Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How the Descendants of Freed Slaves Lost their Land in Mongomery County #Tobytown

In 1969, the residents of Tobytown in Potomac owned the land that they lived on.  The land had been passed down since 1875 from their ancestors, the founders of Tobytown.

History from Maryland Historical Trust

But, then Montgomery County Government came in, demolished their homes, and replaced their homes with townhouses that the residents were forced to rent for 40 years before they could buy just the homes back from the Housing Opportunities Commission.  They could not get back the land. 

The land owners had lost their land. 

All of the land that had been in these families for almost 100 years was either taken by condemnation or transferred to Montgomery County Government.

Some of the land was taken by a condemnation proceeding, and some was transferred in processes that current relatives describe as based on threats.  Current relatives remember that the Tobytown landowners of the 1960's did not necessarily know how to read or write, and did not want to give up their land.

Montgomery County land records tell the tale.  Below are copies of all of the Deeds to Tobytown land that were transferred or taken by condemnation from 1970 to 1999.  The last names in these deeds are many of the same last names as the current residents of Tobytown. 

It is 2016, and the current residents of Tobytown, who lost their land to Montgomery County, have asked that their community be included in the County's public transportation system.  They just want a RideOn bus to serve their neighborhood. 

To this day, Montgomery County Government still owns over 5 acres of original Tobytown land.  The land around the Tobytown townhomes is owned by the Housing Opportunities Commission.

The RideOn bus service for Tobytown would cost between $200,000 and $300,000 a year.  The County has consistently denied the Tobytown residents normal RideOn Bus service.

Washington Post
From a 2010, Washington Post article:
...In 1972, the housing authority used federal housing funds to build 26 duplexes and single-family homes and a small community center. The goal was for the low-income residents to eventually purchase the inexpensive dwellings.

Florice Martin, 49, a longtime resident who is now raising her grandchildren in Tobytown, grew up in the shacks and vividly remembers when the development was unveiled to great fanfare.
"All the rich people were here, the people that mean something," she said. There were journalists on hand, and a big reception. It was the first time she had seen caviar.
The glowing promise of the day was never fully realized. Over the years, 17 families purchased their own homes for about $16,000. But nine units remain in the control of the housing authority, which also maintains the community center and grounds.
"It seems like they forgot us," Martin said. "It seems like we're not here."


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