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July 7, 2016 / Joanne Yeck

The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part XIX


Freedom for Cliff Wooldridge

According to coverage in The Times-Dispatch, until nearly dark on June 14, 1904, discussion continued at Buckingham Courthouse concerning a possible change of venue for those accused of burning the buildings of John S. Forbes. Destined to be tried in Buckingham County, Charlie Forbes was returned to the Buckingham County jail. The next day, his beautiful and heroic sister, Janie, and two of her brothers appeared at the courthouse, attempting to provide security for their brother’s release from custody. His bail remained at $5,000. It was deemed, however, that their security was insufficient and Charlie remained in custody.

Congressman Flood and Benjamin Davidson had succeeded in providing security for Wooldridge’s $5,000 bail. At dusk on June 14th, Cliff Wooldridge left Maysville and incarceration behind, driven out of the village by his son, Dan, who was also out on bail. In a couple of days, Cliff and his wife would return to Maysville on business. At that time, he looked “remarkably well” and she had recovered from her recent indisposition.

That same day, as darkness fell at Buckingham Courthouse, attorney Jack Lee was seen heading for Lynchburg, accompanied by a young woman who had been summoned to testify on behalf of Charlie Forbes. She was to return to Buckingham County when the case was tried in July.

Why did she go unnamed in the newspaper? Was this a ploy on the part of the correspondent, intending to add allure to an already “mysterious” case?


On July 15th, the Appomattox and Buckingham Times printed an update on the case written by correspondent “Quoit.” Heavy with opinion, he offered few new facts.


The Board of Supervisors is in session at this writing, with not a very large crowd in attendance. The people of the county and other counties will doubtless turnout in considerable numbers on the morrow, expecting to hear the now celebrated burning case aired in the court. Those who are acquainted with the facts as developed at the examination of this case before the magisterial court readily agree with your reporter as to the facts developed. While there is absolutely no danger whatever threatening the prisoners from any outside violence, the extreme gravity of the charge, commands the most serious interest of peace and order-loving citizens of this community. It is somewhat amusing though to see here and there an isolated [?] writer bobbing up and declaring it will be hard to find a jury in the large and fair-minded county of Buckingham prepared to give the prisoners a “fair and impartial trial.”

And I asked for my part, and I think I know something of the people of Buckingham, I am truly of the opinion that, it will be an easy matter to find a jury qualified to try the case.

New council has been employed for the defense of Charlie Forbes. Messrs. Lee & and Howard, of Lynchburg, will appear [?] for his defense. It will be readily understood that in each of these cases every inch of ground will be stoutly contested, and we may expect a battle royal or a complete route [?] in the beginning of the fight. It is not thought that there will be any standing room on any “middle ground.”

On page four of the same addition, the Appomattox and Buckingham Times, ran an update summarizing the case thus far. Importantly, it listed the men who sat on the grand jury, calling them “nine of the most prominent citizens of Buckingham county.” They were: L. F. Lightfoot, George W. Patterson, John J. Spencer, W. G. Edwards, Charles L. Glover, Joseph J. Irving, Brice Glover, Thomas R. Shan and W. R. Silvey [?].

Coming Next: The Grand Jury

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


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