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Frankie Stewart Silver: Wikis


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Frances Stewart Silver (Born between 1810 and 1813; Died July 12, 1833) was hanged in Morganton, Burke County, North Carolina, for the ax murder of her husband Charles. Frankie Silver, as she is known, is incorrectly [1] believed to have been the first woman executed in Burke County. She was the daughter of Isaiah and Barbara Stewart.



On December 22, 1831, Charles Silver, only nineteen at the time, was hacked to death and dismembered in the cabin he shared with his wife and their daughter Nancy, who was 13 months old at the time.[2] Charles is buried in three separate graves in the Silver family cemetery behind the Kona Baptist Church in Kona, Mitchell County, North Carolina. The dismembered parts of Charles's body were not discovered all at once, and so they were buried piecemeal as they were found; this accounts for the existence of three separate graves.

Trial and execution

Shortly after the murder, suspicion fell on Charles's wife Frankie. Barely 18 at the time of her husband's death, Frankie was tried, swiftly convicted and sentenced to death for the murder. Frankie was hanged on July 12, 1833. As she was led to the gallows, Frankie tried to make a final statement, but her father drowned her out by shouting "Die with it in you, Frankie!" What exactly she planned to say remains a mystery to this day.

Frankie's father had intended to bring his daughter's body home and inter her in the family burial plot, but extreme heat and humidity in North Carolina that year forced him to bury Frankie in an unmarked grave behind the Buckthorn Tavern a few miles west of Morganton, North Carolina. For many years, the exact location of Frankie's grave was unknown, but it is now thought to lie in a remote corner of the present day Devault farm. In 1952, a granite stone marking the probable location of the grave was placed by Beatrice Cobb, editor of the Morganton newspaper.

Escape attempt

Before her execution, Frankie's family broke her out of jail. Disguising her in a man's coat and hat, they carried her out of town in a load of hay. The Sheriff and his posse caught up to them quickly and easily saw through the disguise. She was promptly returned to prison.

Popular culture

The case of Frankie Silver served as the basis for Sharyn McCrumb's 1999 novel, The Ballad of Frankie Silver. In it, McCrumb's series character Spencer Arrowood takes a fresh look at the Frankie Silver case and at a (fictional) modern murder with many parallels.



  • The Ballad of Frankie Silver, by Sharyn McCrumb (ISBN 0-451-19739-9)
  • The Untold Story of Frankie Silver, by Perry Deane Young (ISBN 0-595-37725-4)
  • Roaming the Mountains, by John Paris (LCCCN 55-12508)

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