Frankie Silver: Tale of a murder and execution in myth, fact, and fiction

Scope: 

In 1833 Francis Stewart Silver was hanged in Morganton, North Carolina for the murder of her husband, Charlie Silver. The factual information surrounding the case includes accounts of the body's dismemberment, and information gleaned from written accounts of the court concerning the trial, escape, Francis Silver's confession, and the hanging. Much information exists, however, concerning the legends surrounding the case, and much of this comes from conflicting accounts. Additionally there is a great deal of artistic expression concerning the story. This document contains provides sources related to the Silver case in its many incarnations.

 

Introductory Text: 

Avery, Clifton K. Official Court Record of the Trial, Convistion and Execution of Francis Silvers First Woman Hanged in North Carolina . Morganton, NC: The News Herald P. 1952? [The dates 1944 and 1952 are given in a forward by Beatrice Cobb, but no actual publication date is listed.]

Patterson, Daniel W. A Tree Accurst: Bobby McMillon and Stories of Frankie Silver .
Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P. 2000.

Harbin, Jim. To Right the Legend of Frankie Silver - Nancy's Story . Maggie Valley,
NC: Ravenscroft P, 2000.

McCrumb, Sharyn. The Ballad of Frankie Silver . New York: Signet, 1999.

Davenport, Tom. Dir. The Ballad of Frankie Silver: reflections on a murder: with an epilogue, The making of a ballad singer . Perf. Bobby McMillon. Prod. Dan Patterson and Beverly Patterson. Delaplane, VA: Davenport Films, 1990. [videorecording]

Library of Congress Subject Headings: 
  • Silver, Frankie
  • Silver, Frankie -- Legends
  • Parker, Nancy, 1830-1901
  • Silver family
  • Legends - North Carolina
  • Burke County (N.C.) - History
  • Mitchell County (N.C.) -- History
  • Murder - North Carolina
  • Murder - North Carolina - Burke County
  • Murder - North Carolina - Mitchell County - Folklore
  • Tales - North Carolina - Mitchell County - History
  • Trials (Murder) - North Carolina - Burke County
  • Oral tradition - North Carolina - Mitchell County - History
  • Mitchel County (N.C.) -- Folklore
  • Burke County (N.C.) - Genealogy
  • McMillon, Bobby - Contributions in folklore
  • Women murderers - Songs and music
  • Folk music - United States
  • Folk singers - United States
  • Trivette, Marina Ritch
  • Davenport, Tom
  • McMillon, Bobby
  • Making of the ballad singer
Clipping Files Subject Headings - W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection: 
  • Silver, Frankie
Library of Congress Call Numbers: 
  • F262.B06
  • CS71.S585
  • GR110.N8
  • HV6248
  • VC156
Books: 

Burt, Olive Woolley. "Friends and Relations" American Murder Ballads and Their
Stories . New York: Oxford UP, 1958. 1-40.

Sheppard, Muriel Earley. Cabins in the Laurel . Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1935. 24-37.

McCrumb, Sharyn. The Ballad of Frankie Silver . New York: Signet, 1999.

Bailey, Lloyd Richard Sr. The Heritage of the Toe River Valley. Vol II . Marceline, MO:
Walsworth P Co., 1997. 366-368.

Harbin, Jim. To Right the Legend of Frankie Silver - Nancy's Story . Maggie Valley,
NC: Ravenscroft P, 2000.

Mull, J. Alex. Tales of Old Burke . Morganton, NC: The News Herald P, 1975. 83-85.

Patterson, Daniel W. A Tree Accurst: Bobby McMillon and Stories of Frankie Silver .
Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P. 2000.

Phifer, Edward William, Jr. "The Frances Silver Murder Case, 1831-1833." Burke: The
History of a North Carolina County, 1777-1920 With a Glimpse Beyond . Morganton, NC: private publication, 1977. 343-345.

Journals: 

McCrumb, Sharyn. "Keepers of the Legends." Bloodroot: Reflections on Place by Appalachian Women Writers . Ed. Joyce Dyer. [incl. Discussion of The Ballad of Frankie Silver]

McIntyre, Les. "A Personal Journey In Search of Frankie Silver." Bluegrass Unlimited. 33:5. Broadrun, VA: Jan 2001. 38-42.

Willis, Meredith Sue. "The Ballads of Sharyn McCrumb." Appalachian Journal . 25 (Spring ????) 320-29.

James, Edwin S. "Song From the Gallows." Bluegrass Unlimited . 23:5. Broadrun, VA:
Nov. 1988. 52-56.

Websites: 

Whited, Lana A. Ph.D. "Frankie Silver Resources." 3 June 2002.
http://www.ferrum.edu/lwhited/frankiesilver .

Young, Perry Deane. "Frankie's Child Addendum to: The Untold Story of Frankie
Silver: Was She Unjustly Hanged? 1998. http://www.frankiesilver.com/FC_P01.htm.

"Frankie Stewart Silver Memorial Page." http://www.frankiesilver.com/main.htm
[website maintained by great, great, great granddaughter of Frankie and Charlie Silver. This has links to photos, a painting, reunion announcements and more.]

Audio and Video Sources: 

Davenport, Tom. Dir. The Ballad of Frankie Silver: reflections on a murder: with an
epilogue, The making of a ballad singer. Perf. Bobby McMillon. Prod. Dan Patterson and Beverly Patterson. Delaplane, VA: Davenport Films, 1990. [videorecording]

"The Ballad of Frankie Silver (folksong)." Native American Balladry . The American Folksong Society; the New Lost City Ramblers, and Hedy West perf.

Gregg, William and Perry Dean Young. "Frankie." [drama] Southern Appalachian
Repertory Theatre. August 1-12, 2001.

McCall, Maxine. They Won't Hang A Woman . Morganton, NC: Burke County
Schools' Graphics and Industrial Communications Students, 1972.

"The Ballad of Frankie Silver" (ballet). The Tanz Ensemble (Swiss company). Performed
during the Arts Festival in Atlanta, GA, 1996 Olympics

Other Sources: 

Callahan, John. "Silver legend explored." The News Herald . Morganton, NC: 29 July 1996.

Joslin, Michael. "Frankie and Charlie - a new look at an old crime." Mitchell News Journal .

Joslin, Michael. "Legendary murder fodder for today's art." Mitchell News Journal . 5 June 2000.

Mull, David S. "New Video Captures an Enduring Legend" The News Herald . Morganton, NC: 2 March 1997.

Poteat, Bill. "They Won't Hang A Women: Burke's oldest legend brought to life again by drama." The News Herald . Morganton, NC: 10 July 1997.

Williamson, David. "Author Discovers Frankie Silver Not the First North Carolina Woman Hanged." The Chapel Hill News . 1998.

Wise, Jim. "Fascination over woman's hanging endures." The Mount Airy News . 12 Oct. 1997. 5A

Young, Perry Deane. "Axe Murder Echoes." Endeavors . UNC-Chapel Hill. 1998.

Young, Perry Deane. The Untold Story of Frankie Silver: Was She Unjustly Hanged? Asheboro, NC: Down Home P, 1998.

Young, Perry. "Was Silver unjustly hanged?" Asheville Citizen Times .

"Frankie Silver featured on the History Channel." Hickory Daily Record . Hickory, NC: 22 July 98.

"Kona." [travel attractions]. The Charlotte Observer . 29 Nov. 1998.

"Old paper tells of brutal murder and the hanging of Frankie Silver" Watauga Democrat . [reprint of Charlotte Observer article from about 1903].

Avery, Clifton K. Official Court Record of the Trial, Conviction and Execution of Francis Silvers First Woman Hanged in North Carolina . Morganton, NC: The News Herald P. 1952? [The dates 1944 and 1952 are given in a forward by Beatrice Cobb, but no actual publication date is listed.]

 

Compiled by: 

Compiler: Sharon Price, December 2003

Subject: