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The Magruder Murders: Coping With Violence…
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The Magruder Murders: Coping With Violence on the Idaho Frontier (1989)

by Julia Conway Welch

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In 1863 a well known merchant and local politician, Lloyd Magruder was crossing the divide between Idaho and the Bitterroot valley of Montana with a string of mules and a good amount of gold, when he and four others were murdered and the gold stolen.

The book gives highly detailed background about Magruder's life, the murder expedition, and the tracking down of the murderers. It is well researched, often having academic type reference footnotes multiple times on every page. In fact, it reads suspiciously like a dissertation in book form.

If you're interested in the history of the wilderness between Montana and Idaho, or the gold rushes in Montana and California, you'll find this book of interest. Otherwise, you may find the writing style a bit of a slog as it does not resemble the popular narrative non-fiction of today.

Personally, I'm glad to know the history. I first heard this story when I was acting as a wilderness volunteer in Idaho's Selway wilderness, not far from where the murders occurred.

We were sitting around a campfire after a long day of hiking, and told that neither the murderers nor the gold was ever found, and that of course, the murdered men's ghosts still walked.

The book belies all this. Someday I hope to make the trek along the Magruder corrider: a rough barely navigable road dividing the two wildernesses of the Selway-Bitterroot and the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. This book has encouraged me in my desire to make this journey. ( )
  streamsong | Aug 18, 2018 |
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