Adams County History & Genealogy

Adams County, Ohio Articles

Verdict of McGraw Murder Trial


THE VERDICT OF Jury in the McGRAW Murder Trial Wensday night

After several hours deliberation.

Good character of McGraw a factor in the result.

Attorneys George W. Pettit and C. E. Robuck represented the defendant and prosecuting attorney Naylor conducted the prosecution. Other cases heard. -- At midnight after six hours deliberation, the jury in the McGraw trial returned a verdict of not guilty. Defendant's pleas of self defence accepted.

The stern details of the McGraw murder cluster about two rough cabins houses that stand in close proximity in Vastine Hollor a small tributary to Lower Twin creek, a few miles from Buena Vista.

Both families, in fact all of the residents of that section, live on the Flagg estate, a great body of land situated in Eastern Adams county and Western Scioto County that belonged to an eastern capitalist who found it a poor investment but in whose name it still appeared on the public records. The family of Perry McGraw and Frank Evans have had CONSIDERABLE touble, primarily due to chickens of one family destroyed the garden of the other during the early summer months. Instead of trying to harmonize their troubles they became more intensified until the tragic culmination on the morning of September 15th last.

On that day the family of McGraw and that of Evans became in- volved in a personal encounterand thus engaged, Perry McGraw, the defendent in this trial, apperared with a shotgun, his contention being that he had been on the adjacent hillside endevoring to kill a squirrel for his sick wife. McGraw took a hand in the affair when Frank Evans, the head of the family with the same name appeared in the distance and seeing McGraw and the wemon engaged in encounter, drew his revolver which he held at his right side and came up near the scene of the difficulty when he was ordered back by McGraw but continued to advance when McGraw fired at a distance of 60 feet, and Evans fell dying on the tramway which follows this hollow and along which lumber and stone cars were run.

McGraw went to Buena Vista and offered to give himself up, but finding the crime to have been committed in Adams County, he called up "Squire Kenyon, of Sandy Springs" who bound him over to the grand jury and at the November term of court he was indicted for second degree murder.

A jury was secured Tuesday morning without difficulity only one jourior being challenged and he was by defense.

Dr. J. S. Frizzel, of Buena Vista who was called to conduct the autopsy in connection with Justice Kenyon, was the first witness called. He has been practicing for twenty five years. He described the wound as having been caused from a shotgun loaded with #5 shot, the shot extending generaly over the right side centering oppisite the navel. They penetrated the intestines, liver, stomac, from superficial examination through probing. Right arm was in way of missile, indicATING IT TO HAVE BEEN HANGING BY HIS SIDE Body found on tramway in Vastine Run, branch of Lower Twin Creek called in connection with Justice Keyton, acting cornor, several others were present.

Mrs Margaret Breech, wife of Frank Evans, and who was has since remarried, testified as follows: "I went to well to get a bucket of water before breakfast and saw Graci McGraw and she turned and went into house and came out with Ollie Piatt. When she came back out she said "She can't whip one side of me. " After breakfast my sister-in-law Lulu Evans, and me went to the pasture field and as we came back the same girls came out with clubs and called us all kinds of names. I didn't say anything. They were standing on each side of the tracks, and they began on me. Gracie McGraw struck at me with a club, and we clinched and fell. I saw my husband coming up the road. Perry McGraw told him to keep back, and my husband turned to one side when McGraw fired at him at a distance of about 20 steps. And fell in the road. When Gracie McGraw had me down i told Perry McGraw to take her of me, and after a while he told her to let me go. i was struck in the side with a rock but i didn't know who struck me. After McGraw shot my husband he walked toward home and broke his gun down like he was going to reload it. i then went to my husband and took his head in my lap.

The McGraw girls went home and Perry McGraw came out of his home and went down the railroad. I washed my husbands face and he opened his eyes and i asked him if he couldn't speak once to me and he said, "don't grieve" and died.

On cross examination the witness said she was 27 years of age and was remarried February 25th 1909, about 5 months folling her first husband's death In describing the scene following shooting said that when she lifted her husband's head in her lap she saw a piscol near his body.

Squire W. F. Kenyen, of Sandy Springs, who conducted the post mortem examination, testified as to the facts surrounding this examination. From sixty to seventy perforations were found on the right side of the body. The body was laying across the railroad tracks, face upward. The Justice measured the distance from where the body was lying to where McGraw ws reported to have been located.

Luly Evans, a sister of the dead man, stated that she was present at the shooting. First saw Perry McGraw on the hillside getting up as if he had been setting down.

We were engaged in a fight with the McGraw girls when i saw my brother coming up the road. Perry McGraw drew up his gun and told my brother not to come any nearer, and he kind of turned and he told him again. Then my brother said he wasn't going to bother him. McGraw then fired and my brother fell on the tramroad. I got water and then went up the hollow to tell some neighbors. was going

Ruth Grimes, who lives near the scene of the shooting, saw Margaret and Lulu Evans pass her home on the morning of the shooting, also Mrs McGraw and Ollie Piatt setting at the well curb, saw Perry McGraw cross the railroad tracks to where the girls were fighting. He had a shotgun in his hands, saw him strike Maggie Evans once, saw Frank Evans comming up the road, heard report of gun and saw Evans fall dead.

Thomas J. Holsinger lived near the mouth of Vastine Run. Saw Gracie McGraw and Ollie Piatt at pasture field oppisite thier home. Didn't see shooting but saw dead mans body.

Carey Holsinger saw McGraw with gun the morning of the shooting. Heard him make a remark about Evans. Prosecuting Attorney attempted to prove by witness that McGraw has since the shooting tore up the tramway making it impossible to identify the surroundings, but Judge Corn overruled the question.

James Piatt, Justice of the Peace of Buena Vista, testified that he saw McGraw on the day of the shooting who related to him the details, witness said that he told Evans he could carry a revolver, so it wasn't concealed.

Mrs. William L. Nichols was at Mrs. Grimes the day of the shooting saw Mr. McGraw coming across the field toward girls who were fighting saw McGraw hit Mrs. Evans, saw Frank Evans coming up the railroad. Heard gun crack and saw Evans fall.

The defence opened thier side of the case late Tuesday afternoon when they examined a number of witnesses showing the good charactor ofthe defendant.

Sarah McGraw wife of Perry McGraw, testified that she was recovering from Typhoid Fever at the time of the shooting. Dr. Frizzel had suggested that a young squirrel woul be benificial. In answer to a question she stated that the McGraw and Evans families were not on good terms. Ollie Piatt was the hired girl who was staying with Mrs. McGraw during her illness was at home when the trouble occured and did not say anything while the fight was going on. First saw Frank Evans near tramway near McGraw's home. Walked fast toward the scene of the fight. Saw him take a pistole from his pocket and then a sluster of brush hid him from me, then i heard the shot fired and my husband came over to the house and then started to Buena Vista.

Miss Grace, a daughter of the defendent, testified to subsatnually the same statements as her mother, and in describing the fight between the wemon prior to the shooting her evidence varried widely from that given by Mrs. Frank Evans and Miss Lulu Evans who testified for the state. The testimony, of Miss Ollie Piatt, who was also a participant in the encounter largely verified that of Grace McGraw.

Perry McGraw, defendant, 50 years of age--lived most of his life in Scioto County. Lived in Ironton for four years, lived up north- years, remainder of the time lived in Beuna Vista neighborhood. I lived on Vastine Run about two years. Had known Frank Evans for about five years. Evans had been a neighbor about a year, had trouble Evans building a fence about June before trouble started; were not on speaking terms. said the reputation of Evans was bad, described-- trip on the morning of the shooting. Hadn't seen Evans that morning he came up at the time of the shooting. When I got to foot of hill Gracie McGraw, Ollie Piatt, Mrs Evans and Lulu Evans engaged in fight. I called for my daughter to come home and i told Maggie Evans to go down home. I tried to seperate them but they kept on fighting. I-- them apart and Maggie Evans called me a so of a ----, and I hit--- back hand lick. i looked down the hollow and saw Frank Evans coming the tramway. He was on my left when I shot. I believed my life was in danger. After Evans fell his revolver fell from his right --- I put a shell in my gun and went to my home, told my family to stay that i was going to Buena Vista. i was arrested by Roch Shumate, -- of Green Township.

Quite a number of other witnesses were examined by the defense number of whom testified to the reputation of Evans having been [...]

The taking of evidence was concluded at two o'clock Wenesday and Prosecuting attorney Naylor at once entered into argument on-- of the state. Attorney C. E. Robuck and G. W. Pettit followed for the defense and Mr. Naylor made the concluding argument for the prose--.

Judge Cern then delivered his charge to the jury who retired deliberation at six o-clock and six hours later returned a verdict of not guilty.

SOURCE: Adams County Record, April 22, 1909