Notorious Jefferson County: Frontier Murder and Mayhem

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Notorious Jefferson County: Frontier Murder and Mayhem
Series Title:
Notorious Jefferson County: Frontier Murder and Mayhem
McGoff, R. Mark
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Center for Colorado and the West
Publication Date:

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Source Institution:
Auraria Library
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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Notorious Jefferson County: Frontier Murder and Mayhem | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 11:38:31 AM] Home Notorious Jefferson County: Frontier Murder and MayhemNotorious Jefferson County: Frontier Murder and MayhemSubmitted by jainlayconley on 4-11-2011 06:47 PMAuthor: Carol Turner Publishing: Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2010. Black and white photos, endnotes, bibliography. 125 pages. 6x 9. $19.99 paperback. Reviewer: R. Mark McGoff This book is a delightful, although macabre, history of Jefferson County. The author presents twenty-one short accounts of crimes, mostly murders, committed in various areas of the county from 1866 to 1924. The crimes range from murders committed because of greed or just plain meanness to those of unrequited love or love triangles gone horribly bad. This reviewer was reminded of the commonality of crimes of yesteryear and the present day. Some of the most interesting cases included the firstdegree murder conviction of a woman who murdered another woman, her sentence to life in prison, and the subsequent commutation of her sentence by the governor (Murder on Table Mountain); the perpetrator of a castration resulting in death being sentenced to three years in the penitentiary for the crime of mayhem, but castrated and then hanged by a mob before he made it to Canon City (The Orchitic Strangulator); and a wife-abuser shot to death by his brother-in-law, who was found not guilty after just five minutes of jury deliberation (A Bully Gets His Due). Among the sad and horrific crime stories is a very humorous one (A Clash over Cucumbers), in which the victim of gunfire in a dispute about ownership of the vegetable recovered from his wounds. There is no record of a trial for the perpetrator and no information about the eventual ownership of the cucumbers. Even without a conclusion, though, it is a great story. I learned some new words or word meanings in this book. I had not known that a huckster was a vegetable peddler, that uttering involves the cashing of a forged check, or that a cutting affray is another way of saying knife fight. Additionally, I reveled in such terms as rapscallion, lunacy commission, alienist, and mad doctor that are sprinkled throughout the book. These terms enhance the well-written and tightly constructed narrative of each chapter. I found this book to be a real delight in every wayas short story, as local history, and as commentary on the unchanging nature of our species. Its a wonderful read. Reviewer Info: R. Mark McGoff has undergraduate degrees in English and philosophy and a masters degree in adult education, and he is an avid reader of Colorado history. He was a longtime warden in the Colorado prison system, served as a board member and chair of the Colorado Endowment for the Humanities, and is currently a member of the Colorado Historical Society and Arvada Historical Society. Additionally, he is on the Arvada City Council. EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanKatherine Lee Bates wrote the lyrics of America the Beautiful after an awe-inspiring trip to the top of Pikes Peak in 1893.