The Chronicle -

By Finn J.D. John
Chronicle Columnist 

Murderers wandered McKenzie Valley begging friends to perjure themselves

Offbeat Oregon History No. 489 - April 1 2018


September 6, 2018

Image Provided/Oregon Historical Society

Claude Branton on the gallows, about to be hanged for the death of John Linn, on May 12, 1899.

In Charles Maturin's classic 1820 Gothic horror novel, "Melmoth the Wanderer," a sinister scholar named Melmoth, having sold his soul to the devil in return for an extra 150 years of life and suffering from the worst kind of buyer's remorse, wanders the Earth in search of someone who will, essentially, take over payments for him. If he can find someone to buy out his contract, as it were, he can die in peace and go to heaven - or, at least, not automatically be sent to hell.

In the summer of 1898, two young Oregon men found themselves in a similar situation. They had murdered a wealthy ranc...

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