Title: Petition of William V. H. Brown, 8 June 1862
Date: June 8, 1862
Source Text: A microfilm reproduction of the original document held at the National Archives and Records Administration, Microcopy 520, Reel 6. 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.00858
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, William V. H. Brown of the City 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 two persons of African descent of the names of Martha Vandrey and William Vandrey (Son of Martha) for and during the life of said Martha Vandrey and William Vandrey and that by said act of Congress said Martha Vandrey and William Vandrey 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 Martha and William were of the ages of about thirty seven and nineteen years respectively and of the personal description following:(1) The said Martha Vandrey is of brown complexion, five feet four or five inches in height—well formed and genteel personal appearance. She can read, and is quite an intelligent woman.
That your petitioner acquired his claim to the aforesaid service or labor of said Martha and William in manner following:(2) Your petitioner, at the earnest solicitation and importunity of said Martha, purchased her and her son William, in the month of July 1847, to prevent them being sold to go further south. He purchased them from a widow lady by the name of Preuss, then a resident of this City, and who has children still living in this city. He purchased said servants in the name of his father, the late Rev. O. B. Brown, who was at the time temporarily absent from his home in this city—and the Bill of sale, or title paper, was made out in the name of said O. B. Brown, and your petitioner at the death of his father, said O. B. Brown in May 1852 fell heir to said servants— The title paper your petitioner cannot find, & he does not recollect the price paid for said servants.
That your petitioner's claim to the service or labor of said [no handwritten text supplied here] was, at the time of said discharge therefrom, of the value of [no handwritten text supplied here] dollars in money.(3)Your petitioner is unable to state what might have been the value of his claim to the services of said servants at the time of the discharge therefrom. Your petitioner can only state that, before the outbreak of our present political difficulties he was offered $800.00 for said servant woman Martha, and was repeatedly offered the sum of $1500.00 for said William, her son—; that said offers was made by persons not engaged in the trade, from which fact your petitioner infers that the said prices offered were at the time not above the real value of said servants; but as your petitioner had no desire to buy or to sell at any price, he sought no definite information on the subject. The said Martha is an excellent Cook, and house servant—honest and trustworthy, and can always command the highest wages—she can read and is quite intelligent—
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 were 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.
Wm V. H. Brown
[Form of the Oath for the Verification of the Petition.]
Washington County, ss.
I, William V. H. Brown 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.
Wm. V. H. Brown
Sworn to and subscribed before me this 5th day of July A. D. 1862.
J. F. Brown
Alderman, & ex officio J. P. seal.
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.