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June 23, 2016 / Joanne Yeck

The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part XVI


In Defense of the Good Citizens of Buckingham

On June 8, 1904, the Appomattox and Buckingham Times printed the following front-page report from “Quiot” at Buckingham Court House:

With the thermometer registering ninety and news of an interesting nature in the extreme, I will endeavor to acquaint you with the happenings around old Buckingham since your last visit to our village.

Since the examination of the parties accused of the burning of the property of the late Jno. S. Forbes, which took place here last Tuesday, which was then, the all absorbing topic of conversation, things have quieted down considerable. The prisoners remained in jail and did not give the bond required by the bail commissioner. I am informed that after consultation with the prisoners by their counsel, it was considered the best thing to do, in view of all the circumstances. I hear whispered that a change of venue is being some what considered.

I cannot see why this is at all necessary. I am sure this is a law abiding, and liberty loving county.

And there are sections of this county, I venture to say, that are totally unacquainted with the circumstances attending this now celebrated case; and are well prepared to give all of the parties a fair and impartial trial. Of course the trial or rather examination, which was not attended with any evidence for the defense, was calculated to produce an impression upon the mind of any unprejudiced party, not very favorable to the prisoners. It is however possible, not to say probable, that these impressions can be entirely removed. In this country of ours, under our grand old customs and laws, even the vilest criminals are presumed to be innocent of a charge “until proven guilty” by legal evidence. And such rights will be accorded these men by the trial court.

It surely is not the innocent that our country desire convicted; but we do sincerely pray that the guilty in this case, if not caught, may be caught, and proved guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.”


In the same issue of the Appomattox and Buckingham Times, the paper reprinted the letter that “M” wrote to The Times-Dispatch – which charged that “this morning’s paper is calculated to produce a wrong impression as to the trial here on yesterday of E. C. Wooldridge and Charlie Forbes” — and was printed on June 3rd.

The reprint was followed by this comment from the editor of the Appomattox and Buckingham Times, A. H. Clement, revealing him to be the author of the “special report” from Buckingham Court House.

I do not desire to be placed in the sight of the public as being desirous of prosecuting any citizen of the Commonwealth or prejudging any man charged with a crime, as the reader of the above article would naturally infer. The author of this article could not have heard the evidence as detailed from the stand, or he never could have made the statement that my report of the examination was “calculated to make an altogether are erroneous impression.” My only desire was to give a perfectly fair portrayal of the matter, which I contend was done; I did not attempt to give the exact evidence in all respects, but I will cheerfully print the evidence of the defense if they will provide me with the stenographic report which they have. A. H. Clement.

Coming Next: Still in Jail

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

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