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Nimrod: Courts, Claims, and Killing on the Oregon Frontier


Nimrod: Courts, Claims, and Killing on the Oregon Frontier Cover

ISBN13: 9780874222807
ISBN10: 087422280x
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

At the remarkable age of 65, Nimrod O'Kelly--Ioner, former blacksmith--made the arduous trek from Missouri along 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 professed that he had a wife and family back home and thus had a right to 640 acres--one full square mile--of fertile ground. Over the next seven years, settlers continued to arrive, and many of these new neighbors grew suspicious of his entitlement. Slowly they began to encroach on his property. Eventually the dispute boiled over, leaving young Jeremiah Mahoney dead, a gaping gunshot wound in his chest. Curiously, the killer--72 year-old Nimrod O'Kelly--chose not to run, but to turn himself in, claiming self-defense. The events that followed provide an intricate look at law on the frontier--a place without jails, courtrooms, coroners, and crimelabs, where many settlers were as wild as the land, where judges traveled on horseback to conduct legal proceedings, and where convicted murderers often met their end on the gallows. Ultimately, Benton County vs. Nimrod O'Kelly was heard by the fledgling territory's Supreme Court. With marvelous depth and a lawyer's insight, author Ronald B. Lansing probes and analyzes the evidence, the law, the proceedings, and the politics surrounding one of Oregon's first extensively reported murder cases, and presents this incredible story from its simple beginning to its astonishing conclusion.

Book News Annotation:

Lansing (law, Lewis and Clark College, Oregon) tracks down the case of Nimrod O'Kelly, who pleaded self-defense in a killing in the Willamette Valley in May 1852, just seven years after law had come to Benton County. He draws on primary and secondary documents, and fills in the gaps with his insights from having written of the Whitman massacre trial of 1850.
Annotation 2005 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Hamellr, July 22, 2010 (view all comments by Hamellr)
Despite the rather clinical title, this book is absolutely fantastic.

The author did a great job researching the subject. He treats Nimrod O'Kelly fairly, neither blaming or pardoning him for his actions, but yet does a great job telling the events as they're recorded.

He also did an extremely wonderful job telling how the laws - Frontier Law, Oregon Territory Law and finally Oregon State and Federal Law came into being and how all three of these complicated O'Kelly's trial AND complicated his land claim which led to the initial murder.

This is the exact kind of history book I aspire to write, and enjoy reading as much as the best Fiction Novel.
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Product Details

Lansing, Ronald B
Washington State University Press
Lansing, Ronald B.
Frontier and pioneer life
United States - State & Local - General
Frontier and pioneer life -- Oregon.
Willamette River Valley (Or.) History.
Publication Date:
8.94x6.06x.77 in. 1.12 lbs.

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Americana » General
History and Social Science » Pacific Northwest » History
History and Social Science » Pacific Northwest » Oregon » Willamette Valley

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