Folk figure. An Appalachian Mountain girl, Frankie died on the gallows for the grisly murder of her young husband, Charlie Silver, in what may have been a miscarriage of justice. Although neither the first woman to be hanged in North Carolina, nor the inspiration for the song "Frankie and Johnny", her story has been retold in various media, including a Swiss-produced ballet. Born Frances Stewart, the blonde 90-pound teenager was described as pretty by eyewitnesses, and her marriage at 14 to her neighbors' only son began as a love match. A year later she and the 18-year-old mountaineer had a baby daughter, Nancy. Charlie began to abuse alcohol, however, and was seen abusing Frankie as well. Shortly before Christmas 1831 she reported him missing, but a subsequent search of the couple's cabin revealed parts of his dismembered body. Frankie was arrested with her mother and brother, but only she was tried for murder and convicted. She later confessed that Charlie had come home drunk, and that she'd hit him with an ax after he threatened to shoot her and their crying baby. She then enlisted her relatives' aid in disposing of his body. Despite popular support for her acquittal, the State Supreme Court upheld the conviction, and the newly-elected governor dallied over pardoning her. She went to her death wearing a white dress--a gift from the wealthy ladies of Morganton. Frankie's father had intended to bury her on the Stewarts' land, but the July heat foiled his transport of her unembalmed body beyond its present location. Her surname is misspelled as "Silvers" on the granite marker which was placed on her grave in 1952 by the editor of the Morganton News-Herald.
Bio by: Nikita Barlow
FRANKIE SILVERS (Surname Misspelled)
ONLY WOMAN EVER HANGED IN BURKE COUNTY
HANGING MORGANTON JULY 12, 1833