Western North Carolina Murder Ballads: Tom Dula and Frankie Silver

Scope: 

Tom Dula and Frankie Silver were both hanged for murder in Western North Carolina in the 19th century, Tom in 1868 and Frankie in 1833. Their trials, convictions, and executions were played out very publicly and garnered a great deal of controversy and attention. After their deaths, the cases continued to attract interest, and spawned a number of accounts of their stories, including books, novels, plays, and ballads. This Pathfinder will provide an introduction to the cases of Tom Dula and Frankie Silver, and will serve as a guide to locating sources regarding the two.

Introductory Text: 

McKinney, Gordon B. "Tom Dula Murder Trial." in Rudy Abramson and Jean Haskell (eds.) Encyclopedia of Appalachia. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 2006. p. 1622. ASU APP COLL F 106 .E53 2006

Young, Perry Deane. "Why Frankie Silver Swung." Ms, Vol. 21, 1976. p. 120-122. ASU PERIODICALS

Library of Congress Subject Headings: 

Highly Relevant:

  • Dula, Tom, 1843 or 4-1868
  • Hanging -- Appalachian Region, Southern
  • Hanging -- North Carolina -- Morganton -- History Mitchell County (N.C.) -- Folklore
  • Murder -- North Carolina -- Mitchell County -- Folklore
  • Murder -- North Carolina -- Mitchell County -- History
  • Murder -- North Carolina -- Wilkes County -- Case studies
  • Murder -- North Carolina -- Wilkes County -- History -- 19th century
  • Murder -- North Carolina -- Wilkes County -- History -- 19th century – Fiction
  • Oral tradition -- North Carolina -- Mitchell County -- History
  • Silver, Frankie
  • Silver, Frankie -- Drama
  • Silver, Frankie -- Legends
  • Tales -- North Carolina -- Mitchell County -- History
  • Trials (Murder) -- North Carolina -- Biography
  • Trials (Murder) -- North Carolina -- Drama
  • Trials (Murder) --North Carolina --Mitchell County --History

Also Relevent:

  • Death songs in literature
  • Legends -- North Carolina -- Burke County
  • Murder -- Appalachia
  • Murder -- Appalachian Region, Southern
  • Murderers -- North Carolina -- Biography
  • Trials (Murder) -- North Carolina -- Burke County
  • Triangles (Interpersonal relations) -- Fiction
  • Women murderers- Songs and music

More General:

  • Burke County (N.C.) -- History
  • Capital punishment in popular culture
  • Death row inmates -- Fiction
  • Execution sermons
  • Mitchell County (N.C.)--History
  • Mountain life -- North Carolina -- Fiction

Related:

  • Capital punishment
  • Death Row
  • Executions and executioners
  • Folk music -- United States
  • Gallows
  • Hanging
  • Homicide
  • Murder -- North Carolina
  • North Carolina -- Fiction
Clipping Files Subject Headings - W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection: 
  • Dula, Tom
  • Silver, Frankie
Library of Congress Call Numbers: 
  • F262
  • GR110
  • HV6248
  • ML3551
  • PS3563
  • PS3607
  • VC 156
  • VC 385
  • VC 486
Books: 

Avery, Clifton K. Official Court Record of the Trial, Conviction, and Execution of Francis Silvers: First Woman Hanged in North Carolina. Morganton, N.C.: News Herald, 1953. ASU APP COLL F262.B96 A84

West, John Foster. The Ballad of Tom Dula: The Documented Story Behind the Murder of Laura Foster and the Trials and Execution of Tom Dula. Boone: Parkway Publishers, 2002 (Originally published: Durham: Moore Publishing Company, 197-). ASU APP COLL HV6248.D75 W47 2002

Guides, Encyclopedias, and Dictionaries: 

Abramson, Rudy and Jean Haskell. Encyclopedia of Appalachia. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 2006: p. 1604-05, 1622. ASU APP COLL F 106 .E53 2006

Mitchell, Thornton W. "Dula, Thomas C. ("Tom Dooley")," in William S. Powell (ed.). Dictionary of North Carolina Bibliography. Chapel Hill, NC and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1986, Vol. 2, p. 119-120. ASU APP COLL OVSZ CT252 .D5 v i.

Spell, Richard S. "Silver, Frances [Frankie]," in William S. Powell (ed.). Dictionary of North Carolina Bibliography. Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1986, Vol. 5, p. 346. ASU APP COLL OVSZ CT252 .D5 V. 5.

Bibliographies: 

Price, Sharon. Frankie Silver Bibliography. 2002. ASU APP COLL

Price, Sharon. Frankie Silver: Tale of a murder and execution in myth, fact, and fiction. 2003.
http://www.library.appstate.edu/appcoll/research_aids/sprice.html ASU APP COLL

Abstracts and Indices: 
Journals: 

North Carolina Folklore. Online: http://paws.wcu.edu/ncfj/subject_listing.htm#f
(This link takes you to the volume index where pieces about Frankie Silver are listed.)

Websites: 

"Frankie Stewart Silver." Wikipedia. 3 Feb 2011.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankie_Silver.

"Tom Dula." North Carolina Museum of History. 2005.
http://ncmuseumofhistory.org/fko/NIE/TwistedTarHeelTales/frankiesilver.pdf.

"Tom Dula." North Carolina State Archives. 31 July 2009.
http://www.archives.ncdcr.gov/educationalresources/tomdula.html.

"Tom Dula." Wilkes Chamber of Commerce. 2008.
http://www.explorewilkes.com/TomDula.htm.

"Tom Dula." Wikipedia. 8 August 2011.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Dula.

Whited, Lana A. Ph.D. "Frankie Silver Resources." 17 June 2008.
http://www2.ferrum.edu/lwhited/frankiesilver/.

Williamson, Lauren. "The Legend of Frankie Silver." 2006.
http://www.visitburkecounty.com/frankiesilver.htm.

Compiled by: 

Compiler: Sarah Tonkin, 2 November 2006

Updated by: 

Updated by: Bess Walker, 6 October 2011

Subject: