A Horrible Year

Fatal Encounters in 1869

By Mark Iverson and Jeff Wade

Editor’s note: Boiseans Mark Iverson and Jeff Wade have dredged up some of the most rotten crimes and criminals in the city’s history for their new book, Murder and Mayhem in Boise. Following is an excerpt from its introduction by Jeff, followed by an exclusive excerpt of one chapter, published with permission.

A few years ago, Mark had an idea. After leading a few walking tours around Boise, he began receiving specific types of questions regarding some of the historic sites he passed on his walks. These questions often involved the morbid, lurid and macabre nature of Boise’s past. He soon realized that people did not simply want to hear the standard version of Boise’s history—they wanted something darker. He started digging. After a few months of research, he possessed enough content to stitch together a historical walking tour called “A Macabre History of Boise: A Walking Tour.” Residents of Boise and tourists began to attend the tour; it became more popular than Mark originally expected. The recipe included a bit of solid history and a touch of murder, with a pinch of vice and prostitution for good measure.

I first heard of Mark and his Macabre Boise tour when Angie Davis, a mutual friend, posted an ad for the event on social media. The idea of a macabre tour really appealed to me. It is the only walking tour I have ever paid to attend. Walking along the streets of Boise with Mark, I could see the passion he had for telling local stories. By the time the two-hour tour was over, Mark let it slip that he was looking for a business partner. I wanted to work with him but was not quite ready for the commitment. Over the course of the next few weeks, we kept talking. I joked at one point that when he was ready to write a book on the macabre history of Boise, I could help him out. Apparently, he took that joke seriously …

Through stories of death and tragedy, we better understand the evolution Boise has gone through, while also reminding us of what Boise was and, perhaps, what it might be again. From Boise City’s wild frontier mining days through to the modern era, we endeavored to contextualize the stories of the common, everyday people who lived, struggled, failed, succeeded and often died in Boise.

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Jeff Wade

About Jeff Wade

Jeff Wade holds a BS in criminal justice. His first book, Brave as a Lion: Jeff Standifer and the Knights of the Golden Circle, was published in 2019. He’s the creator, cohost and producer of "Cascadia Podcast: History of the Pacific Northwest." Coauthor Mark Iverson spent time with the Peace Corps in the Balkans prior to moving to Idaho in 2009. He has a master’s in history from Boise State University and founded IdaHistory in 2019. Learn more at idahistory.com. In January, the two began a podcast about Idaho history.

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