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October 17, 2016 / Joanne Yeck

The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part XLIV

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The Famous Forbes Case

By October 7, 1904, newspapers were rekindling interest in the Wooldridge-Forbes case to be heard on October 11th in Buckingham County’s courthouse. Baltimore’s The American, reprinted a story from Richmond with the blazing headline:

FAMOUS FORBES CASE FOR TRIAL

ALLEGED HOUSEBURNER TO FACE A JURY.

E. C. Wooldridge, Who is Accused of Being the Principal in Firing of Home of John S. Forbes, in Virginia, Will Most Likely Be Put On Trial Again After Forbes’ Case Is Over – Interest Continues at High Pitch and Many Ladies Are Expected to be Present.

The American speculated that Wooldridge would be retried following Charlie Forbes’ trial and stated that the sheriff had summoned twenty men from remote parts of Buckingham County for the trial of Forbes. People living thirty or forty miles away were preparing to attend the trial, including many ladies.

Adding to Charlie Forbes’ troubles, his trial did not begin on October 11th. E. W. Hubard, who was to prosecute, was hospitalized in Richmond at Memorial Hospital. As a result, the newspaper predicted, that Judge Hundley would hold a special term to hear the cases of Forbes and Wooldridge.

Charlie Forbes had been a model prisoner; however, his nerves were frayed not only by months of confinement plus his bout with typhoid fever, but also due to his presumed disappointment of not being tried during the October term and the strain of witnessing the hanging of condemned murderer John Henry Banks which took place just outside Forbes’ cell on September 30, 1904.

Wooldridge, on the other hand, had been a restless prisoner. The October 26th issue of The Times-Dispatch referred to an attempted jailbreak by Wooldridge. Apparently, after Wooldridge was stopped, he claimed that he intended, once out of jail, to surrender himself to officers of the law.

Does that make any sense at all? The officials of Buckingham County thought it did not.

Wooldridge’s attempted jailbreak became the tenth indictment against him. The other nine were for setting fires to nine separate structures on the Forbes estate.

Coming Next: A Change of Venue

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

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