1868 — Tom Dula is hanged for murder

Tom Dula was a former Confederate soldier who was executed for the murder of one Laura Foster. However, there are a number of irregularities in the prosecution’s case, notably that although Laura was murdered in Wilkes County, North Carolina, Dula was tried, convicted, and hung in Statesville.

The evidence against Dula was almost entirely circumstantial: while he had threatened to kill whoever had infected him with the pox, it is not clear that he blamed Foster for this; and while he was found hiding out under an assumed name by the lynch mob, he clearly had reason to fear such a mob. Many of the details of the life of Tom Dula, nowadays better remembered as Tom Dooley from the folk songs about him, remain obscure – in no small part due to the inaccuracies of the folk songs.

Referenced in:
Tom Dooley — Neil Young

1866 – Laura Foster is murdered

Tom Dula was a North Carolina boy who had a great disregard for two things: the seventh commandment (you know, the one about adultery) and consequences. He had a long term affair with a woman named Ann Foster, and later, with her cousins, Laura and Pauline.

However, after Laura got pregnant by Dula, and – as he believed – infected him with syphilis (it appears that it may have actually been Pauline he caught that from), Tom decided to end his relationship with Laura. It remains unclear who actually killed Laura – it may have been Tom, Ann or Pauline – but it was Tom who was convicted and sent to the gallows for the crime.

Referenced in:

Tom Dooley — The Kingston Trio