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The truth behind Naomi Wise

By Peggy Woodlief

For the Randolph Hub


RANDLEMAN – St. Paul Museum will be open on Sunday, March 19, at 2 p.m. with a very special program.


Hal Pugh will talk about his recently published book (written jointly with his wife Eleanor Minnock-Pugh) titled “Naomi “Omi” Wise: Her Life, Death and Legend.”


While there have been several accounts of Naomi Wise’s life and death, this is the only accurate one that is the result of much research over many years.


This book contains a true account of Naomi’s life, her murder and the circumstance that brought it about. Not only does the reader become acquainted with a multitude of characters, there is much information to give one a sense of what life was like in North Carolina in the early 1800s. You will learn of Naomi’s life before her murder, the investigation into the murder and all about the murderer himself.


The history is accompanied by informative footnotes and is followed by five appendices. Appendix A identifies every person who is mentioned in the book, along with dates, relationships and why each is part of Naomi Wise’s story.


Appendix B includes all legal documents involving people who are a part of this history, organized by date beginning Dec. 10, 1786, through Aug. 29, 1815.


Appendix C is “A true account of Nayomy Wise" written by Mary Woody (1801-1851). Appendix D contains “Naomi Wise, or the Victim" by Braxton Craven, published in 1851.


Appendix E is a listing of Naomi Wise Recordings and Discography, the earliest being 1935 and the most recent being 2019 for a total of 128.


Finally, there is a listing of the 136 sources consulted, 85 documents and records, many newspaper accounts and even Census reports. Also listed are the many online resources and ballad text sources.


I mention all of these to emphasize the historical accuracy of the account of this murder, the only one that is completely accurate and verifiable. Even with all this information, though, it is a most readable book.


Sunday’s meeting will give you an opportunity to hear the authors talk about their book, look at visuals and to acquire a copy if you don’t already have one. (The book has two formats: paperback and ebook.) If you already own a copy, by all means bring it to be autographed.


St. Paul can still be found at the corner of Stout and High Point Streets in Randleman and the museum staff is looking forward to see you.