregation quickly outgrew this church and, in 1890, built a larger one at the corner of Potomac and Quebec Streets in what is now Berwyn. This church was named the Charlton Heights Mission when dedicated in 1891, but in 1892 was renamed the Berwyn Mission.

The Berwyn Mission was a cornerstone of the community until the mid-20th century. The church expanded to include an auditorium, library and gymnasium. Elsie became the church librarian, and she and Ada taught Sunday school there. Ada served as a delegate of the Berwyn Mission at a 1903 convention of Sunday schools held in Washington, D.C.

Apart from involvement with Haddaway Chapel and Berwyn Mission, Elsie was active in fraternal organizations. She served as treasurer for the Shepherds of Bethlehem, Loyalty Lodge No. 4. She was a charter member of Triumph Council No 8 of the Daughters of America and served as a deputy, state councilor and treasurer for the local council. Upon moving back to the District, Elsie worked into her 70s as a clerk in a law office. She died in November 1934 and, along with her sister Ada, is buried at Glenwood Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

“Burch, T. Raymond.History and Development of the City of College Park, Berwyn Heights, Greenbelt and Adjacent Areas. City of College Park, 1970.

“Rann, W. S., ed. History of Chittenden County, Vermont with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers. Syracuse, N.Y.: D.Mason & Co., 1886.

“16th Birthday is Celebrated by Banquet: Golden Rule Council of Daughters of America Welcome Guests.” Washington Post, 29 March 1931, A2.
“A Big Convention of Sunday Schools.” Washington Times, 30 October 1903, p.5.
“Daughters of America.” Washington Post, 16 October 1932, A7.
“Daughters of America.” Washington Post, 1 May 1932, S8.
“Daughters of America.” Washington Post, 4 September 1932, S4.
“Daughters of America Reorganize Teams.” Washington Post, 1 October 1933, S8.
“Daughters of America Ready for Potomac Trip Wednesday.” Washington Post, 29 July 1934, S5.
“Kenmore Unit Has Fraternal Visit by Chief: Staff also attends on Session of Daughters of America Council.” Washington Post, 12 April 1931, A2.
“News of Hyattsville.” Washington Times, 18 January 1917, 8.
“News of Fraternal Organizations.” Washington Post, 5 June 1927, S10.
“News of Fraternal Organizations.” Washington Post, 11March1928, A7.
“News of Fraternal Organizations.” Washington Post, 1 April1928, F6.
Obituary: Ada J. Joyner. Washington Times, 18 January 1916, 13.
Obituary: Elsie Joyner. Washington Post, 26 November 1934, 19.
Obituary: Francis H. Joyner. Washington Post, 13 April 1878, 4.
“Shepherds of Bethlehem.” Washington Post, 15 January1933, 31.

1850 U.S. Federal Census (Population Schedule), Richmond, Chittenden, Vermont; Roll: M423_923; page 69B.
1860 U.S. Federal Census (Population Schedule), Richmond, Chittenden, Vermont; Roll: M653_1319; page 480.
1870 U.S. Federal Census (Population Schedule), Washington Ward 4, Washington, District of Columbia; Roll: M593_124; page 798B.
1880 U.S. Federal Census (Population Schedule), Vansville, Prince George’s, Maryland; Roll: 513; page 3A, Enumeration District: 120.
1900 U.S. Federal Census (Population Schedule), Vansville, Prince George’s, Maryland; Roll: T623_626; page 6A, Enumeration District: 90.
1910 U.S. Federal Census (Population Schedule), Election District 1, Prince George’s, Maryland; Roll: T624_597; page 17B, Enumeration District: 60.
1920 U.S. Federal Census (Population Schedule), Washington, Washington, District of Columbia; Roll: T625-209; page 3B, Enumeration District: 133.
1930 U.S. Federal Census (Population Schedule), Washington, Washington, District of Columbia; Roll: 295; page 12A, Enumeration District: 158.
The Official Register of the United States. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1873-1915.
Post Office Department. Record of Appointment of Postmasters, Vermont, Chittenden, Vol. 27, 1857-76, M841, Roll 129. Record Group 28. National Archives. Washington, D.C.

Maryland Department of Health. Bureau of Vital Statistics (Death Record, Index, Counties), 1898-1903. Prince George’s County, Joyner, Joann M., 29 September 1901.
Maryland Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics (Death Record, Index, Counties), 1914-1923. Prince George’s County, Joyner, Ada Jane, 16 January 1916.

Piscataway Property Transactions: Deed Book HB 3, p. 108-109, 232-234, 501-502, 504
Berwyn Heights Property Transactions:
Deed Book HB 8, p. 327-329, p. 332-336
Deed Book HB 9, p. 270-274
Deed Book HB 10 p. 240-245
Deed Book HB 11, p. 107
Deed Book JWB 1, p. 660-662
Deed Book RSW 1, p. 16-18
Deed Book RSW 1, p. 123-124
Deed Book JB 10, p. 30-33
Deed Book JWB 3, p. 43-44
Deed Book JWB 4, p. 353-356
Deed Book JWB 8, p. 507-509
Deed Book JWB 11, p.504-511
Deed Book JWB 14, p. 270-275
Deed Book JWB 16, p. 106-110
Deed Book JWB 18, p. 292-301
Deed Book JWB 24, p. 29-32
Deed Book JWB 26, p. 397-399
Deed Book JWB 30, p. 136-139
Deed Book JWB 33, p. 168-169
Deed Book JWB 35, p. 134-137
Deed Book JWB 37, p. 471-473
Deed Book JWB 40, p. 252-253
Deed Book 153, p. 206
Deed Book 208, p. 242

Berwyn Heights Historical Committee
5 May 2012

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