Title: Petition of Michael Shanks, 19 May 1862

Date: May 19, 1862

Source Text: A microfilm reproduction of the original document held at the National Archives and Records Administration, Microcopy 520, Reel 3. The original document is held in the Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury, 1775–1978, National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 217.6.5. Within the National Archives' Archival Description Catalog, see ARC Identifier 4644616 / MLR Number A1 347 (http://arcweb.archives.gov).

Civil War Washington ID: cww.00278

TEI/XML: cww.00278.xml



To the Commissioners under the act of Congress approved the 16th of April, 1862, entitled "An act for the release of certain persons held to service or labor in the District of Columbia."

Your Petitioner, Michael Shanks of Washington D.C. by this his petition in writing, represents and states, that he is a person loyal to the United States, who, at the time of the passage of the said act of Congress, held a claim to service or labor against one person of African descent of the name of Lettie Wood for and during the life of said Lettie Wood and that by said act of Congress said Lettie Wood was discharged and freed of and from all claim of your petitioner to such service or labor; that at the time of said discharge said Lettie Wood was of the age of forty five years & eight months or thereabouts and of the personal description following:(1) about five feet five inches high, dark mulatto stout and squarely built, with masculine features, no marks or scars by which she can be more particularly described.


That your petitioner acquired his claim to the aforesaid service or labor of said Lettie Wood in manner following:(2) by purchase from John H. Studer [admr​?] of Ellenor West decd​. on the 2nd May 1859.—Bill Sale hereto annexed

That your petitioner's claim to the service or labor of said Lettie Wood was, at the time of said discharge therefrom, of the value of one thousand dollars in money.(3) She is a first rate servant, does all the household work of your petitioners home and he has refused one thousand dollars for her, she is sound strong and very healthy and free from all mental and bodily infirmity

Your petitioner hereby declares that he bears true and faithful allegiance to the Government of the United States, and that he has not borne arms against the United States in the present rebellion, nor in any way given aid or comfort thereto.

And your petitioner further states and alleges, that he has not brought said Lettie Wood into the District of Columbia since the passage of said act of Congress; and that, at the time of the passage thereof, said Lettie Wood was held to service or labor therein under and by virtue of your petitioner's claim to such service or labor.

Your petitioner further states and alleges, that his said claim to the service or labor of said Lettie Wood does not originate in or by virtue of any transfer heretofore made by any person who has in any manner aided or sustained the present rebellion against the Government of the United States.

And your petitioner prays the said Commissioners to investigate and determine the value of his said claim to the service or labor of said Lettie Wood herein above set forth; and if the same be found to be valid, that they appraise and apportion the value of said claim in money, and report the same to the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, in conformity to the provisions of said act of Congress.

(Signed by)
M Shanks

>Know all men by these present that I John H Studer of the City of Washington, D.C. being duly authorise and impowered​ as the lawful administrator on the estate of the late Elenor West of said City Deceased as well as by power invested in me by Wm. D. Bowie of Prince George County Maryland and of Thomas H [Clagget?] of [Louden?] County in the State of Virginia as trustees for the estate of A. P. West as by said authority sell and convey to Michael Shanks his heirs and assigns forever one Servant Woman about forty three years of age in August 1859 for the whole time of her natural life said servant woman Lettie Wood and all right and title to said Servant Woman Lettie Wood is hereby sold and conveyed to said M Shanks forever—and his heirs and assigns for the sun of Eight Hundred Dollars to me in hand paid in full of all considerations this day and the receipt of the Same is hereby Acknowledged in full and approved of and agreed to by all the heirs of said A. P. West and Elenor West, as well as the trustees named above the have and to hold and controle​ as he or his assigns may think proper or dispose of as the may choose or please, said negro woman during her natural life. In Witness hereof I have this day set my hand and seal in the presence of [illegible]

John R. Strider Admr​. of Ellenor West decd​.
L. Welsh
John L. [Nelcore?]

[Form of the Oath for the Verification of the Petition.]

I, Michael Shanks being duly sworn, do depose and say, that all the several matters and things which are set forth and stated in the foregoing petition, as of my own knowledge, are true in substance and in fact; and that all the several other matters and things therein set forth and stated, as from the information of others, I believe to be true in substance and in fact.

(Signed by)
M Shanks

Sworn to and subscribed before me this 17th day of May 1862 A. D. 1862.

(Signed by)
Thomas C Donn
Justice of the Peace for Washington County District of Columbia
Michael Shanks
Filed May 19, 1862
Miss Virginia C. West
Wm. N. Waters

 Note (1.)-- Here describe the person, so as to identify him or her; and if there be more than one slave, describe each one separately.

 Note (2.)-- Here state how the claim was acquired, when, from whom, and for what price or consideration; and, if held under any written evidence of title, make exhibit thereof, or refer to the public record where the same may be found.

 Note (3.)-- Here state such facts, if any there be, touching the value of the petitioner's claim to the service or labor of the person, as may enhance the same, and also such facts, if any, touching the moral, mental, and bodily infirmities or defects of said person, as impair the value of the petitioner's claim to such service or labor, and conclude such statement with an averment that the petitioner knows of no other infirmities or defects of said person which impair the value of petitioner's claim to such service or labor, and that he believes none other to exist. If the petitioner specify no such infirmity or defect, then his statement touching the value of his claim should conclude with an averment that he has no knowledge of any such infirmity or defect.

Transcription and encoding: Kenneth J. Winkle, Janel Cayer, and Shailana Dunn-Wall.