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DOOLEY LEGEND LIVES AS GROUP SEEKS PARDON
note: The legend of
Tom Dooley continues to live in the
(Editors note: The legend of Tom Dooley continues to live in the
The story of Tom Dooley might well have faded into the pages of history and been forgotten had it not been for the ballad that became a major hit for the Kingston Trio on Capitol Records. The ballad had been recorded earlier in the 1950s.
people are familiar with the song which starts with
Hang down your head Tom Dooley, hang down your head
and cry. Many
may have thought it was just a song, but it actually
happened in northwestern
the morning of
The third part of the so-called love triangle was Ann Foster Melton, a cousin of Laura Foster. Ann and Tom were also intimate lovers and Ann was fiercely jealous of Laura as she had let it be known on several occasions. On the day before Laura left home, Tom had gone to Anns parents to borrow a mattock. Later that day, Ann got a quart of bootleg whiskey. That afternoon, she and Tom left and were gone all that night. Ann was seen later the next morning wearing wet clothing as if she had been outside overnight.
Later that day, Lauras father, Wilson Foster, came to the Meltons home looking for her. The next day, the horse that Laura had ridden showed up at home, part of a chewed tether line still attached to it, indicating that the horse had been tied up so long that it had chewed the line in order to free itself.
went by with no clue as to the whereabouts of Laura
began to brew that Tom Dula had something to do with her
disappearance, so much so, that he decided to flee to
June, although no body had been found, Pickens Carter, a
Justice of the Peace in Elkville, issued an arrest
warrant for Tom Dula. Two
August, Ann Foster Melton approached her Cousin Pauline
Foster weeping and concerned that Tom might be hanged. Ann told Pauline
I want to show you Lauras grave. They have
just about quit looking for her. She spoke about
digging up the body and reburying it in the garden or
cutting it into pieces and disposing of them. They then went from
her home past a relatives house, then down a hill,
Near the end of August, after having made many remarks in public about knowing where Laura Foster was buried, Pauline was picked up for questioning. She told authorities of the visit to the woods with her cousin Ann, and agreed to take them to the area.
Horse Led Searchers to Grave
On September 1, searchers spread out and began combing the woods in the area Pauline Foster led them to. After the search had been in progress for some time, one of the searchers horses shied away from a certain spot. After probing in what appeared to be a mound of soft earth, the body of a woman that appeared to be Laura Foster was found in the grave a little over two feet deep. A bundle of extra clothing was lying on the body. Further examination was conducted by Dr. George Carter at the site. Dr. Carter found that there was a cut place in the dead womans dress over her left breast. Further examination revealed a deep stab wound between the third and fourth ribs. Dr. Carter identified the woman as Laura Foster.
was defended in court by former North Carolina Governor
Zebulon D. Vance. Vance
was successful in getting the trial moved to
Ann Foster Melton was tried in a later term of court as an accomplice in the murder of Laura Foster, and was acquitted, even though she had been held in jail for two years. Apparently, Ann Melton took any knowledge of Laura Fosters murder with her to her own grave. Stories persist that she confessed on her deathbed and spoke of seeing black cats climbing the walls, and hearing the flesh of condemned souls frying in hell. She died in the mid 1870s.
Foster is buried near Highway 268 close to