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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