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June 8, 2015 / Joanne Yeck

The 1909 Buckingham Murders: Part III

3_Murder_Antioch Baptist

Antioch Baptist Church, Courtesy Historic Buckingham

The Stewarts and Antioch Baptist Church

The Stewart land was located on Tower Hill Road, near Antioch Baptist Church. Were the Stewarts church-going men? How were they perceived by their neighbors?

Currently, no church affiliation is known for the Stewarts; however, according to The Courthouse Burned – Book II, in about 1893, Thomas “Stuart” sold some of his land for the building of Antioch Baptist Church, charging $3.40 per acre.

Within three days of the brothers’ death, the Alexandria Gazette and Virginia Advertiser reported on April 20, 1909, “Both men were prominent in the community, and were bachelors.” The coverage of the murders concluded, “If the murderers are caught trouble is expected as the dead brothers were much respected.”

Conversely, Richmond’s The Times-Dispatch stated that while the Stewart brothers didn’t cause trouble and were considered harmless, they were not “desirable citizens.” Over the coming months, the newspaper would call their cabin “dilapidated,” describing their home as situated in a “thinly settled” and “secluded part of the county.” The newspaper repeatedly identified the Stewarts as “miserly” and claimed that the men were not “generally known by the county people.”

Which to believe? If the Alexandria Gazette was correct, The Times-Dispatch failed to draw positive portraits of the brothers and report on community support for them personally. The focus, instead, would remain on the brutality of the crime.

Coming Next: “Governor Offers Reward”

Need to catch up on The 1909 Buckingham Murders? Part I: June 1, 2015

 

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