A Death at Crooked Creek
The Case of the Cowboy, the Cigarmaker, and the Love Letter
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: NYU Press
Cover, Title Page
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Important Characters in the Story of the Hillmon Case
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Timeline of Events Important to the Hillmon Litigation
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It’s not yet eight in the morning, but even so heat rises in shimmering waves from the grass-carpeted floor of the graveyard. The earlier months of this spring brought drenching rains to eastern Kansas, and the saturated green of the cemetery hurts my drought-accustomed Colorado...
1. A Winter Journey Leads to an Inquest: 1879
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Sarah Ellen Quinn Hillmon pronounces exactly those four words, practicing. She has had very few occasions to say all the names together and stumbles slightly. Regarding herself reproachfully in the cloudy glass she tries again, this time with more success. She is certain she will be asked at the very outset...
2. The Parties Ready Their Cases for Trial: 1879–1882
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The mill owner Fulton has a daughter Polly, a bitty freckled girl too young for school who runs all over the place like a wild Injun, and it is she who comes to tell John Brown that there is a man at the office to see him. He doesn’t see her coming because his attention is elsewhere: he is straining to load...
3. The Hillmon Case Is Tried before a Jury: 1882
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Sallie thinks she has acquired some patience over the last two years, a quality she now sees she had not properly valued in her youth, but even so she finds the waiting difficult, as well as the continual announcements and predictions about when matters will occur in the courthouse, not one...
4. The Case Is Tried Twice More, and a Surprising Objection Is Made: 1884–1888
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In 1884 Gleed and his brother Willis formed their law firm, Gleed, Ware, and Gleed. Their first partner was Eugene Ware, a former member of the Kansas Legislature. In that same year Judge David Brewer, after many years of service on the Kansas Supreme Court, was appointed to the United States Circuit...
5. The Supreme Court Hears a Case of “Graveyard Insurance”: 1892
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Four years were to pass before the Supreme Court rendered its decision on the companies’ appeal. During this interval, Kansas occupied the center of remarkable political events that both reflected and created the tides of sentiment on which Sallie Hillmon’s lawsuit rode. The People’s Party, the organized...
6. John Hillmon Is Reported to Be Alive as the Arduous Fourth Trial Proceeds: 1893–1895
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Although the Hillmon case enjoyed an audience from its inception, it gained even more widespread fame after it had been decided by the Supreme Court in 1892 and sent back for retrial. One Kansas journalist with a taste for classical allusion characterized the first retrial, in 1895, as a “final Titanic...
7. The Fifth Trial Progresses Briskly but Ends Inconclusively, and New York Life Capitulates: 1896–1899
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It had not been easy to acquire permission to exhume the remains buried at the Oak Hill Cemetery. Once Dennis told me that exhumation might allow us to identify the man in the grave recorded as John Hillman’s, I contacted the Lawrence City Attorney’s Office, for the grave rested in that city’s municipal...
8. The Hillmon Case Is Tried for the Last Time: 1899
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The sixth and last trial of the case of Hillmon v. Mutual Life Insurance Company et al. was called to order on October 8, 1899, at Leavenworth, under the gavel of Judge William Cather Hook. President McKinley had appointed Hook to the federal judgeship held by Judge Cassius Foster following...
9. The Century Turns, and the Hillmon Case Is Concluded: 1900–1903
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The new century, although ushered in with a bout of harsh winter weather, seemed to mark the country’s progress toward easier, less hazardous, more comfortable lives for Americans. Science and technology produced wonders, like Henry Ford’s invention, which flew over the icy streets of Detroit...
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If I named everyone whose advice, encouragement, reflection, and labor went into this book, the list would go on nearly as long as the work itself. If you’re not here but you contributed in one of those ways, I haven’t forgotten you. You belong in the karass, whose membership...
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About the Author
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Page Count: 400
Publication Year: 2013