Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Ina Grove

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Ina Grove

Article excerpt


The Rockbridge County Gazette, June 28, 1904


by Reese Prescott

-Lexington: After two hours of deliberation, a panel of magistrates today in the circuit court of Rockbridge turned in an indictment in the rape and murder case of Brodie Painter, the so-called Irish Creek Desperado. The crime, which raised a significant stir hereabouts, involved felonious assault on a fourteen-year-old girl named Ina Grove, and the prosecutor, Captain Stansfield, now has plans to petition Judge Armbruster for the gallows in light of both the harm done the girl and the savagery with which her uncle Leaf Pogue was stabbed to his death.

According to testimony, Painter, a robust man of 35 years and uncertain race, has scaped the ministrations of the law on several previous occasions. Something more than a year ago he killed a neighbor, Cash, in a fracas on the headwaters of Pedlar Creek and eluded punishment when arraigned at Amherst Courthouse, due to a dearth of witnesses. His latest crime was committed in South Mountain on Irish Creek in the county. He had been acknowledged a desperate miscreant and was for some time variously reported either to have fled to territories unknown or to be at large in the dense recesses of South Mountain. Commonwealth's Attorney Moore entreated Governor Montague to levy a reward for Painter's capture, and Richmond offered up a replevin of $100.

This turn of events was kept in camera that Sheriff B. R. Sherburne might initiate proceedings without raising general alarm or alerting the fugitive to the actions of his pursuers. Local enforcement had previously been frustrated on learning that Painter had left the settlement, probably by way of the Norfolk and Western Railroad, his one-time employer. To run his man to ground, the sheriff enlisted the services of Constable John Pink of Buffalo District, a man known in these quarters for his taste for the dangerous.

Pink was himself reared in the Blue Ridge on the Amherst side, often called "The Free State" for its hospitality to fugitives, and is familiar with the locals and all the paths through Pedlar River Country. It was Pink who cast a quiet net and finally located Painter in the environs of his brother Darl, and upon his intelligence Sheriff Sherburne convened his posse comitatus and despite wet weather took the White's Gap Road up into the Blue Ridge.

In what will no doubt be acclaimed the model of corpus juris efficiency, the trap was laid and sprung. The lawmen and their deputies rode through rough mountains. After two days traveling against heavy impairment of weather, they reached an abandoned farm in the precincts of the Painter homestead and there without leave or license secreted their horses in the empty stable. After miles of difficult travel through mud and dense brush, the officers spied the brother and several womenfolk of the Painter clan moving about the place and so deployed sentries. The sheriff kept vigil behind the house, while his subordinates took to the laurel and rocks on foot. All caution was exercised with weapons at the ready, as Painter is a veteran of the Spanish war and numerous violent scrapes and disturbances in the region. Shortly, Police Chief Hazelwood of the party surprised Darl Painter, who had surmised the presence of the lawmen, climbing out a window with intentions of signaling his brother.

It was then felt that the house must at once be searched, and though none of the runagate's kit was discovered, it was determined that Pink's intelligence had been essentially correct, so the posse mounted a hushed ambush about the Painter house. Approaching sunset, according to Sheriff Sherburne, Brodie Painter appeared with a Colt Navy dangling from his hand, at which time Hazelwood showed his shotgun, and as the sheriff reported, the arrest was effected without further incident. The party quickly retraced their steps to their concealed horses and obtained some supper at a house in the mountains before making their way back to Lexington. …

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