Skip to content

A Death at Crooked Creek

The Case Of The Cowboy, The Cigarmaker, And The Love Letter

By Marianne Wesson

"This is an extraordinary and ground-breaking book, a wonderfully creative mix of fact and theory, imagination and drama…The startling origin of the complex 'intention exception' to the hearsay evidence rule becomes canvas on which a grand and marvelously detailed tale is told. This is modern narrative at its best: a marriage of spectacular writing and hard, documented truth presented by a brilliant author who doubles as a gifted and fastidious legal scholar and historian."
—Andrew Popper, American University
 
One winter night in 1879, at a lonely Kansas campsite near Crooked Creek, a man was shot to death. The dead man’s traveling companion identified him as John Hillmon, a cowboy from Lawrence who had been attempting to carve out a life on the blustery prairie. The case might have been soon forgotten and the apparent widow, Sallie Hillmon, left to mourn—except for the $25,000 life insurance policies Hillmon had taken out shortly before his departure. The insurance companies refused to pay on the policies, claiming that the dead man was not John Hillmon, and Sallie was forced to take them to court in a case that would reach the Supreme Court twice. The companies’ case rested on a crucial piece of evidence: a faded love letter written by a disappeared cigarmaker, declaring his intent to travel westward with a “man named Hillmon.”
 
In A Death at Crooked Creek, Marianne Wesson re-examines the long-neglected evidence in the case of the Kansas cowboy and his wife, recreating the court scenes that led to a significant Supreme Court ruling on the admissibility of hearsay evidence. Wesson employs modern forensic methods to examine the body of the dead man, attempting to determine his true identity and finally put this fascinating mystery to rest.
 
This engaging and vividly imagined work combines the drama, intrigue, and emotion of excellent storytelling with cutting-edge forensic investigation techniques and legal theory. Wesson’s superbly imagined A Death at Crooked Creek will have general readers, history buffs, and legal scholars alike wondering whether history, and the Justices, may have misunderstood altogether the events at that bleak winter campsite.
 
Marianne Wesson is Professor of Law and President’s Teaching Scholar, University of Colorado Law School. She is the author of best-selling and prize-winning legal novels including Render up the Body, A Suggestion of Death, and Chilling Effect. She lives in a Colorado mountain valley with her husband, llamas, dogs, and visiting wildlife. 

Format

Book

Availability

1 available at Main (Downtown)
  • 346.73086 Wes, Nonfiction

Publish Date

2013

ISBN

9780814784563


Format: Book
Author: Wesson, Marianne
Title: A death at Crooked Creek : the case of the cowboy, the cigarmaker, and the love letter / Marianne Wesson.
Publisher Date: New York : New York University Press, [2013], ♭13.BT
Subject: Hillmon, Sallie E. -- Trials, litigation, etc. Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York -- Trials, litigation, etc. Trials -- Kansas -- History -- 19th century. Insurance crimes -- Kansas -- History -- 19th century -- Cases. Evidence, Hearsay -- United States -- History -- 19th century -- Cases.
Isbn: 9780814784563 (cloth : alk. paper) 0814784569 (cloth : alk. paper)
Current Holds: 0
System Items Available: 1
System Items Total: 1
Call Number: 346.73086 Wes
Oclc: 819717794
Upc:
Bib Id: 435402

Format: Book
Author: Wesson, Marianne
Title: A death at Crooked Creek : the case of the cowboy, the cigarmaker, and the love letter / Marianne Wesson.
Publisher, Date: New York : New York University Press, [2013], ♭13.BT
Description: xxvi, 379 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm.
Subjects: Hillmon, Sallie E. -- Trials, litigation, etc.
Subjects: Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York -- Trials, litigation, etc.
Subjects: Trials -- Kansas -- History -- 19th century.
Subjects: Insurance crimes -- Kansas -- History -- 19th century -- Cases.
Subjects: Evidence, Hearsay -- United States -- History -- 19th century -- Cases.
Notes: Includes bibliographical references (pages 337-359) and index.
Contents: Important characters in the story of the Hillmon case -- Timeline of events important to the Hillmon litigation -- A winter journey leads to an inquest : 1879 -- The parties ready their cases for trial : 1879-1882 -- The Hillmon case is tried before a jury : 1882 -- The case is tried twice more, and a surprising objection is made : 1884-1888 -- The Supreme Court hears a case of "graveyard insurance" : 1892 -- John Hillmon is reported to be alive as the arduous fourth trial proceeds : 1893-95 -- The fifth trial progresses briskly but ends inconclusively, and New York Life capitulates: 1896-1899 -- The Hillmon case is tried for the last time: 1899 -- The century turns, and the Hillmon case is concluded: 1900-1903.
LCCN: 2012048184
ISBN: 9780814784563 (cloth : alk. paper)
ISBN: 0814784569 (cloth : alk. paper)
Requests: 0
Available Copies: 1
Total Copies: 1
Call Number: 346.73086 Wes