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:

[audio:http://digitalheritage.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Frankie-Silver60Mx.mp3|titles=Frankie Silver60Mx]

Related Posts

  • Brown Mountain LightsBrown Mountain Lights   Since the early 1700s, travelers have reported seeing the mysterious Brown Mountain Lights on clear, moonless nights. According to local folklore, the lights are actually the […]
  • Juan PardoJuan Pardo Between 1566 and 1567, Juan Pardo, a Spanish explorer and conquistador, following the earlier example of Hernando DeSoto, led two expeditions into the Carolina and Tennessee mountains.  […]
  • Etta BakerEtta Baker Etta Baker was an important Appalachian blues guitarist. Born in North Carolina’s Piedmont in 1913, she spent her adult life in the mountain town of Morganton. Her mixed African-American, […]
  • OutlawsOutlaws Outlaw heroes in the tradition of Robin Hood have been an expression of Appalachian folklore since the pioneer period. Illegal actions to avenge a wrong or defend the honor of family or […]
  • George W. VanderbiltGeorge W. Vanderbilt George W. Vanderbilt, heir of the vast Vanderbilt family fortune, first visited the Asheville area as a young man in 1888. He fell in love with the mountains and began construction of a […]