Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

NC's most fascinating stories

Posted July 12, 2010

It has been called one of the most fascinating stories in North Carolina history. Let’s go back on this day in history 177 years ago. Frankie Silver becomes the first North Carolina woman executed by hanging. Her crime was murder. A jury in Burke County ruled Frankie used the family ax to chop up her husband, Charles, into little pieces. The jury concluded that Frankie burned the body bits in a fireplace. Prosecutors argued that Frankie killed her husband in a jealous rage three days before Christmas.

Numerous books and songs have been written about this mountain tragedy. Author Sharyn McCrumb wrote a novel about Frankie Silver in 1998. I think it is one of the best.

What do you think? Was Frankie Silver wrongly or justly convicted?

And what are the other most fascinating stories in NC history?


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  • turkeydance Jul 13, 2010

    "back in the day"...who knows? no DNA. no living
    witnesses. how about NOW? the ex-gov, the now-gov,
    and they are both intertwined. the ex-speaker of
    the goes on and on and on.

  • johnnie Jul 13, 2010

    Bitter Blood, Written by Jerry Bledsole is the true story of Judge Susie Sharp's neice and cousin,boyfriend, who murdered several people. It's is a good book. You just can't put it down.

  • wncnative Jul 12, 2010

    The story of Nance Dude fascinates and haunts me. I now live at Jonathan Creek in Haywood County where the murder is said to have taken place and that Nance's ghost is still in those parts.

  • lynneslaughter Jul 12, 2010

    Blood done sign my name is a good read to everyone except those who continued to live in Oxford for the next 10+ years. At times it is heartbreaking, no more than any of the other aforementioned stories, but perhaps a little touchy to those who remained behind. I guess everyone likes a good true story as long as it isn't too close to home.

  • genegeneandnancy Jul 12, 2010

    I've always liked the story of the Maco light near Wilmington where railroad man, Joe Baldwin, was killed standing on the rear platform of the train car he was on. The story says he was trying to signal the engineer of the train that was coming from behind, and crashed into his train. Joe was killed, his head severed from his body, and his lantern tossed aside. Legend has it not long after the accident, a light was seen in the area and that it is Joe trying to find his severed head with the lantern he was holding that fateful night. True or legend??

  • PAINFREE Jul 12, 2010

    BLOOD DONE SIGN MY NAME by Timothy Tyson. Gotta be one of the best.

  • 2thebeach Jul 12, 2010

    How about the one about the silver chalice being fashioned from Blackbeard's skull? I've heard that one all my life!

  • lynneslaughter Jul 12, 2010

    I also like the true tale of Judge Susie Sharp's niece who along with her cousin/boyfriend, murdered her ex mother in-law and her parents the Newcombs. The tradgedy of this tale to me is the death of her two sons who were riding in the vehicle when she and Fritz detonated bombs beneath the car seats when evading the law. This story covers Chapel Hill to Greensboro area. A little Lithium could have made a big difference. Support Mental Health!!!!!

  • lynneslaughter Jul 12, 2010

    I believe she was wrongly convicted. Women were not treated fairly in her lifetime. I read Sharyn McCrumb's book and enjoyed it greatly. I think Frankie Silver was a poor illiterate woman who had the misfortune of being the only witness to her husband's death. She paniced. He could have died of anything from a concussion from falling down drunk to an anuerysm, to plain old alcohol poisoning. Moonshine was a big culprit for that at the time and her husband was known to imbibe. She was very young and probably overwhelmed. Tom Duly is another great murder story.

  • tpatnode Jul 12, 2010

    The story of Tom Dula is also a good one.




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