A huge hit when I was a lad; does that mean I’m the same age as Grandpa Pillsbury? His second theory of who Tom was is correct:
Back in the day (19th, early 20th centuries), there lots of ballads that told such tales!
And Tom Dooley is mentioned in the song “Waterloo”.
When I was a teenager the Kingston Trio sang it to me.
Not to be confused with Tom Delay.