A brief synopsis of “Nance Dude,” which is one of three dramatic monologues in “Land’s End” written by Gary Carden:
In February of 1913, Nancy Kerley, more commonly known as Nance Dude, was told by her son-in-law, Will Putnam, to take her 2-year-old granddaughter, Roberta, and give her away.
The child was rumored to be born out of wedlock, and the family had more people living in the home than was allowed by the landlord.
For three days Dude walked the roads of Haywood County, and no one would take the child. She carried the little girl the majority of the time.
Finally, Dude risked going home, and the door was locked.
Dude got desperate as she ventured near Ad Tate Knob on Utah Mountain in Dellwood.
Upon returning to the Putnam home, she said she gave the little girl to a preacher in Tennessee.
Two weeks later, the little girl was found dead in a cave, and a lynch mob showed up to hang Dude.
She was 65 when she was sentenced to prison. She came home at age 80, and her daughter, Lizzy, wouldn’t let her stay.
She had a $10 bill in her shoe, which she slid under the door and then walked out of Jonathan’s Creek for good.
A grocer gave her a can of peaches and took her to Conley’s Creek where she lived in a utility shed which had a dirt floor and no running water or electricity. This was her home until she died.