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.

Leave a Comment