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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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