Title: Petition of Virginia Bell, Esther E. Bell, and Virginia C. Bell, 15 July 1862

Date: July 15, 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.00953

TEI/XML: cww.00953.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 Petitioners, Virginia Bell, Esther E. Bell and Virginia C. Bell, of the City of Washington in the District of Columbia, by this their petition in writing, represent and state, that they are persons loyal to the United States, who, at the time of the passage of the said Act of Congress, held a claim to labor or service against four persons of African descent of the names of Winney, Susan, Ottoway and Sally for and during the lives of said persons; and that by said Act of Congress said persons were discharged and freed of and from all claim of your petitioners to such service or labor; that at the time of said discharge said persons were of the ages and of the personal descriptions following:

  • The said Winney, aged forty-seven years, large and of a bright mulatto color.
  • The said Susan, aged thirty-seven years, very likely and of a bright mulatto color.
  • The said Ottoway, aged thirty-five years, of a bright mulatto color.
  • The said Sally, aged eighteen years, rather darker than the others and very tall and fine looking.

That your petitioners acquired their claim to the aforesaid service or labor of said persons by virtue of a conveyance from the late Alexander Bell, the husband of your petitioner Virginia Bell and the father of your petitioners Esther   E. Bell and Virginia C. Bell, to Robert Hudgin in trust for your said petitioners; which said conveyance, dated the twenty-eighth day of May, 1859, is filed herewith and marked "Exhibit A. No. 1."

That your petitioners' claim to the service or labor of said persons was, at the time of said discharge therefrom, of the value of four thousand seven hundred dollars in money. Said Winney is a good nurse; said Susan is a cook and nurse; said Ottoway is a coachman; said Sally is a sempstress; sand all said persons are free from any moral, mental or bodily infirmity or defect.

Your petitioners hereby declare that they bear true and faithful allegiance to the Government of the United States and that they have not borne arms against the United States in the present rebellion nor in any way given aid or comfort thereto.

And your petitioners further state and allege that they have not brought said persons 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 held to service or labor therein under and by virtue of your petitioners' claim to such service or labor.

Your petitioners further state and allege that their 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 petitioners pray the said Commissioners to investigate and determine the validity of their 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 with the provisions of said Act of Congress.

Virginia Bell
Esther Ellen Bell
Virginia Caroline Bell
By Virginia Bell their Guardian

I, Virginia Bell, 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 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.

Virginia Bell

Sworn to and subscribed before me this fifteenth day of July, A. D. 1862.

Gilbert L. Giberson JP

Exhibit A. No. 1

This Indenture made this 28th May 1859, by and between Alexander Bell of the City of Washington District of Columbia of the first part Robert Hudgin of the County of Caroline in the state of Virginia of the second part and Virginia Bell wife of the aforesaid Alexander Bell and Esther Ellen Bell and Virginia Caroline Bell children of said Virginia by said Alexander Bell all of the city of Washington and District aforesaid of the third part.

Whereas the said Alexander Bell is desirous of securing to the said Virginia his wife to her sole and separate use during her life with remainder to her children the aforesaid Esther Ellen and Virginia Caroline at her death the property herein after named and described. Now the Indenture Witnesseth that for and in consideration of the natural love and affection he bears his said wife and daughters and also in consideration of the sum of one dollar to him in hand paid by said Robert Hudgin at and before the sealing and delivery of   this Indenture the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged He the said Alexander Bell has given granted bargained sold and assigned and by this Indenture does give grant bargain and sell and assign to said Robert Hudgin all the household and kitchen furniture owned by said Alexander Bell in and about his residence in the city of Washington aforesaid number four hundred and fifty-five (455) on Twelfth street (12th) also the following named negro slaves now in and about the residence of said Alexander Bell in Washington City To wit Winney, Susan Jenny & infant child, Talley, Jesse, Beverley and Willey also two other slaves Ottoway and Charles in the town at Chattanooga in the state of Tennessee The said Hudgin to hold all said property furniture and slaves to the sole and separate use of the said Virginia Bell and at her death to go to the said daughters of the said Alexander Bell and said Virginia Bell The said Hudgin shall have power with the assent of said Virginia to sell the furniture and reinvest the proceeds thereof to be held   by him to the same uses and trusts herein before declared the said Virginia is to hold the possession and use of the property hereby conveyed during her life without [illegible] hindrance or obstruction on the part of said Hudgin

In Testimony whereof the parties have hereto set their hands and affixed their seals the day and year first above written

A. Bell seal
Robt. Hudgin seal
Signed Sealed and delivered in presence of
F. I. Murphey seal
J. H. Norse seal

I, F. I. Murphey a Justice of the Peace in and for the County of Washington in the District of Columbia do hereby certify that Alexander Bell whose name is subscribed to the foregoing deed of trust bearing date the 28th May 1859 and who is personally known to me to be the [identiture?] person who Executed the said deed personally appeared before me in my County and   District aforesaid and acknowledged the same to be his act and deed and desired me to certify his said acknowledgement Given under my hand and seal this 28th day of May 1859

F. I. Murphey J. P. seal
Paid $1.25 by Robt Hudgin
Alexander Bell
Robert Hudgin
Bill of Sale.
Received 23rd June 1859 To be Recorded, and the same day was Recorded in Liber J. A. S. No. 177, folios No. 256, 257, & 258. One of the Land Records for Washington County in the District of Columbia, and Examined by

John A. Smith, clk
Mrs. Virginia Bell & others
Filed July 15, 1862
Milton S. Latham
James M. Carlisle
Transcription and encoding: Janel Cayer, Nima Najafi Kianfar, and Susan C. Lawrence.