Frankie Stewart Silver is thought to be the first women to ever be hanged in Burke County, North Carolina. Whether or not she was the first, Frankie was, indeed, hanged for killing her husband on July 12, 1833. Her exact birth date is unknown but estimated between 1810 and 1813.
Frankie was accused of killing her husband, Charles Silver, who at the time was only 19. On the night of December 22, 1831, it is speculated that the very young 18-year-old killed her husband and then hacked him up as a way to dispose of his body. The murder was committed in the one-room cabin that Frankie shared with her husband and their 13-month-old daughter, Nancy.
Charlie Silver’s remains were found in various locations over a period of time. Therefore, he has three graves in the cemetery located at the rear of Kona Baptist Church, which is located in Mitchell County, North Carolina.
After the his death Frankie was arrested as the prime suspect. She was brought to Burke County and tried for the crime. At the time the law did not allow persons on trial to take the stand in their own defense. The jury convicted her very quickly; she was sentenced to death.
After the trial and sentencing it was later found that Charlie was an abuser and on that night had loaded a gun to kill Frankie. After her testimony, the hatred that the townspeople had previously felt for her began to change to sympathy.
Her sympathizers felt that the judgment might have been overly harsh, and they did not want to see Frankie hanged. In fact, a petition was written and passed around to hundreds of residents of the surrounding areas of North Carolina. More that half of the all-male jury signed the petition.
Nevertheless, it was too late to change anything. Frankie Stewart Silver was hanged in Burke County, North Carolina, on July 12, 1833. Before execution, Frankie was given a chance for any last words. As she stood on the gallows preparing to say something, “…her father drowned her out by shouting ‘Die with it in you Frankie.'”
The North Carolina weather in midsummer was extremely hot. Frankie’s father was unable to take her body home. He buried her in an unmarked grave by the side of the road.
In Sharyn McCrumb’s book, The Ballad of Frankie Silver, published in 1999, the main character looks into the mysterious case of the notorious Frankie Silver. Self defense is a basic human right. Kill or be killed. To punish a very young, uneducated woman who acted in self-defense is asinine.
What might Frankie’s last words have been? Would it have changed anything? Would it maybe have made her death more sensible?