Friday, December 14, 2012

Frankie Silvers Pouch by Ken Scott for Bobby Denton

Bobby talked to me at the CLA meeting in Lexington about making him a pouch that would depicted the hanging of Frankie Silvers, a young woman who was hanged for the murder of her husband Charlie in Morganton, North Carolina, on July 12, 1833. Bobby, being from Morganton has grown up with the legend about the murder and Frankie Silvers, the first woman hanged in the state. After several phone conversations and letters, this is the pouch that I made for Bobby.

The pouch is made from a nice tanned piece of leather. The designs on the front of the pouch are both appliques and cutout inserts. Frankie, the angel, the bird and the leaves are cut outs. Frankie's hair is an applique made from leather. The tree and the axe are also appliqued designs. The name Frankie Silvers has been "poker etched" into the flap. Also on the flap are two leather and fabric rosettes.The noose has been made from waxed linen. The welts have been cut into a short fringe. The pouch size is approximately 8" x 12". Bobby wanted the bottom of the pouch formed so that the lead balls, rather than being kept in a small bag,  would remain in the lowest spot of the pouch for easy access.

The Frankie Silvers story has been told in countless newspaper and magazine articles, plays and documentaries and even in a ballad or two. It continues to hold the imagination of many today as it has for almost two hundred years.

Here’s how the story goes....Frankie, suspecting Charlie of infidelity with another man’s wife, killed Charlie in a fit of jealous rage three days before Christmas 1831. She decided to exact her revenge as he lay sleeping on the floor of their cabin. Frankie got an axe and then struck Charlie's in the head. The first strike, however, did not immediately kill him and he thrashed around the house mortally wounded. Frankie hid under their bed, eventually coming out when she heard his body fall to the floor. She took another swing with the axe severing Charlie’s head. With the help of some of her family, Frankie attempted to conceal the evidence of the murder by chopping the body into pieces and burning them in the cabin's fireplace. The story was that Charlie had gone hunting and had not returned.

A search of the frozen river and surrounding countryside did not locate Charlie. A thorough investigation of the home and fireplace area by a neighbor revealed bits and pieces of charred bone and an uncommon amount of grease. A further search dried blood under the wooden floor. 

Frankie was charged with the murder, arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to die by hanging. After a failed appeal to the North Carolina Supreme Court, she broke out of jail with the help of her family. After a few days on the run, she was caught and returned to prison. Her execution was set for July 12, 1833.

When the day arrived, she was led to the scaffold. The sheriff asked if she had anything she wanted to say. Before she could answer, her father yelled, "Die with it in ye, Frankie!" The noose was then placed around her neck, and Frankie Silvers became the first woman to be hanged in North Carolina. This pouch depicts the event.

Copy and photos supplied by Ken Scott.

1 comment:

  1. I find this pleasing...and in the Scotch Irish tradition of dead lover ballads.