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July 25, 2015 / Joanne Yeck

The 1909 Buckingham Murders: EXTRA #5

Murder_Extra_1910_Perkins_Richard_SRR (1)

Amanda Perkins and family, 1910 census.  Click to enlarge image.

Richard Perkins, Condemned to Death

Richard Perkins was enumerated twice on the 1910 census, once in the Buckingham county jail and once with his family. His father, Jesse Perkins, died sometime between 1900 and 1910, leaving his wife, Amanda, living with their six children.  In 1900, Jesse and Amanda Perkins had been married twenty-seven years.  That year, Richard was working as a farm laborer.

Richard Perkins’ family appears stable and, in April of 1910, his younger brother, Callis, proved loyal if foolhardy.  On April 5, 1910, Richmond’s Times-Dispatch reported the following from Buckingham County:

Willie Jones, Jim Davis, and another negro named Perkins are in jail here, having been fined and given a jail sentence for disorderly conduct and threatening to open the jail and turn the prisoners out.  The Perkins negro is a brother of Richard Perkins, who is in jail under sentence of death for complicity in the Stewart murder.  All of the negroes seem to have been drinking, and they planned to overpower the jailer and take the jail keys and turn Dallas Wright, Richard Perkins, and Ed. Jones out.  The plot was poorly planned, and utterly failed when the negroes looked down the barrel of Jailer Spencer’s gun.

On April 28, 1910, when the census was enumerated “Culler” Perkins, age twenty, was being held in the Buckingham County jail along with Dallas Wright, Eddie Jones, and Richard Perkins.  He appears on the 1900 census as “Callice” (b. May 1888) and on the 1910 census, with his family as “Cullis,” in prison.

A month later, on May 23, 1910, The Farmville Herald printed the following from a Buckingham County correspondent:

Mr. W. J. Hubard, clerk of the Circuit Court was engaged a good part of the past week copying the records in the Wright and Perkins cases which are to be reviewed by the Supreme Court at Wytheville.  It seems to be a question as to whether the court officers will receive any pay for their extra services in the Richard Perkins’ case, as he is without means, and his case is taken up under the pauper clause.  The copying of the records in these two cases entailed a great amount of extra work on the part of Mr. Hubard and he got Mr. Earnest Jones to assist him in the work as his deputy was unwell at the time.

As a single, African-American man, “without means,” Richard Perkins was an easy target for many things, including intimidation and, possibly, false accusations of murder. How fortunate he was that one of the best criminal lawyers in Virginia took up his cause, believing him to be innocent.

It is notable that The Mathews Journal printed a similar story about Edward Jones, convict, and H. Stewart Jones, clerk of the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals stating:

It may be of interest to note, this connection, that Convict Jones’ case will not bring a penny in the way of fees to Clerk Jones, for the negro has appealed “in forma pauperis” and the Commonwealth, therefore, is footing all the bills.

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



Leave a Comment
  1. onestitchatatime / Aug 13 2015 3:07 pm

    The accused is expected to pay the court’s expenses????

    • Joanne Yeck / Aug 13 2015 6:33 pm

      Good question. Apparently so.

  2. Carole Jensen / Jul 25 2015 5:08 pm

    Joanne, I am enjoying every episode of this good ol’ serial mystery–probably much more than your cast of characters. Carole

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