The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. — Albert Einstein















Button
HOME



Who she was

Who she is




Who she was

Origins




Who she was

Artwork




Who she was

Photography




Who she was

Pixelations




Who she was

Music




Who she was

Witchery



Curiosity. Sometimes it seems curiosity is the hemoglobin coursing MaryJoy Martin 1980through author and historian MaryJoy Martin's veins. Or the oxygen that inflates her lungs. Or the muscle that moves her tongue. Questions never stop flying out of her mouth. She is driven by a curiosity that makes the cat go static. It might be what zaps her in the end, for as Dorothy Parker The Irreverent once said, “There is no cure for curiosity.”

“Answers only lead to more questions,” Martin said in a 2005 interview when asked if she was satisfied with the publication of The Corpse on Boomerang Road. This book solved three 100-year-old murder mysteries stemming from the labor troubles in Telluride, Colorado, at the turn of the 20th century. But Martin, more curious than a score of cats in a woodpile, said what she uncovered only made her want to know more. And so her search for answers continues, like an archaeologist brushing away grains of sand to reveal something astonishing below the surface.

“I spend eighty per cent of my time researching,” Martin said. “I want to know what happened, and, although one can never fully recreate the past, one can get enough evidence to come close.”

American anthropologist and author Zora Neale Hurston summed it up perfectly when she said, “Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.”

Martin's purpose is to unearth every possible fragment, shard, scrap, and sliver of the lives of her subjects until she has enough to bring them back from the dead. All critics agree: Martin's research is exceptional.

Author Seth Cagin calls Martin's recent book, “brilliantly researched,” and “a stunning history of Telluride.”

Denver Post columnist Ed Quillen says it is “extensively researched and richly told.”

Art Goodtimes, columnist, poet and San Miguel County Commissioner writes, “Martin has done a brilliant research job. This is the definitive history of Telluride's War on Labor… Exhaustive. A masterpiece of historical detective work… And it's not just great history. It's a great read.”

Charlie Langdon, Senior Critic for The Durango Herald writes, “Martin's splendid chronicle of Telluride's little-known labor wars is surely one of the finest regional histories in recent years. Hers is a compelling, startling and unnerving tale of how powerful dark forces shattered a prosperous mining community a century ago… Her book deserves high commendation and recognition, and not just in scholarly circles. Most of all, she deserves a legion of readers.”

Curiosity was the starting point.

Barney's skullIn the 1970s Martin heard a ghost story about a man named Will Barney who was looking for his head in the mines at Telluride. She was curious about a body looking for a head. It seemed it should be the other way around. She put that question aside, and instead asked why Barney had lost his head in the first place.

“Yes, a headless man led me to Vincent St. John,“ Martin says. “In 1976 I found an old-timer from Telluride who told me Will Barney was butchered by St. John, the local miners' union president. The old-timer had details dripping with blood and gore, a fabulous scene set in the tenderloin district with Barney being beaten and shot and his head lopped off and tossed into a mineshaft. I was fascinated, completely entranced by the idea that I could find the facts of Barney's murder and tell his story, putting his spirit to rest, so to speak.”

Barney led her on a wild ride, because no two tales were alike. She finally ditched all second-hand hash and re-hash, and moled into the hard evidence of primary sources. She discovered facts that stunned her: Barney, said to be murdered in 1901, turned up alive and well in 1902, 1908, 1912. Other "murder victims" in the Telluride, Colorado region did likewise.

“I never set out to change what had been accepted as fact for the last century,” Martin says. “I merely followed the evidence. In the beginning I had a sense of compassion for Barney, believing him to be a genuine victim of union savagery. Book after book claimed it was so. When I discovered documentation that indicated he wasn't murdered, I concentrated all research on Barney himself to make certain I didn't have another fellow by the same name. Documentation proved I had the right Barney. And he was alive and well AFTER his murder.”

Martin's years of hard-nosed research unraveled two other 100-year-old murder mysteries, exonerating those who had been accused of butchery. The result was the award-winning book, "The Corpse on Boomerang Road: Telluride's War on Labor 1899-1908," which is currently being transmogrified into a motion picture by Screenwriter Evan Greene, Producer Frank Capra III, and Director Michael Schroeder of Elbow Grease Pictures, Inc.

The book was recommended for a National Book Award and a Pulitzer in history, winning a 2005 Evvy Award in History (Colorado Independent Publishers Association). Martin was also a featured speaker at various history presentations, using Barney as an example of how oft-printed lies can harden into accepted “facts,” especially after a hundred years.

“I had over eleven-thousand pieces of information for this book,” Martin says. “Keeping them straight and fitting them altogether was a fete in itself. In the end, I had to let some things go and others I left for further research. I still had more questions than answers.”

Curiosity. She wanted to know more about the characters she had met in the Barney saga. She wanted to refine her research on Vincent St. John, once a national labor leader who was mentioned at least weekly in newspapers coast to coast in the era from 1901 to 1925. Various labor professors, archivists, and historians asked her to write a biography of St. John, a man whose life was more dramatic than any fictional story..

Martin's initial response was a “perhaps… if I can find new material.”

“A few things I included in the Corpse book,” Martin says, “were materials other people had researched for me. This was before the Internet and I couldn't get to places such as Chicago and Boise in time to meet the publisher's deadline for Corpse. Since that time I have done follow-up research myself, and was able to correct whatever small bits had gone astray under the circumstances. Consequently, I wound up with fifteen-thousand more parts to the story—plenty to breathe life back into St. John's bones. Vincent St. John's astounding story demands to be told.”

But Martin's writing career isn't all just Vincent St. John. Her diverse interests come out in magazine and newspaper articles on anything from the toxins in fungi to the mysterious stone rings of Neolithic Scotland. She has written poetry and countless articles for periodicals since 1980, including cover-stories featuring her photography in The Highlander, The Magazine of Scottish Heritage, Telluride Magazine, Inside/Outside Magazine, Destinations, Colorado Outdoors, Empire Magazine, Contemporary, True West, Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, and many others.

Her earliest publication was an off-the-wall parody newsletter, which began as a means of entertainment for one of her brothers in the US Army who had been deployed to Viet Nam. Later this newsletter grew to include another brother in the Coast Guard, cousins and friends, until a few people asked to subscribe to it. “I made enough money just to cover printing costs,” Martin laughs.

From 1979-1986, she was editor and cartoonist for the Chronicle of Joy (published in Denver, Colorado, now defunct), which featured authors such as Declan Madden, OFM, and others. At the same time Martin wrote for the Denver Post and later the Rocky Mountain News.

San Juan Horseshoe Spring 2010 cover by MerryJoyAs a satirist, parody cartoonist, cover artist, and columnist, Martin has been with the San Juan Horseshoe from 1986 to present. Her fans call her the “Queen of Pseudonyms” or “Empress of Aliases” because coming up with absurd pseudonyms each month is part of the fun.

“If there was only one periodical left to write for,” Martin says, “it would be Kevin Haley's San Juan Horseshoe, a periodical that's been making up the news longer than Mark Twain did.”

While making up the news for the Horseshoe and tracking the mysterious trail of William Julius Barney, and discovering how fast it takes blowflies to invade a corpse, Martin also wrote other nonfiction works, Twilight Dwellers; Suicide Legends, Homicide Rumors; and Something in the Wind. She contributes articles, art, photography and research to other authors' works as well, including The Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky, Images of America series, and more. She has also written a novel under the pseudonym, J. Malcolm Martin, which was endorsed by the Southern Poverty Law Center's Morris Dees.

“My first love is fiction,” Martin confesses. “If my curiosity didn't always lead me on these twenty-year adventures chasing headless men and government spies, I just might get more novels written.”

Jack Kelly


A list of Martin's books and books to which she contributed, along with links to excerpts of her written work follow:

MaryJoy Martin
San Juan Horseshoe MaryJoy Martin has been with the San Juan Horseshoe since 1986, as a satirist, parody cartoonist, cover artist, and columnist. For a list of her madcap pseudonyms and examples of her stories, photos, and artwork, click here.
Smedberg Berättelser om vanliga, men ovanliga människor, by Anders Smedberg, Labyrinth Books (Finland), (2012) - MaryJoy Martin contributor, attributed; art, photos, research
Tenkotte Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky, ed. Tenkotte & Claypool, University Press of Kentucky (2009) - MaryJoy Martin contributor, attributed
Smedberg Alfred Sund - ett emigrantöde, by Anders Smedberg, Scriptum (Finland), (2009) - MaryJoy Martin contributor, attributed; art, photos, research
Goodtimes As If The World Really Mattered, by Art Goodtimes, La Alameda Press (2007) - MaryJoy Martin cover art/photo pixelation of the poet as "Thunderbear"
Hathaway Images of America: Idaho Falls, by William Hathaway, Arcadia Publishing (2006) - MaryJoy Martin contributor, attributed; art, research
Martin The Corpse on Boomerang Road: Telluride's War on Labor 1899-1908, by MaryJoy Martin, Western Reflections Publishing (2004)
Gulliford San Juan Sampler, ed. Andrew Gulliford, Durango Herald Small Press (2004) - MaryJoy Martin contributor, attributed
Martin Twilight Dwellers: Ghosts, Gases, & Goblins of Colorado, by MaryJoy Martin, Pruett Publishing (2003). Third Edition from Graphic Arts Books, Pruett Series (2009)
Martin Something in the Wind: Spirits, Spooks, & Sprites of the San Juan, by MaryJoy Martin, Pruett Publishing (2001)
Martin Herrenrasse, SID Publications (1993) - fiction; pseudonym, J. Malcolm Martin (MaryJoy Martin)
Martin Suicide Legends, Homicide Rumors: The Griffin Mystery, by MaryJoy Martin, SID Publications (1986)
Martin Twilight Dwellers, by MaryJoy Martin, Pruett Publishing (1985)





 
Button
HOME



Who she was

Who she is




Who she was

Origins




Who she was

Artwork




Who she was

Photography




Who she was

Pixelations




Who she was

Music




Who she was

Witchery


Mantis
HOME ¦ ABOUT ¦ WRITTEN WORKS ¦ MOVIE ¦ ARTWORK ¦ PHOTOGRAPHY ¦ PIXELATIONS ¦ MUSIC ¦ WITCHERY ¦ CONTACT

Website design by Grasshopper * Best viewed in Mozilla Firefox
Website content copyright MaryJoyMartin.net © 2005 - 2013