Title: Petition of John L. Kidwell, 26 May 1862

Date: May 26, 1862

Source Text: A microfilm reproduction of the original document held at the National Archives and Records Administration, Microcopy 520, Reel 4. 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.00435

TEI/XML: cww.00435.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, John L. Kidwell of of George Town in the said District 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 three negroes or persons of African descent of the names of James Somerville, Mary Somerville and Sarah Brooks for and during the life lives of said persons or negroes and that by said act of Congress said persons were discharged and freed of and from all claim of your petitioner to such service or labor; that at the time of said discharge said persons were of the ages of [illegible] and of the personal description following:;(1) viz: said James Somerville was of the age of twenty four years—a mulatto—five feet seven and three quarter inches high; the said Mary Somerville was three and a half years of age—also a mulatto, and a child 2 ½ feet high; and said Sarah Brooks was twenty years of age—a dark mulatto, five feet and five inches high.


That your petitioner acquired his claim to the aforesaid service or labor of said negroes or persons in manner following:;(2) namely—he purchased said James Somerville between ten and twelve years ago, (who was then a mere boy,) from Edward N. Roach, the late Register of Wills of this District, for five hundred dollars, and the day after was offered one thousand dollars for him by a trader; but petitioner did not buy him for any such purpose; and Mr. Roach sold him to petitioner at such a low price because he also was opposed to selling well-behaved negroes from their homes: your petitioner bought him for his domestic use, and has since kept him in his family. Mary Somerville petitioner purchased about 3 yrs & 4 mo​ years since, then a baby the supposed child of James, from William Yerby of said George Town for twenty five dollars; and Sarah Brooks he also purchased for Eight hundred and fifty dollars about eighteen months ago from Isaac Barrett of said Town, who had previously purchased the said woman from Wm. Busey of said place, in whose family she had been raised in Montgomery County, Maryland.

That your petitioner's claim to the service or labor of said persons or negroes was, at the time of said discharge therefrom, of the value of two thousand and five hundred & fifty dollars in money.;(3) namely—for said James Somerville, fifteen hundred dollars; for whom two years ago he could readily obtained two thousand dollars: he is a healthy, steady, useful man; obliging, diligent and honest; is a good gardener and florist—also a good cook; but his chief business is the charge of petitioner's garden and green-house, which are extensive: Mary Brooks is worth what petitioner gave for her—viz—eight hundred and fifty dollars; she is a good house-servant, and has been kept at home, and occupied in the duties of the family: the child, Mary Somerville he considers worth one hundred and fifty dollars. He knows of no moral, mental, or bodily infirmity or defect in said persons, and believes none to exist

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 persons or negroes into the District of Columbia since the passage of said act of Congress; and that, at the time of the passage thereof, said persons were 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 persons 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 validity of his said claim to the service or labor of said persons 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)
Jno L Kidwell

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

I, John L. Kidwell 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)
Jno L Kidwell

Sworn to and subscribed before me this 23 day of May A. D. 1862.

(Signed by)
Jenkins Thomas J Peace
John L. Kidwell's Petition.
Filed May 26, 1862

 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: Janel Cayer, Elizabeth Lorang, Rhiannon Root, Brittany Jones, and Robert Voss.