Nimrod: Courts, Claims, and Killing on the Oregon Frontier (Paperback)

Nimrod: Courts, Claims, and Killing on the Oregon Frontier By Ronald B. Lansing Cover Image

Nimrod: Courts, Claims, and Killing on the Oregon Frontier (Paperback)


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At the remarkable age of 65, Nimrod O'Kelly--loner, former blacksmith--made the arduous trek from Missouri on the Oregon Trail in 1845 and became one of the first to stake a claim in the lush Willamette valley. Although he made few improvements to the land, he alleged that he had a wife back in Missouri and was thus entitled under the Donation Land Law to a full 640 acres (one square mile) of fertile ground; 320 acres for himself, and 320 acres for his wife. For seven years most of O'Kelly's neighbors remained doubtful, and slowly they began to encroach on his claim. The dispute finally boiled over, leaving young Jeremiah Mahoney dead, a gaping shotgun wound in his chest.

Nimrod O'Kelly turned himself in, claiming self-defense. The events that followed provide an intimate look at law on the frontier--a place without jails, courtrooms, or coroners--where judges arrived on horseback to conduct legal proceedings, and where convicted murderers often met their end on the gallows. Ultimately, Oregon's first widely reported murder case was heard by the fledgling territory's Supreme Court, and indeed, Nimrod's wife and family unexpectedly arrived in Oregon as the family patriarch was scheduled to hang. With incredible depth, the author probes and analyzes the evidence, law, proceedings, politics, and finally, the astonishing conclusion.

Product Details ISBN: 9780874222807
ISBN-10: 087422280X
Publisher: Washington State University Press
Publication Date: July 1st, 2005
Pages: 224
Language: English