Banneker SW-9 Intermediate Boundary Stone

Historical Significance

This marker is one of the original forty boundary stones for the District of Columbia. The stone was set in 1792 by Major Andrew Ellicott and Benjamin Banneker as the westernmost point of the city. Banneker (1731-1806) was a free, self educated African American who surveyed and helped plan Washington D.C. He was also an astronomer, mathematician, almanac author, and farmer. Benjamin's mother was the daughter of a European American named Molly Welsh and an African man (possibly from the Dogon tribe) known as Banneka. Banneker's father was enslaved, but ran away from his owner. 

As a teenager Banneker met a Quaker farmer, Peter Heinrichs, who provided the young man with his only formal education. Banneker went on to teach himself how to make a clock (based on a borrowed pocket watch), learned how to survey land using astronomical observations, and published almanacs for the years 1792-1797 that predicted solar and lunar eclipses. He also sent letters to Thomas Jefferson regarding his views on slavery and racial equality. Banneker died in 1806, just before his 75th birthday. 

During Black History Month in 1980 the US Postal Service issued a 15-cent stamp bearing a portrait of Benjamin Banneker standing behind a telescope.

Physical Description

Sandstone marker one foot square and standing fifteen inches high.

Geographical and Contact Information

Eighteenth and Van Buren Streets
Arlington, Virginia