A Tree Accurst: Bobby McMillon and Stories of Frankie Silver by Daniel W. Patterson

By Daniel W. Patterson

On a wintry evening in 1831, a guy named Charlie Silver used to be murdered with an awl and his physique burned in a cabin within the mountains of North Carolina. His younger spouse, Frankie Silver, was once attempted and hanged for the crime. In later years humans claimed tree transforming into close to the ruins of the previous cabin was once cursed--that a person who climbed into it might be not able to get out. Daniel Patterson makes use of this "accurst" tree as a metaphor for the grip the tale of the homicide has had at the imaginations of the area people, the broader global, and the famous Appalachian conventional singer and storyteller Bobby McMillon.

For approximately a hundred and seventy years, the reminiscence of Frankie Silver has been saved alive by means of a ballad and native legends and by means of the scoop debts, fiction, performs, and different works they encouraged. Weaving Bobby McMillon's own story--how and why he grew to become a taleteller and what this tale skill to him--into an research of the Silver homicide, Patterson explores the genesis and makes use of of folklore and the interaction among folklore, social and private historical past, legislation, and narrative as humans and groups try and comprehend human personality and fate.

Bobby McMillon is a furnishings and health facility employee in Lenoir, North Carolina, with deep roots in Appalachia and a lifelong ardour for studying and acting conventional songs and stories. He has obtained a North Carolina people history Award from the state's Arts Council and in addition the North Carolina Folklore Society's Brown-Hudson Folklore Award.

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Additional info for A Tree Accurst: Bobby McMillon and Stories of Frankie Silver

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Mae learned other songs in her early teens from people in whose homes she worked as a hired girl. ’’ Bobby says she always continued to love all the music ‘‘in the world that she heard, . . whether it was at church or on the radio. And she would sing ‘The Window Up Above’ by George Jones, you know, right in the midst of a bunch of ballads. ’’ 27 Bobby himself was most attracted to her older songs and their ‘‘minor’’-sounding tunes. In childhood he had disliked these old modal melodies when they were used in Primitive Baptist congregational singing, but after Maw Maw sang him ‘‘Pretty Fair Maid in the Garden,’’ he came to appreciate their beauty.

To Heaven or Hell my soul must fly All in one moment when I die.   For on a dark and dreary night I put his body out of sight. To see his soul and body part, It strikes with terror to my heart.  The jealous thought that first gave strife To make me take my husband’s life. For days and months I spent my time Thinking how to commit this crime.  And on a dark and doleful night I put his body out of sight. With flames I tried to him consume, But time would not admit it done.  His chattering tongue fell gently down.

I realized fairly quick,’’ he says, ‘‘that they were singing some songs that people out in the community knew, that weren’t always to be found in song books. And so I began to learn just Bobby McMillon and Oral Tradition  a little bit about the different versions of things, and that really whetted my appetite. . And then I began to get my family members to sing the songs that they had heard in the days . . ’’ 20 By the time Bobby was a sophomore in high school, his interest in the old music was becoming a passion.

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