'Deadly Secrets: The Lawson Family Murder' – episode 4 – 'The tourist attraction'

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STOKES COUNTY, N.C. -- For most people, their story ends at their grave but for the Lawson family, there were chapters still to be written. After the funeral, their home began to attract the curious.

“Charlie Lawson's brother [Marion Lawson] charged people to go in the house,” historian Kinney Rorrer said. “He charged them a quarter to tour the house.”

The money was to go to help the lone survivor, 16-year-old Arthur Lawson, keep the family farm.

“I guess Marion, Charlie's brother, saw an opportunity to help Arthur make ends meet,” local memorabilia collector Aaron Greene said. “I guess looking back you can't really blame him.”

Visitors could buy souvenir pamphlets for a quarter. They also offered souvenir photographs of the crime scene. As an added attraction Kid Smith, the man who wrote and sang the Ballad of the Lawson Family Murder, would occasionally perform the song live on the front porch.

“Kid said they would hire them to come up there and play,” Rorrer said. “In fact, I found an old newspaper clipping from the Leaksville news from the 1930s where the Carolina Buddies would be playing at the Lawson Family home on a Sunday afternoon and Kid said that Charlie Lawson's brother hired them to come up there.”

The home and property were left just the way they were when the murders took place. Even the raisin cake Marie, the oldest daughter, made for Christmas was still on the table.

“When you got to the kitchen you can see the cake on the table,” Hiatt said. “People started stealing the raisins off the cake for souvenirs so they put it under a case so you couldn’t get your hands on it.”

The cabin has since been torn down, with wood used to build a small private covered bridge. The property is now privately owned and is not open to the public.

This is part of FOX8's series on the Lawson Family Murder. 

For episode 3, click here

For episode 2, click here

For episode 1, click here

Listen to the trailer for FOX8's podcast, "Deadly Secrets: The Lawson Family Murder."

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