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June 18, 2015 / Joanne Yeck

The 1909 Buckingham Murders: Part VI

6_Murder_Alexandria

The Trials Begin

In July of 1909, the trials began in Buckingham County for the murders of Thomas and William Stewart. One of the black men, Edward Jones, was the first to be tried. Former Buckingham County Judge Alexander S. Hall and Aubrey E. Strode of Lynchburg were appointed to defend Jones.

One witness in particular, George E. Bolton, a merchant who lived near the Stewart brothers, gave testimony that would have a profound effect on the case. Bolton told the court of a “remarkable” dream he had the night of the double murder. In it, he saw the crime committed and claimed to recognize Dallas Wright, Edward Jones, and Richard Perkins as the perpetrators. Bolton also described a “stout negro boy” whose name he did not know but who was an accessory to the killing. William “Willie” Jackson, who was being held as a witness, fit Bolton’s description.

According to the July 7, 1909 edition of the Alexandria Gazette and Virginia Advertiser:

Bolton says the dream was so vivid that he was awakened and went out into his yard, from which he could see the Stewart cabin ablaze. Jackson and Bolton both give the same time of the night when the fire occurred, although they never have seen each other. Bolton will be given an opportunity of identifying the negro.

Incredible as it may seem today, Bolton’s dream was accepted as evidence and became increasingly influential as the trials preceded.

Edward Jones was found guilty of “complicity” in the murder and burning of the Stewart brothers, he was “principally” convicted on evidence presented by Willie Jackson and Aylett Johnson, witnesses who confessed their involvement in the crime. Jackson and Johnson asserted that they were “coerced” and “compelled” to stand sentinel while the crimes were committed. Their testimony implicated Dallas Wright, Edward Jones, and Richard Perkins.

Jackson and Johnson were held in the Buckingham County jail along with Wright, Jones, and Perkins. All five men were guarded night and day. Wright was held in a steel cage on the second floor.

The trial of Dallas Wright was set for August 30, 1909.

Coming Next: Dallas Wright on Trial

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

 

5 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. onestitchatatime / Aug 13 2015 2:15 pm

    Wow! Still waiting for a motive …

  2. Linda Doerger / Jun 18 2015 8:41 pm

    A dream accepted as legitimate evidence in a murder trial?! My, what a difference a century makes!

    • Joanne Yeck / Jun 19 2015 7:06 am

      The dream is a jawdropper, isn’t it? Did Bolton actually have the dream? Was it fabricated to collect the reward? Did someone give these details to George Bolton and he agreed to report them to the officials?

  3. Gloria Waycaster / Jun 18 2015 4:04 pm

    Fascinating! So hard to believe the impact of that “DREAM”!

    • Joanne Yeck / Jun 18 2015 4:28 pm

      The “dream” will continue to influence the cases. Stay tuned!

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