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The Acquittal of the Slaves, Ira and Stuart


I may be onto some­thing with the slaves in the Graham fam­ily of Monroe County, West Virginia.

A cou­ple of days ago, I posted a piece about the slaves men­tioned in David Graham’s History of the Graham Family (1899). These included a woman named Dianna and called “Dine.” I noted:

Dianna, or “Dine” was given to Florence Graham, and lived to see the end of slav­ery. Since David Graham says in 1899 that she “died only a few years ago,” she is prob­a­bly in the cen­sus in 1870 and 1880.

Looking fur­ther, I found on Google Books the vol­ume Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia1 by Cornelius C. Watts, Attorney General and Ex Officio Reporter. I will tran­scribe and post the case, “Graham et. al. v. Graham et. al.” on this site. It is 27 pages long, span­ning pages 598–624 of the Report of Cases. For now, though, the impor­tant thing is that the case proves that Dianna (or “Dinah,” as she is called in the case) was the mother of two slaves, Ira and Stuart.

The names Ira and Stuart are famil­iar to me, as they are the slaves who were charged with the mur­der of my 3rd great grand­mother, but quickly acquit­ted. Here are some notes I took from the county court records, on micro­film at the Library of Virginia.

16 October 1854
The attor­ney for the Commonwealth by con­sent of the Court saith that he will not fur­ther pros­e­cute on behalf of the Commonwealth against Stuart (a Slave the prop­erty of Joseph Graham) charged with murder.

Therefore it is ordered that he be dis­charged from his imprisonment.

16 October 1854
Ira a slave (the prop­erty of Joseph Graham) charged with Murder was led to the bar in cus­tody of the jailor of this Court and thereof arrigned and pleaded not guilty, diverse wit­nesses being sworn + Examined; the pris­oner fully heard; upon con­sid­er­a­tion whereof the Court is of the opin­ion that the pris­oner is not guilty of the mur­der afore­said, it is there­fore con­sid­ered that the pris­oner be dis­charged from his impris­on­ment.2

So, Dianna was the mother of Ira and Stuart, who were acquit­ted of mur­der in 1854. But, can I find them in the 1870 cen­sus? Tune in tomorrow.…

1 Cornelius C. Watts. Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, Vol. XVI, 1879–80, Wheeling: W. J. Johnston, 1881.
2 County Court Order Book 6, Monroe County, VA (now WV), 1848–1854, p. 638, 16 October 1854. Microfilm reel 10, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

 
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