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The Man Who Moiled for Gold

By: Rasmussen
Price: $15.95

First Books Library, 2002.
The Man Who Moiled for Gold draws its title from the Robert W. Service poem: The Cremation of Sam McGee?. This popular work portrays the lust for gold, the passion for the search, and the elusive success that brought men and women to remote areas without laws or justice. The poem also tells of suffering, loneliness, frustration, and ultimately death. Charley Martin experienced all of these emotions along with love and success while becoming the man who moiled for gold.

Charley Martin, in 1912, is found mining the hard rock of Butte, Montana. Years of breathing the fine quartz dust in the pits have given Charley silicosis. Discovery of this incurable condition, by the mine super, brought an abrupt change to the 69-year old miner’s life. Change began with the decision to move to his mountain cabin, which involved a weekend stay with Kathleen, his eldest daughter. Kathleen held a secret hurt and bitterness, causing an estrangement between father and daughter.

Delighted by his teenaged grandson’s insistence to know the grandfather’s pioneer adventures Charley recounts events that began 50 years earlier with the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush. Charley realizes that revealing family history might bring to surface Kathleen’s resentments so he continues to tell details past the romantic parts.

Successful mining ventures are overshadowed by the murder of Charley’s cousin Joe during a holdup. Kind and happy Charley becomes obsessed with finding the roadagent who killed Joe. Other incidents of robbery and murder inflame the Montana/Idaho mining camps into vigilante actions. Charley joins the Bannack Vigilance Committee and participates in the historic hangings of the Sheriff and his deputies he then travels with the Alder Gulch vigilantes to hang most of the remainder of the Sheriff’s roadagent gang including the man Charley considers to be Joe’s killer.

Charley had never before revealed to family that he had been an active vigilante who had ended men’s lives. The daughter’s family is amazed but accepting. Continued recollections helped Kathleen reveal her own bitter secret and accept her father again.
Paperback, 240 pages.