J. Samuel McCue

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Sam McCue
1904-McCue, J. Samuel.JPG
Mayor J. Samuel McCue, 1904

City of Charlottesville
Electoral District At-large
Term Start September 1, 1902
Term End August 31, 1904
Preceded by C. W. Allen (D)
Succeeded by George W. Olivier (D)

City of Charlottesville
Electoral District At-large
Term Start September 1, 1898
Term End August 31, 1900
Preceded by J. Samuel McCue (D)
Succeeded by C. W. Allen (D)

City of Charlottesville
Electoral District At-large
Term Start 1896
Term End 1898
Preceded by J. S. Patton (D)
Succeeded by J. Samuel McCue

Electoral District First Ward
Charlottesville City Council
Term Start 1892
Term End 1894
Preceded by J. Samuel McCue (D)

Electoral District First Ward
Charlottesville City Council
Term Start 1890
Term End 1892
Preceded by J. Samuel McCue (D)
Succeeded by J. Samuel McCue (D)

Electoral District First Ward
Term Start 1888
Term End 1890
Succeeded by J. Samuel McCue

Biographical Information

Date of birth January 15, 1861
Date of death February 10, 1905
Place of death Charlottesville, VA
Spouse Fannie Crawford McCue
​(m. 1886; died 1904)
Children James William "Willie" McCue
Samuel Overton McCue
Ruby Grigsby
Harry Moon McCue
Residence 501 Park Street
Alma mater University of Virginia
School of Law
Profession Lawyer
Religion Presbyterian

James Samuel "Sam" McCue (also known as J. Samuel McCue; January 15, 1861 – February 10, 1905), an attorney and former mayor of Charlottesville, he was publicly hanged in 1905 at the Albemarle County Jail after being convicted of murdering his wife[1] Fannie Crawford McCue on September 4, 1904 at their home on Park Street.

The murder and hanging have become staples of local folklore and an integral part of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Historical Society’s annual Spirit Walk. The supposed rope used to hang McCue resides in the University of Virginia Alderman Library’s archives.


J. Samuel McCue resided in the city of Charlottesville, where he had been practicing law for twenty years prior to the commission of the offense for which he was convicted. He was a man of social standing, and reputed wealth. McCue had been three times elected mayor of the city — his last term expiring September 1, 1904.

William Hurley was McCue's longtime coachman and later provided a testimony at his 1905 murder trial.

Background and early life

Political life

His first candidacy for Alderman was before the Council, when that body was engaged in filling a vacancy from the First Ward. Another citizen - not a candidate - was elected. McCue was afterwards chosen by the voters of the First Ward and held the office six years. In 1894 he was a candidate for Mayor, but was defeated, running third in the race. He was successful two years later, and served two successive terms (1896-1900). During his first and second terms the Mayor's duties included the trial of police cases. In 1900, by a charter enactment, a Police Court was constituted. Mayor McCue was a candidate for Police Justice, but after a brisk fight his brother, Edward O. McCue, defeated him decisively. His third term as mayor was from 1902 to 1904, closing four days before the murder of his wife.

Marriage and family

Sam McCue and Fannie M. Crawford were married November 4, 1885; four children, three boys and a girl were the result of this union, J. William, Samuel, Ruby and Harry. Mrs. McCue was a daughter of the late Dr. William Crawford, of Mt. Sidney, Augusta county. Her entire married life was spent in Charlottesville, where she was recognized as a woman of fine character. The home of the McCue's, on Park street, was one of the most attractive residences in this city.

Murder of Fannie McCue

See main article: Murder trial of J. Samuel McCue

On September 2, 1904, his wife Fannie was found shot to death in their home on Park Street. The ex-mayor claimed that his wife had been shot by burglars and he had been assaulted and left for dead on the floor of the bedroom. Rumors abounded that he was in some way involved; McCue maintained his innocence, going so far as to place an ad in the September 5, 1904 Daily Progress, offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the murderer. He was not formally charged until days later, after a lengthy police investigation.

McCue v. Commonwealth, 103 Va. 870 (1905)

January 26, 1905 · Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia

When the Court of Appeals convened in Richmond, January 5, 1905, an elaborate petition, covering 124 printed pages, was presented to the court, asking for a writ of error. Forty-five bills of exception had been filed during the trial. On January 12, 1905, the court unanimously refused a writ of error, on the ground that the judgment of the trial court was plainly right. Thereafter an amended petition, or a petition in the nature of a petition for a rehearing was filed, and, as the day fixed for the execution was very near at hand, the Governor, at the request of the court, granted the prisoner a reprieve until February 10, 1905.

The Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals declined to re-hear his case on January 26, 1905. [2]

Execution, burial and re-burial

On February 10, 1905, in the last execution to take place in the old city jail, former Charlottesville mayor J. Samuel McCue, was hanged at 7:34 o'clock this morning for the murder of his wife Fannie in September 1904.

On the night of December 13, 1908, the body of J. Samuel McCue was exhumed from the McCue family burial grounds (near Brooksville, in the western end of Albemarle County) located on the old McCue home, on which the 1905 burial took place place. The farm was occupied by Harry, the youngest of the McCue brothers. By order of Harry McCue, Sam's body was re-interred in Riverview Cemetery alongside that of his wife, Fannie McCue. [3]

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance v. William McCue

Local folklore

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  1. Strong, Ted. "Old County Jail May Get New Life | Charlottesville Daily Progress." Charlottesville News, Sports, Business, Events and Jobs | Charlottesville Daily Progress. 5 July 2010. Web. 07 July 2010. <http://www2.dailyprogress.com/cdp/news/local/article/old_county_jail_may_get_new_life/57932/>.
  2. Web. McCue Refused a Re-hearing, Staff Reports, Daily Progress Digitized Microfilm, Lindsay family, January 26, 1905, retrieved January 22, 2017 from University of Virginia Library. Print. January 26, 1905 page 1.
  3. Web. BODY OF J. SAMUEL M’CUE RESTS BY THE SIDE OF HIS WIFE, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, January 1, 1908, retrieved December 3, 2022.