18-year-old Frankie Silver was hanged in Morganton, North Carolina in 1833, convicted of killing then dismembering her 19-year-old husband in a fit of jealous rage. Her mother and brother were also arrested but both were soon released. Her family broke her out of jail, disguised her as a man, and hid her in a wagonload of hay. The sheriff’s posse quickly recaptured her. On her way to the gallows, she tried to make a statement but stopped when her father shouted out, “Die with it in you, Frankie!” This episode made her motive and even her guilt seem ambiguous. Ongoing controversy about her fate has made her an object of myth and folklore, inspiring a ballad and more recently a novel by Sharyn McCrumb.
Below is the Digital Heritage Moment as broadcast on the radio: