Williams: Freedman Joseph R. Holmes was murdered on the steps of the Charlotte County Courthouse. A new marker explains why his life mattered. | Story


In Maryland, his hobby was archeology of the battlefield of the War of 1812; in Charlotte County, his passion immediately turned to his dark history. She posted and posted what she learned.

Southern historians were extremely inaccurate in their accounts of Holmes’ death; Virginius dabney, in her “Virginia, the new dominion”, indicated that the year of her death was 1892. But Liston was exactly the kind of person Henderson was looking for as she sought to find out more about Jasper and Joseph Holmes. She needed a Charlotte County historian. She held out her hand to Liston.

Liston, in his research, had special access to the court clerk’s office. “In two days, I had found [the Holmes case indictments] and the original witness statements that were made on the night of the murder and the day after during the investigation, ”she said. Oddly enough, six pages of what she gathered was an autopsy report.

Brothers John and Griffin S. Marshall – the son of a judge – were transformed by the murder, along with William T. Boyd and Macon C. Morris. All but Griffin have been charged. All four fled.

The Marshall brothers became successful breeders; Boyd, banker and businessman from Tennessee; and Morris, of all things, worked as a police officer in Roanoke, according to Liston’s research.

“This man was murdered in broad daylight by young men who said they were going to kill him,” she said. “And they were never brought to justice. No one ever went looking for them.”


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