Violent dealth is amazingly apt to remind us of vigorous life;
these ten stories of classic North Carolina murders which occurred
between 1808 and 1914 represent a much neglected part of the
exciting history of the state. Victims include a Confederate
general, a lovely orphan girl, a pathetic little boy, and a highly
offensive political boss. The motives are the usual ones -- gain,
revenge, "elimination," and jealousy.
The plaintive history and untimely death of Naomi Wise -- "poor
'Omi" they called her in Randolph County over five generations ago
-- strikingly counterparts Dreiser's An American Tragedy
Ida Bell Warren, the veritable Lady Macbeth of Forsyth County; the
arsenic poisoner of old Fayetteville; the kidnapping of Kenneth
Beasley near the site of the Lost Colony; the almost perfect crime,
the murder of the hated Reconstruction Senator "Chicken" Stephens
of Caswell County, which in spite of the efforts of Claude G.
Bowers and others went unsolved for years; the mad jealousy of
Frankie Silver of Burke County which ended with bitter justice at
the end of the law's noosed rope, the first woman hanged in the
state -- these and other lively stories of famous North Carolina
murders make fascinating reading.
The stories, told with authority and inviting informality, employ
material from newspapers, court records, letters, family
collections, and numerous works of local history. They evoke a
feeling for a past time and place as well as for the untidy events