More was born John N. Moore in Tennessee in 1830. He carried his given name with him as he struck out for California when he was about 20. He settled in Mariposa where he became an undersheriff and was prominent in local Masonic affairs. Sometime in the late 1850s, Moore got into a “fracas” of some sort that was embarrassing enough that he skipped town, headed north to Washington Territory, and changed his name to John Marion More.
His past apparently forgotten, More was elected to the Washington Territorial Legislature in 1861 from Walla Walla. In 1862, stories of gold in eastern Oregon Territory enticed More and his friend, D.H. Fogus to the Boise Hills. More and Fogus were among the first miners to strike gold. More led a mining party that founded Idaho City on October 7, 1862. He staked some paying claims before heading back to Olympia to serve a second term in the Washington Territorial Legislature, where he was unsuccessful in pushing for the creation of a new territory east of the Cascades. Other interests prevailed in forming a territory with different boundaries, called Idaho Territory, on March 4, 1863.
More came back to the Boise Basin where his mines were doing well. He and Fogus bought controlling interest in the Oro Fino and Morning Star mines in Owyhee County. They pulled more than a million dollars from those operations within two years. Nevertheless, the bills caught up with the mine developers and they went bankrupt in 1866.
J. Marion More’s fortunes had again turned around by the spring of 1867. He had acquired a large interest in the Ida-Elmore properties atop War Eagle Mountain. An underground war had erupted between those working the Ida-Elmore and the Golden Chariot mines over the boundaries of those claims. More had been a key negotiator in bringing peace to the miners.
The agreement that brought the peace was not universally embraced by every miner. One Sam Lockhart, who had worked for the Golden Chariot, confronted More after the latter had been celebrating with alcohol and friends on the afternoon of April 1, 1868. Heated words were exchanged between Lockhart and More. More, according to Lockhart, had raised his cane as if to strike the miner. Lockhart pulled his gun and shot More in the chest.
Bullets flew back and forth. Lockhart took one to the shoulder. His friends drug More away to a local restaurant where he died three hours later.
Lockhart insisted that a man in More’s party fired the first shot. That became moot when gangrene set in, causing Lockhart to lose first his arm, then his life, a few weeks later.
According to Findagrave.com two stones mark J. Marion More’s grave, one spelling it More and one Moore. Oh, and the N. in his given name stood for Neptune.