“The Murder of Laura Foster”


Laura Foster's fiance and his new sweetheart kill her and bury her. Her parents find the body, and it is agreed that she has been murdered. In the Brown texts, at least, the fate of the murderer is not mentioned


Laws does not name an author for this ballad, but the attribution to Thomas Land (a Confederate veteran) seems to have been well known to Brown's informants, and the poetry has the stilted feel of a composition which, at the time of collection, was still close to its composed origins.

For background to this song, see the notes to "Tom Dooley." - RBW

John Craig, the source for [Sheila] Clark's version, learned it from his great-grandmother, Zora Church Lee. He describes the ballad as having been "taken from a popular local account" written by Land. So it sounds like Land wrote the story in prose, which was then made into poetry by an unknown author. Clark's song retains the stilted feel Bob mentions. - PJS

Historical references

  • 1866 - Murder of Laura Foster by Thomas C. Dula (and his new sweetheart Ann Melton). Dula apparently killed Foster because he had contracted a venereal disease from her
  • May 1, 1868 - Dula is hanged for the murder.

Cross references


  • Sheila Clark, "The Ballad of Laura Foster" (on LegendTomDula)


  1. Laws F36, "The Murder of Laura Foster"
  2. BrownII 302, "The Murder of Laura Foster" (1 text plus mention of 3 more)
  3. Roud #1935
  4. BI, LF36


Author: Thomas Land?
Earliest date: 1947 (Brown)
Keywords: homicide corpse family
Found in: US(SE)