All posts tagged Tom Dooley

The Tom Dooley Mystery

Tom DooleyA lasting legend and a mystery yet to be solved.

Long ago news of a small town murder swept across the nation.  Laura Foster had been stabbed in the forest but by who and why?  It all began in Happy Valley where love transformed into lust and loathing,  lead to the Wilkes County Jail and ended at the noose.  Tom Dula (Tom Dooley), Laura Foster, Pauline Foster and Ann Foster Milton all became deeply entangled in a love affair.  Laura was found in a shallow grave and Tom hanged for the crime.  Some say that Tom confessed to save Ann Milton while others believe he was justly put to death.  The mystery lives on and the clues are yet to be untangled.  Each person who visits Wilkes and hears the tale comes to their own conclusion.  A tour of all things Tom Dooley is a thrilling adventure to be had, a mystery to be pondered and a memory to be made.

Places to see

The Wilkes Heritage MuseumTom Dooley

A tour of the Wilkes Heritage Museum will take you back to the days of horse draw carriages, gas lanterns and most importantly back to the time of Tom Dula!

You will get to tour the Robert Cleveland house and the jail where Tom was held after his run from the law.  This is the place where the many a question was asked and where each answer drew Dula closer to his fate.

Whippoorwill Academy and VillageTom Dooley

Whippoorwill Village is a collection of historic cabins including a schoolhouse, church, blacksmith shop, and more.  This is where visitors can take a step back in time to see what it was like to live in those days. A museum dedicated to the legend holds within it paintings of those involved and accounts of what past Dula detectives believe to have transpired.  The grave of Tom Dooley is very near and some have even claimed to have seen Tom himself haunting the hillside.

Tom Dooley: A Wilkes County LegendTom Dooley Outdoor Drama

This theatrical performance has attracted visitors to Wilkes for many a year.  Nestled in forest this hillside amphitheater is the perfect place for the Tom Dooley legend to unfold before your very eyes.  Watch as the stage comes to life with fire and horses.  Hear as fact and folklore unfold in this captivating drama.

Candlelight Ghost Tour

Tom DooleyThe Candlelight Ghost Tours have been attracting history buffs and ghost hunters from across the state and across the country.  Join a guide, dressed in attire from the past, and hear tales of ghost haunting the streets and buildings of downtown Wilkesboro.  This tour will take you past the old hanging tree and into the old jail where Tom sat in fear for his life.  You may even have a ghostly encounter of your own!

Where to eat

Wilkes is home to both “mom and pop”local eateries and national chain brand restaurants . Depending upon your dining goals, your choices are many and varied. From long established, family owned establishments like Don’s Seafood and Steaks and Hadley’s to branded restaurants like Olive Garden and Ruby Tuesdays, Wilkes is home to dining that is sure to meet every preference.

Where to stay

The Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn  are on my list of top two places to stay in Wilkes.  Both are easy to find and offer top notch service at reasonable rates.  The Hampton Inn is located just off of 268 and is the closest hotel to Whippoorwill. You will even see the hotel to your left as you drive to the village. The Holiday Inn, located just off of Hwy 421, is just down the road from Fort Hamby Park, where the Tom Dooley drama takes place.

Whippoorwill Academy and Village


Whippoorwill Whippoorwill has been a labor of love for owner Edith Carter, who saw the importance in historic buildings and began saving them long ago. Edith is also an artist and has repurposed an old smokehouse, built in the late 1700″s, for use as a gallery. Visitors will notice that much of the art displayed tells the story of local legend Tom Dula (Tom Dooley), a young man who hung for crimes he committed…or may have committed. This is the real mystery. There is also a cabin museum especially for Tom Dula. Those who tour the village will get to hear the legend of Tom Dula, visit the Daniel Boone Cabin, a blacksmith shop, a schoolhouse built in 1880, the lovely Chapel of Peace (a popular location for weddings) and many more structures. Most importantly, visitors will learn about life and the way things once were.

Whippoorwill When to go to Whippoorwill

The village is open to the public Saturday and Sunday, 3-5 pm and during the week by appointment. The Village is closed January through March. I would recommend making a special trip to visit on Daniel Boone Day (the second Saturday in May) or for the Christmas Open House in December.

Call (336) 973-3237 for an appointment.

How to get there

Whippoorwill is not hard to get to but can be easy to miss if you aren”t looking for the sign.

  • From 421 North (like you are coming from Winston-Salem) you will take exit 286 B towards 268
  • From the ramp turn left onto 268 and continue straight for about 12 miles
  • Whippoorwill will be on your left. Look for a gravel drive and small brown sign
  • From 421 South (like you are coming from Boone) you will take exit 286 towards 268…the sign will also say “WCC Gardens.”
  • From the ramp turn right onto 268 and continue straight for about 12 miles
  • Whippoorwill will be on your left. Look for a gravel drive and small brown sign.

View Larger Map

What to pay

The village is free to enter but we strongly recommend making a donation.

Whippoorwill Remember that everyone who is working at the village is a volunteer, so please make life a little easier and keep the greens green (aka…no litter)

You will want to bring some cash for any special finds you may come across in the old country store. The store has old fashioned toys, canned goods and Items made by local craftsmen. I am a big fan of the bamboo pickles and am always able to find wonderful gifts for friends and family!

What to bring

Food! Whippoorwill does have some tasty goodies in the old country store but it is not really enough to make a picnic out of and Whippoorwill is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic. Anything that you would take for a day at the park is just the sort of thing that you may want to bring here.

Where to stay

The Hampton Inn of Wilkesboro is located just off of 268 and is the closest hotel to Whippoorwill.  You will even see the hotel to your left as you drive to the village.  You may also consider the Holiday Inn Express, located just off of Hwy 421.Whippoorwill

If you are feeling really adventurous you may even consider camping at W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir.  You will drive past the lake on your right on while on 268 traveling towards Whippoorwill.

Getting hitched 

If you would like to hold a wedding, or any other event at Whippoorwill Village, you will simply need to book ahead of time, pay a small rental fee, respect the property and have a jolly good time!

Whippoorwill Village has grown even since this video was made.  Don”t miss your chance to tour this treasure of a place!