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December 13, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County Murder: Manteo Killing, Part I

Courtesy Staunton Spectator and Vindicator

In 2015, Slate River Ramblings reported on the 1911 shocking murder of a man named Curtis Branch, as reported in Richmond’s The Times-Dispatch. Click on the links below to read but we knew at that time:

Curtis Nunley Branch, C.S.A.

Buckingham County Murder

Since then, a lengthy report printed in the Staunton Spectator and Vindicator has been found. Its distressing headline, “ANOTHER CRIME ADDED TO BUCKINGHAM’S LIST,” indicates ongoing unrest in Buckingham County. The subheading, “SECTION HAS WITNESSED MANY BRUTAL MURDERS,” referring to the gruesome murder of the Stewart brothers, confirmed it. Click to read the series about the Stewarts:

The 1909 Buckingham Murders: Part I


With the dateline of Manteo, Buckingham County, Va., Nov. 29, 1911, the article called the killing of the aged Curtis Branch a “foul assassination.” Struck down by an unknown murderer, Branch was slain in his sleep. This accounting offers more details (and speculations) then the news report previously found. The Staunton Spectator article continued, in melodramatic prose:

It is believed that he was murdered because his slayer, who was at that time either engaged in, or bent on the robbery of the store of George W. Patteson, which building also housed the postoffice of Manteo, feared that he would thwart him in his plans. The robber probably reckoned that Branch, who was engaged by Patteson to guard the store and postoffice at night, would awaken and detect [him] in the act of burglarizing the place and give the alarm or perhaps take the initiative and shoot him down….

It is argued by some, but those who take this view are in the minority, that Branch heard the thief or thieves at work and being hardy and something of a daredevil, boldly went forth to put a stop to their depredations.

Those who incline to this view would believe that the old man threw up the sash of the window by which he slept, thereby warning the nocturnal marauders of his presence. For this imprudence, it is argued, he forfeited his life.

Coming next, Buckingham County Murder: Manteo Killing, Part II


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