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November 3, 2016 / Joanne Yeck

The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part XLIX


The Jail in Farmville

On November 25, 1904, The Farmville Herald updated its readers on the Wooldridge-Forbes case. It reprinted a Times-Dispatch article which published a shocking headline stating that the Farmville jail was “fearfully” unsanitary. The article began with Congressman Flood’s request for a continuance.

Mr. Flood, of counsel for the defense for Wooldridge, moved for a continuance until the March term. Judge Hundley overruled this, stating that while he was disposed to do all he could for the accommodation and convenience of counsel on both sides, a sense of duty to the public demanded that these prisoners have as speedy a trial as law and justice would permit.

It was agreed that Wooldridge’s case would be tried in early January of 1905 and January 2nd was decided upon for a special term. No mention was made of a date for Charlie Forbes’ case.

The Farmville Herald expanded the details concerning Judge Hundley’s orders:

Just before the prisoners were taken back to jail, somewhat of a sensation was sprung when Judge Hundley announced that it had been reported to him that the county jail of Prince Edward was in a terrible sanitary condition, and that he wanted the jailer brought before him for the purpose of an explanation. Sheriff Dickinson arose and said that he would have Jailer Matthews come before his honor, whereupon Judge Hundley replied: “You are the jailer by law.” Matthews, the acting jailer, however, came immediately before the court, but before he could attempt an explanation of the jail conditions Judge Hundley said he would thoroughly investigate the matter, and appointed a commission to examine the prison. The report of the commission which was composed of Mr. Flood, Col. Hubard and Mr. J. L. Hart, indicated the condition of the quarters for prisoners to be very unsanitary, ill-smelling and infested with vermin. The beddings and floors were reported as filthy in the extreme and the place unfit for the habitation of human beings.

The matter was brought to the attention of the court upon the application of the attorneys for Forbes and Wooldridge….

Judge Hundley also stated from the bench that complaint had come to him that the prisoners in this jail were neither properly nor well fed; and that he would look into this, as the commonwealth paid amply for the feeding of her prisoners.

The Court issued a rule against the Board of Supervisors, and said that he would resort to any extreme to have this remedy applied to the outrageous conditions prevailing at the jail.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Watkins stated to the court that the Board of Supervisors had done everything they could to put this jail in a sanitary condition, and that as for the vermin it was due to the character of the prisoner(s).

 Judge Hundley remarked that the complaints of Prince Edward’s jail were the only ones he had ever had of any other prison on his circuit, and that he would investigate the charges in order to ascertain, if possible, who is to blame and that he would in the meantime have Wooldridge and Forbes taken back to the Buckingham jail to be kept until the day of their trial in January.

Coming next: More News from the Appomattox and Buckingham Times

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

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