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June 15, 2015 / Joanne Yeck

The 1909 Buckingham Murders: Part V

5_Murder_Three Arrested

Arrests Made

Two months passed following the murders of Thomas and William Stewart and no arrests had yet been made. Then, in June of 1909, The Times-Dispatch reported that one white man, W. Dallas Wright, and three black men, Richard Perkins, Ed Jones, and Aylett Johnson had been arrested for the murders of Thomas and William Stewart. They were also charged with arson. The Times-Dispatch may have been in error about the charge against Johnson or, later, the charges were dropped. Ultimately, Johnson was held as a witness but not charged with any crimes. Witness Willie Jackson, another black man, was also jailed. Sheriff Lewis Williams and Deputy Sheriff E. J. Carter, who lived in the same district in which the crime was committed, were credited with “working up” the case. The newspaper noted that Willie Jackson had been under surveillance for suspicious behavior and that it was “probable that he gave the first clue which led to the arrests.”

In June, Buckingham County’s Commonwealth’s Attorney Edmund W. Hubard held a preliminary trial, during which he obtained valuable evidence. Local Justice of the Peace F. W. Swan presided over the proceedings. Judge A. S. Hall represented the accused and all of the prisoners were refused bail.

The Times-Dispatch did not reveal the sources; however, on June 22, 1909, the newspaper summarized some of the details collected by Hubard:

It is alleged that the principals in this crime met at a colored woman’s house in the early part of the night of the double murder and planned the crime, which was committed later in the night. After having what they term a “little frolic” at the house of Charity Perkins, they placed two of the negroes as sentinels on the road leading to the little log cabin which sheltered the two old men, Thomas and William Stewart. One of these was the boy Willie Jackson, and he tells of having heard the two gunshots fired which ended the existence of the two aged brothers. Then he saw the fire and smoke from the burning building. Next, the three men, so the witness alleges, joined the sentinels and told them they had “fixed the Stewarts.”

The newspaper also noted that Dallas Wright was from a “very good family, but is said to have associated with bad companions.” Presumably, these “bad companions” were Richard Perkins and Edward Jones.

In a later report, Charity Perkins will be identified as Charity Johnston, the mother of Aylett Johnston, and the story of what happened on the night of April 17, 1909 will grow increasingly complex and contradictory in detail.

Coming Next: The Trials Begin

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




Leave a Comment
  1. onestitchatatime / Aug 13 2015 1:10 pm

    Sorry for the very late comments. I am starting up with your story where I left off and can now pursue it through it’s conclusion. I’m wondering now whether Jackson could have given false testimony to get good treatment for this other “behavior.” We shall see I am sure.

    • Joanne Yeck / Aug 13 2015 1:18 pm

      There will be a lot of questions about Jackson’s testimony. Keep reading!

  2. Mar / Jun 16 2015 11:54 am

    Oooooh! This is awesome! Type faster! We want the next chapter. Did the arrested men have any “loot” in their possession? What was the “suspicious behavior” that attracted the authorities attention to the witness?

    • Joanne Yeck / Jun 16 2015 12:12 pm

      Typing as fast as I can. . . As far as I know, the arrested men were not found with any “loot” in their possession. There is a story behind the suspicious behavior. Perhaps, I should occasionally post an “EXTRA” . . . good idea!

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