Poor Old Tom Dooley (Dula)



Poor Ole Tom Dooley (Dula)
Maryann Barry
“Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley,” is a North Carolina folk song performed throughout the Appalachian Mountains for years. The song was based on the murder of Laura Foster by Tom Dula in 1866. The Kingston Trio made it popular in 1958. It became #1 on R&B charts and made the Top 20 in Country.
Tom Dula was born in Yadkin Valley North Carolina 1845. He began living with a cobbler James Melton and wife Anne(Foster). The older James lost interest in his young bride Anne and allowed Anne to sleep with Tom. Later Pauline Foster cousin of Anne became a servant in the household and with Anne’s consent also sleep with Tom.
During Civil War Tom volunteered with his two siblings to serve with the 42nd regiment of the North Carolina Infantry. He was a drummer in the war and sang, played banjo and fiddle. The last part of the war he was held captive in Point Lookout Prison Camp in Maryland.
Tom managed to survive the war that took the lives of his two brothers. He returned home and resumed his life with Anne and Pauline in the Melton household.
Later Tom had an affair with Laura Foster, another cousin who followed Pauline into the area. Tom continued to sleep with Anne and Pauline during his affair with Laura. Of the three girls, Tom displayed the most affection for Anne.
Upon finding out Laura became pregnant with Tom’s child, the couple planned to elope. He shared the information with Anne and Pauline.
Before the elopement Laura Foster disappeared. Some thought Laura disappeared to hide the pregnancy and Tom would meet her later.
May 25, 1866 Laura’s father found Laura and her horse missing. Days later the horse returned without Laura. After a few weeks search of the area, searchers found a rope, used to tie Laura’s horse to a tree, near blood-soaked ground. The find located close to where Tom Dula lived prejudiced suspicion toward him. Tom left for Tennessee.
Upon a return visit to Tennessee, someone causally asked Pauline if she fled to Tennessee because she killed Laura. In jest Pauline told of how she and Tom killed Laura. After Pauline’s arrest, she broke under questioning and confessed that Anne and Tom killed Laura. Pauline led the police to Laura’s grave. The police exhumed the body. They made identification by the clothes due to the decomposed body. The police discovered a vicious stab wound where the weapon entered the heart under Laura’s left breast. This led to Anne’s arrest.
When Tom fled to Tennessee he worked for Lt Col James Grayson in return for a new pair of boots. The morning Tom received his new boots he left. Soon a posse showed up at Grayson’s farm looking for Tom. From the description Grayson realized it was Tom Hall who’d left that morning. He helped lead the posse to locate Tom camped beside a creek bed. The men from North Carolina wanted to hang Tom on the spot. Grayson stopped them, got Tom to surrender, and escorted him back to Wilkes County for a fair trial. However Grayson had no proper extradition papers, Tom never received an indictment or bail set for release. He remained in jail until his trial.
The courts tried Tom and Anne separately. Anne Melton received an acquittal. They convicted Tom of murder and hung him May 1, 1868 at Statesville North Carolina. Some report Tom’s last words as he raised a hand, “Gentlemen do you see this hand? I didn’t harm a hair on the girl’s head.”
Several stories trickled down through generations of relatives from that time:

First version – Tom who contacted syphilis, killed Laura for passing it to him whom he in turn passed on to Anne and Pauline. Also since he had the most affection for Anne they planned to get rid of Laura and the child. Due to the time difference in visual appearance or symptoms of syphilis, Tom didn’t know until later that Pauline came to the valley for treatment of syphilis.

Second version – Anne who knew of the planned elopement, killed Laura out of jealous love assisted by Pauline. James Melton, Anne and Pauline lied about each other’s whereabouts to lay blame on Tom.

Third version – Innocent Tom out of his love for Anne stated she had nothing to do with the murder of Laura Foster. He knew how crazy jealous Anne was of Laura and she probably killed her in a blind rage. After finding out what his lover did, Tom helped dispose of the body with hopes it’s never discovered. They were all young and things got out of hand.

The Ghost Story handed down about Anne (Foster) Melton – Over the years guilt ridden Anne became insane; on her death bed confessed she knew something that could have saved Tom’s life. As she lay dying large cats gathered in the trees outside her house and the air smelled of burning flesh. The cats were demons coming to take her soul to hell.

A Folk legend about Tom Dula – Tom wrote a song about him and sang it while strumming on his banjo, seated on his coffin placed on top of the wagon that carried him to the gallows. Tom joked and visited with his sister as she walked by the wagon. Tom told the sheriff, “You have such a clean rope; I ought to have washed my neck.”

In 2001 a group of people in the county passed a petition for the acquittal or pardon of Tom Dual to the governor of North Carolina grounds being:
• The judge instructed to exclude certain testimonies
• Conflicting testimonies
• Pauline’s non-creditable testimony
• Circumstantial evidence in general not sufficient to convict Tom
• Transported over state line without proper extradition papers
• No indictment or bail set
The governor denied the pardon as needed the same court to handle proceedings.
In 2009 a posthumous pardon was brought up again but the governor went out of office before any ruling.
In light of various standards today – Poor ole Tom was a victim of crazy love and unhealthy relationships – also a miscarriage of justice.

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Critters In Forest Await

Critters in Forest Await

Maryann Barry

Downy snow blankets forest beside meadow

Snowy ice glistens in moonlight

Until wintry wispy winds stop

Birds huddle in trees

Deer lay cured semi circle

Rabbits snuggle in nest

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Squirrels and Hedge Apples

Squirrels Eat Hedge Apples of the Osage Orange Tree. (Maclura pomifera)


I saw a squirrel chewing on a hedge apple. It seemed to work around the apple as it ripped large pieces of stringy fruit off the apple. I thought it was after a large seed in the middle like a peach. After investigation I discovered the squirrel was in pursuit of the pithy core of the apple which contains at least 200 seeds. There is a slimy husk around each individual seed that has to be removed before the seeds are edible. The seed is smaller than a sunflower seed. Cleaning the fruit is a messy job, as there is also a sticky white juice that seeps from the apple. The deer eat the outside of the apple left by the squirrel.

Maryann Barry


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The Spirit of Old Barn

023Spirit of the Ole Barn

I top hill along a dirt path, spy ole barn.Weathered paint-striped boards for it’s skin, rust tin for hair. As I snapped some pictures it’s spirit told tales of past.

Blazing 90 degree Kansas day, farmer’s dressed in blue bib overalls and white cotton shirts, loaded well over 100 bales of hay in the loft. Hissing bull snake trapped in bale of hay, young boys’ startled yells, old men laugh.

Crew stopped to rest and get a drink of cool refreshing water from spring behind  barn..

Some sat backs propped against sycamore tree – wiped inside bands of hats and foreheads with water soaked red and white bandannas.

Others pulled wads of Beech-nut chewing tobacco from red and white stripped pouch, spots of tobacco juice spattered on ground.

Frigid winter night, pigeons huddled on barn rafters – watch full moon peak through cracks of barn.

Two red roan draft horses Jack and Jake – munch oats from wood manger box.

They’d out lived their use – replaced by the iron beast tractor that sat in barn’s breezeway.

On the high ridge of barn roof. hoot owl rests from night’s hunt, calls to it’s mate perched on a snarled limb of walnut tree by barn. Raccoon skitters down walnut tree trunk and slips through barn door.


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Irish Slaves Untold Story in American History


By Maryann Barry

I write the following article not to pull away from the atrocities suffered by the Native Americans, African Americans or Mexican Americans, but to shed light on the white slaves of America that I never knew existed.

The wealthy English tried for centuries to eliminate the Irish Race or perform ethnic cleansing but never succeeded. On top of the wrong doings, this history was eliminated in American history books at the time I attended school. In my opinion I think Oliver Cromwell was another Hitler but more of that for another post.

There were Irish slaves in America as far back at the 1640.  England used it as a way to rid the country of a lower class disturbing their lives. Irish were rounded up sent to America on slave market profitable to England. Many would like to say they were indentured servants but history states the facts.

In 1662-1665 judges of Edinburg Scotland ordered the enslavement and shipment of a large number of rogues and others that interrupted the lives of the upper class; in other words, to clear the streets of Edinburg of the poor starving hungry souls living in the streets. They didn’t want to deal with them so shipped them out. Irish were sold into slavery during Colonial America. Another reason there was money to be made in the slave trade. Laws were made (Enactment of 1652) if anyone found begging or vagrant could be arrested as political prisoners and moved to any port that shipped them to foreign colonies or plantations to be sold.

This same practice was a part of England’s history. King James II, and Charles I, and Oliver Cromwell were all a part of an effort to rid England of the Irish and also found a profitable slave trade. The English kidnapped people from Ireland and shipped them off to the colonies of the New World. Ireland soon fell prey to the English slave markets. The Irish human beings became a lucrative source of human livestock for English merchants. The bulk of early slaves to the New World were actually white.

In King James II Proclamation of 1625, required Irish political prisoners sold to English settlers in the West Indies of which 30,000 were shipped out. This was the beginning and soon spread to the New World.  An arrest could be made of minor violations or what the English took as a violation and a person became a political prisoner.

In 1642 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the upper class English, and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. During that single decade Ireland’s population dropped for 1,500,000 to 600,000. Because the men were separated from their families, this left women and children homeless and prey to be auctioned off as well. In 1650’s over 100,000 Irish Children ages 10 to 14 were sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In addition, 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia. In 1656, Cromwell ordered 20,000 Irish children sent to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English Settlers. (If lower class Englishmen happened to be in the wrong place or insulted the wrong person they suffered the same fate.)

The African slaves were expensive in late 1600’s and Irish Slaves came cheap. There was a difference of 50 sterling for blacks to 5 sterling for Irish. Therefore, if a planter whipped an Irish slave to death it was cheaper than an African slave. In one case a traveler on ship saw black slaves throwing cotton bales down to white slaves. When asked why was told if a white slave broke his back or got killed wasn’t  as much money loss as a black slave.

In the New World another way they gained profit was to breed an Irish female with an African slave “mulatto”– it cut down on expense of buying more slaves. The mulatto slaves sold for a better price than the Irish ones; considered tainted with the stain of hated Catholic theology. In 1681 legislation  was passed to stop the interbreeding; not for humane reasons, but it interfered with the profits of a large slave transport company.

England continued the shipment of tens of thousands Irish slaves for more than a century. After the 1798 Rebellion in Ireland thousands were sold to America and Australia. They suffered great atrocities of shackled in over crowed diseased ships, (many didn’t survive the voyage) beat or worked to death, raped or burned alive (tied to the ground feet set on fire and slowly died a dead from hell).  In one case an English ship threw 1,302 overboard to have enough food for the crew to survive. Women were subject to slave breeding. The Slave Trade act 1807 passed by British Parliament stopped the slave trade from England. (Note the U. S. Congress north and south including President Thomas Jefferson supported the act.); thus creating a limited supply of slaves. Women held captive in slave breeding houses, were chained to the floor and subjected to rape by other slaves (ordered by the slave owners) or the masters themselves.

One theory the white slave trade laid the groundwork for the organized process of African American Slave Trade.

Many would like it if this history vanished from the face of the earth but thanks to the many that preserve records and via the internet there is an enlightenment for all to experience. Hopefully in our day and age people will attempt to create peace for all races as in God’s eyes all are equal.  Bottom line human’s instinctual defects of greed, wealth, and power are the contributions that feed to this oppression of a human race.



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