Murder in Montague
Frontier Justice and Retribution in Texas
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
166 Pages | 6 x 9 | 15 b&w illus., 1 map
The sheer brutality of the Montague murders terrified settlers already traumatized by decades of chaos, violence, and fear—from the deadly raids of Comanche and Kiowa Indians to the terrors of vigilantes, lynchings, and Reconstruction lawlessness. But the crime's aftermath—involving five Texas governors, five trials at Montague and Gainesville, five appeals to the Texas Court of Appeals, and three life sentences at hard labor in the state's abominable and inhumane prison system—offered little in the way of reassurance or resolution.
Viewed from any perspective, the 1876 England family murders were both a human tragedy and a miscarriage of justice. Combining the long view of history and the intimate detail of true crime reporting, Murder in Montague deftly captures this moment of reckoning in the story of Texas, as vigilante justice grudgingly gave way to an established system of law and order.
“Glen Ely’s Murder in Montague is an intricate, dazzling, historical true-crime whodunit. Ely examines the reasons for the extraordinary level of violence in Texas and the specific reasons for the slaughter of four members of the England family. He also details the travails of those convicted and offers a fascinating coda to this long-forgotten murder. Murder in Montague is a compelling, propulsive history.”—Michael Ariens author of Lone Star Law: A Legal History of Texas
“This deliberate, beautifully written work offers a disturbing, clear-sighted look into murder on the frontier. Any collection of Western U.S. History or true crime is incomplete without this title.”—Library Journal
“Fascinating . . . Highly recommended for true-crime readers and those interested in forgotten Texas history."—Western Writers of America, Roundup Magazine
“…this slim but well-written and superbly researched volume reveals scores of lessons related to police procedures, advocacy at both the first instance and upon review, and how humankind may best be studied through the lens of psychology.”— Canadian Law Library Review
“Few historians have put as much effort into understanding small town justice like Glen Sample Ely has in his book Murder in Montague: FrontierJustice and Retribution in Texas. Murder in Montague is a well-written and comprehensive book that builds on reliable historical research, findings, and sources. It could be used as a supplementary textbook for Texas history or criminal justice classes focused on understanding the criminal justice system in the late nineteenth century.”— Southwestern Historical Quarterly
“Combining the long view of history and the intimate detail of true crime reporting, Murder in Montague captures a pivotal moment in Texas’s legal history, as vigilante justice grudgingly gave way to an established system of law and order…presenting a realistic, unflinching portrait of a Lone Star criminal justice system in transition following the Civil War.”—Texas Supreme Court Historical Society Journal
“While the beginning of, Murder in Montague: Frontier Justice and Retribution in Texas, is a true crime delight, a delicious appetizer, if you will; it was the exploration of the justice system in the Texas frontier during the mid to late nineteenth century, along with the examination of the three men who were found guilty of the crime, and based on Ely’s formidable arguments, unjustifiably so, that acted as the fulfilling entrée… Captivating writing, combined with his historical knowledge and research concerning the happenings along the Texas frontier, were the elements utilized by Eli to produce an enthralling work of non-fiction… Murder in Montague: Frontier Justice and Retribution in Texas, will be appealing to a broad array of readers. Whether one is looking for a macabre murder mystery or a historical examination of the justice system on the Texas frontier, Ely’s work will prove satisfactory. “—Panhandle Plains Historical Review