"The Story of Freeda Bolt"

Freeda Bolt main page | song & audio | newspaper clippings

Freeda Bolt left the Floyd County community of Willis with her sweetheart, Buren Harmon, on December 12, 1929. Pregnant by Harmon, Freeda thought she was eloping, but Harmon had other plans. He bound and strangled the woman and hid her body under brush and rocks near the road. Harmon reportedly returned to the crime scene a day or so later, found Bolt still alive, and strangled her again.

When Bolt was reported missing, Harmon was naturally the prime suspect in the case. He was taken into custody but did not confess to the crime until after the body was found several days later. Floyd County officials feared that Harmon would be lynched, and the prisoner was moved to Roanoke County for trial.

The trial, in which Harmon was portrayed by the defense as dimwitted and insane, held the attention of the public across the state. Even the New York Times mentioned the case. Harmon was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. He was pardoned after serving 18 years.

"The Story of Freeda Bolt" was written by D. M. Shank, a local hymn writer, at the request of the Floyd County Ramblers, and the group recorded it for the Victor Record Company in 1930. The Carter Family recorded it for Decca in 1938, and versions of the song are still being sung in the region.

Freeda Bolt main page | songs & audio | newspaper clippings

Deathly Lyrics:
Songs of Virginia Tragedies


Audio Credits


Breeding Mill

Caty Sage


Dewey Lee


Freeda Bolt

Great Kanawha

Kent Steffie

Mollie Tynes

Old 97

Poor Goins

Roanoke Riot

Rye Cove

Talt Hall

Vance Song

Wreck of the 1256