Discover your family's story.

Enter a grandparent's name to get started.

a state:
Start Now

The Freedmen's Bureau Online

Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Virginia
Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865 - 1869.
National Archives Microfilm Publication M1048, Roll 59
"Narrative Reports of Criminal Cases Involving Freedmen, Mar. 1866 - Feb. 1867"

Bureau R. F. and A. Lands
Sub Dist. of Fluvanna
Palmyra, Va. April 30th 1866

Capt. Frank P. Cranton
A. G. M. and Supt. 4th Dist.
Gordinsville, Va.

I have the honor respectfully to report as per instructions Circular No. 10 office Asst. Commissioner Richmond, Va. in reference to criminal cases as follows:

William Holly (col'd) committed for trial on complaint of Beverly Haden, charged with grand larceny or felony. The bacon was found in Holly's possession together with other property belonging to Haden. The evidence and the prisoners confession strongly against him. The examination was fairly constructed. Colored evidence properly taken into consideration and every point of law contested in the prisoner's favor by his legal advisor Thomas H. Tuttwiler, one of the most responsible and best lawyers of the county. The proceedings throughout were conducted with all fairness, and no white citizen could have had a more impartial hearing.

I am Capt.
Very Respectfully
Your Obt. Servt.
E. G. Budd
Lt. and Asst. Supt.

The Asst. Supt. 8th Dist. Va.
Marion Smith Co., Va.
May 26th, 1866
B. C. Carter
Bvt. Maj. A. Q. M. & Supt. 8th Dist. Va.


I have the honor to report the following case to you, I should wait until the 25th of next month as my instructions require but I learn the man is going to leave the state. On January last term A. Jones a resident of this, shot a colored woman named Rosanna the ball entering her arm at the elbow and passed down to or near the hand, the circumstances were passed over by the people until I came hear, a complaint was then made to me by Mr. Lincoln and one or two other gentlemen. After talking with some of the witnesses, I directed a Magistrate to issue a warrant for Mr. Jones, which was done, and he then gave bail for his appearance at the county court.

Today his case came up. It was clearly proven on the part of the people that Mr. Jones shot at the woman two or three times with the intention of hitting her in the leg. Mr. Jones admitted this statement and also stated he had once before shot at her but did not hit her. Mr. Jones introduced no witnesses, but his lawyer's claimed that because the matter had passed over so long that the case was commenced for the purpose of revenge and spite. W. P. Dungens, Matthew Houston, Jacob Castle, John Rosenbum, and Samuel Kinkman, who constituted the court, acquitted him on this plea of his lawyers without one particle of testimony in his favor. The prosecuting attorney tells me it is a plain case of felony as he ever tried in his life. I think that if Mr. Jones goes unpunished similar cases will occur in the county. There is a case already complained of, James M. Scott drove a Negro from his home last winter and he froze to death, I think it will be useless to bring up this case of Scott's unless Jones can be punished. As you direct me to proceed in this case, I will be able to proceed in all similar ones hereafter.

I have the honor to be sir,
Very Respectfully
Your Obt. Servt.
Signed B. E. Hiss
Lt. V. R. C. & Asst. Supt. 8th Dist.

Office Asst. Supt. R. F. and A. L.
Rocky Mount, Va.
May 31st, 1866

Brig. Genl.
O. Brown
Asst. Commissioner, R. F. &c.

I have the honor to report in regard to the manner in which justice is dispensed in the civil courts in cases which Freedmen are concerned, that I have seen no disposition to deal with any unfairness towards the blacks, except it may be considered that such is the case in one of the cases disposed of at the session of the Circuit Court held at this place during the present month and which I will state for your information.

There were two men --- one white named Jas. M. Doss and one black named Thos. Phelps both indicted for horse theft, tried and convicted both appearing equally guilty. The jury in the case of the white sentenced him to one years imprisonment in the Penitentiary while in the other case another jury (of course) sentenced the prisoner to five years imprisonment in the Penitentiary.

Now it seems to me that, inasmuch as the white man's case was disposed of first, it looks very like an injustice.

It is not impossible though that the jury in the case of the black man would have sentenced the white man to equally as long an imprisonment had his case been in their hands.

I hope measures may be taken to induce the governor to make their terms of imprisonment of the same length.

I have the honor to be
Genl. Very Respectfully
Your Obedient Servant
Jas. Kestardin
1st Lt. V. R. C. and
Asst. Supt. R. F. and A. L.

Office of Asst. Supt. R. F. and A. L.
King Geo. Court House, Va. - May 31st

Brevet Brig. Genl. O. Brown
Asst. Com. Bureau of R. F. and A. L.
State of Va., Richmond, Va.


In obedience to Circular No. 10 Par. 4 Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and A. Lands, Head Quarters Assistant Commissioner State of Virginia, dated Richmond, Va., March 12th, 1866.

I have the honor to report that there has been no criminal cases in which Freedmen were parties tried by the civil courts of this Sub District during the month of May 1866.

The colored man (John H. Fields) who was confined in jail at this place charged with horse stealing at the time of my last report, had a preliminary examination on the 3rd inst. and was remanded for trial before the Circuit Court next September.

He was examined before the County Court which seemed anxious that he should have a fair hearing, and willingly granted him all the privileges usually granted white men.

I am General
Very Respectfully
Your Most Obedt. Servt.
W. G. Roberts
1st Lieut. V. R. C. Asst. Supt. R. F. and A. L.
King George County, Virginia

Bureau of R. F. & A. L.
Office of the Asst. Supt.
County of Fauquier, Va.
Warrenton, Va.

May 31st, 1866

Brig. Genl. O. Brown
B. R. F. & A. L.
Richmond Va.

I have the honor to report in compliance with Par. 6 Circular No. 10 from your Hd. Qrs. the result of turning over to the civil authorities jurisdiction in criminal cases where the freedmen are the party accused or complainants.

There has been but (3) three colored men committed for trial during the month which was for hog shooting & stealing. The parties were named Emanuel, Noah and William Grant. They were committed by Justice Beckham of this place. They had a hearing yesterday before presiding justice Gaines of this place & his associates. The prisoners were ably defended by Messrs. Payne & Shackleford of this place.

Emanuel was discharged but the other two Noah & William having confessed the commission of the act were remanded for trial next circuit court. Every opportunity was afforded them to introduce evidence if they had so desired. The two named as having been committed for trial next Circuit Court are young, one about 20 the other 16 years, it is probable the latter will be found guilty of a Misdemeanor only. The other Noah will I think be found guilty of G. Larceny.

No session of the Freedmens Court has been held during the month. The Freedmens Court same now being adjourned in compliance with instructions from your office.

No cases of injustice have come under my observation since the turning over of cases to the civil authorities.

Justice thus far has been impartially administered.

The calendar of crime in this county is very small among the blacks. They are as a group very orderly and industrious.

I am General Very Respectfully
Your Obt. Servt.
W. Angs. MacNulty, 2nd Lieut. VRC & C.

Thro Maj. James Johnson, VRC
Supt. Wstn. Va. Dist.