man who would become Louis L'Amour grew up in the fading days of the
American frontier. He was born Louis Dearborn LaMoore on March 22, 1908,
the last of seven children in the family of Dr. Louis Charles LaMoore
and Emily Dearborn LaMoore. His home, for the first fifteen years of
his life, was Jamestown, North Dakota, a medium sized farming community
situated in the valley where Pipestem Creek flows into the James River.
Doctor LaMoore was a large animal veterinarian who came to Dakota Territory
in 1882. As times changed he also sold farm machinery, bossed harvesting
crews, and held several positions in city and state government.
Though the land around Jamestown was mostly given to farming, Louis
and his older brothers often met cowboys as they came through on the
Northern Pacific Railroad, traveling to market with stockcars full of
cattle or returning to their ranches in the western part of the North
Dakota or Montana. For awhile Dr. L.C. LaMoore was a state Livestock
Inspector, a post that required him to certify the health of all the
cattle that came through the Jamestown area.
When Louis was very young his grandfather, Abraham Truman Dearborn,
came to live in a little house just in back of the LaMoore's. He told
Louis of the great battles in history and of his own experiences as
a soldier in both the civil and Indian wars. Two of Louis' uncles had
worked on ranches for many years, one as a manager and the other as
an itinerate cowboy. It was in the company of men such as these that
Louis was first exposed to the history and adventure of the American
Louis at 12 years old.
Though the LaMoore household had a modest collection of books, it was
at the nearby Alfred Dickey Free Library, where his eldest sister, Edna,
was a librarian, that Louis spent many long hours exploring in depth
subjects only touched on by the schools. He expanded his education by
studying far afield of the local curriculum. In addition to the non-fiction
study of history and the natural sciences, Louis was captivated by the
fiction of Robert Louis Stevenson, Jack London, Edgar Rice Burroughs
and others ... letting them carry him away to the south seas, the gold
fields of the Yukon, the Spanish Main, the center of the earth and the
dying red planet of Mars.
By the beginning of the 1920s Louis and his adopted brother John were
the only children left in the LaMoore household. Edna, had moved away
to pursue a career as a schoolteacher. His eldest brother, Parker, was
on his way to becoming a successful newspaperman and political aid.
Second brother, Yale, managed a grocery store where John and Louis occasionally
worked. The twins, Clara and Clarice, had died while infants and his
beloved sister Emmy Lou had succumbed to the 1918 epidemic of Spanish
My father, Dr. L. C.
La Moore (He altered
The members of the LaMoore family were intelligent, well read people
and all of them had a hand in Louis' education. Emmy Lou had taught
him how to read. His father taught him the ways and wiles of animals,
a deep belief in hard work, and the fact that a man could always find
a way to solve a problem. The basics of learning he got from his mother
who had once trained as a schoolteacher, and from Edna who passed along
her insights into libraries and research. Parker provided examples of
a reporter's speed and simplicity of prose and the public relations
savvy of a veteran political aid. Yale showed Louis a spirited love
of life, a sharp judge of character, and a gift for improvisation. Louis'
adopted brother John was a spunky street fighter from New York and an
example of a natural survivor, quick of wit and sharp of tongue.
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