Laura Foster

Laura Foster

Birth
Death 28 May 1866 (aged 22–23)
Burial Caldwell County, North Carolina, USA
Plot Grave marker is protected from cows by a little white fence
Memorial ID 5915 · View Source
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Folk Figure. Born the daughter of Martha 'Patsy' Bowman and Wilson Foster in Wilkes County, North Carolina. She was described as small in stature and quite thin, with large front teeth separated by a gap which would later serve to identify her. A contemporary reference also described her as "a round heeled girl.” She was allegedly one of three cousins who were having concurrent affairs with Thomas Dula. She disappeared in the last week of May 1866. When her father found his daughter was gone with his only horse, he stated he wanted his horse back but did not care if his daughter returned. The following day the horse returned to the cabin alone. Search parties were sent out and eventually discovered a rope and a stain presumed to be blood. Rumors spread that she had been murdered. The testimony of her cousin Pauline (also known as Perline) eventually led to a shallow grave where the remains within were identified as Laura's. A postmortem exam concluded she had been stabbed to death. Pauline indicated the guilty parties were likely her cousin, Ann Melton, and their lover, Tom Dula. Dula professed his innocence. After the arrest of both suspects, two trials based upon circumstantial evidence, found Dula guilty of the murder, though popular opinion tended to condemned Ann Melton. He was executed by hanging, and the story became romanticized in a Thomas Land poem which was adapted and revised in 1958 by the Kingston Trio as the popular balled, “Tom Dooley.” The case has been argued for over 150 years, and publications discussing it include, “The Ballad of Tom Dula: The Documented Story Behind the Murder of Laura Foster and the Trials and Execution of Tom Dula” by John Foster West (2002) and “The True Story of Tom Dooley” by John Fletcher (2013).

Bio by: Iola


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 18 Jul 1999
  • Find a Grave Memorial 5915
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Laura Foster (1843–28 May 1866), Find a Grave Memorial no. 5915, citing Laura Foster Gravesite, Caldwell County, North Carolina, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .