Title: Petition of Thomas Knowles, 28 June 1862

Date: June 28, 1862

Source Text: A microfilm reproduction of the original document held at the National Archives and Records Administration, Microcopy 520, Reel 5. 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.00791

TEI/XML: cww.00791.xml

Priced and sold by R. A. Waters, Penn. Avenue, between 11th and 12th Streets.


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, Thomas Knowles of Georgetown DC 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 persons of African descent of the name of

  • Joe Trusty (Male)
  • Andrew Trusty (Male)
  • Anna Trusty (Female)
for and during the life of said persons and that by said act of Congress said persons named above are 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 held to service or labor" by your petitioner Thomas Knowles were of the ages of following:
  • Joe Trusty 16 years
  • Andrew Trusty 15 "
  • Anna Trusty 13 "
and of the personal description following:(1)
  • Joe Trusty—is very black, with large feet for a boy, has a fine set of white teeth, with a pleasing smile generally when spoken to, House.
  • Andrew Trusty—is very black, might be considered a picture of Robust health, has a pleasing expression in his countenance generally—has a large head, with hair short and curly—House servant.
  • Anna Trusty is very black, hair short & curly—her face has rather a pleasing expression—lips thick, & might be considered small for her age—has been learned to read—House servant.—


That your petitioner acquired his claim to the aforesaid service or labor of said servants in manner following:(2) By purchase of their mother (who has since died) and Joe from Susan Elizabeth Smith on Oct. 1st 1847. The bill of sale was recorded Oct. 18th 1847 in Liber WB no. 137 folio 226 in the land records of Washington County, the said bill of sale is herewith attached, Andrew Trusty & Anna Trusty were given birth to in my house by their mother Henny Trusty, for evidence of which, summon Henry M. Hurdle or Dr. Hezekiah Macgruder

That your petitioner's claim to the service or labor of said servants was, at the time of said discharge therefrom, of the value of Two Thousand dollars in money.(3) estimated as follows, eight Hundred dollars each for the two boys & four Hundred dollars for the girl. This I should suppose to be their marketable value, yet I never looked upon them as being for sale at any price & I know that if three thousand dollars in cash had been offerd​ me for them, it would have been declined. They are perfectly healthy & free as far as I have any knowledge of, of any moral mental or bodily infirmities or defects & I further believe that no mental moral or bodily infirmity exists.

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 servants into the District of Columbia since the passage of said act of Congress; and that, at the time of the passage thereof, said servants 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 servants 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 servants 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)
Thos Knowles


I, Thomas Knowles 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)
Thomas Knowles

Sworn to and subscribed before me this 25th day of June A. D. 1862.

(Signed by)
R. R. Sheckle J.P.
paid 50 c
Bill of Sale
Susan E. Smith
Thomas Knowles
Recd 18th October 1847 to be recorded and the same day was recorded in Liber W. B. No. 137—folio 226—one of the Land records for Washington County in the District of Columbia and examined by

Wm Brent clk

Know all here by these presents, that I Susan Elizabeth Smith, of Georgetown in the District of Columbia, on this first day of October in the year of our Lord One thousand Eight hundred & forty Seven, for and in consideration of the sum of Four Hundred & Seventy five Dollars, the payment of which I hereby acknowledge, have granted bargained, sold and delivered, unto Thomas Knowles & do by these presents, grant, bargain sell & deliver unto the said Thomas Knowles my Servant woman Henny Trusty & her child Joe aged about six months, slaves for live, & I hereby agree to warrant and defend the said Knowles, his Executors, Administrators, and assigns, the said slaves against me my Executors Administrators & assigns or against any person or persons whatsoever.

Witness my hand & seal

S E. Smith
C. Smith
Petition of & Bill of Sale Thomas Knowles
Three slaves.
Filed June 28, 1862
Jones & Ashford Solrs​. for Petr​.
Accompanying Exhibit.
Dr. Hezekiah Magruder
Henry M. Hurdler

 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: Susan C. Lawrence, Janel Cayer, Courtney Geerhart, and Brittany Jones.