Sharyn McCrumb

The Ballad of Frankie Silver

The fifth book in the Ballad series, 1998

THERE WERE THREE FACETS TO THE STORY

OF FRANKIE SILVER. THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED

WITH THANKS TO MY GUIDES ON THOSE THREE ROADS:

Carolyn Sakowski for Morganton

Wayne Silver for Kona

Jay Brandon for 1830s criminal law

The rich never hang; only the poor and friendless.

– Perry Smith

executed in Kansas, 1965,

for the murder of the

Clutter family

The Ballad of Frankie Silver

This dreadful, dark and dismal day Has swept my glories all away; My sun goes down, my days are past, And I must leave this world at last. Oh! Lord, what will become of me? I am condemned, you all now see; To heaven or hell my soul must fly, All in a moment when I die. Judge Donnell my sentence has passed, These prison walls I leave at last; Nothing to cheer my drooping head Until I’m numbered with the dead. But Oh! That awful judge I fear, Shall I that awful sentence hear: “Depart, ye cursed, down to hell And forever there to dwell.” I know that frightful ghosts I’ll see, Gnawing their flesh in misery; And then and there attended be For murder in the first degree. Then shall I meet that mournful face, Whose blood I spilled upon this place; With flaming eyes to me he’ll say, “Why did you take my life away?” His feeble hands fell gently down, His chattering tongue soon lost its sound, To see his soul and body part It strikes with terror in my heart. I took his blooming days away, Left him no time to God to pray; And if sins fall upon his head, Must I not bear them in his stead? The jealous thought that first gave strife To make me take my husband’s life, For months and days I spent my time Thinking how to commit this crime. And on a dark and doleful night I put the body out of sight, With flames I tried to him consume, But time would not admit it done. You all see me and on me gaze, Be careful how you spend your days; And never commit this awful crime, But try to serve your God in time. My mind on solemn subjects rolls, My little child, God bless its soul; All you that are of Adam’s race, Let not my faults this child disgrace. Farewell, good people, you all now see What my bad conduct’s brought on me; To die of shame and disgrace Before the world of human race. Awful indeed to think of death, In perfect health to lose my breath; Farewell my friends, I bid adieu, Vengeance on me you must now pursue. Great God! How shall I be forgiven? Not fit for earth, not fit for Heaven; But little time to pray to God, For now I try that awful road.

A rumor was prevalent in Burke County that Silver wrote some verses

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