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.