Nimrod: Courts, Claims, and Killing on the Oregon Frontier
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.
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The Inquest May 22 1852
The Migration 1845
The Arrival and the Search 184546
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Abiather Newton acres affidavit Asahel Asahel Bush Babb Benton County Boise borders cabin called Catholic Chief Justice Clerk Congress convicted coroner Corvallis Criss Davis Deady Democrat Donation Land Claim filed French Prairie Greenberry Hamilton Code hanging Indians inquest Irwin Isaac Winkle J.C. Avery James Jennyopolis Joe Lane John Joseph Judge Pratt June jurors jury jurymen kalapuya Kelly killing Lane County lawyer legislative letter Marys River Marysville Matthew Deady McLoughlin miles Missouri months murder neighbors Nimrod O'Kelly Nimrod's claim Nimrod's trial O'Kelly's Odeneal Oregon City Oregon frontier Oregon Supreme Court Oregon Territory Oregonian pardon petition pioneers Polk Polk County Portland President Prigg prisoner prosecutor Provisional Government record reported Salem Sally settlers Sheriff Starr stake Statesman Supreme Court survey surveyor Territory of Oregon took trail Twenty Acts verdict wagon Washington City Whig wife Willamette River Willamette Valley Williams witnesses