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"

Bowling Green, Caroline Co., Va.
Augt. 31st, 1866

Major James Johnson V. R. C.
Supt. 16th District Va.

In compliance with Circular No. 10 Hd. Qrs. Asst. Comr. State of Va., Richmond, Va., March 12th, 1866, I have the honor to report that there were only very few cases tried in this Sub District for the past month.

One was the case of Robt. Derricot, Freedman, for stealing a plough. Derricot was discharged on account of prosecuting witnesses not appearing.

Norman Lee was tried for stealing a hog - he was acquitted by a jury.

Next and last was Washington Scrivener, Freedman, for burglary. He was caught in a store at night that he entered in the absence of the owner. He was held over for trial in Circuit Court.

There were a couple of minor cases which were settled by the parties concerned and one case of a Freedwoman against a Freedman for stealing clothes &c, he is in jail at present, awaiting trial. Those are all the cases Major and I am free to say that every justice will be done by them.

I am Major
Very Respectfully
Your Obdt. Servt.
John O. Dwyer, Capt. V. R. C.
Asst. Supt. B. R. F. & A. L.

Bureau R. F. and A. Lands
Sub Dist. of Fluvanna, Co. of Fluvanna
Palmyra, Va., Aug. 31st, 1866

Bvt. Brig. Genl. O. Brown
A. A. A. General
Richmond, Va.


I have the honor respectfully to make detailed report per instructions of Circular No. 10 US Hd. Qrs. Asst. Comr. Richmond, Va. Mar. 12th, 1866, requiring the manner in which the above Order restoring to State Authorities jurisdiction in criminal cases over colored persons has resulted. The following are cases for this month:

Commonwealth vs. Stephen Davis, col'd. Accused of stealing a horse and 18 chickens from one Daniels. Evidence strongly against Davis. Committed to jail.

Commonwealth vs. Carey Brooks, col'd. Accused of breaking into a store of one ?Ears and taking $60 worth of goods. Evidence greatly against the prisoner. Committed to jail.

The parties throughout are treated according to law and colored testimony taken and given due consideration. Some few colored men have been bound over to keep the peace for misconduct and threats. Generally bail is given and they receive the benefit of the law as white persons and where bail is allowable in petty larceny it has been extended to them. The State Authorities thus far in this County I must note have endeavored to do justice in law to colored people in all criminal cases.

I am General
Very Respectfully
Your Obt. Sevt.
E. G. Budd
Lt. Col. and Asst. Supt.

Bureau of R. F. & A. L.
Office of the Asst. Supt. Counties of
Culpeper & Rappahannock, Va.
Culpeper ?C. H. Va.
Aug. 31st, 1866

Bvt. Brig. Genl. O. Brown
A. A. A. Genl. B. R. F. & A. L.
State of Va., Richmond, Va.

I have the honor very respectfully to report in compliance with Circular No. 10 Par. VI B. R. F. & A. L. Hd. Qrs. Asst. Commr. State of Va., dated Richmond, Va. March 12th, 66 the result of turning over to the State Authorities jurisdiction in criminal cases over colored persons with reference to the interests of the latter &c.

There has been but one case tried in the Culpeper County Court during the month viz., the Commonwealth against Melinda Pin charged with stealing a watch. For want of sufficient evidence to convict she was discharged. The Court as far as my observation has extended seems disposed to act impartially.

Phil Dade (col'd) has been committed by one of the Justices of the County for stealing a horse & is in jail awaiting his trial next term of Court & is the only Freedman now confined by the County Authorities.

No cases have been tried by the County Court of Rappahannock, Va. during the month wherein the Freedman is a party and no colored persons are confined in the jail for criminal offenses.

I am of the opinion that the Civil Authorities will act impartially toward the Freedmen as a matter of policy if not from a desire to do so.

The different Magistrates do not seem desirous of hearing the complaints of Freedmen for debt &c unless the several cases are by me referred to them. This very possibly arose from a delicacy on their part to act in such cases until I am cognizant of the facts in the case in order that I may be present at the examinations or trials as contemplated in Par. III of the Circular already referred to which has been published in the County papers.

I am General
Very Respectfully
Your Obt. Servt.
W. Angs. McNulty
2nd Lieut. V. R. C. & Asst. Supt.
B. R. F. & A. L.

Bureau R. F. & A. L.
Office of Asst. Supt.
Sub Dist. of Fauquier &
Rappahannock Counties
Warrenton, Va. Sept. 30th, 1866

Bvt. Maj. W. R. Morse
Supt. 4th Dist. Va.

In compliance with Circular No. 10 dated Hd. Qrs. Asst. Comr. Va., Richmond, Va., March 12th ,1866, I have the honor to report I attended the Circuit Court of Fauquier County, Judge Thomas presiding, and listened to the trial of two freedmen charged with shooting and stealing 4 hogs. It seems from the evidence that they were out hunting, they hunting with their guns, and came upon some hogs & shot them and carried home the meat which was found in their possession. They acknowledged that they shot one, they were sentenced to the Penitentiary for 3 years each.

On the night of the Sept. 5th, 1866 Eddie Wooden & Robert Martin, two bad characters, attacked two freedmen and Wooden shot one of them named Henry Taylor the ball striking the right lower rib coming out in front just grazing the intestines. Mayor Bragg hearing the disturbance hurried to the spot and was knocked down by Martin. They both escaped. Warrants were issued for their arrest. The grand jury also found indictments against them for felony. Martin was arrested and bound over to appear before County Court for the sum of 400.00 dollars. The citizens all sum and was that they be punished. Wooden is a desperate character and has been troubling the freedmen every opportunity and was one of the persons that attacked the school house last Winter.

Pratt Bradox (col'd) was arrested for breaking open the store of Henry Lee (col'd) and stealing $360.00. Lee identified his money and Bradox was recommended to await trial before Circuit Court, his bail being set at $1000.00.

I believe that the Civil Authorities of this County are disposed to deal fairly with the Freedmen as a general rule. There is a class of irresponsible persons that endeavor to abuse the freedmen every chance they get and it would be often looked over by the Magistrate if it were not for the Bureau. I promptly call their attention to them and they are generally punished. There are a few Magistrates that seem afraid to do their duty but I think even these are improving.

I am Major Very Respectfully
Your Obt. Servt.
W. S. Chase
2nd Lt. V. R. C. & Asst. Supt.

Bureau of R. F. & A. L.
Hd. Qrs. Asst. Supt. Sub Dist. No. 3
7th District Va.
Rocky Mount, Franklin Co., Va.
September 30th, 1866

Bvt. Brig. Genl. O. Brown
A. A. A. Genl. B. R. F. & A. L.
State of Va.

Pursuant to Par VI Circular No. 10, C. S. B. R. F. & A. L., Hd. Qrs. Asst. Com. State of Va., I have the honor to report that I have not since my entrance on duty as Asst. Supt. of this County on the 17th August last, had occasion to take exception to the manner in which said Order, by restoring to the State Authorities jurisdiction in criminal cases over colored persons, has resulted, with references to the interests of the latter, within my Sub District.

As yet I have not been notified and I have had no knowledge of any such cases to which a colored person has been a party coming up for trial or hearing excepting as follows:

On the first Monday - the 3rd day of the month, a colored man and woman charged with larceny were sent before the County Court by James A. Callaway J. P. to be indicted by the Grand Jury, but the proceedings being irregular, from the fact that the session was not a Grand Jury term, they were quashed by the Attorney for the Commonwealth - Wm. T. Taliaferro.

A few days ago a letter came to hand from Pittsylvania Co. stating that Henry Fry, colored, had been arrested, taken before a Justice of the Peace, and made to give his note for 42$ for having abducted his own child, named Spencer, from John Patterson's place in Franklin Co; he having kept him at the writer - E. C. Dodson's place fourteen days - the charge being at the rate of 3$ per day; and the writer wished to be informed if the boy had been bound to Patterson. The child had been bound by Lt. Jas. K. Warden, my predecessor, in accordance with the law of the State.

The following may be of interest.

On the 30th of last month the steward of the poor house complained to me that he had found a colored man, employed about the place, in bed with one of the white female paupers. The man had before been suspected of, and duly warned against this course; and it was now deemed expedient that he should be subjected to some just and exemplary punishment. In furtherance of this laudable end, I referred the Plaintiff to John I. Saunders, Esqr., J. P., whose attention I called to the late act of the Genl. Ass. Of Va. bearing on the matter, as published in Circular No. 11 C. S. B. R. F. & A. L. Hd. Qtrs. Asst. Com. State of Va. This Magistrate, however, I have since learned on consulting with the attorney for the Commonwealth, decided that the offense was entirely beyond his jurisdiction, and that he had not even authority to recognize the accused to appear before the Grand Jury by which he would have to be presented.

I have the honor to be General
Very Respectfully
Your Obt. Servt.
W. F. DeKnight
1st Lt. V. R. C. & Asst. Supt.
B. R. F. & A. L.