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May 12, 2016 / Joanne Yeck

The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part IV

Arson_4_Charlie Forbes

The John S. Forbes, 1900. Buckingham County, Virginia.


Charlie S. Forbes

Reports insisted that the persons who fired John Forbes’ property and systematically stole his money were familiar with both the outbuildings and the location of the trunk within the house.  After all, it was the middle of the night and completely dark when the crime took place. Later reports would add that important papers were stolen, as well.

In 1900, the Forbes household included: John S. Forbes (82), William A. Forbes (23), Janie Forbes (22), Charles J. Forbes (20), and Floyd L. Forbes (18). Despite marrying late in life, widower John Forbes produced a healthy and extremely attractive family. They lived in the Francisco District, residing among other Forbes families and cousins. By 1904, when the crime took place, Floyd was living in Lynchburg. Apparently, it was William, called Annis, who had gone to Farmville with the tobacco the night of the fires.

It also seemed likely that the criminals timed their attack when only the elderly John Forbes, Janie, and “the old colored woman” were at home and defenseless. Normally at least one or two of Forbes’ sons would have been at home as well. Following the fire, John Forbes became very ill, having caught cold from exposure on the night his home was burned.

On the day of the crime, Charlie had been at home until about noon, when he “disappeared.” He had not been home since. His family was unaware of his intention to leave and did not know where he was. According to The Times-Dispatch, “Young Mr. Forbes, being of an eccentric disposition, leaving as he did, is not much thought of by those who knew him well.”

Was the “disappearance” of Charlie Forbes a coincidence? Was he somehow involved in the burning of his father’s property? What could be his motive?

Coming Next: John S. Forbes

Need to catch up? Click here for The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part I


Leave a Comment
  1. Joanne Yeck / Aug 25 2016 7:57 am

    I agree, Charlie’s disappearance is most irregular. Will he have an alibi?

  2. onestitchatatime / Aug 24 2016 9:43 pm

    Charlie’s disappearance … highly suspicious in my book! And all the occupants neatly get out without injury. I will read on.

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