Chapter 1. My Testament

Characters Introduced

Photograph of Virginia Christian, 1912.

Virginia Christian, the daughter of Henry and Charlotte Christian, was born on 15 August 1895 in Hampton, Virginia.  Virginia washed laundry for Mrs. Ida V. Belote, a white widow with two young daughters.  On 18 March 1912, Virginia murdered Belote in her Washington Street home in Hampton.  Virginia was quickly arrested.  Following a coroner's inquest on 18-19 March, an Elizabeth City County grand jury indicted her for murder on 1 AprilShe was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death in a two day trial held on 8-9 April 1912.  After her conviction, Virginia confessed to reporters from the Newport News Daily Press and Times-MirrorGeorge W. Fields and J. Thomas Newsome, Virginia's attorneys, appealed the verdict to the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in May 1912The court denied her appeal in June 1912

Virginia Christian was scheduled to be executed on 21 June 1912.  On 13 June Governor William Hodges Mann granted a respite to enable her attorneys to file an amended petition for a writ of error to the Supreme Court of Virginia. The court denied the writ.  However, Governor Mann granted a second respite on 18 July, one day before the rescheduled execution, in order for Christian to see her spiritual advisors.  Governor Mann granted a third respite on 26 July, the Newport News Daily Press reported, after meeting with a committee from the National Federation of Colored Women.

Governor Mann, refusing to intervene further, denied Virginia's clemency applicationVirginia Christian was executed in the electric chair at the Virginia Penitentiary in Richmond, Virginia.  She is buried in the First Baptist Church cemetery in Hampton, Virginia.

Chapter 1. My Testament