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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