Legends
Narrative

The Ghost of Frankie Silver

“The town that I am from in North Carolina, it’s called Morganton and it’s in Burke County, and one of the famous citizens of Burke County is named Frankie Silver and she was the first woman to be hanged… I thought it was in North Carolina, but it might just be in Burke County… I am not entirely sure, but she was accused of murdering her husband and chopping him up with an ax and then burning him in a stove, like the stove in their house…
And so she was found guilty and hanged. I think she wasn’t hanged in Morganton. I think she was hanged at the state courthouse, but I think the trial was in Morganton in the old county courthouse, which is still standing. They don’t use it as a courthouse anymore, but it has like a museum inside of it. It’s pretty cool. But supposedly, her ghost, you know, still kinda haunts where her house was. I think it’s not quite in Morganton. It was more out in the woods kind of up the mountain, but my mom told me that supposedly where she was buried, which I guess has since kinda been lost… no one really knows where it is anymore… is kinda out towards my childhood home. There was a road off of the main road that was kind of…I think it was just a gravel road called Buckhorn Tavern or something real rustic like that… and that supposedly is where her grave is according to my mom.”

The informant grew up in North Carolina and lived there his entire life there until moving to Los Angeles around three years ago, where he currently resides.
In regards to Frankie Silver, there is speculation to if she was innocent or not, or even if it was just self-defense. This happened at the turn of the century though, so a lot of the speculation comes from women not having as many rights as they do now, meaning that even if it was self-defense, she could have been “doomed at the onset once she was accused” (according to the informant).
While the informant claims to not believe it now, he admits that he probably did as a child, being that he was into ghost stories then. However, he also admits that he didn’t really understand who she was until he was much older. He learned who Frankie Silver was as the children in Morganton/Burke County are required to read a book called “The Ballad of Frankie Silver” by Sharyn McCrumb in middle school.
The informant also cannot distinctly remember what would happen to you if you saw the ghost, but he figures it has something to do with her being unjustly hung.

The informant relayed this to me while in the passenger seat of his girlfriend’s car as she drove us all back up to Los Angeles. I have known the informant since he moved to Los Angeles.

I find it interesting that the informant knew about legend of Frankie Silver, but did not fully understand it until reading a book based off of it. In this case, the legend was enhanced/more distributed because of the authored literature based upon it. While the informant was able to distinguish what he knew as the legend and what he knew as the book, I am sure that the two often get confused or even fall under the same heading of “By Sharyn McCrumb.”
That being said, there is no way of telling how much of the book influenced the informant’s version of the legend or how much it has changed since the book was published.

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