By Savannah R. Watts
It has been 150 years since Tom Dooley was hanged for the murder of Laura Foster. For the 17th year, Bleu Moon Productions is sharing the story of the crime as an outdoor drama.
Although they were common punishments then, today we view hangings as harsh punishments. And they were. It’s still widely debated whether Tom was guilty or innocent, but Bleu Moon invites you to experience the story and decide for yourself whether another suspicious character was truly to blame.
What started as a lover’s triangle quickly turned tragic with a crime of passion and an unsolved mystery.
Laura Foster was one of Tom Dula’s love interests. When she is found murdered, accusations begin to shoot back and forth immediately. Foremost among the accused people are Tom, Anne Melton, and Perline Foster. Amid the rumors and accusations, Tom flees and heads for Tennessee.
While Tom is on the run, Anne and Perline are arrested after a physical altercation where they each accuse the other of being responsible for the murder. When Perline provides states evidence, she is released from jail and a posse forms to bring Tom back for trial.
Colonel James Grayson helps capture Tom in Tennessee and bring him back to Wilkes County to stand trial. In the end, Tom is found guilty and is hanged for the crime.
Bleu Moon’s production of Tom Dooley: A Wilkes County Legend gives the audience the facts of the crime and trial and allows them to decide whether he was guilty or not. To this day, many believe the killer was really Tom’s married lover, Anne Melton.
We may never know who the killer was. Perhaps Tom Dooley was wrongly accused and hanged. Or maybe it really was a love triangle gone sorely wrong. You’ve probably heard the story or seen the production in the past. Who do you think killed Laura Foster?
Today, the mystery is one of the nation’s first highly publicized crimes of passion, passed along even faster with the internationally known ballad.
Though the ballad has many versions, one of most popular is The Kingston Trio’s ballad: “Hang down your head, Tom Dooley/ Hang down your head and cry/Hang down your head, Tom Dooley/Poor boy, you’re bound to die”.
Seating at Forest Edge Amphitheater is first come, first serve, so come early to get the spot you want. The closer you sit to the stage, the better you’ll be able to hear about the trials Tom Dooley faced before his hanging.
July 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28
Tickets can be purchased online or at the Fort Hamby gate beginning at 6:30p.m. for $15 per person. Shows begin at 8p.m. nightly.
North Carolina residents can purchase tickets at a discounted rate on their designated County Night.” Simply show your Driver’s License at the gate! Tickets are regularly $15, but you get $5 off on County Night.
- Thursday Nights: Alleghany, Ashe, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes and Yadkin
- Friday Nights: Alexander, Avery, Caldwell, Catawba, Davie and Iredell
- Saturday Nights: All other NC counties