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June 2, 2016 / Joanne Yeck

The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part X

Arson_10_Farmville Jail


Awaiting Trial

Why had the warrants for the arrests of E.C. Wooldridge and Charles Forbes for the burning of John S. Forbes’ property been issued from Prince Edward County? Despite the fact that the Forbes farm was located in the southern part of Buckingham County, near Farmville, the crime took place in Buckingham. Why was Buckingham’s sheriff, William Williams, not involved in Wooldridge’s arrest?

On May 26, 1904, The Times-Dispatch printed front-page news from Farmville. Charlie Forbes had been arrested and was being held with E.C. Wooldridge in the Prince Edward County jail. The men were separated, Wooldridge was held in a steel cell upstairs and Forbes was in a small cage on the lower floor.

Wooldridge “talked freely” in front of the press, adding that nothing he said was for publication except his insistence that he was completely innocent of the charges against him. He admitted that he had many enemies, “as nearly all men who hold places of public trust do.” According to The Times-Dispatch:

He deplored his predicament, and said while he might go free yet he could never recover from the disgrace of his incarceration in a felon’s cell. He referred with emotion to his small children left at home, and to one, a boy, sixteen years old who, he stated, has been arrested and lodged in the jail at Buckingham Courthouse. Woolridge says he has retained as his counsel, Hon. Hal. Flood and Judge J. M. Crute. . . .

As reported, young Dan Wooldridge was being held not only for threatening Annis Forbes by also for participation in the crimes against John S. Forbes. No mention was made of the evidence that pointed to Dan’s involvement in the case.

When Charlie Forbes spoke to the press, he expressed surprise at his arrest, saying he was not in Buckingham County on the night of March 3rd when his father’s property was destroyed. He also declared that, after returning to Buckingham, he had not seen E. C. Wooldridge until he reached the jail in Prince Edward County. Forbes also commented that his arrest was due to enemies and that “many an innocent man hanged or [was] sent to the penitentiary for life.”

While two men may have seen Forbes head towards Wooldridge’s house, as yet no one had reported seeing them together. This detail will be just the beginning of a case overflowing with circumstantial evidence.

Coming Next: A Woman in the Case?

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


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