The Search Begins…

Edith Ferguson Carter with Charlotte Corbin Barnes

 Edith Ferguson Carter with Charlotte Corbin Barnes

The Tom Dooley Files: My Search for the Truth Behind the Legend.

“Throughout history, there’ve been many songs written about the ‘eternal triangle.’  This next one tells the story of a Mr. Grayson, a beautiful woman, and a condemned man named Tom Dooley.  When the sun rises tomorrow, Tom Dooley must hang.”     – Intro to the 1958 chart-topping ballad Tom Dooley by The Kingston Trio. –

“As a child, little did I know the tremendous role The Kingston Trio’s hit Tom Dooley would play in my life.  It was a beautiful folk ballad with lilting harmonies.  When the song first came out, I was bedridden for six months with a neurological disorder.  The radio was my only entertainment.  Every time the ballad would come on, I’d cry uncontrollably, just knowing that they were about to hang an innocent man.  My mother would try to comfort me, telling me that Tom Dooley never existed, that he was the figment of someone’s imagination.”  

“In 1988, living just outside Charlotte, NC., I was looking for a television project to do and ran across an article in The Charlotte Observer about Edith Ferguson Carter opening a Tom Dooley Museum in Wilkes County, NC.  In seconds, I’d gone from believing Tom Dooley was pure fiction to the realization that, on Friday, May 1, 1868 at a little after 2:00PM, he’d been hanged for the murder of Laura Foster, his alleged sweetheart, a mere forty-five minutes from my home!  With Edith as my mentor and dear friend, my life became a search to discover the truth behind the legend of Tom Dooley.  We conducted a score of oral history interviews, read books, newspaper articles and trial transcripts looking for answers.  Now, after twenty-seven long years of research, my book The Tom Dooley Files reveals what we found.”                      

– Charlotte Corbin Barnes –



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