NCGRANVI-L ArchivesArchiver > NCGRANVI > 2007-11 > 1194021182
From: "O'Briant, Catherine" <>
Subject: [NCGRANVI] ref: murder trail of Obadiah CHRISTMAS
Date: Fri, 2 Nov 2007 12:33:02 -0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)
Weekly Standard Newspaper, Raleigh, NC--Mar 30, 1859
The Superior Court for Orange county was in session in this place last week,
Judge Caldwell presiding. On Thursday Obadiah Christmas was put upon his
trial for murder committed in Granville county in February, 1858, on the
body of a negro slave belonging to Mr. Thomas J. Taylor, of that county. The
case was removed first to Person county, and then to this county. The
principal witness on the part of the prosecution was Mr. William Tillotson;
from whose testimony it appeared that he and Christmas had been drinking
together the night preceding the murder, and in the morning, first at
Christmas's house and then at Tillotson's, which were about a mile and a
quarter apart. Getting out of liquor they went to a store some three or four
miles off, and filled two jugs, drinking on their way back to Tillotson's.
After remaining a short time in the house, on their return to Tillotson's,
one of the children of Tillotson told him that a negro man was riding up the
lane towards the house. Tillotson went out, followed by Christmas, who
seated himself on a bench near the door. The negro, on coming up, asked
Tillotson if he had seen any stray hogs. Tillotson replied that he had not;
but he could perhaps tell him where he could find some.--Christmas then,
addressing the negro, said, "Perhaps you want to steal some hogs, as Taylor
s Nathan stole my hogs." The negro replied, " I did not steal your hogs,
Master Oby, I only fed them." Christmas then asked, "Is that Nathan?" The
negro replied "yes." Christmas then uttering a profane exclamation, said, "I
mean to shoot you." And pulling out his pistol he fired at him, but missed
him. The horse on which the negro sat wheeled partly round, when Christmas
fired again, and the negro fell to the ground, the ball having penetrated
his head. Tillotson then said to Christmas, "are you not sorry that you ever
saw a pistol?" The latter replied, "yes, I am."
Christmas then declaring that he must carry away the body and throw it in
the stream, got upon the horse, and persuaded Tillotson to aid him in
getting it up before him. He then rode off towards the stream, distant a few
hundred yards. Tillotson followed him a short space and then turned back
--Christmas soon returned to the house; said he had not put the body in the
stream, but had left it on a knoll near to it. He then went to a
looking-glass, said that he had understood that when a man commits murder he
turns pale; but that he had not changed color yet. He staid at Tillotson's
yet a short time, and then returned home.
It appears that, on the night ensuing, he fled with his family into the
State of Virginia, to the house of his mother, distant about ten miles,
where he was arrested the next day.
To these facts as stated by Tillotson there was no rebutting testimoney
offered; and the main defense set up was a plea of insanity at the time,
induced by an excessive use of intoxicating liquor.
The trial occupied the whole of Thursday and Friday, and was conducted
with marked ability on both sides. The prisoner was defended by the Hon.
William A. Graham and Henry W. Miller, M. W. Ransom, and Josiah Turner, Jr.,
Esqs. The prosecution was conducted by the Solicitor Thos. Ruffin, Esq.,
assisted by the Hon. Edwin G. Reade and Thos. B. Venable, Esq.
His Honor the Judge committed the case to the jury, who on Saturday
morning rendered their verdict, finding the prisoner guilty of murder, and
he was sentenced to be executed on Monday the 2d day of May.
An appeal, however, was taken, and the case will go up to the Supreme
Christmas is a young man about twenty-four years old, and it appears has been grossly intemperate for many years.--Hills. Recorder
|[NCGRANVI] ref: murder trail of Obadiah CHRISTMAS by "O'Briant, Catherine" <>|