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History: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?

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TOM DOOLEY


Related threads:
Folklore: New book on Tom Dooley+ (5)
Tom Dula: The Full Story (10)
(origins) Lyr/Chords/Tune Req: Tom Dooley (Kingston Trio) (23)
(origins) Origins: Tom Dooley (46)
Tom Dooley (from Kingston Trio) (7)
song Tom Dooley (21)
info request: grayson was a gink (1)
Lyr/Chords Req: tom dooley by doc watson (5)


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Subject: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 06:36 PM

Did anybody hear about this? Per my Mom, another avid NPR listener, they have NOW, (re)solved the Laura Foster murder, and apparently Tom was framed by Laura's sister, who was all pissed that she got the clap from Tom that Laura had given him...

Anybody have any knowledge of this? Makes me wonder about Polly Von, poor Ellen Smith, pretty Polly, and all the others from murder ballads with names in them...


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 06:42 PM

OK, I've got the article. It's audio, available at http://www.npr.org/ramfiles/atc/20000731.atc.06.ram. Starts with the Kingston Trio singing... that's as far as I've gotten. Sounds like it's going to be fascinating...


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: bill\sables
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 06:51 PM

I Did hear Years ago that Sheriff Grayson killed her and framed Dooley


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 06:52 PM

That seems to be yet another interpretation... anybody up for a discussion of the death penalty? Not!


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Morticia
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 06:53 PM

and laura foster is?


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: ddw
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 08:41 PM

Mrrzy,

There have been previous threads on this, but a forum search turned up only one just now.

According to my reading on the Tom Dooley (really Dula) case, the situation really was this:

Tom returned to his home near Lenore, N.C. something of a hero after the Civil War. He was putting himself about with the local ladies when he apparently caught the clap from Laura Foster, then passed it along to Ann Melton. Of course the exact route can't really be known, but that's how it appeared. Ann got PO'd about it and killed Laura, then asked Tom to help her dispose of the body — which he did, but got caught at it somehow and was charged with the murder. Ann was also charged, but bragged in her cell that the was "much too pretty to be hanged."

Sheriff Grayson — can't remember his first name — was a little sweet on Ann and relied on her version of what happened to pin the murder on Dula (Dooley), even though there was a fair amount of physical evidence that he wasn't the killer. Ann's testimony succeeded in getting Dula hanged and her released. Grayson then married Ann and lived with her for a number of years. People in the area say that on her deathbed Ann told Grayson something — nobody knows what, but they all speculate it was a confession about the murder — which absolutely shattered him. A short time later he just quit his post and disappeared across the Smoky Mountains into Tennessee.

Hope that helps,

david


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 09:16 PM

Thanks, Mrzzy! Wish I could hear it!

HEre are some of the other threads and sites with information on Tom Dooley

Thread - song Tom Dooley
Older thread on Tom Dooley
Tom Dooley (trad)

There are links to other threads on Tom Dooley/Dula in those threads.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: kendall
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 11:38 PM

So, how come the Sheriff didn't catch the Clap?


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,John Gray / Australia
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 11:57 PM

ddw - everything you had to say about Tom Dula et al sounded very plausible to me until you got to the bit about Grayson marrying Ann. I wouldn't have thought that even a US sheriff would be stupid enough to marry a woman with the clap !

JG / FME


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Rasta
Date: 02 Aug 00 - 03:28 AM

unless I had a small stroke Help what is NRP or am I loosing it, isit on TV or Radio or perhaps a UFO---thanx Rastaaaaaaaaaaa


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Aug 00 - 04:37 AM

Hi, Rasta - NPR is National Public Radio in the U.S., www.npr.org - they have excellent news coverage.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 02 Aug 00 - 08:09 AM

According to the article, JohnGray, she got herself cured, which is how anybody found out that anybody had it. Also, Morticia, in the ballad about Tom Dula, they mention the name of the vic, Laura Foster. I always figured he killed her for being pregnant when he didn't want to get married... like all the other murder ballads of that type.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 02 Aug 00 - 09:43 AM

Mrrzy, we have Tom's confession here on the Mudcat. Confession: I killed Laura Foster

There are also many other confessions you might be interested in.

Mary


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Jeri
Date: 02 Aug 00 - 10:03 AM

Both of the following links are from The Johnson Co. Tennessee Genealogy Page. On this page, is a link to a wav file of the first recording of the song, recorded September 30, 1929 by G.B. (Gilliam Banmon) Grayson (1887-1930). This was the nephew of Major Grayson. There are two Graysons, and I believe it's the second (Major), which if it hadn't been for...

The Legend of Tom Dooley The Grayson in this story was Bob, a schoolteacher who was also courting Laura.

The Capture of Tom Dula/Dooley. The Grayson here is a Major James W.M. Grayson who was instrumental in Dula's capture, and didn't know Dula (nor Laura Foster or anyone else involved) at the time of the murder.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Abby Sale
Date: 02 Aug 00 - 10:51 AM

Lomax credits Dula with the only decent thing he is known to have done -- Tom denied Ann's culpability & didn't even mention her name in the song he wrote. Thus, she got off with a short sentence. Still, it was locally known that she recieved her just deserts: Seems that when Ann died, the Devil carried her off, while black cats ran squawling up the walls of her room and the smell of frying meat filled the air.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Jeri
Date: 02 Aug 00 - 11:30 AM

I strongly recommend listening to the NPR segment if you're interested in the song and the history. They interview Frank Proffitt Jr., his account of his father first hearing the song on the radio, and him singing his version of the song. There is a history of the song collection, and a bit about the copyright/money business.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Sean Belt
Date: 02 Aug 00 - 11:35 AM

I was just out in the Asheville area of North Carolina near where the events this ballad is based on happened. There was some discussion in a workshop I attended given by Betty Smith ( a wonderful ballad singer and collector and a genuinely nice woman) about the Tom Dula/ Laurie Foster case and some of the "facts" that have recently come to light.

One of the things that Betty mentioned was that the people in the town where this happened still believe that Laurie Foster was the next best thing to a saint and that Tom Dula was "no better than he should have been", as the saying goes. As I understand it, the people around there maintain that Dula killed her because she wouldn't have sex with him. Apparently Betty mentioned the possibility that Ms. Foster may have been pregnant or had VD and the woman she mentioned it to about had apoplexy! Amazing that people can still be so passionate about something that happened well over 100 years ago!

Still and all, it's a wonderful song.

- Sean


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Irish sergeant
Date: 02 Aug 00 - 01:27 PM

Sean; You shouldn't be surprised how passionate people are about things in that area or this country. You can still start a riot by implying Robert E. Lee wasn't the best general of the time. Also, how many of them might have been decendants of some sort of Laura Foster? If the Lyrics are a truthful or fairly so account I hold with Major James W. M. Grayson who was instrumental in his capture. I quote: "Hadn't have been for Grayson, I'd a been in Tennesee." KIndest reguards, Neil


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 02 Aug 00 - 01:32 PM

Temptation.... OJ jokes.... no.... won't do it.... but can't quite CLEAR ENTRIES either....

But I didn't shoot the deputy!

~S~


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 02 Aug 00 - 01:32 PM

If anyone cares, les Compagnons de la Chanson do a great translation of this one into French.

Fais ta prière, Tom Dooley, Fais ta prière mon vieux,
c'est la derniè, Tom Dooley, Fais ta prière mon vieux.

Another chorus is
Fais ta prière, Tom Dooley, c'est tout ce qu'on peut t'offrir,
Fais ta prière Tom Dooley, demain tu vas mourir...

very lovely version.

And Mary in Kentucky, I shall check out the confessions...


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: kendall
Date: 02 Aug 00 - 03:34 PM

talk about long lived passion, Go to Glen Coe and tell someone you are a Campbell.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 02 Aug 00 - 03:39 PM

For those who can'tget the NPR article, it said Grayson was the man in Tennesee Tom was working for who turned him in. Tom may have thought Laura gave him VD -- that was his story -- but the shoe was almost certainly on the other foot. He had other ladyfriends who may well have killed his fiance out of jealousy.

-- That was what the (very interesting) article said.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,John Gray / Australia
Date: 02 Aug 00 - 11:30 PM

Mrrzy - could they really cure the clap in, when - the late 1860's ?

JG / FME


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Jeri
Date: 03 Aug 00 - 09:46 AM

The disease in question is syphilis, and no, I don't think there was an effective cure back then. I'm not sure what was being used at the time the events took place, but salts of mercury had been used previously. It may have cured the disease if it didn't kill the patient, but it did faster damage that the disease would have. Syphilis can become latent and never re-surface, or come back in later years (typically 5 - 20 years after infection) to disable and kill. I believe the first cure that actually worked on syphilis without killing the patient was penicillin.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: catspaw49
Date: 03 Aug 00 - 10:03 AM

Visiting the Museum of Medical History in DC can give you enlightenment on the history of syphyllis. A large area of display is devoted to it and the exhibits are ...... well, let's say they're things you don't normally see in museums.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,cew03@garnet.acns.fsu.edu
Date: 12 Mar 04 - 04:28 PM

Notes
I do believe that those folks could cure rickets, which syphilis is a kind of, to some extent.
Since the middle ages, nobility had been taking silver on the belief it helped their health; hence the term "blueblood" I understand;
but that is not all; American Indians used the pokeweed root--which when an overdose is taken, may cause some hallucination--to try to cure rickets.
Rickets includes not only syphilis but lyme disease and its close cousin typhus--common in the N.E. (not surprising as the people of the 17th-18th century, in Europe and the U.S. just picked lice off their clothing if they bothered at all; one gentlemen managed to get one of his reisdent lice to give him directions).
But for any cure to work, the treatment had to be early.
For the record, that does not always work either. I received ear swelling from a tickbite; the tick, which did not take much blood from me for it was not swollen, bit me for maybe 10 minutes before I picked it off.
I tried to be treated in 2 weeks, but the doctor molested me--though I clearly had lyme, not syphilis (lyme is characterized by a rash in the extremities; little genital mucosa, especially for the first year or so, and heart but not lung infection).
Within 2 months, I went to someone else, and got on azithromax with my cat who also had gotten a tickbite from my ticks. We also took his vibramycin, related to doxycycline. We took this 2 months. I took as well liquid silver, chlorophyl, and pennyroyal extract, plus some pokeweek extract. We also took a supplement for the heart, coenzyme A10 for my heart was almost instantly infected though they tell me it takes time.
No luck. I had a rash in my foot and a toe that was so infected it was about to become gangrenous as with typhus. Fortunately, my father recommended melatonin which helped some.
My heart and toe were cured, but like Mr. Ferrit in the poem by Judith Wright, who cuts down a tree but still has hayfever, I still have lyme disease or typhus; "nothing will cure it." And that's today folks.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Nerd
Date: 12 Mar 04 - 04:55 PM

Anne Melton was Laura's cousin, not sister. There is no evidence of which of them (Melton or Dula) killed LF, but Tom confessed. He almost certainly did help with the body.

Grayson was not a Sherriff at all, but a local landowner who had been a Colonel and then a Major (it was not a bust, he transfered to a different unit and got a different commission); he had retired a Major and was known as Major Grayson. Tom Dula, in fleeing, found he needed new boots, and stopped at Grayson's, working for the Major until such time as he could afford the boots. Then he took off.

Soon thereafter, a posse arrived at Grayson's place looking for Dula, and they found him and took him back to North Carolina, where he confessed and was hanged.

Although he was almost certainly guilty, the extradition across state lines was not legal. If it happened today, he'd be freed on a technicality.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 12 Mar 04 - 05:23 PM

GUEST cew, you've got your medical terms mixed up.

Rickets is not a communicable disease. It is a malnutrition condition.

What I think you're confused about is rickettsia, which is a variety of disease-causing microorganism.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Mar 04 - 07:41 PM

If the disease in question was the clap, there was a treatment back then that sometimes worked. You don't want to know about it. The mercury cure sometimes worked but killed just as often as it cured.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,Allan S
Date: 12 Mar 04 - 08:17 PM

Ricketts I believe is a result of lack of Vit.D thats why children were given Cod liver oil. Ricketisea [sp.?] is an organism between a bacteria and a virus tho now it falls in withe bact. for classification. An early attempt at a cure for "the clap" which is caused by a diplocossus was to inject a solution of potassium permanganate up inthrough the penis tho i am not sure how effective it was. From what history I remember both diseases were pandemic.
Excuse the spelling I havent worked with this stuff in over 50 years. since I was a medic in the Army. How I remember those days in the "clap shack" doing GC smears.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,GALAXY_1@MSN.COM
Date: 14 Jul 04 - 03:22 PM

LOVED THE MOVIE WITH MICHAEL LANDON BUT I DO NOT THINK HE KILLED HER. I THINK IT WAS THE DEPUTY WHO BROUGHT HIM IN.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,AS in Australia
Date: 17 Jul 04 - 08:34 AM

John Foster West has described the murder of Laura Foster and the subsequent trial of Tom Dula, from primary sources. If he is correct, then many of the assertions on this web page are incorrect.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,Arkie
Date: 17 Jul 04 - 10:05 AM

I don't remember seeing this link posted above. If it has been posted please accept my apology. It contains some of the facts as stated in John Foster West's book via David Holt.

David Holt


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,Reality
Date: 17 Jul 04 - 12:23 PM

Ohh! Laura Foster

I thought y'all meant Laura Palmer of Twin Peaks.

never mind . . .


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Le Scaramouche
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 04:12 PM

There were cures that sometimes worked, google should bring them up.
Anyway, how is Dula pronounced, Doolay or Doolaw?


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 05:08 PM

I first heard the story from a Doc Watson version and that's what sticks with me. In the description Tom is described as one of those indidivuals who has matured before his proper age, a full beard at 14, and signs up to join the Army...too young. Then after early experience of killing comes home to take the affections of Laurie Foster who is underage.. clue being in the verse that says "he dug her grave four feet long.. he dug it three feet deep" The girl is only young, but, despite the same age as Tom, hence the community outrage and ballad about his offence. Debate about who was actually responsible might or might not be part of the truth. Was Sheriff Grayson implicated? In any event it seems from the song I learned that Tom was perhaps a victim of injustice and Grayson portrayed as a manipulative official. Could it ring true?


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Le Scaramouche
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 05:11 PM

Young, sure, but average height wasn't as great.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 05:33 PM

Then after early experience of killing comes home to take the affections of Laurie Foster who is underage.. clue being in the verse that says "he dug her grave four feet long.. he dug it three feet deep"

How is that a clue that she's underage? If she's buried with her knees tucked to her chest, four feet long would be PLENTY long enough. If the grave is only dug three feet deep, the digger is saving digging time or effort, or both, and cramming the body in a smallish hole makes sense.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 05:43 PM

The clue has to be in the verse...no point in making it otherwise. It's storytelling and if you're suggesting a squashed up hurried grave then the verse would have conveyed that. Ya divit


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,sorefingers
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 05:54 PM

The name is 'DuLay' not 'Dooley' as somebody already nearly said.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 05:58 PM

So what's your proof? Names change spelling according to pronounciation. Does it make a difference to the song?


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Highlandman
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 06:13 PM

I live about an hour from Lenoir, NC, and I know some Dulas. Their pronunciation is DOO-luh, but it's common in the mountain dialects to transmute final vowels to "ee" (as in the Grand Ol' Opry), hence "Dooley."
And yes, 140 years ago is NOT considered the distant past around here :-)
-HM


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 06:22 PM

if you're suggesting a squashed up hurried grave then the verse would have conveyed that.

I think it exactly conveyed that. The size of the grave gives no indication of Laura's size--although if she was a big gal, say six feet, I suppose she wouldn't fit in four feet even "folded up". But even if she was a diminutive woman, it's no proof that she was underage.

And The clue has to be in the verse...no point in making it otherwise.

The motivation of a song originator in writing it a certain way is often (not to say usually) a mystery. That language can be seen as interesting in itself, or a fill-out of the scansion and/or rhyme scheme, or merely reflecting a fact of the case that was known (if it is a fact that was known), just to fill out the story with every detail known.

"The clue" supposes that there is reason to expect a clue about her age to be in the song. As if the song is incomplete without that detail. If the writer really wanted us to know that she was, say, thirteen, he could have told us so, and didn't. No reason to think he'd just hint at it with "the clue".

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Ebbie
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 12:13 AM

If Laura Foster died childless, it would be most difficult to have descendants of any kind from her, I say mildly. Relatives, perhaps?


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,Betsy
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 02:57 AM

Dooley , Dula , Dulay ??

In India they sing " Hang down your head Tandoori "

Strange how songs travel.!!! Smile .


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 04:59 AM

I have seen a newspaper report from the trial and he is named as Tom Dula.

eric


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,Bainbo
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 05:19 AM

There was a guy near where I live called Tom Head (really). He didn't take kindly to people singing "Hang down your Dooleys, Tom Head"


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Irish sergeant
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 03:30 PM

Syphilis was treated with salts of murcury back then. Not with any real efectiveness. The average height for a male of the time was five feet eight inches. It'd be intersted in seeing that site if you remember it GeestAS in Australia. Kindst regards, Neil


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Jul 05 - 09:38 PM

THERE WAS NO SHERIFF GRAYSON. THE GRAYSON IN THE SONG IS THE GRAYSON TOM DULA WORKED FOR WHEN HE FLED WILKES COUNTY. HIS NAME WAS A COLONIAL IN THE CIVIL WAR AND HAD A FARM NEAR THE NC,TN STATE LINE.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,lenoir,nc
Date: 23 Jul 05 - 09:52 PM

Tom's last name was Dula, pronounced Dooley for the sake of the ballad, it just roles off the tongue better. It was not Dulay as prior mentioned. I live in Lenoir,NC about fifteen minutes from Laura's grave. Another misconception is thyat she was buried high upon a hill, when she is actually buried in field.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,Dave'swife
Date: 26 Jul 05 - 08:03 AM

Ok. is there a reader's digest version of this some where?

Cliff Notes?

A reasonable book that lays it all out?

Cuz if there is, I'm about ready to spend good money on it just to sort out all these accusations.

I shouldn't read these threads. Last time O read a thread like this I wound up buying that book "Scalded To Death by Steam' just to figure out how the canaries got on the Wreck of the Old 97. Wait! Don't start that again.. I have the book and know the answer!

Hell, I believed up until 6 months ago that Bily Jo McCallister really did throw something off the Talahatchie Bridge just because some kook girl in Upstate New York tossed her baby down an embankment into a water filled ditch when I was a kid and everyone said she did it cuz she listened to 'Ode To Bille Joe'. You grow up with stuff like that and the belief gets inbedded in your mind. It took finding an interview with Bobby Gentry who confessed she had no freaking idea what they tossed off the bridge, that she made it all up, for me to give up the ghost on that one.

I is a gullible chile, yessir.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,Dave'sWIfe Sans Cookie
Date: 26 Jul 05 - 11:38 AM

I seem to have found a good page on this myself:


The Legend of Tom Dula

I'll be there for a while, satisfying my morbid curiosity. Join me if you are so inclinded!


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Arkie
Date: 26 Jul 05 - 10:00 PM

John Foster West wrote two books about Tom Dooley, The Ballad of Tom Dula and Lift up Your Head, Tom Dooley. Neither is very long and both used actual trial transcripts, if my memory serves me correctly. I would think that they are the most thoroughly researched accounts of the incidents and trial.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,Dave'sWife
Date: 26 Jul 05 - 10:17 PM

Here's a very link that mentions the Joh Foster West books and much more:

VARIOUS INTERNET INFO ABOUT TOM DOOLEY
(this has a very good sumary of the Crime and details discussed in this thread)
Summary of the story of Tom Dula (Dooley)


See Tom Dula's Grave if you care to
Tom Dula's Grave and other photos of interest

I might get away without having to buy anything afterall!


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Johnhenry'shammer
Date: 12 Mar 07 - 08:40 PM

The tale of Sherrif Grayson's geneaology is very interesting. He was the grandfather of G.B. Grayson who was the original singer of Omie Wise (you can hear him on the Anthology of American Folk Music). The man credited with introducing the world to the ballad Tom Dooley was Frank Proffit who was a singer and banjo player/maker. He sang it for a collector (maybe one of the Lomaxes?) in the 30's.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,Arkie
Date: 12 Mar 07 - 09:43 PM

I think he may have recorded Tom Dooley for Frank Warner who in turn introduced it to the Kingston Trio.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Kevin L Rietmann
Date: 13 Mar 07 - 03:17 AM

Alan Lomax talks about the tune/event in the Appalachian Journey movie, which can be seen at Folkstreams.net. I think he says that he played a part in popularizing it by singing it as he travelled around the country, too.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: bubblyrat
Date: 13 Mar 07 - 05:59 AM

Re--the Syphilis cure......Old English expression :
"One night with Venus ;
      A lifetime with Mercury."

    But I was always led to believe that "The Clap" was Ghonnorhea, not Syphilis ..... ?? ( not that I"ve had either, I hasten to add !! )


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: SouthernCelt
Date: 13 Mar 07 - 07:07 AM

bubblyrat said: "But I was always led to believe that "The Clap" was Ghonnorhea, not Syphilis ..... ?? ( not that I"ve had either, I hasten to add !! ) "

Yes, you're right. After reading through this thread last night I decided to do a little internet research. "The Clap" was sometimes used to simply mean VD (STD to the modern-minded, particularly in the era before doctors could distinguish between the causes of syphilis and gonorrhea. Beginnining in the late 19th century with the advent of different treatments for the two diseases, the clap came to refer to gonorrhea which usually showed more acute symptoms (most notably a severe burning pain in the urethra when urinating) and sufferers were more apt to seek immediate help. Some sufferers of syphilis may have never realized they were infected since the first cycle of the disease may exhibit symptoms so mild as to be passed off as something minor.

I found a variety of possible origins for the "common" name, "The Clap". All were reasonable but there's no consensus on which is the likely origin. (Not that it matters, it isn't like the future of the universe hangs on someone finding the real origin of "The Clap.")

Oh...I've never had either...either.

SC


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Scoville
Date: 13 Mar 07 - 09:03 AM

Re: syphilis/ricketts confusion. This is after the fact, but tertiary syphilis can cause bone disintegration that might have looked something like ricketts to the comparatively medically ignorant. If she had had it long enough that it was causing her that sort of trouble, though, she was way past curing, especially in the 1860's when there weren't any reliable cures even for early-stage VD.

And yes, nowadays, the clap is gonorrhea, but SouthernCelt is right; distinguishing between the two, or among any VD's, at the time was a lot harder than it is now. The 19th century was not a good time to get sick.

* * * * *

I thought everyone in ballads was buried high on a hill, whether they were in real life or not. It appears to be a bit of a lyrical convention to bury people on hills and mountain-tops.

* * * * *

Average size of American men in their 20's in the 1860's, according to Union Army records, was about 5'8" and 140 lb (the same size as I am, except I'm a girl). Women, predictably, were smaller; I don't know for sure but I would guess maybe 5'2" or so, since the average height of today's American women runs around 5'4" or 5'5". The way I learned the song, the grave was four feet long and three feet deep (no mention of width), so presumably it wouldn't have been difficult to get her in assuming she wasn't exceptionally tall. Three feet deep sounds awfully shallow to me, though. I would think that only digging down three feet--which would mean the body would be two feet or less from the surface--would still run the risk of having her dug up by animals and discovered quickly. My dog, who is not very big, digs almost that deeply looking for frogs and crawfish.

Sounds like a sloppy job to me.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,BB
Date: 13 Mar 07 - 12:28 PM

in response to "The man credited with introducing the world to the ballad Tom Dooley was Frank Proffit who was a singer and banjo player/maker. He sang it for a collector (maybe one of the Lomaxes?) in the 30's."
The collectors of this song were Anne and Frank Warner. They were friendly with Alan Lomax, who first published the song.

From Traditional American Folk Songs from the Anne & Frank Warner Collection, ©1984, Anne Warner, p.289.

"Tom Dooley - Frank Proffitt, 1938
"This was one of the songs Frank Proffitt sang to us the first day we met him in June 1938. It was the first song he remembered hearing his father pick on a banjo. Frank's grandmother, Adeline Perdue, lived in Wilkes County and knew both Tom and Laura Foster, for Tom Dooley - really Tom Dula - did live. Tom was a native of Wilkes County and was known to be a wild one. He rode hard and drank hard and had a way with the ladies, especially Laura Foster. When the Civil War came he joined the Confederates and fought until he was taken prisoner and put in a stockade at Kinston, North Carolina. After the war he made his way home on foot, and took up his old ways. He renewed his relationship with Laura but also was involved with Ann Melton, though she had a husband and two children. One day, at Ann's instigation, many believed, Tom lured Laura Foster into riding off with him. On the hillside he stabbed Laura and buried her in a shallow grave. It is a sordid tale, well covered even by the New York papers who sent correspondents to cover the two trials, which lasted two years. Tom, to the end, refused to implicate Ann, though she had been arrested too, so eventually she was freed. Tom was convicted and hanged in 1868.
"Many songs were written about Tom Dooley, but it is the one that came down in Frank's family that eventually went around the world and is believed to have sparked the world-wide interest in American folk music."

This is the story, as the Proffitt family believed it to be, and as passed on to the Warners.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Scrump
Date: 13 Mar 07 - 12:31 PM

Does that mean Tom Dooley was innocent, like Tim Evans?

"Go down, you murderers, go down." :-)


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Don Firth
Date: 13 Mar 07 - 12:57 PM

It was the mysterious figure on the grassy knoll. . . .

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Scoville
Date: 13 Mar 07 - 01:25 PM

Probably not innocent--almost certainly an accessory if not the actual murderer. Most of what I've read theorizes that the actual murder was committed by, or at least at the behest of, Anne Melton (since Laura would have exposed her to VD through Tom). So, whatever happened, it seems doubtful that his hands were entirely clean.

Unless Don is right . . .


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,LB
Date: 13 Mar 07 - 08:15 PM

Are there any known pictures of Tom Dula?


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 14 Mar 07 - 01:52 AM

There is a story (which may or may not be true) that Doc Watson's grandmother attended Ann Milton on her (Melton's) death bed. Watson's family lived on the other side of the mountain from Dula and Grayson. According to the story, Watson's grandmother swore that Ann Melton saw visions of the Fires of Hell at the foot of her bed just before she died. It could help to account for why people on Watson's side of the mountain were always a bit more sympathetic toward Dula than on Frank Proffitt's side.

Stephen Lee Rich


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,Black Hawk
Date: 14 Mar 07 - 02:53 AM

Surely the argument of the lyrics stating she was buried on a hill / mountain versus her being buried in a field is pointless.

If Tom buried her on a hill, after her body was discovered and identified, she would have been re-buried correctly, not just thrown back into the makeshift grave?


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Scrump
Date: 14 Mar 07 - 04:16 AM

Probably not innocent--almost certainly an accessory if not the actual murderer. Most of what I've read theorizes that the actual murder was committed by, or at least at the behest of, Anne Melton (since Laura would have exposed her to VD through Tom). So, whatever happened, it seems doubtful that his hands were entirely clean.

Maybe I should have said 'wrongly convicted' instead of 'innocent'. (It's often the case that the 'innocent' person was far from innocent, but was just wrongly convicted of a crime they didn't do.)


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Rowan
Date: 14 Mar 07 - 06:12 AM

A couple of posters have commented that, in the American South, passions are very long-lived about events in the distant past. When I visited SC in 1991 I thought I knew all the euphemisms for what most of us know as "The Civil War". Then the lovely 80+ year old lady who lived next door thought she'd do the gracious thing and invite the Australian neighbours for afternoon tea.

During our conversation I mentioned the TV series, which was on SCETV at the time. And she talked about the Civil War as "the late unpleasantness."

Graciousness itself! But implicitly more 'recently affecting' than even WWII, to my mind. Fascinating!

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Dave'sWife
Date: 14 Mar 07 - 08:15 PM

Here is a link to the Wikipedia entry on the song:
Tom Dooley (Song) Wikipedia Entry

Anyone can correct or edit on Wikipedia, just be sure to have a citable source. If you see some changes that need to be made, make them or send me a PM and I'll try and make them since I am a wikipedia volunteer.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Scoville
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 10:17 AM

But implicitly more 'recently affecting' than even WWII, to my mind. Fascinating!

The attitude in the American South towards the Civil War is something that is very hard to explain unless you've lived there. Frankly, even most American Northerners have no clue how large it looms in many Southerners' minds. I'm sure this is at least in part because it is less recent than WWII and can thus be more effectively and thoroughly mythologized, but it's not that simple.

I had a history professor in college who was a Northerner, Princeton/Yale educated, whose Ph.D. was on the colonial history of Georgia. I had him for a Civil War and Reconstruction class. There were three very put-upon students from the South (two from Texas and one from Tennessee) in that class and by mid-semester, we all hated him. We weren't even what you would call dyed-in-the-wool Southerers (or we would not have been attending a very Leftist liberal arts college in the Midwest in the first place) and we were so sick of being asked about our "Southern points of view" we all wanted to tell him to get off his self-important Ivy League butt and try actually living Georgia for awhile so he would at least know what he was talking about.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,Skrep
Date: 25 Mar 07 - 02:05 AM

The best version of this song is on the Andy Griffith Show.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Gulliver
Date: 26 Mar 07 - 08:44 PM

I've had requests for the past few months to sing the Kingston Trio version of the song, but I can't bring myself to sing it if poor old Dooley was innocent...


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: CET
Date: 26 Mar 07 - 09:39 PM

Here are the French lyrics from the Compagnons de la Chanson, as mentioned by Mrrzy back in 2000:

Fais ta prière Tom Dooley
Ça peut toujours servir
Fais ta prière Tom Dooley
Demain tu vas mourir

Devant ton verre de rhum
Dans le matin blafard
Tâche au moins d'être un homme
Avant le grand départ

Fais ta prière Tom Dooley
C'est tout ce qu'on peut t'offrir
Fais ta prière Tom Dooley
Demain tu vas mourir

Quand au lever du jour
On viendra te chercher
Pardonne à ton amour
C'est lui ton seul péché

Fais ta prière Tom Dooley
Avant de t'endormir
Fais ta prière Tom Dooley
Demain tu vas mourir

Fais ta prière Tom Dooley
Y a plus rien d'autre à faire
Fais ta prière Tom Dooley
Pour éviter l'enfer

Tu vas enfin revoir
Celle que tu aimais trop
Emporte au moins l'espoir
De mieux l'aimer là haut

Fais ta prière Tom Dooley
Demain tu vas mourir
Fais ta prière Tom Dooley
Pour toi tout va finir

Fais ta prière Tom Dooley
C'est la dernière mon vieux
Fais ta prière Tom Dooley
Après bye, bye, adieu

Translations of songs don't always work very well, but I like these lyrics a lot.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: frogprince
Date: 26 Mar 07 - 10:52 PM

Babelfish has a little trouble translating that back to Enlish:

Make your prayer Tom Dooley That can always serve Fais your prayer Tom Dooley Demain you will die In front of your rum glass In the morning blafard Task at least to be a man Before the great departure Make your prayer Tom Dooley It is all that one can offer to you Fais your prayer Tom Dooley Demain you will die When at daybreak One comes to seek Pardonne with your love to you It is him your only sin Make your prayer Tom Dooley Before falling asleep Fais your prayer Tom Dooley Demain you will die Make your prayer Tom Dooley Y has more anything other to make Fais your prayer Tom Dooley to avoid the hell You finally will re-examine That which you liked too Emporte at least the hope to better like it there high Make your prayer Tom Dooley Demain you will die Fais your prayer Tom Dooley For you all will finish Make your prayer Tom Dooley It is the last my old man Fais your prayer Tom Dooley After bye, bye, good-bye


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: CET
Date: 27 Mar 07 - 07:53 PM

What exactly is the point of Babelfish? It is evidently incapable of translating simple French words like faire and emporter and demain.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: bobad
Date: 09 Nov 08 - 06:46 PM

This is the story of a young confederate soldier, Tom Dooley, who returned to his home in Happy Valley on the Yadkin River in Wilkes County, North Carolina after the Civil War. Tom survived many battles but his claim to fame was his love of music. While in the army camp, it was Tom who would be found sitting around singing songs and picking his banjo.

Before the war, Tom, a happy-go-lucky young man, was very popular with the young ladies. Two of these young ladies were Laura Foster and her cousin Ann Foster. The girls were noted for their popularity and were well sought after by the local swains. They turned a lot of heads. Both girls became infatuated with Tom Dooley. He managed his time to be with both.

By the time the war was over, Ann's infatuation had come to an end and she married James Milton. On Tom Dooley's return Laura thought, with Ann married she would have a clear field with Tom. But Ann's love for Tom quickly returned when she saw the dashing young soldier and would have none of cousin Laura getting ahead of her. She thought with Laura out of the way she and Tom would get back together and she would marry him. Laura had many suitors. Among them was a schoolteacher, Bob Grayson who was "smitten" with her and wanted her for his wife.

Tom made arrangements with Laura to run away and get married. In the night she took what clothes she could carry on horseback and left home for her rendezvous with Tom.

She disappeared. Laura was eighteen at the time. Her family searched for her, but to no avail. As time went on, the people suspected she had run away with Tom Dooley. More search parties were formed and about three weeks after Laura disappeard, her horse returned, guant and with a broken halter. The searchers found where the horse had been tied to a tree. The soil was disturbed with horse tracks. After more search, some people thought Laura's body had been disposed of in the Yadkin River.

Some time later, Ann got into an argument with her sister, Perline Foster. Ann was deeply critical of her sister. Perline warned Ann that she better be careful or she would tell what she knew about Laura. Ann answered that Perline was just as guilty as she was. The authorities became suspicious of the two girls and began to question them. Perline became scared and broke down. She said Tom Dooley had killed Laura, that Ann took her to the site of the grave. Perline directed the search party to the place of burial. The search party spread out over the entire area. James Melton, James Isbell, David Horton and Bob Grayson were in the search party. James Isbell's horse shied from an area with loose dirt. The crowd started digging and found the body of Laura Foster. Her legs had been broken and what appeared to be a stab wound was found in her breast. Also found was the small bag of Laura's clothing. There was no doubt, it was Laura.


Laura's body was taken to the nearest town, funeral arrangements were made and she was buried on a high hill known ever since as "Laura Foster Hill".

The investigation began. One of the men, Bob Grayson, said he had found a handkerchief in the grave that belonged to Ann Melton. The authorities compiled information that led them to arrest Ann Melton and Tom Dooley, which finally resulted in the hanging of Tom Dooley. Several members of the search party fled the country. Anyone who was ever associated with Laura, was under suspicion. Not to be denied, Bob Grayson continued the search for the murderer of Laura, the girl he had hopes of marrying.

Then weeks after Laura's body had been found, a bunch of riders rode into town. Grayson was in the lead. Next came Tom Dooley with his hands shackled behind his back. Next was Jack Keaton with his hands tied. Following with guns at the ready were Ben Ferguson and Jack Adkins.

A crowd had gathered. Grayson told them that Tom Dooley had murdered Laura and Keaton and Ann Foster had helped him. That he had faked extradition papers and arrested them illegally. Tom Dooley, nonchalant as ever, asked that he be un-shackeled and proceeded to play a little tune on his banjo. The two prisoners were taken to Wilksboro and incarcerated by A. T. Ferguson. Jack Keaton furnished a plausible alibi and was later released. Ann Foster was quickly arrested. She and Tom were bound over for trial.

The local attorney, named Vance, agreed to defend Tom. Vance was able to negotiate a change of venue because the local people were up in arms against Tom. The trial began in Statesville, a distance of about thirty miles from Wilksboro with Judge Ralph Burton presiding. Evidence was produced that Tom Dooley and Ann Foster were having an affair. Feelings was running high even in Statesville. Then a witness, Betsy Scott was brought into court by Bob Grayson. She swore that she had talked to Laura Foster the day before she disappeared and Laura told her she was going to meet Tom Dooley. Try as he may, Vance could not get her to change her testimony. From the very beginning Tom insisted that he was not guilty, but he would say nothing against or about his relationship with others. The attorney tried in every way possible to draw him out, but Tom remained mute throughout the trial.

It was on the first day of May, 1866, that Tom Dooley rode through the streets of Statesville in a wagon. He sat on the top of his coffin on that bright and shiny day with his banjo on his knee, joking with the throng of people walking along. He picked his favorite ballad on the old banjo, laughing as the wagon neared the gallows. When the rope was placed around his neck, he joked with Sheriff W. E. Watson, "I would have washed my neck if I had known you were using such a nice clean new rope".

Asked in seriousness if he had any last words to say, Tom held his right hand and replied, "gentlemen, do you see this hand? Do you see it tremble? Do you see it shake? I never hurt a hair on the girl's head". The trap door was dropped.


Tom was buried in a cemetery in Happy Valley by the side of the old North Wilkesboro Road near Elksville, North Carolina. Near where Big Elkin Creek meets the Yadkin River a few miles northeast of Roaring River where the Parks brothers, John and Thomas settled.

Vance also defended Ann Melton. She was finally found not guilty, but the stigma followed her everywhere she went. She seemed not to care and continued to flirt and exploit others. Until the final requiem a few years later when she was killed by a wagon overturning. Some people believed she was a witch or the devil lived within her.

Gillam Bannon Grayson, Col. Grayson nephew from Laurel Bloomery, along with Henry Whittier went to Memphis to record the Ballad of Tom Dooley for Victor Records on October 1, 1929. It became popular in the late 1950s when the Kingston Trio re-released the song.This ballad tells the story.

Dula's last name was pronounced "Dooley," leading to some confusion in spelling over the years. (The pronunciation of a final "a" like "y" is an old feature in Appalachian speech, as in the term "Grand Ole Opry").

The doleful ballad was probably first sung shortly after the execution and is still commonly sung in North Carolina.


In the documentary Appalachian Journey (1991), Alan Lomax describes Frank Proffitt as the "original source" for the song. It is unclear exactly what Lomax means by this but, since it seems that the song predates Frank Proffitt's early version, it is likely that Lomax means that Proffitt's version is the one that has become most well known to us because the Kingston Trio derived their interpretation from Proffitt's. Certainly, there is an earlier known recording by Grayson and Whitter made in 1929, approximately ten years before Proffitt cut his own recording of the song.

GB Grayson and Henry Whitter sang together for only three years during the late '20s and early '30s, but they had a tremendous effect on country music; even contemporary performers continue to cover their songs, which include "Handsome Molly" (recorded by Dylan), "Cluck Old Hen," "Tom Dooley," "Rose Conley" and "Lee Highway Blues (Going Down the Lee Highway)."

Fiddler/singer Gilliam Banmon Grayson was born in Ashe Country, NC. As a young man, he made his living as a minstrel, traveling through mountain towns playing at fairs and dances. He eventually settled near the Tennessee-Virginia border, where he played with such noted musicians as Clarence Tom Ashley and Doc Walsh. An excellent fiddler, Grayson was also an exceptional singer, and after teaming up with Whitter frequently sang lead vocals on their recordings.

Guitarist/singer Henry Whitter was born in Fries, Virginia; while not an exceptional musician or singer, he was devoted to promoting old-time music and was able to arrange many recording sessions. Whitter and Grayson met at a fiddlers' convention in Mountain City, Tennessee in 1927. They teamed up, and by autumn of that year, Whitter had gotten them two record deals. They recorded eight songs for the Gennet label and six for Victor, among them the classic "Handsome Molly," which sold over 50,000 copies. In total, the two recorded 40 songs in three years. Grayson was killed in an auto accident in August, 1930 while hitchhiking; Whitter was devastated, but continued performing and occasionally recording until his 1941 death from diabetes.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: bobad
Date: 09 Nov 08 - 06:50 PM

Link to the piece posted above: http://joski56.blogspot.com/search?q=tom+dooley


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,Sally Kay in NC
Date: 10 Nov 08 - 01:56 AM

In doing some research re: the geneaology of Tom Dula's family, indications are that his ancestors came from Ireland, with the family name being O'Dooley. In America, as was often done, the "O'" was dropped, becoming Dooley. At some point one of the generations changed the name to Dula. So, the folk song might have the most accurate version of the family name after all....


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,Sally Kay in NC
Date: 10 Nov 08 - 02:05 AM

As for who killed Laura Foster -- I tend to believe Doc Watson's version, that Ann Melton on her deathbed confessed to Doc's great grandmother that she killed Laura and Tom helped her by burying the body. Maybe, maybe not ... will we ever really know?


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 Nov 08 - 04:19 AM

that's terrific bobad - many thanks!


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: goatfell
Date: 10 Nov 08 - 04:41 AM

Aye the right blame the woman, it takes two to tango


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Nov 08 - 11:37 AM

With the advent of DNA evidence, we can now begin to unearth all the long dead souls whose departure left unanswered questions. First, it was Jesse James, now Tom Dula - tomorrow, the WORLD!!

For many years, and especially on the frontier or in backwoods areas, jurys were made up (when they were actually empaneled)of available citizens, sometimes within the confines of the same tavern. They were frequently uneducated and often influenced by social standing of the accused or victim, or by race or ethnicity. Rules of evidence were usually murky and often lacking altogether. Heresay, rumor and "reputation" of the accused or victim often prevailed in coming to a verdict. Wait a minute; that sounds like a trial I was following last week...


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Nov 08 - 12:17 AM

I think you just described the O.J. Simpson trial.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Oct 10 - 07:49 AM

It seems much more evident, having read the archives in Raleigh regarding this tragic event, that Ann was the murderer and Tom was willing to go to the gallows to save her life. Or, they were both complicit, but Tom just would not confess to the fact. Just before his hanging in Statesville, he stated "As God is my witness, I never laid a hand on Laura" (or words to that effect). It is interesting to note, though Ann slipped the gallows, one year later died in a carriage accident....very interesting story.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Neil D
Date: 30 Oct 10 - 12:53 PM

A couple years ago I saw a Youtube piece from a documentary, BBC I believe, about Doc Watson that showed an older woman at Doc's house telling the story of Doc's grandmother being at Ann Melton's deathbed. I just spent the last hour searching for it to post here, but it seems to have disappeared. I know that a lot if stuff has been removed from Youtube recently because of companies evoking copywrite laws.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: RWilhelm
Date: 30 Oct 10 - 05:37 PM

On my blog, Murder by Gaslight, I have posted the story of the murder of Laura Foster by Tom Dula:

Hang Down Your Head Tom Dula

I have also posted the stories behind a numbeer of other American murder ballads. As you would expect, the stories never quite match the songs.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Janie
Date: 30 Oct 10 - 07:30 PM

Good job, RW. And very interesting website.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 30 Oct 10 - 08:06 PM

Here's an updated link to the NPR story from July 2000, that inspired the start of this thread.

Some of my husband's ancestors came to Idaho from Lenoir, North Carolina. He says they often said "Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster!"

:-)

Nice site, RWilhelm.

~ Becky in Long Beach


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,Dula Cousin
Date: 10 Nov 10 - 11:35 AM

I am Tom Dula's 1st Cousin 5 times removed. There are several things wrong with the post.
1) Laura and Ann are cousins, not sisters
2) "Sheriff" Grayson, wasn't sheriff, he was an Army Colonel--who now owned a farm since the confederacy had been put down.
3) Ann Foster Melton killed Laura Foster--she confessed on her death bed, but it was TOO late for Tom so it's been hush, hush...except in local circles!
I am glad that Tom's story is still being told and still intrigues people! You are more than welcome to email me for more information at
picsbyra1@att.net


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,Dula Cousin
Date: 10 Nov 10 - 11:37 AM

Sally: actually "Dula" is the right spelling of the name, the confederate army changed it by accident due to the mountain speak of our ancestors. :)


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Dec 10 - 07:03 AM

heres a new verse.
some say you didnt kill her,an innocent man was tried.you made a false confession, to save a poor girls life.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Dec 10 - 08:27 AM

no that wont do,no false confession


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Dec 10 - 08:47 AM

some say you didnt kill her an innocent man was tried,you covered for another, poor boy your bound to die.


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Dec 10 - 09:19 AM

or2nd part, some say it was ann melton you paid for it with your life


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Subject: RE: Tom Dooley didn't kill Laura Foster?!?
From: GUEST,Ang
Date: 16 Nov 11 - 09:47 PM

This story fascinates me; first heard the song as a child. I don't have a clue who killed Laura. Given that all the players are long dead, no one can really know. But the story makes for some damned good reading.

I live in coastal Carolina; travelled to Boone a few weekends ago to see the mountain fall foliage. A small hop from Happy Valley. I could kick myself for passing it by!


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