The main characters and all the rest

Before going forth with the story of the Tom Dooley case, I would like to introduce the main characteres, and some of all the other people, that were involved in the case.  This article should probably have been divided in several shorter articles, and maybe it will someday, but for now it is just one long thing :-)

In the 1860's Elkville (present days Ferguson, North Carolina) was a small, rather inbred society. The settlement of Elkville was situated in the northwestern part of Wilkes County, around 14 miles west of the county seat, Wilkesboro, and close to the borders of Caldwell County to the west, and Watauga County to the north. Today North Carolina Route 268 passes the town of Ferguson. The valley around Yadkin River from Patterson to Wilkesboro was at the time of the murder known as Happy Valley.

At the time of the murder newspaper articles told that Happy Valley was inhabited by two distinct classes, that seldom intermingled. On large farms or plantations in the valley along the river, lived an upper class of wealthy farmers, plantation owners and their families. In  the hills around the valley lived another class of "poor white trash" as Robert Isbell mentions in a 1955 article. Even if there were good people among the hill people, and some owned their own land, most were tennants of the rich plantation owners. Mr. Isbell believed that the Dulas, Scotts and Fosters of the valley, was not related to the Dulas, Scotts and Fosters of the hills, and even John Foster West in his first book about the case, "The Ballad of Tom Dooley" from 1970 agreed that they were not related to each other. In his second book "Lift up your head Tom Dooley" from 1993, he had changed his mind though. A look into the census records of the periods shows, that the latter opinion was right. The people living in the hills were indeed related to the people living in the valley, and although people from each group normally married within the group, relations between the groups was not that rare.

Almost every person in the cast of the case, was related to each other, either through blood or through marriage. Much more about this later.

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