Cherokee Phoenix

4 column format

Published November, 20, 1830

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4 column format


NEW ECHOTA: NOV. 20, 1830.


On Tuesday last, James Graves, James Baldridge, James McDaniel and L. Daugherty, all young Cherokees, arrested on suspicion for committing murder upon the body of an unknown person, supposed to be a white man, were brought to this place before George Hicks, District Judge of Coosewaytee, for the purpose of examination, that if found guilty of murdering a citizen of the United States, they might be committed to the Agent according to treaty stipulation. The following persons composed the jury: Major Ridge, Elijah Hicks, James Foster, Oosahnahlee, C. Wolf and Oocoosee, who were duly sworn. Jos. J. Lynch, Marshal of the nation, who appeared as the prosecutor, stated in substance the charge alleged against said Graves, Baldridge, McDaniel and Daugherty -- It was for murder committed upon the body of an unknown citizen of the United States, sometime during the last summer. The Judge then put two questions to Graves, viz: 1. Did you and Baldridge, at a certain time, pass James McDaniel's house, early in the morning, in company with a white man? 2. Did you ever mention to any person that you had killed a man? To the first question Graves answered, that he and Baldridge did pass McDaniel's house on their way to hunt horses, and that at the time a white man was in company with them -- they kept together for some distance and then he [Graves] and Baldridge turned from the road and left the white man. As they returned towards home, they parted -- he (Graves) went west of the road, still busting horses. As he was about turning into the road, within view of it, he found the remains of a human body -- he saw only the bones. This was the substance of Grave's statement in regard to the first question. As to the second question, he did not know whether he did say so or not -- he probably did when he was drunk, but was not in earnest. The following testimony was then rendered in:

William Downing -- upon oath stated, that sometime last summer, Graves told him that he had found the remains of a human body on the road leading from Salequoyee to Coosewaytee, near the head of a spring below the old ball ground -- witness asked Graves, who had killed the person? to which he replied, 'I,' and then observed, 'no, I only found the bones when Baldridge and I went to hunt horses -- I found them after we parted.' Downing then asked him whether he knew it was a white man? he supposed it was for he saw some of the hair -- it was curled.

Moses McDaniel -- The same night after a council held at the Rabbit Trap, I and James McDaniel, (one of the defendants) started towards home -- it was late and we had been drinking -- while we were travelling. James McDaniel told me that there was a very unpleasant object near my house -- I asked him what it was -- he told me that the remains of a human body were lying near my house, and described the place. James McDaniel told me he did not think that James Graves and James Baldridge would be guilty of such an act, for they were but boys. James Graves had revealed the secret to him. Witness then went next morning to see the place, and did find the body -- he saw the bones only -- there was no flesh on them -- the bone (sic) were in a pair of drawers and black pantaloons -- this was about twenty days before the Council. Witness saw the back part of the scull, but the fore part was gone except a very small piece -- he found at the place a piece of pine -- his impression was he was killed -- could not tell whether it was a white man or not -- witness told his wife what he had seen, ' his wife ' mother went afterwards and set fire to the place -- he did not know when they did this.

Jane McDaniel stated that she and her daughter-inlaw, (M. M'Daniel's wife) went and set fire to the place -- they saw the bones in the situation described by M. McDaniel.

Aggy McDaniel confirmed the statement of Jane McDaniel, and testified further, that the bones which could not be consumed by fire they took and buried at some distance from the place.

Upon the foregoing testimony, the jury retired and brought in a verdict, that the evidence produced did not implicate James McDaniel and L. Daugherty -- they were therefore discharged. James McDaniel was then called upon to testify, and gave the following statement.

James McDaniel saw Graves and Baldridge come along the road by his house early in the morning -- it was three nights before the play which was to take place between Oongillegy and Dirt Town -- he asked them where they were going -- they said they were going to Doonahwee's after a horse -- he saw a white man in company with Graves and Baldridge -- The white man was on foot. Two or three nights after the play was to have taken place, there was a dance at the Town house, and witness went to it. Next morning his wife requested him to go with her to her mother's. While they were opposite Negoodahyee's residence witness saw Graves at the house, who called to him by name in English. He went up to the house and found Graves with one Dick Carey drinking -- he joined them. Witness further stated that after they had been drinking for sometime, Graves and Carey fell out and were about to right -- he [witness] hindered Graves and took him out; Graves observed he was much of a man for he had killed a man; J. McD. told G. he need not say so for he had also killed a man near Jas. Daniel; of course they must be brave men. Witness further says, 'I then asked Graves when he killed this man? G. answered, do you not recollect the time when Baldridge and I passed by your house before the play? I asked him where -- he said, beyond your house, near the spring, at a certain log -- you can go ' examine the place. After I came home, the next day or day after, I went to examine the place -- I found the place and also the body of a man -- I then thought to myself, G. told me a lie for this person has been dead some length of time; I thought he had been dead good while before the time Graves told me, for the flesh was entirely destroyed. I saw a black pair of pantaloons, but did not examine what kind of cloth it was, and the body had been covered with a piece of bark -- I did not see the head.' James McDaniel further stated that after the Cherokees left the gold mines, he had a conversation with James Baldridge, who denied knowing any thing about it, except that Graves had told him (Baldridge) that he had found the bones of an unknown person -- Baldridge further stated to witness, that so for himself he could not be guilty of such a crime, for his parents advised him to do nothing that was wrong; and as for Graves, he (Baldridge) supposed he said so merely to make people believe, and just to be talking.

When cross examined, witness said the white man he saw with Graves and Baldridge was above the middle size, and that it was but six nights from the time he saw Graves and Baldridge pass his house, to the time he saw the bones, and supposed, from the appearance of the bones, they must have lain considerably longer than six nights. He saw no drawers, but saw a pair of pantaloons a short distance form the place -- he saw no buzzards, for there was nothing there but the bones -- he could not tell whether it was a white man or not.

Moses McDaniel was again called, and testified further that the bones were very small and short -- he supposed the person to have been below the middle size.

David Bell said he and Judge Martin found a pair of drawers, and a black hat with some papers in it about four hundred yards below where the bones were found -- but did not find the bones.

John Martin confirmed the statement of David Bell.

The drawers were then produced, the same found by Messrs. Martin and Bell -- they were very small, so likewise the hat. The papers found in the hat were much torn, but by putting the pieces together they were found to be, a certificate given to one John_____ for his good conduct as stage driver from E_____ Court House towards Augusta. One was a part of a number of the Journal of Health -- and another was a printed copy of the Address of the Carrier of the Carolinian, 1830.

After a few observations the case was committed to the jury, who retired and returned with the verdict that the testimony was not sufficient to justify the committing of James Graves and James Baldridge to the agent for trial. They were therefore discharged.

Major Ridge then rose and delivered a speech which we are sorry we cannot present to our readers. It was an eloquent speech, urging on the attention of his hearers, the importance of maintaining the faith of treaties with the United States, in which the Cherokee nation had surrendered the right of punishing their own citizens who should commit murder upon a citizen of the United States. He was rejoined to perceive the excitement and interest manifested on the present occasion; and although these young men have been discharged as innocent of the crime alleged against them, yet it will show to our white brothers, that we are determined to discountenance any unjustifiable act of any of our citizens towards citizens of the United States. He believed the verdict of the jury was correct according to the testimony. It may be, if a foul murder has been committed upon the body of a stranger sojourning among us, it has been perpetrated also by a stranger -- we have many such in this nation -- It is hard to tell.

The speaker also urged the importance of maintaining good will and friendship towards all white people; especially with those who travel on our roads -- let them be safe, he said, in our houses and in our highways -- if we are mistreated by some we will treat them

all as brothers.

Our object, in being as particular as we have been in the foregoing paragraphs, has been to counteract any misrepresentation which many, no doubt, would be willing to circulate to the prejudice of the nation. The reader will have all the facts on the case. The subject has created considerable excitement among our citizens, supposing the young men who have been charged with murder were really guilty, but the reports were found to have been greatly exaggerated.