Portland, OR: Portland Printing House, 1908. First edition. Hardcover. 495 pp., profusely illustrated (including photogravure frontispiece of Francis J. Heney, special prosecutor in Puter's trial); quarto, red cloth with color pictorial paper inset on front cover. Moderate overall wear to covers, shallow dampstain to top edge of pages, still quite sturdy and presentable. Item #22030
An in-depth account of the Oregon Land Fraud ring by one of its principle players, Stephen A. Douglas Puter. Puter (of Humboldt County, Cal), by his own account, was already an expert in the illegal exploitation of government land grants when he was hired by Edward Harriman, president of the Southern Pacific Railroad to fraudulently acquire and sell lands granted by the Federal government to the railroad. The purpose of these government grants was to encourage settlement along a proposed rail line from Portland to California. The land was sold to settlers at $2.50 per acre - though much of the land was not suitable for farming or settlement. They were heavily timbered, however, and could be auctioned to lumber companies and speculators at a much higher price. Implicated, tried, and convicted in the trial of 1905 were 2 Oregon Congressman, a state senator, and the US attorney originally charged with investigating the case. Puter was also convicted and served 18 months of a 2-year sentence. He was pardoned by President Theodore Roosevelt in return for turning state's evidence. This book was written while Puter was serving his sentence at the Multnomah County jail.