Three days before Christmas, 1831, Frances Silver killed her husband, Charles, with an ax in their cabin in what is now Mitchell County, N.C. She chopped the body into pieces and burned some of it in the fireplace. Three months later, she was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. She was hanged at Morganton, N.C., on July 12, 1833.
Frankie’s story evolved into ballad and legend, fascinating generation after generation. Perry Deane Young, whose ancestors played a role in the case, began collecting material about it as a teenager. As a young man, he was startled to discover that much of the story he’d been told was actually false. He now has sifted through legend, myth and countless documents to tell the true story of one of Appalachia’s best-known tales.
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