Amanuensis Monday: Jane Graham Murder Case

Below are some transcriptions of newspaper articles relating to the likely murder of my 3rd great grandmother, Jane Graham, in 1854 in what was then Monroe County, Virginia, and is now Summers County, West Virginia.

[ Joseph Graham’s Barn ]

Joseph Graham’s barn, on Greenbrier river, Monroe county, was burned to the ground on the night of the 27th ult.

    From The Daily Dispatch, Vol. IV, No. 241, Richmond, VA, Friday, August 14, 1854, p. 1, col. 5. “Virginia.” microfilm, Richmond, VA Dispatch, July through December 1854, Ball State University Library, Periodical Service, Muncie, IN.

[ The Greenbrier Era ]

The Greenbrier Era has a long account of the murder of Miss Jane Graham, in Monroe county. She was on bad terms with her brothers, and according to the account in the Era, they are suspected of having had something to do with her murder. In fact, she once had an illegitimate daughter, and to this, perhaps, may be attributed the enmity. The barn of Joseph Graham, her father, was burnt on the night of the 27th ult., subsequent to which Jane Graham was not seen until she was found murdered in the bushes, some distance from home. The verdict of the jury of inquest is considered extraordinary. We copy the Era’s remarks on the subject:

After hearing all the evidence, the jury came to the conclusion that Miss Jane Graham fired the barn — that in so doing she roused the fierce dog belonging to the family — that the dog followed her, and that some of the family pursued in the same direction — that some of them came up with her where the first indication of a scuffle occurred — that she then escaped but was overtaken where the indications of a second scuffle were found, and there murdered. The jury, we understand, were unanimously of a conviction that this was the manner of her death; yet (will it be believed in the land of chivalry and in the 19th century?) they brought in a verdict, on paper,  that she “came to her death by some unknown means!” One of the jurymen, whom a friend of ours conversed with, said they dared do nothing more — the Grahams were such a desperate set that the whole neighborhood feared them!

    From The Daily Dispatch, Vol. IV, No. 243, Richmond, VA, Wednesday, August 16, 1854, p. 1, col. 4. “Virginia.” microfilm, Richmond, VA Dispatch, July through December 1854, Ball State University Library, Periodical Service, Muncie, IN.

Arrest of the Graham Family.

A statement relative to the murder of Miss Jane Graham, of Monroe county, which we copied a few days ago from the Greenbrier Era, will be remembered by our readers. It was there intimated that suspicion rested on Joseph Graham and his four sons (father and brothers of the deceased) of having committed the deed. A friend writes to us from Lewisburg that they have all been arrested. He also requests us to state that the verdict of the coroner’s jury was “death by some unknown person or persons,” not “by some unknown means,” as reported heretofore.

    From The Daily Dispatch, Vol. IV, No. 245, Richmond, VA, Friday, August 18, 1854, p. 3, col. 1. “Latest Mail News.” microfilm, Richmond, VA Dispatch, July through December 1854, Ball State University Library, Periodical Service, Muncie, IN.

Monroe County Court.

The County Court of Monroe met Monday morning, 21st instant, when, after the transaction of some minor business, the case of the two negroes charged with the murder of Miss Jane Graham was taken up. The prisoners were brought in, but at the insistance of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, it is stated, the trial was postponed to the next session of the Court.

Miss Graham, the party murdered, is stated to have been possessed of property to the amount of some $3000, and was soon to have been married to a respectable middle aged mechanic of Rocky Point. This statement is made upon good authority. The surviving party appears greatly affected at her death. — Greenbrier Era.

    From The Daily Dispatch, Vol. IV, No. 253, Richmond, VA, Monday, August 28, 1854, p. 3, col. 2. “Latest Mail News: Monroe County Court.” microfilm, Richmond Dispatch (VA) July thru December 1854, Main Film #20, Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA, researched August 7, 1999 by Jordan Jones.

The Grahams.

The Lewisburg Chronicle, alluding to the conflicting rumors in reference to the murder of Miss. Graham, says:

“We can only say this much, however, that the Grahams are not under arrest, as the Richmond Dispatch would have the public believe.”

It appears to us that there is some ill-nature displayed in that sentence. The Dispatch “would have the public believe” nothing but the truth, and has only published brief statements in regard to the Graham affair, as furnished by correspondents and by newspapers. The arrest and subsequent discharge of the Grahams was announced several days ago, on what we presume to be good authority, and we have never seen a contradiction of it.

    From The Daily Dispatch, Vol. IV, No. 257, Richmond, VA, Friday, September 1, 1854, p. 4, col. 1. “Virginia.” microfilm, Richmond, VA Dispatch, July through December 1854, Ball State University Library, Periodical Service, Muncie, IN.

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