The Violence of Boyhood in Turn-of-the-Century Oregon
- PUBLISHED: May 2022
- SUBJECT LISTING: History / Western History, Pacific Northwest / History, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 314 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 25 b&w illus., 6 maps, 1 chart
- SERIES: Emil and Kathleen Sick Book Series in Western History and Biography
- ISBN: 9780295750637
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
On an autumn day in 1895, eighteen-year-old Loyd Montgomery shot his parents and a neighbor in a gruesome act that reverberated beyond the small confines of Montgomery's Oregon farming community. The dispassionate slaying and Montgomery's consequent hanging exposed the fault lines of a rapidly industrializing and urbanizing society and revealed the burdens of pioneer narratives boys of the time inherited.
In Pioneering Death, Peter Boag examines the Brownsville parricide as an allegory for the destabilizing transitions within the rural United States at the end of the nineteenth century. While pioneer families celebrated and memorialized founders of western white settler society, their children faced a present and future in frightening decline. Connecting a fascinating true-crime story with the broader forces that produced the murders, Boag uncovers how Loyd's violent acts reflected the brutality of American colonizing efforts, the anxieties of global capitalism, and the buried traumas of childhood in the American West.
Authors & Contributors
Peter Boag is professor and Columbia Chair in the History of the American West at Washington State University. He is author of Re-Dressing America's Frontier Past, Same-Sex Affairs: Constructing and Controlling Homosexuality in the Pacific Northwest, and Environment and Experience: Settlement Culture in Nineteenth-Century Oregon.
A kaleidoscopic study of the whole societal context surrounding the Montgomery crime. It expands outward from standard criminology turf... to explore the grinding economic depression of the late 1800s and the complex financial and social pressures felt by Willamette Valley farm families.- The Columbian
In his study, Boag successfully accomplishes two tasks: he assesses the environmental pressures that may have led Montgomery to slay his parents while offering a rare and intimate portrait of ordinary people in agrarian Oregon during the Gilded Age...Boag's engaging prose, provocative ideas, and the inherent luridness of his subject matter make this work that rarest of things: an academic page-turner that should appeal to broad audiences of readers.- Pacific Historical Review
Peter Boag's excellent Pioneering Death is, at its heart, an outstanding study of community in late nineteenth-century rural Oregon...[The] book shows that there is still much to be learned about Oregon history and that community studies are a particularly powerful way of getting at that sory.- Oregon Historical Quarterly
With the bleak story of a triple murder, Boag explores the emotional landscape of society and family in the rural West at the end of the frontier era. The result is a stark portrait of the violence and stresses of growing up in one of America's more mythologized settings.- Elliott West, author of Growing Up with the Country
Boag uses a gripping local story to obliterate the fictions of the white "pioneer" tale. This is narrative history—powerful, painful, and full of paradoxes—at its very best.- Ryan Dearinger, author of The Filth of Progress