Charles Oldham, a Charlotte-based author who originally hails from Sanford, will visit the Lee County Library at 6:30 p.m. Thursday to discuss his recent true crime book “The Senator’s Son.”
Oldham, an attorney who practiced law here in the early 2000s, said the book – his first one – covers the disappearance of then-state Senator Sam Beasley’s young son from eastern north Carolina in 1905, as well as its aftermath.
“The book explores the political intrigues surrounding the boy’s disappearance, as well as the interesting history of North Carolina at the time,” Oldham said.
On Monday, February 13, 1905, eight-year-old Kenneth Beasley walked to the back of his school’s playground and into the melting snow of the woods beyond. The son of a North Carolina state senator was never seen again. A year and a half later, a political rival was charged in what became one of North Carolina’s biggest trials ever, receiving coverage up and down the East Coast. The eventual verdict and stunning aftermath would rip apart two families and shock a state … yet leave a mystery unsolved. Now Charles Oldham, attorney and author, has reopened the case, along the way investigating not only it but the state’s political, racial, lynching and liquor cultures. The result is an absorbing must read story.
“Fascinating … murky … The Senator’s Son is local history at its finest.” – DEAN KING, best-selling author
“The book is craftily written, deeply researched, and will stick to your hands like a lantern during this dark, raveled Southern tale of disappearance.” – DAVID L. ROBBINS, best-selling author
“A vibrant, engrossing true tale … both educational and nearly impossible to stop reading.” – Diane Donovan, MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW.
Oldham also said in a September feature in the Sanford Herald (subscription required) that the book covers not just the boy’s disappearance and the trial, but also a good bit of historical context:
“The guilty verdict was not the end of the story, and I don’t want to give too much away as far as that goes,” Oldham said. “There were some other very dramatic things that occurred after the guilty verdict and that just … has perpetuated the mystery.”
Oldham said his 307-page book provides additional details in the disappearance and his own theories on what may have happened to Kenneth. Many of these theories and connections haven’t previously been brought up or considered when conducting research on the case, he said.
“That (mystery) is primarily the reason why I was interested in writing the book. I was trying to work into it and find out as much as I could to see if we could get to an answer,” Oldham said. “I did feel a responsibility to get into it and get it right. I wanted to do justice to the story and the memory of the people who lived through it. Overall I feel good about it. I feel like I’ve done the best that anyone can, and I’ve come as close as anybody can to finding the final answer.”
Oldham’s visit to the library, located at 107 Hawkins Ave., will include a signing, reading and discussion.