Skip to content
May 2, 2016 / Joanne Yeck

The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part I

Arson_1_Fire

Courtesy The Times-Dispatch

During 1904 and 1905, a mysterious case of arson, tried in the Buckingham County and Prince Edward courts, fascinated the citizens of both places for many months. Readers of Richmond’s The Times-Dispatch, The Farmville Herald, and the Appomattox and Buckingham Times reveled in the details of Buckingham’s elite and their handsome sons and pretty daughters. While it apparently did not become a national story, readers in Baltimore and Washington D.C. also followed this mysterious crime story.

Unlike the serial crimes committed by “The Buckingham Outlaws,” who terrorized the good people of Arvonia in 1908, or the murders of the reclusive Stewart brothers in 1910, this crime involved prominent Buckingham families, both as victims and as alleged perpetrators.

While the trials of The Buckingham Outlaws and the men charged with the murder of the Stewart brothers suggested possible irregularities in Buckingham County’s justice system, the crime that came to be called “The Famous Forbes Case,” reveals the machinations among men of power. This is no backwoods clan fight. This story suggests white collar enmity, fueled by long-standing grudges among families.

The great legal minds of central Virginia once again take the stage. Buckingham County’s Commonwealth’s Attorney Edmund W. Hubard headed the prosecution, aided by Lynchburg’s Aubrey E. Strode. The defense was primarily in the hands of Congressman H. D. Flood.

The story opens on March 9, 1904 when The Times-Dispatch reported two fires in Buckingham County, one at White Hall (Dillwyn) where the burning of the R.M. Anderson Company threatened the town and one at the farm of Mr. John Forbes:

DASTARDLY OUTRAGE.

A most dastardly outrage was committed at the home of Mr. John Forbes, an old man eighty-seven years old, last Thursday night.

Mr. Forbes and his only daughter were at home, his son having gone to Farmville with a load of tobacco, when some miscreant fired his dwelling and several outhouses and tobacco barns. In all, eight buildings were burned. His daughter was aroused by the fire, and succeeded in putting out the fire on the meat house and hen house. All of his provender, including over fifty barrels of corn, farming implements and two good buggies, were destroyed. The loss is estimated to be at least seven thousand dollars. The trunk in which they kept their savings was robbed of something like a hundred dollars. Mr. Forbes, who is very infirm on account of his age, had to be carried from the house by his only daughter.

The same day, the Appomattox and Buckingham Times, a weekly paper published in Appomattox County, introduced to its readers what would become a much discussed local saga. The regular correspondent from Buckingham Court House at that time signed his articles “Quiot.” His rendering of the tragedy offered an interesting detail which would not be repeated:

Our entire county is greatly shocked at the terrible calamity that befell Mr. John S. Forbes, an old man in his eighty-seventh year, and the brother of our county clerk, Mr. P. A. Forbes.

On Thursday last his son, Mr. Annis Forbes, went on a trip to Farmville, on business, leaving no one at home except the old gentleman, Miss Janie Forbes, the sister of Annis and daughter of Mr. John Forbes, and an old colored woman….

[After they discovered the blaze . . .] These two women succeeded in bearing old Mr. Forbes from the burning buildings out into the yard, where they laid him on a bed that they had but that moment dragged from the house, and he immediately fell asleep while all the buildings were still burning – leaving the impression on the minds of many with whom your correspondent has talked, that he was drugged, and that the object of the burning was robbery.

. . . That the work was that of an incendiary there cannot be any doubt; as while the dwelling was burning the smell of kerosene oil was plainly noticeable.

The “fact” that John S. Forbes was drugged will disappear from future reports.

What party or parties wanted to destroy the property of a helpless, eighty-seven year old man?

Coming Next: Further Particulars

Need to catch up other true-crime serials at Slate River Ramblings? Click here:

“The Buckingham Outlaws”

“The 1909 Buckingham Murders”

 

66 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. onestitchatatime / Aug 22 2016 12:40 pm

    Finally catching up with this! I love a good mystery.

    • Joanne Yeck / Aug 22 2016 1:51 pm

      Good. There’s lots more to come!

Trackbacks

  1. 1905: Buckingham High School Commencement | slate river ramblings . . . .
  2. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part LXIV | slate river ramblings . . . .
  3. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part LXIII | slate river ramblings . . . .
  4. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part LXII | slate river ramblings . . . .
  5. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part LXI | slate river ramblings . . . .
  6. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part LX | slate river ramblings . . . .
  7. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part LIX | slate river ramblings . . . .
  8. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part LVIII | slate river ramblings . . . .
  9. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part LVII | slate river ramblings . . . .
  10. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part LVI | slate river ramblings . . . .
  11. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part LV | slate river ramblings . . . .
  12. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part LIV | slate river ramblings . . . .
  13. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part LIII | slate river ramblings . . . .
  14. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part LII | slate river ramblings . . . .
  15. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: LI | slate river ramblings . . . .
  16. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: L | slate river ramblings . . . .
  17. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: XLIX | slate river ramblings . . . .
  18. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: XLVIII | slate river ramblings . . . .
  19. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: XLVII | slate river ramblings . . . .
  20. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: XLVI | slate river ramblings . . . .
  21. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: XLV | slate river ramblings . . . .
  22. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: XLIV | slate river ramblings . . . .
  23. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: PART XLIII | slate river ramblings . . . .
  24. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part XLII | slate river ramblings . . . .
  25. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: XLI | slate river ramblings . . . .
  26. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: XL | slate river ramblings . . . .
  27. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: XXXIX | slate river ramblings . . . .
  28. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: XXXVIII | slate river ramblings . . . .
  29. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: XXXVII | slate river ramblings . . . .
  30. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: XXXVI | slate river ramblings . . . .
  31. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: XXXV | slate river ramblings . . . .
  32. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part XXXIV | slate river ramblings . . . .
  33. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part XXXIII | slate river ramblings . . . .
  34. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: XXXII | slate river ramblings . . . .
  35. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: XXXI | slate river ramblings . . . .
  36. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: XXX | slate river ramblings . . . .
  37. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: XXIX | slate river ramblings . . . .
  38. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: XXVIII | slate river ramblings . . . .
  39. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: XXVII | slate river ramblings . . . .
  40. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: XXVI | slate river ramblings . . . .
  41. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: XXV | slate river ramblings . . . .
  42. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: XXIV | slate river ramblings . . . .
  43. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part XXIII | slate river ramblings . . . .
  44. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part XXII | slate river ramblings . . . .
  45. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part XXI | slate river ramblings . . . .
  46. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part XX | slate river ramblings . . . .
  47. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part XIX | slate river ramblings . . . .
  48. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part XVIII | slate river ramblings . . . .
  49. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part XVII | slate river ramblings . . . .
  50. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part XVI | slate river ramblings . . . .
  51. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part XV | slate river ramblings . . . .
  52. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part XIV | slate river ramblings . . . .
  53. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part XIII | slate river ramblings . . . .
  54. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part XI | slate river ramblings . . . .
  55. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part X | slate river ramblings . . . .
  56. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: IX | slate river ramblings . . . .
  57. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part VIII | slate river ramblings . . . .
  58. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part VII | slate river ramblings . . . .
  59. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part XII | slate river ramblings . . . .
  60. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part VI | slate river ramblings . . . .
  61. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part V | slate river ramblings . . . .
  62. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part IV | slate river ramblings . . . .
  63. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part III | slate river ramblings . . . .
  64. The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part II | slate river ramblings . . . .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: