Jesse James is murdered

Jesse James is murdered

One of America’s most famous criminals, Jesse James, is shot to death by fellow gang member Bob Ford, who betrayed James for reward money. For 16 years, Jesse and his brother, Frank, committed robberies and murders throughout the Midwest. Detective magazines and pulp novels glamorized the James gang, turning them into mythical Robin Hoods who were driven to crime by unethical landowners and bankers. In reality, Jesse James was a ruthless killer who stole only for himself.

The teenage James brothers joined up with southern guerrilla leaders when the Civil War broke out. Both participated in massacres of settlers and troops affiliated with the North. After the war was over, the quiet farming life of the James brothers’ youth no longer seemed enticing, and the two turned to crime. Jesse’s first bank robbery occurred on February 13, 1866, in Liberty, Missouri.

Over the next couple of years, the James brothers became the suspects in several bank robberies throughout western Missouri. However, locals were sympathetic to ex-southern guerrillas and vouched for the brothers. Throughout the late 1860s and early 1870s, the James gang robbed only a couple banks a year, otherwise keeping a low profile.

In 1873, the James gang got into the train robbery game. During one such robbery, the gang declined to take any money or valuables from southerners. The train robberies brought out the Pinkerton Detective Agency, employed to bring the James gang to justice. However, the Pinkerton operatives’ botched attempt to kill James left a woman and her child injured and elicited public sympathy for Jesse and Frank James.

The James gang suffered a setback in 1876 when they raided the town of Northfield, Minnesota. The Younger brothers, cousins of the James brothers, were shot and wounded during the brazen midday robbery. After running off in a different direction from Jesse and Frank, the Younger brothers were captured by a large posse and later sentenced to life in prison. Jesse and Frank, the only members of the gang to escape successfully, headed to Tennessee to hide out.

After spending a few quiet years farming, Jesse organized a new gang. Charlie and Robert Ford were on the fringe of the new gang, but they disliked Jesse intensely and decided to kill him for the reward money. On April 3, while Jesse’s mother made breakfast, the new gang met to hear Jesse’s plan for the next robbery. When Jesse turned his back to adjust a picture on the wall, Bob Ford shot him several times in the back.

His tombstone reads, “Jesse W. James, Died April 3, 1882, Aged 34 years, 6 months, 28 days, Murdered by a traitor and a coward whose name is not worthy to appear here.”

READ MORE: 7 Things You May Not Know About Jesse James


The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a 2007 American epic revisionist Western film written and directed by Andrew Dominik. Adapted from Ron Hansen's 1983 novel of the same title, the film dramatizes the relationship between Jesse James (Brad Pitt) and Robert Ford (Casey Affleck), focusing on the events that lead up to the titular killing.

Photography started at August 29, 2005 and ended in December 2005. Filming took place near Calgary, Canmore, and Edmonton, Alberta, and Winnipeg, Manitoba. To achieve the visual style he wanted for the movie, Dominik took influences from many sources, including still photographers, images clipped from magazines, stills from Days of Heaven, and even Polaroids. The original edit of the movie was envisioned by Dominik to be "a dark, contemplative examination of fame and infamy," reaching more than three hours in runtime. This was opposed by the studio and the movie was edited repeatedly.

Initially intended for a 2006 release, it was postponed and re-edited for a September 21, 2007 release date. Before it released to theatres, it had its world premiere at the 64th Venice International Film Festival on September 2, 2007. [3] Although a Box-office bomb, the film received positive reviews from the critics, with Pitt and Affleck's performances receiving widespread acclaim. It received two nominations at the 80th Academy Awards Best Cinematography and Best Supporting Actor (for Affleck). It has since gained a large fan following with many of them organizing re-releases of the film under the "Jesse James Revival" banner. [4]


Jesse James is murdered - HISTORY

The outlaw Jesse Woodson James (1847-1882) is generally thought to have been shot and killed by Robert Ford on April 3, 1882. Ford, a James gang member, reportedly shot James, then 34 years old, in the back of the head at the Kearney, Missouri home of Ford’s sister as they prepared to head out for another robbery. Ford’s motive was to obtain a reward. Ford and his brother pled guilty to murder but were pardoned by the Missouri governor Thomas Crittendon. Although James body was identified and buried in Kearney, Missouri, alternative accounts persist that he somehow faked his death and moved to Texas.

One such tale has him moving to the Granbury area (Hood County) and working until his retirement as a railroad contractor under the name of J. W. Gates or J. Frank Dalton. In his latter days, Dalton reportedly revealed his true identity to Sheriff Oran C. Baker before Dalton passed away at age 107. Sheriff Baker’s account was that shortly before Dalton’s death, he had been contacted by Dalton’s grandson who had brought his grandfather back to Hood County to live out his days. They met at the residence of a Sam Rash where they talked for the next 9 days until Dalton’s death. During that time, Dalton came to trust the sheriff, giving him his spurs, handcuff and favorite necktie. The sheriff was called to Estes Funeral Home following Dalton’s death where he performed an examination of the body. Sheriff Baker said that he counted 32 healed bullet wounds from Dalton’s forehead to his knees, a rope burn scar on his neck, healed wounds on both feet and a missing end to his index finger. As a result of all this, Sheriff Baker concluded that the man he had interviewed was indeed Jesse Woodson James.

There is now a large granite headstone in the name of Jesse Woodson James in Granbury, Texas at a cemetery near the intersection of North Crockett and Moore Streets. His date of birth is listed as September 5, 1847 and date of death listed as August 15, 1951 and also bears the words “supposedly killed in 1882.”. The gravesite belonged to a local named resident Sam Rash. A DNA test was to have been attempted in February, 2000 after a local businessman and Jesse James enthusiast financed the exhumation of Dalton’s remains. The test was not conducted after workers discovered that the grave site was incorrectly marked. A local judge had allowed the exhumation of a gravesite thought to be Dalton’s. When the workers reached the casket, it was metal rather than wood, as Dalton’s had been. The casket exhumed was found to be that of Henry Holland, a son in law of Sam Rash, who died in the 1920s and is also buried in the Rash plot. The judge’s exhumation order allowed for the removal of one casket, so the procedure was concluded. Granbury residents said that Dalton’s gravestones had been stolen several times over the years, leading to confusion of the location of Dalton’s and Holland’s graves.

There’s a similar story that James died at the age of 96 and was buried in Blevins, Texas (Falls County) near Marlin under the name of James L. Courtney. Reportedly in 1871, Courtney confessed to former Texas Ranger Thomas Barron that he was the outlaw, Jesse James. Courtney married Barron’s daughter Mary Ellen shortly thereafter and lived out the rest of his life in Blevins, Texas. As far as we can determine, no DNA tests have been performed on Courtney’s remains. However, those familiar with their family genealogy say that Courtney and James could actually have been distantly related even if they were not the same individual.

So, the two Texas links to Jesse James remain unproven and the mystery remains unsolved. For many years, the Dalton gravesite was part of a Sunday afternoon Granbury Cemetery Stroll with costumed re-enactors portraying the roles of Dalton and Holland, among other notable residents. At this writing, the cemetery is part of the Granbury Ghosts and Legends Tour conducted each Friday and Saturday night, year round.


How historically accurate are film portrayals of Jesse James?

Jesse James has been reinvented a number of times on film. Historian Mark Glancy evaluates the historical accuracy of three cinematic portrayals of the legendary outlaw who was shot in the back by his accomplice Robert Ford in 1882

This competition is now closed

Published: April 3, 2019 at 10:00 am

In context: who was Jesse James?

Celebrated in dime novels, stage shows, songs, television programmes and films, Jesse James is one of America’s most notorious outlaw heroes. Legend casts him as a gun-slinging ‘Robin Hood’, who robbed trains and banks as a protest against big business and the oppression of ordinary folk on the frontier. Evading the law throughout a 16-year criminal career (1866–82) only enhanced his status, and when he was shot in the back by his accomplice Robert Ford, a popular ballad reviled “the dirty little coward who laid poor Jesse in his grave”.

Jesse James

Dir: Henry King, USA, 1939. With Tyrone Power, Henry Fonda, Nancy Kelly

Here we find the legend in its purest form. Jesse is introduced as a wholesome and smiling farm boy, growing up in Missouri after the Civil War. Trouble comes with the westward expansion of the railroads. Ruthless agents force farmers to sell their land at rock-bottom prices, but Jesse and his older brother, Frank, stand up to them, and in the ensuing confrontation their mother is killed.

Hence, the brothers set out on a criminal path to seek revenge for their mother’s killing. Jesse’s wife, Zee, is the voice of morality in the film, insisting that Jesse must give himself up, serve time for his crimes, and return to her as a free and honest man.

But a deal between Jesse and a benevolent federal marshal is scuppered by a railroad company executive, and he is forced to continue his criminal life. The film therefore presents it as a sad irony that this reluctant outlaw, seeking to live a respectable life, is shot down in his own front room and while reaching for a framed sampler that reads ‘Home Sweet Home’.

Far-fetched as all of this may be, the film gains some authenticity from location shooting in Missouri, from the restrained use of Technicolor, and from an earnest cast. It also has memorable action sequences. One night-time scene, showing a black-clad Jesse leaping from his horse on to a moving train, and then making his way like a cat on top of the moving carriages, was so striking that it was used again in The True Story of Jesse James.

Another scene, in which Jesse and Frank leap off a cliff top and into a river while on horseback, was memorable for the wrong reasons. A horse was killed, and henceforth humane societies would insist on supervising the use of animals on film sets.

But is it accurate?

“About the only connection it has with fact is that there once was a man named Jesse and he did ride a horse”. So said Jesse James’ granddaughter, who served as an historical advisor on the film but nevertheless offered this blunt verdict to the press when it was first released.

It did not stop audiences from flocking to see it. The film’s populist sentiments – sympathising with a beleaguered ordinary man who fights against corrupt big business – played well in the Depression. A sequel, The Return of Frank James (1940) followed close on its heels.

Accuracy: 3/10

The True Story of Jesse James

Dir: Nicholas Ray, USA, 1957. With Robert Wagner, Jeffrey Hunter, Hope Lange

The title sounds as though it is a retort to the previous film, but both Jesse James and The True Story of Jesse James were made by the same studio, Twentieth Century-Fox, and both films insist that their hero was forced by harsh circumstances into a life of crime.

However, The True Story… acknowledges that it was the Civil War that fuelled Jesse James’s criminal career. The film offers at least a glimmer of the bloody conflicts between unionists and rebels in Missouri during and after the war, and it rightly portrays the James family as staunch Confederate rebels, at war with their unionist neighbours.

At the age of 16, in 1864, Jesse follows his brother Frank’s lead and goes off to fight. During the postwar reconstruction period, the conflicts scarcely subside, and for many years embittered Confederates regard Jesse’s crimes as a form of continued rebellion. Thus, we see that the young Jesse was brutalised by the war and never escaped from its influence.

Yet the film goes too far in portraying Missouri’s Confederates as a persecuted minority, and it is too eager to gloss over the savage violence committed by guerrilla fighters (or ‘bushwhackers’) such as Frank and Jesse. Their subsequent criminal careers are portrayed as relatively harmless too, at least until the notorious Northfield, Minnesota, bank raid (in 1876), which is staged effectively as a wild calamity.

The film does allow that Jesse developed a violent nature as his career progressed, but it persists with the sentimental notion that in the end, when he was shot in his own front room, he longed for a quiet and lawful life.

But is it accurate?

The film implicitly acknowledges its bias. It is structured along the lines of Citizen Kane (1941), beginning with a journalist asking, “What makes him Jesse James?”, and then proceeding with a series of flashbacks that are clearly signalled as coming from the sympathetic perspective of his mother, his wife, and his brother Frank.

However, the emphasis on Jesse’s troubled family relations and his youthful traumas brings the film too close to Nicholas Ray’s earlier film, Rebel Without a Cause (1955), and the notion that teenage angst offers an explanation for any offence. This may have played well in the drive-in movie theatres of the 1950s, but it makes the film seem dated and melodramatic now.

Accuracy: 6/10

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Dir: Andrew Dominik, USA, 2007. With Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Shepard, Sam Rockwell, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeremy Renner

Based on Ron Hansen’s highly regarded novel, this recent entry in the long line of films about Jesse James abandons the legend and takes a more incisive look at both the outlaw and his killer. In previous films, Ford was almost always a snivelling coward, who appears in the last reel, trembling as he takes aim at Jesse’s back.

Now he is at the centre of an account of the last months of Jesse’s life. The camera watches the 19-year-old Ford as he watches his hero, fixated by the man he has idolised since he was a boy. “I can’t figure if you want to be like me or you want to be me,” Jesse comments, and Ford has no answer.

His admiration gradually becomes unhinged as he observes Jesse at close quarters, seeing the viciousness beneath the outlaw’s charisma. A scene in which Jesse gently handles snakes, and then kills them with abrupt ease, offers an early warning that fraternising with him does not guarantee safety from his temper or paranoia.

At this stage in his life, he has much to fear: his trusted old gang has disbanded, the rebel cause that has protected him is losing its power, and the governor has put a high price on his head. Indeed, the film suggests that Jesse James allowed Robert Ford to shoot him, hastening his own inevitable demise and condemning his betrayer to infamy.

But is it accurate?

This interpretation of the relationship between Ford and James is made all the more plausible by the casting. Brad Pitt’s own status adds an uncanny dimension to this portrait of the beginnings of celebrity culture, while Casey Affleck perfectly captures the nervous, creepy intensity of the starstruck.

With a haunting score and stunning cinematography, the film is a landmark achievement. Audiences, however, complained about its slow pace and long running time, and it failed miserably at the box-office. The legend, it seems, holds far greater appeal than these disturbing truths.

Accuracy: 9/10

Other films about Jesse James:

I Shot Jesse James

(dir: Sam Fuller, USA, 1949)
A rare but largely fictional version of the story from Robert Ford’s point of view.

The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid

(dir: Philip Kaufman, USA, 1972)
Robert Duvall plays Jesse James in a film that focuses on his most ambitious and calamitous bank robbery.

The Long Riders

(dir: Walter Hill, USA, 1980)
Brothers James and Stacy Keach star as Jesse and Frank James in this admired Western.

American Outlaws

(dir: Les Mayfield, USA, 2001)
Jesse James is given the Young Guns treatment, with Colin Farrell in the leading role.

The Spirit of ’76

(dir: Frank Montgomery, USA, 1917)
This long lost film is now known only through court records and press reports.

Mark Glancy teaches film history at Queen Mary University of London. He is the co-editor of The New Film History (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).

This article was first published on History Extra in April 2018


New Book: ‘The Mysterious Life and Faked Death of Jesse James’

The story of the notorious outlaw Jesse James’s assassination at the hands of Robert Ford has been clouded with mystery ever since its inception. Now, James’s great-great-grandchildren Daniel and Teresa Duke present the results of more than 20 years of exhaustive research into state and federal records, photographs, newspaper reports, diaries, and a 1995 DNA test in search of the truth behind Jesse James’s demise.

Explaining how the accepted version of the history of Jesse James is wrong, the authors confirm their family’s oral tradition that James faked his own death in 1882 and lived out his remaining days in Texas. They methodically unravel the legend surrounding his death, with evidence vetted by qualified experts and civic authorities. They share the journal of their great-great-grandfather, kept from 1871 to 1876 and verified to be written in James’s handwriting. They reveal forensically confirmed photographs of James before and after his supposed killing, including one of James attending his own funeral. Examining James’s life both before and after his faked death, they provide an account of where he lived and who he associated with, including his interactions with secret societies. They compare the contradictory newspaper reports of James’s death with accounts by his family and associates, which support that the man buried as James was actually his cousin, and reveal how James tricked authorities into believing he had been killed.

Further supporting their claim, the authors debunk the DNA test results of the exhumation of James’s body in 1995. The Dukes detail the ways in which the test was fraudulent, an assertion supported by the deputy counselor for Clay County at the time of the testing. Backed by a wealth of evidence, the descendants of Jesse James conclusively prove what really happened to America’s Robin Hood.”

‘The Mysterious Life and Faked Death of Jesse James’ by Teresa F. Duke and Daniel J. Duke

Available for pre-order now and slated for release June 9th anywhere books are sold!

Thanks to our late mother/author Betty Dorsett Duke, my sister/author Teresa Duke, our ancestor Jesse Woodson James, our wonderful agent Fiona Spencer Thomas, our friend Matt Hamlin and friend/author Pip Lee and others.

Also, a huge thank you to our great publisher Inner Traditions/Bear & Co.

You can read our first book review here: Whiskey & Wit Book Reviews!

Please stop by my Goodreads page as well.

You can find the book at the locations below and many others around the globe.


Articles Featuring Jesse James From HistoryNet Magazines

The house at 1318 Lafayette St. in St. Joseph, Missouri, was a one-story white wood cottage with green shutters, sitting in a lot on the brow of a hill overlooking the town. It was Monday, April 3, 1882, and over breakfast the man who rented the house, who was going by the name Thomas Howard, commented on a newspaper article about the surrender of Jesse James Gang member Dick Liddil to Missouri authorities. Liddil was a traitor and ought to be hanged, he said. There was consider­able unease among the two guests, brothers Charlie and Bob Ford, but they pretended not to care.

After breakfast, Mr. Howard and Charlie Ford went to a stable behind the house to curry the horses. Upon returning to the house, the two men entered the living room. “It’s an awfully hot day,” said Howard, pulling off his coat and vest and tossing them aside. “I guess I will take off my pistols,” he continued, explaining that he didn’t want anyone who might be walking by outside to look through the window and see him armed. He picked up a feather duster and stepped up on a chair to clean some pictures on the wall. Bob and Charlie quickly moved between Howard and his guns, Charlie giving a wink to Bob. Both drew revolvers on the man on the chair, now with his back turned. Hearing the click of a weapon being cocked, Howard started to turn his head, and then the report of Bob’s six-shooter reverberated through the house. Charlie didn’t even bother to fire but lowered his gun as the man fell to the floor, with a bullet in his skull.

Howard’s wife rushed into the room, and the brothers tried to explain that the six-shooter had accidentally gone off. “Yes,” the wife said as she bent over her husband’s corpse, “I guess it went off on purpose.” The Fords dashed to the telegraph office down the way and sent messages to Clay County Sheriff Henry Timberlake, Kansas City Police Commissioner Henry H. Craig and Missouri Governor Thomas Crittenden. Last, they used a newfangled device known as a telephone to call the office of City Marshal Enos Craig. Thomas Howard, the man they had killed, had earlier used the alias John Davis “Dave” Howard, among others. But his real name was Jesse James.

The Ford boys first became acquainted with outlaw Jesse James in the summer of 1879. Jesse had been living in Tennessee since 1877, trying to “go straight” following the disastrous attempt to rob the Bank of Northfield, Minn., the year before. While his older brother Frank made the transition to peaceful citizen, Jesse suffered from malaria and found it difficult to adjust to honest work. He returned to Missouri to put together a new gang and in the process crossed paths with the Fords. James T. and John Ford, the father and brother of Bob and Charlie, had served in Virginia under Colonel John Singleton Mosby , the legendary “Gray Ghost” of the Confederacy, and were fellow guerrillas. Jesse, who had served under guerrilla leaders William Quantrill and “Bloody Bill” Anderson , probably swapped more than a few war stories on his occasional visits. Jesse liked to at least maintain the pretense of being harassed by former Unionists in order to obtain food, shelter and information from ex-Confederates while he was on the dodge.

One of the recruits to this new outfit was Ed Miller, whose brother Clell had been killed in the September 1876 Northfield raid. Miller knew the Fords, and it was Miller who first brought Jesse to the Ford house, the Harbison place, outside the town of Richmond, in Missouri’s Ray County. In the summer of 1880, Jesse and Miller had a falling out. The exact details are unclear, but it appears that Ed wanted to leave the gang, and Jesse got the notion he was going to be betrayed and fatally shot Miller. Jesse turned up at the Harbison place with Miller’s horse, which he left there, telling Charlie Ford that Ed had become ill and had gone down to Hot Springs, Ark. Enter Jim Cummins, a former guerrilla comrade of Jesse’s. Jim’s sister Artella had married Bill Ford, uncle of Bob and Charlie. The couple now lived at the old Cummins place in Clay County, a few miles from the James farm. Cummins became suspicious that something bad had happened and tried to locate Miller. A trip to Nashville, Tenn., where Jesse was living, in the winter of 1880-81, brought similar suspicions on Cummins, when he started asking too many questions. He fled in the night to avoid a likely bullet from Jesse.

On Friday evening, March 25, 1881, almost two weeks following the robbery of a Corps of Engineers payroll at Muscle Shoals, Ala., gang member Bill Ryan became drunk at a small store a few miles north of Nashville. Brandishing a revolver, he claimed to be Tom Hill, “outlaw against State, County, and the United States Government.” He was soon taken into custody. On his person was found some of the Muscle Shoals loot, and he was quickly lodged in the Nashville calaboose. Clearly, Jesse’s choice of gang members left a lot to be desired. It would only get worse.

The bad news about Ryan arrived via the local newspapers, and Frank, Jesse, their respective families and gang member Dick Liddil were soon beating a hasty retreat to Kentucky, with the law on their tail. Soon that state was getting too hot, and they decided to go back to Missouri. Jesse saw this as a chance to lure his now unemployed brother Frank back into the holdup business. He also wanted to keep an eye on legal proceedings against Ryan, who was extradited to Independence, Mo., in June, to be tried for his part in the Glendale train robbery, and to follow up leads on Jim Cummins.

Jesse soon settled in Kansas City, and was planning a raid on the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad somewhere near Gallatin, Mo. It was said that the trains brought large sums of cash to the Farmer’s Exchange Bank there twice a week. On the evening of July 15, 1881, the gang struck near the whistle stop at Winston. Conductor William Westfall was killed in the process. It was later said that Westfall had been on the train that took Pinkerton detectives on their 1875 raid on the James farm, but this was apparently not known at the time. The crime created a sensation in the press. Governor Thomas T. Crittenden, who had vowed to rid the state of the James Gang in his campaign the year before, held a meeting in St. Louis with railroad and express company executives, who promised a collective reward of $50,000 to put the gang out of business. Frank and Jesse had a reward of $5,000 each on their heads for their capture and delivery to authorities, with another $5,000 on conviction. There was no mention of it being dead or alive. Handbills were printed to this effect, though in later years counterfeit “Dead or Alive” posters would be marketed to unwary tourists.

Following the Winston robbery, the gang scattered. Dick Liddil spent a good bit of time at the Harbison place with the Fords, and the brothers were reportedly initiated into the holdup business in August 1881. Liddil, a convicted horse thief prior to joining Jesse’s new gang in 1879, took Charlie Ford with him to rob a stage running between Excelsior Springs and Vibbard. The driver was hauling just one passenger. “Charlie made them stand and I made them deliver,” Liddil recalled in his later confession, the take being a whopping $30. About a week later, Liddil put together another sub-gang consisting of himself, Jesse’s cousin Wood Hite, and Bob and Charlie Ford. On Thursday evening, August 25, they robbed a man with a wagon of $20 to $30 halfway between Lexington and the railroad junction at North Lexington. They tied up their victim and continued to wait for other prey. About five minutes later, they halted a stage with seven passengers, six men and a woman.

“All of you hold up your hands and get out of there,” one of the outlaws commanded. Bob and Wood held double-barreled shotguns on the men after they stepped down, while Dick and Charlie, armed with revolvers, relieved them of around $200 and several watches. All the bandits wore blue masks. The woman, a Miss Hunt from St. Joseph, was allowed to remain in the coach and to keep her valuables. One of the victims, C.W. Horner of Appleton City, a cripple studying for the ministry, was relieved of $52. Oddly, it was the same stage driver, a Mr. Gibson, who had been robbed by the James-Younger Gang seven years before, almost to the day, near the same place.

MORE PLANS FOR JESSE
Meanwhile, Jesse James had other plans afoot. Gang member Bill Ryan was being held in jail in Independence to face trial for the robbery of the Chicago & Alton at Glendale. Jesse would kill two birds with one stone—rob the railroad again, not far from the same spot and at the same time intimidate railroad employees, some of whom might testify at Ryan’s trial. On Wednesday night, September 7, 1881, six years to the day after the Northfield robbery attempt, the James Gang went to work at a 30-foot chasm along a curve known as Blue Cut. The trains were known to slow down at this point, and men could be placed along the rim of the cut to cover the proceedings below.

A masked man was placed on the track, beside a pile of rocks, where he waved a lantern to get the oncoming westbound locomotive to halt. Wood Hite and Charlie Ford were to take the engine and express car. A few blows to the door by the now captive engineer were enough to open the latter, and the agent for the U.S. Express, who had slipped out, was coerced to return with threats on the engineer’s life. This and a perceived slowness at opening the safe caused Charlie Ford to pistol-whip the clerk. Less than $400 was found inside, and Ford gave the man another whack for good measure.

Little did the bandits know that an Adams Express safe, hidden under a pile of chicken coops, contained more cash. Frustrated, the outlaws proceeded to rob the passengers. The whole affair lasted about half an hour. Before leaving, one of the outlaws, thought to be Jesse, shook hands with engineer “Chappy” Foote, gave him $2 and told him to “spend it on the boys.” The outlaw then warned Foote: “You’d better quit running this road. We’re going to make it so hot for this damned Alton road they can’t run.” Newspaper accounts reported the anguished passengers’ arrival at the Union Depot in Kansas City. Many had lost every cent they had and were stranded.

In the latter part of September, Ryan went on trial in Independence. An official of the Chicago & Alton told Jackson County prosecutor William Wallace that his superiors didn’t think any of the gang could be convicted in Missouri but that if Ryan was convicted, the railroad might be singled out for further raids. He asked Wallace not to call any railroad men as witnesses. During the course of the trial, some of Ryan’s friends, fully armed, hovered ominously about the courthouse.

Wallace’s key witness was former gang member Tucker Bassham, convicted and sentenced to 10 years for participation in the Glendale heist. Crittenden offered him a full pardon for his testimony. Ryan was found guilty and sentenced to 25 years in prison. There was talk of a possible rescue attempt, but the old jail was built like a fortress, and the prisoner was guarded by Captain M.M. Langhorne, described as “one of the coolest, gamest men” of Joe Shelby’s former Confederate Brigade. Several other guards were also former Confederates, and even prosecutor Wallace had been forced to relocate with his family during the war after their homestead was ransacked by Kansas jayhawkers. “The jury that convicted Ryan broke the back of outlawry in the state of Missouri,”com­mented Wallace. “Thousands of mouths that had been locked by fear were opened….”

DEATH OF A FIRST COUSIN
Sometime in the fall of 1881, Jesse James resumed his pursuit of Jim Cummins. This took him to the home of Bill Ford, whose wife was Cummins’ sister. In an effort to get information on Cummins’ location, Jesse roughed-up Samuel Ford, 15-year-old first cousin of Bob and Charlie. It was a bad mistake. John W. Shouse, a neighbor who lived about a mile or so from the James farm, was a fellow Southern sympathizer who was also getting tired of the brigandage. When he learned of what had happened to the Ford boy, he enlisted several neighbors who were armed and went on the watch for Jesse. It was around this time that Bill Ford and William Wysong, one of the neighbors of Shouse, brought Bob Ford into the fold.

Meanwhile, Dick Liddil, during a trip to Kentucky, got into an argument with Wood Hite, first cousin of Frank and Jesse James. Liddil was said to be having an affair with Hite’s stepmother. It all culminated in a shootout at the Harbison place on December 4, 1881, with Hite and Liddil firing at each other and then Bob Ford joining the fray. Ford fired one shot at Hite, which he would claim was the fatal bullet. In fact, Liddil had shot Hite as well, and it’s still unclear who deserved credit for the killing. Both, however, would be considered equally guilty if Jesse only knew.

An arrangement was made for Bob Ford to meet Governor Crittenden on January 12, 1882, in Kansas City. While Bob would later claim that he struck a deal to get Jesse “dead or alive,” both his brother Charlie and the governor later denied this. It was for the “capture” of Jesse. Bob was to coordinate with Shouse, Wysong and other neighbors, as well as Sheriff Timberlake of Clay County and Police Commissioner Craig of Kansas City. “There was no sort of bargain about his receiving a portion of the reward and a pardon if he would kill Jesse James,” Crittenden later said. “It was of course known that the outlaw had sworn never to be taken alive, and men who went in search of him were acquainted with this fact.” If you went after Jesse you took your own chances. Dick Liddil decided not to risk it. On January 24, he secretly surrendered to authorities and soon helped Craig and Timberlake capture Clarence Hite, Wood’s brother. Clarence was taken without a fight (and without extradition papers) at his home near Adairville, Ky., on February 11 and hustled back to Missouri by rail to answer for his role in the Winston and Blue Cut robberies.

Time was running out for Jesse James. “He said he expected to be a bandit as long as he lived,” recalled Charlie Ford, who had helped Jesse move from Kansas City to St. Joseph in November 1881 and lived with Jesse and his family. In early March 1882, Charlie accompanied Jesse in casing a number of banks in northeast Kansas. Jesse asked Charlie if he knew of any possible recruits to help with future robberies. Charlie suggested his brother Bob. After looking over likely targets, Jesse and Charlie headed back to pick up Bob. On the day of the killing, April 3, Jesse had talked of leaving for Platte City, to rob the bank there the following day. A trial was in progress, and he felt this would distract the local population. The Fords wondered if he hadn’t suspected them after reading about Liddil and would try to gun them down as he had Ed Miller, out in the middle of nowhere.

The reaction of Commissioner Craig and Sheriff Timberlake to the news of Jesse’s death was mixed. “Hurrah for you,” telegraphed Craig, who said he was coming to St. Joseph. Timberlake, on the other hand, had expected to be in on the capture and to have a piece of the reward. According to one of his deputies, the news of Jesse’s killing “was a dampener.” Timberlake, who had served in the Confederate Army and knew Jesse from before his days as an outlaw, identified the body, as did others who passed through the funeral parlor where the corpse was displayed and photographed. The body bore wounds from the Civil War that matched those carried by Jesse James. Jesse’s death had been reported at least as early as late 1879, when a hoax was perpetrated by former gang member George Shepherd, who claimed he had killed the bandit in a shootout in southwest Missouri. Authorities wanted to be sure they had their man. In fact, on April 4, the day after the shooting, the Los Angeles Times raised the doubts in an editorial comment. “Jesse James is like a cat he has been killed a great many times, only to as often enjoy a resurrection.” The Boston Globe had a rebuttal two days later, “Any Western reporter who now resurrects Jesse James ought to be shot.”

AFTER THE ASSASSINATION
Indeed there had been a full coroner’s inquest, an autopsy and photographs taken of the corpse. The body was taken to Kearney, Mo., for burial in the yard at the farm where Jesse had been born. The Fords had been taken into custody and lodged in jail. Wood Hite’s body was dug from the Harbison place when someone got the idea that there was a reward, only to discover that, as with Jesse, it was for his capture. Bob and Charlie were arraigned on charges of first-degree murder on April 17, 1882, and sentenced to hang after both pleaded guilty, but they were pardoned that same afternoon by Governor Crittenden. If the Ford brothers had expected any reward money, though, they were most likely disappointed. There was considerable commotion over the killing of Jesse for the next several months as newspapers found that, in death as well as life, he could sell papers.

But that wasn’t all. Jesse’s widow, Zee, had to support herself and her two children—6-year-old Jesse Edwards and 2-year-old Mary Susan—and was forced to sell some personal effects at the house in St. Joseph, including the family dog. Ten cents admission was charged to visit the house, and souvenir hunters reportedly made off with almost as much as they bought, chipping off pieces of the fence, house and outbuildings. Henrietta Saltzman, owner of the house, would sue Missouri and Governor Crittenden, claiming that the killing was the work of state agents. Mrs. Saltzman had been renting the house for $14 a month to Jesse James, but a few weeks after his death, she moved back and began charging visitors a quarter a head to visit the place, now replete with bullet hole in the wall. Over the next year and a half, she would make a killing. A reporter who visited the house in September 1883 estimated that she had made, between admission charged to thousands of visitors and splinters of wood sold as mementoes, $1,500 off the house as a tourist attraction. The reporter also noted that there were some 50 “bullets that killed Jesse James” floating around. Never mind that the slug had never exited the head and had been pulled out of Jesse’s brain during the autopsy.

Bob and Charlie Ford were lured to the stage, and by early August 1882 were in Chicago playing what was described as a “State Street dive.” The brothers considered moving on to Cincinnati, but instead took their act to Chicago’s Park Theater, where they began to do a depiction of the killing of Jesse James. At the end of the month, Bob was arrested for disorderly conduct and carrying concealed weapons. From Chicago the Fords moved on to New York, playing Brooklyn in late September. At Bunnell’s Museum, they were occupying a spot in Curiosity Hall when a woman thought by Bob to be Frank James’ wife appeared and sent panic through the brothers. The boys decided to move on to the Broadway Museum, which they played through the first week in October.

Bob Ford was due back in Missouri that month for trial at Plattsburg on charges of murdering Wood Hite. The jury brought in a not guilty verdict on the 26th, and Bob and Charlie again left to pursue their career on the stage in the East. On December 21, they were slated to give “a descriptive lecture” at Hartford, Conn., in Allyn Hall, but the door receipts amounted to only $2 and the appearance was cancelled. Next stop Boston, where the brothers played the Dime Museum at Horticultural Hall. This institution, which billed itself as a “select family resort for ladies and children,” was reported to be “packed to suffocation” for the Fords’ appearance, at a dime a head.

The boys had just been introduced to the crowd when a young man in the front row, thought to be intoxicated, called the Fords “damned cowards.” Charlie was restrained from jumping off the stage, but there were other remarks, and the manager, somewhat indignant himself, allowed the boys to go into the audience. Guns were reportedly drawn and two men were pistol whipped. The audience stampeded, a woman screamed and fainted and a large group smashed a window to escape, while others surrounded the Ford boys. A police officer named Robinson led half a dozen other policemen to the building, and they were about to haul the boys off when the manager intervened. He begged the police to charge the Fords later, and he would vouch for them to appear. The police agreed, and the Fords made their later performances at the Dime Museum. There were some hisses from the crowd, and the atmosphere was tense, but the show went on to conclusion without further outbursts. A Chicago Daily Tribune editorial commented that it was “a grave mistake…in allowing them any greater freedom than a comfortable cell affords.” A few days later, after the brothers had jumped bail and left Boston, the Boston Globe commented that “but for the undesirableness of the presence of the Fords in the city under any circumstances,” the paper would suggest that Officer Robinson be made to find, arrest and return the Fords at his own expense. But their checkered career on the stage had a year further to run, in which time they threatened the manager of the National Theater of Philadelphia, who sarcastically replied via mail that he had an opening for them in July 1982, nearly a century later, if they wished to play there.

Meanwhile, on the evening of July 2, 1883, Charlie Ford left his pistol in a Kansas City saloon, and when barkeep George Wampel pointed it at a patron named Webster, the gun accidentally went off, killing the teamster. A month later, Charlie was arrested and charged with participation in the 1881 Blue Cut train robbery, but he made the $5,000 bond. He claimed in the press that he was working with local lawmen to infiltrate the James Gang at the time, but Sheriff Timberlake, Commissioner Craig and Governor Crittenden were dumbfounded by his statement. On September 20, the Fords appeared in a Louisville, Ky., variety house, in what was called The Brother’s Vow or, The Bandit’s Revenge. They were hissed and hooted by the audience at the point where Bob killed Jesse.

In addition to Blue Cut, Charlie had been charged with the 1881 stage robbery north of Lexington, and was to go on trial in Richmond on November 23, but apparently a continuance was granted in the case, which had been brought by Jesse James’ widow and mother, in an attempt at revenge. The stage career of the Fords ended in St. Louis in January 1884. Charlie, suffering from tuberculosis and addicted to morphine, shot himself. He had forfeited bond in the Richmond case, having failed to appear in court. Bob Ford would move west to Las Vegas, New Mexico Territory, where he operated a saloon briefly with Dick Liddil and had an equally lackluster career as a policeman. Finally settling in Creede, Colo., where he ran another saloon, the man who shot Jesse James was gunned down on June 8, 1892, by Ed O’Kelley, with a sawed-off shotgun. Although O’Kelley might have had other reasons for murdering the unpopular Ford, one possible motive was that while growing up in Missouri, O’Kelley had viewed the notorious Jesse James as a hero.

This article was written by Ted P. Yeatman. Ted Yeatman is considered one of the nation’s foremost authorities on the James brothers. This article originally appeared in the December 2006 issue of Wild West magazine. For more great articles be sure to subscribe to Wild West magazine today!


Partners in Crime

Some historians accuse Jesse and Frank of being cruel to Union soldiers, while others argue that it was the brutal treatment the brothers received that turned them to a life of crime. Either way, they rebelled against harsh postwar civil legislation and took the law into their own hands. They began robbing trains, stagecoaches and banks that were owned or operated by a Northern institution.

There has been speculation that the boys and their gangs were like Robin Hood, robbing the rich and giving to the poor, but there is no evidence for that. Most likely, they kept the money for themselves. From 1860 to 1882, the James Gang was the most feared band of outlaws in American history, responsible for more than 20 bank and train robberies and the murders of countless individuals who stood in their way. They stole an estimated $200,000. They were legends in their own time, popular in Missouri for actively trying to further the Confederate cause.

On December 7, 1869, the gang robbed the Gallatin, Missouri, bank. Jesse asked to change a $100 bill, and thinking that the banker was responsible for the death of Bloody Bill, shot the man in the heart. Local newspapers labeled the actions vicious and bloodthirsty and called for the gang’s capture. From that robbery to the end of their careers, members of the James Gang had a price on their heads, dead or alive.

In 1874, Jesse married his longtime sweetheart and first cousin, Zerelda, and had two children. Both James brothers were known as good family men who loved their wives and spent time with their children, but they still continued their life of crime.

Though protected by their community, they were always on the move. Even after other members of the gang had been killed, and their friends the Youngers had been sent to prison for 25 years, in 1879, the James brothers planned one more robbery with Charlie and Bob Ford. Little did they know that Governor Crittenden of Missouri had put together a reward fund so large that the Fords had turned traitor to earn it.


This Day in History: Apr 3, 1882: Jesse James is murdered

One of America's most famous criminals, Jesse James, is shot to death by fellow gang member Bob Ford, who betrayed James for reward money. For 16 years, Jesse and his brother, Frank, committed robberies and murders throughout the Midwest. Detective magazines and pulp novels glamorized the James gang, turning them into mythical Robin Hoods who were driven to crime by unethical landowners and bankers. In reality, Jesse James was a ruthless killer who stole only for himself.
The teenage James brothers joined up with southern guerrilla leaders when the Civil War broke out. Both participated in massacres of settlers and troops affiliated with the North. After the war was over, the quiet farming life of the James brothers' youth no longer seemed enticing, and the two turned to crime. Jesse's first bank robbery occurred on February 13, 1866, in Liberty, Missouri.

Over the next couple of years, the James brothers became the suspects in several bank robberies throughout western Missouri. However, locals were sympathetic to ex-southern guerrillas and vouched for the brothers. Throughout the late 1860s and early 1870s, the James gang robbed only a couple banks a year, otherwise keeping a low profile.

In 1873, the James gang got into the train robbery game. During one such robbery, the gang declined to take any money or valuables from southerners. The train robberies brought out the Pinkerton Detective Agency, employed to bring the James gang to justice. However, the Pinkerton operatives' botched attempt to kill James left a woman and her child injured and elicited public sympathy for Jesse and Frank James.

The James gang suffered a setback in 1876 when they raided the town of Northfield, Minnesota. The Younger brothers, cousins of the James brothers, were shot and wounded during the brazen midday robbery. After running off in a different direction from Jesse and Frank, the Younger brothers were captured by a large posse and later sentenced to life in prison. Jesse and Frank, the only members of the gang to escape successfully, headed to Tennessee to hide out.

After spending a few quiet years farming, Jesse organized a new gang. Charlie and Robert Ford were on the fringe of the new gang, but they disliked Jesse intensely and decided to kill him for the reward money. On April 3, while Jesse's mother made breakfast, the new gang met to hear Jesse's plan for the next robbery. When Jesse turned his back to adjust a picture on the wall, Bob Ford shot him several times in the back.

His tombstone reads, "Jesse W. James, Died April 3, 1882, Aged 34 years, 6 months, 28 days, Murdered by a traitor and a coward whose name is not worthy to appear here."


In South Africa: Captured Gen. Cronje and his wife are shipped to St Helena

General Pieter Arnoldus (Piet) Cronje, commandant-general of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR, also known as Transvaal Republic) and his wife Hester, with about 1 000 Republican prisoners of war, left Cape Town for St Helena as prisoners of war during Anglo-Boer War 2 (1899-1902). Cronje surrendered his commando of 4 000 men to British forces at Paardeberg on 28 February 1900 and was banished to St Helena Island.

The prisoner of war camp on St Helena was one of numerous British camps situated throughout the world. In this camp the quarters consisted chiefly of tents and shanties patched together from tin plate, corrugated iron plating and sacking. The ages of prisoners varied between nine and eighty-two years.

The Mysterious Life and Faked Death of Jesse James

The story of the notorious outlaw Jesse James’s assassination at the hands of Robert Ford has been clouded with mystery ever since its inception. Now, James’s great-great-grandchildren Daniel and Teresa Duke present the results of more than 20 years of exhaustive research into state and federal records, photographs, newspaper reports, diaries, and a 1995 DNA test in search of the truth behind Jesse James’s demise.

Explaining how the accepted version of the history of Jesse James is wrong, the authors confirm their family’s oral tradition that James faked his own death in 1882 and lived out his remaining days in Texas. They methodically unravel the legend surrounding his death, with evidence vetted by qualified experts and civic authorities. They share the journal of their great-great-grandfather, kept from 1871 to 1876 and verified to be written in James’s handwriting. They reveal forensically confirmed photographs of James before and after his supposed killing, including one of James attending his own funeral. Examining James’s life both before and after his faked death, they provide an account of where he lived and who he associated with, including his interactions with secret societies. They compare the contradictory newspaper reports of James’s death with accounts by his family and associates, which support that the man buried as James was actually his cousin, and reveal how James tricked authorities into believing he had been killed.

Further supporting their claim, the authors debunk the DNA test results of the exhumation of James’s body in 1995. The Dukes detail the ways in which the test was fraudulent, an assertion supported by the deputy counselor for Clay County at the time of the testing. Backed by a wealth of evidence, the descendants of Jesse James conclusively prove what really happened to America’s Robin Hood.”

Available for pre-order now and slated for release June 9th anywhere books are sold!

Thanks to our late mother/author Betty Dorsett Duke, my sister/author Teresa Duke, our ancestor Jesse Woodson James, our wonderful agent Fiona Spencer Thomas, our friend Matt Hamlin and friend/author Pip Lee and others.

Also, a huge thank you to our great publisher Inner Traditions/Bear & Co.

You can read our first book review here: Whiskey & Wit Book Reviews! Please stop by my Goodreads page as well.

You can find the book at the locations below and many others around the globe.

‘The Mysterious Life and Faked Death of Jesse James’ by Daniel J. Duke and Teresa F. Duke


The Death of Jesse James

Jesse James took off his gunbelt and laid it on his bed in his home in St. Joseph, MO. He turned his back on the two Ford brothers, his guests, to pour water in the basin and wash himself. Robert Ford moved forward and shot James in the back of the head.

Thus ended the life of one of the most-infamous bank robbers in history, as reported in newspapers at the time.

Response to the Shooting

“The news spread with great rapidity, but most people received it with doubt till investigation established the fact beyond-question. Then the excitement became more and more intense, and crowds of people rushed to that quarter of the city where the shooting took place, anxious to view the body of the dead outlaw, and learn the particulars,” reported the Daily Advocate of Newark, OH.

James had lived with his wife in a small shanty in the southeast section of town for about six months. Charles Ford, a member of his gang, lived with him in the house. Robert had only arrived recently to help plan a raid.

Once James was killed, the Ford brothers gave themselves up. They were arrested and taken to the courthouse under guard.

“The Ford brothers claim that they are detectives, and that they have been on James’s track for a long time,” the newspaper reported. Others believed that the lure of the big reward for the capture or killing of James just proved too much to resist.

James’s body was prepared for burial, but not before a photo had been taken of the body.

The Funeral of Jesse James

James was buried in Kearney, MO, on April 13. “Mourning relatives, hosts of friends, officers of the law in the vicinity, and the reverend clergy, all seem to have united in paying extraordinary honors to his remains. Never before had Kearney seen so grand a funeral,” reported the Warren Ledger of Warren, PA.

Among the pall bearers were a sheriff and deputy sheriff.

Though James had been a notorious bank robber, his mother said at the grave, “My dear boy, is better off in heaven today than he would be here with us.”

“Jesse James had the funeral of a saint, thanks to the Rev. Mr. Martin and the Rev. Mr. Jones. He had led a life of comparative security, thanks to officers of the law, two of whom bore his corpse in honor to the grave after he had been assassinated through treachery. And that was the ending of a most cowardly and bloodthirsty ruffian in a civilized state in the American Union. In all the records of brigandage and murder there is no instance more astounding than this of Jesse James,” reported the Warren Ledger.


Jesse James is murdered - HISTORY

Jesse James My Father

written by Jesse James, Jr.

The First and Only True Story of His Adventures Ever Written

What follows is the text of a book published in 1899 by Jesse Edwards James, son of Jesse James and Zee Mimms James. The first half of the book is Jesse Jr.'s remembrances of his famous father, who he didn't know was the famous outlaw until after his death. He includes all he remembers plus stories told to him by his family. The second half of the book (not to be included on this website) is the story of his own problems being accused of train robbery. Copies of the complete book may be found at ABEBOOKS:

[pictures on this page not from original text]

[this is a long chapter and will broken up into parts]

FOR sixteen years of his life, beginning with 1866 and ending April 3, 1882, when he was killed, my father was outlawed, and police officials and detectives were searching for him everywhere, except in the right place to find him. In these long years he had many thrilling adventures, some amusing ones, and many narrow escapes, none of which have ever been told in print before, Owing to the fact that my father had only two photographs ever taken and that these were in the hands of his family and were never seen by those who were searching for him, no correct picture of him was over printed, and consequently his features were unknown to all except a few, and nearly all of these were loyal friends who could be depended on never to betray him under any circumstances. My father used to live in Kansas City and other cities, and go and come on the busiest streets in broad daylight, as any other citizen would, even when a large reward was offered for his capture. Of course he was in great danger of discovery at all times, and he was always heavily armed.

While the officers were hunting for him at one time there was an agricultural county fair held in Kansas City, and among the prizes offered was one for the best ladies saddle horse, which must be shown in action before the judges at the fair. My father attended this fair and entered his favorite horse, "Stonewall," for the prize. In the competition for the prize "Stonewall" was ridden by Miss Annie Ralston, and the horse took first prize. At that very moment there was a big reward offered for my father's capture.

At another time my father entered a horse in the races at the Jackson, Miss., fair. The race was in three heats. My father was quite sure that his was a better horse than any in the race, but in the first heat he failed to win. My father suspected that the jockey was holding the horse in deliberately and for the purpose of making him lose the race, so my father himself rode the horse in the last two heats and won the race and the purse.

A year or two after the close of the war my father and a companion who had been with him in Quantrell's command, were riding on horseback through the mountain districts of Tennessee. They stopped for dinner at a house along a country road, and while resting there learned that the woman of the house was a widow whose husband had also been a guerrilla with Quantrell, and had died a short time before of wounds received in one of the skirmishes of the last days of the war. My father noticed that the widow was very despondent, and he supposed it was because of the death of her husband. He talked to her in a consoling way, and she told him that what worried her most just then was that her house and little farm was mortgaged for five hundred dollars, the loan fell due that very day, and she expected the sheriff and the money-lender to come that afternoon, and foreclose the mortgage and order her off the place. My father had fought in the same company with her husband in the war. He had five hundred dollars with him, but it was about all he did have, and he was a stranger in a strange land and could not spare the money. But he was determined to aid the widow of his old comrade in some way. He said to her:

"Suppose you had the five hundred dollars to pay the money-lender when he came, would you know how to sign up the papers and get your receipts all correct so there would be no flaw in it?"

She told him she did. He then gave her five hundred dollars, with instructions to be very particular to see that the mortgage was taken up. My father inquired from her the road by which the sheriff and mortgagee would drive out, and then he and his companion bade the woman good-bye and rode away. But they did not go far. They dismounted not far from the widow's home, and led their horses into the brush and concealed themselves. They saw two men go past in a buggy driving in the direction of the widow's hone. In an hour or two when these two men came driving back over the same road they were halted by my father and his companion.

"Are you sheriff so and so?"

"And money-lender so and so?"

The sheriff and the money-lender obeyed and were relieved of the five hundred dollars, and then were told to drive on. This act of my father's was certainly open to criticism, but by it the widow's home and farm were saved to her and any father regained the money which he had to have to continue his journey. I give this as an example of how desperate chances Jesse James would take to aid the widow of a comrade in distress.

In the later years of his life my father stopped at the home of General Jo Shelby in Lafayette County, to rest himself and his horse from a long journey. General Shelby had a negro boy whom he thought a great deal of. This boy was a waif of the war who had drifted into General Shelby's camp during the war to got something to eat, and Shelby had adopted him. This boy had gone that day to a near-by town with a load of firewood to sell. On a former trip to town this negro boy had been set upon and beaten by the white boys of the town, and this time he took with him an old army pistol that he had taken from the General's room. When he reached town the boys set upon him again, and the negro boy pulled out his pistol and shot one of them in a leg. The wounded boy ran away howling, and the other boys followed him. The negro boy knew that the white folks would get after him for this, so he hurriedly unhitched his mules, mounted one of them and started on a run for General Shelby's house. He was within a mile of the house when a posse of white men on horseback hove in sight on his trail. The boy urged his mule into a faster run, and had just reached the gate at the foot of the lane leading to General Shelby's house when the mob caught him, and dragged him from the mule and started away with him.

My father had taken one of General Shelby's shot guns and was out beyond in a pasture hunting quail when he saw the mob ride up to the gate. He very naturally supposed that the mob had discovered that he was there and had come after him. He went on a run for the stable to get his horse, but before he reached there he saw the mob riding away with the negro boy.

General Shelby was not at home, but his wife was there and she was almost distracted when she saw the mob capture her negro boy and ride away with him. My father declared that he would go and rescue the boy. She begged him not to do it. But he felt in duty bound, as the guest of his friend General Shelby, to protect his servants in his absence, so he saddled his horse and went on a gallop after the mob. There were more than a dozen men in the mob. My father overtook them as they had halted on a high bridge over a creek and were getting ready to lynch the young negro. All of these men were armed, but my father rode right in among them and demanded:

"What are you going to do with that boy?"

"Lynch him," answered a dozen men in chorus.

"He shot a white boy. The niggers are getting too bold and we're going to make an example of this one!"

"No, you are not," my father said. "That is General Shelby's boy and I am General Shelby's friend. If that boy has harmed a white man he must have a fair trial for it."

The argument might have lasted longer and become more pointed and animated but a man in the mob recognized my father and exclaimed:

The men in the mob crew respectful at once, and asked what had better be done.

"The best thing for you to do is to take this boy to Lexington and turn him over to the sheriff and have him put in jail, and let him get the same sort of a fair trial that a white boy would get. That will satisfy General Shelby, it will satisfy me, and it ought to satisfy you."

The men in the mob agreed to it and went to Lexington and did as agreed. My father rode behind them to the outskirts of Lexington, and then rode away. The negro boy was tried by a jury and acquitted.

Henry Clay Campbell was a soldier in Marmaduke's brigade of Price's army. He surrendered at Shreveport, La., and returned to his former home in Cooper County, Mo. A man who lived four miles from Butler, in Bates County, owed Campbell $1,000 since before the war, and at the close of the war Campbell went there to collect the debt. This man who owed him had been a soldier in the Federal army, and when Campbell carne to collect the $1,000 this rascal set a gang of fifteen Federal soldiers upon him to kill him. These soldiers, on horseback, were pursuing Campbell, who was also on horseback, along a country road. My father, Arch Clements, Oll Shepherd, and two others saw the pursuit and they ambushed themselves near the road, and as the Federals rushed by six of them were shot and killed, and the rest gave up, the chase of Campbell and escaped.

As narrow an escape as my father ever had from capture was in the 70's when he and a companion were riding through Jackson County one warm day in August. They had been riding all day and were tired and dusty when they came to the Little Blue river, and decided to halt there and take a plunge bath. They tied their horses in the brush, undressed and left their clothing on the bank and plunged into the water. They were in the water up to their necks and were talking to each other, and never dreaming of danger, when suddenly from the bank came the stern command:

Jesse James and his companion turned their heads quickly, and there on the bank was standing a man with a double-barreled shot gun to his shoulders and the two muzzles pointing fair at the men in the water. There was nothing for the two naked men to do but to obey the command, and up went their hands. It was the, first and only time my father ever put up his hands at the command of anyone, and it was the first and only time that he was ever captured. This time he was caught sure enough. His clothing and revolvers were on the river bank behind the determined looking man with the shot gun.

"Come out here," was the next command.

There was not time to form a plan of operation. But my father and his companion were used to surprise and to the necessity of quick action. Experience together in different "tight places," had sharpened their wits so that each almost divined what was going on in the mind of the other, and without either having spoken a word to the other they acted in concert on a plan of escape.

At the command of the man behind the shotgun my father waded slowly ashore, talking and arguing all the time with the man on the bank to distract and confuse him. The other man stayed in the water with his hands above his head, watching father and the man with the shot gun. My father walked up the bank, demanding earnestly all the while to know why two gentlemen enjoying a quiet bath after a day's horseback ride should be disturbed in this rude manner.

As seen as my father reached the side of the man on the bank, his companion, who was in the water, gave a shrill war whoop and dived beneath the surface. This shrill yell so surprised and disconcerted the man with the shot gun that he turned his head quickly away from my father, and looked at the man in the water. That was the chance my father had been waiting for. Quick as a flash he sprang upon the man, grabbing his shot gun and him at the same time, and they rolled over in the woods locked together in a fierce wrestling match. They had hardly grappled each other before the man in the water was out and got hold of one of his own revolvers, and the rest of it was easy.

The man turned out to be a country constable who was out hunting for horse thieves. He come upon the two horses in the brush and jumped at the conclusion that the two men in the water were horse thieves, and determined to capture them. He never once suspected who the men really were that he had captured. My father dipped his shot gun in the water so it could not be fired, took away all his ammunition, and gave him a good ducking in the Blue and lot him go his way.

My grandmother was greatly harrassed in these times by detectives who came to her home searching for my father. She learned to suspect every stranger who came there, and to be very wary in her talks with them. At one time during the war Fletcher Taylor and eight guerrillas who were traveling through Clay County near her home were very tired and hungry. They knew of only one house to which they might safely go and ask for food, and that was my grandmother's. Taylor had been there before with my father, and he supposed, of course, that my grandmother would recognize him and it would be all right. It was late at night when he and his eight companions rode up to the house and knocked at the door. My grandmother inquired from within:

"It is Fletcher Taylor and eight guerrillas, Mrs. Samuels we are very hungry."

In those perilous times Federal soldiers often went in the guise of guerrillas, to the homes of Southern patriots and asked for food or water, and if it was given them the people who gave it were reported and punished for giving aid and sustenance to the rebels. So my grandmother was very auspicious and cautious.

"I don't know you," she said. "Go away and do not bother me."

"But I am Fletcher Taylor, who was here with your son Jesse." "That is a good lie. I never saw or heard tell of Fletcher Taylor," she answered.

"But don't you remember, Mrs. Samuels, the good gooseberry pie and clean pair of socks that you gave me."

My grandmother knew then that it was all right, and she threw open the door and prepared a meal for the hungry soldiers.

One time after the war my father was at home and was lying on the flour reading a book, when his mother discovered three men coming up on horseback. She called to my father he got up and looked out the window and saw that it was the sheriff. He went out the back door, and as he went my grandmother said to him:

"My dear boy, if it is necessary fight till you die. Do not surrender."

She gave him that advice because a little before that time two men who had been with Quantrell were arrested and put in jail at Richmond, and a mob had taken them out and hanged them.

My father got to his horse and was closely chased so that he had to turn in his saddle and shoot the collar off the sheriff's neck. That ended the pursuit.

Among the many cruel falsehoods that have been told and retold, and printed and reprinted about my father is that he murdered Whicher, a Pinkerton detective, near my grandmother's home and then carried the body to the banks of the Missouri river, fourteen miles distant, and ferried it across the river and left it in Jackson County. Some writers have embellished this story and made it the more horrible by telling that my father hobbled the detective first and started him to running and then shot at him as he ran, clipping off pieces of his flesh and that after the man was dead, my father sliced off his ears and carried them around in his vest pocket.

This story is absolutely false and not only that, it is so ridiculous that any one would know it was false who cared to look at it in a fair way. It is a fact that Whicher was found dead in Jackson County, twenty miles or more from my father's home and on the other side of the river. He had simply been shot without any mutilation. If he had been shot near my father's home is it likely that whoever killed him would have gone to the trouble of carrying the body away across to where it was found? It would have been much easier to have buried the body where it was killed.

That story of Whicher's killing was concocted by Pinkerton detectives who knew my father had no hand in the killing. The man who killed Whicher is living in Texas to-day.

Pinkerton's detectives, in the pursuit of my father and their harrassment of my grandmother, were guilty of as wanton and cruel a murder as was ever done anywhere. I can deny that my father ever killed a Pinkerton detective, and my denial bears the evidence of truth to substantiate it. But the Pinkerton detectives cannot deny that they murdered my father's half-brother, and shot off the right arm of my grandmother. They cannot deny it because the proofs of the murder are plain.

I recently heard my grandmother give the following account of this murder:

"It was long after the war, while my boys were hunted everywhere and detectives were coming to my home every little while. One dark midnight while only me and the doctor, and my colored woman and my eight-year-old son, Archie, were alone, a bomb came crashing through the kitchen window. It was thrown with such force that it smashed the whole sash out and fell on the floor. We ran into the kitchen and there it lay blazing. It was wrapped around with cloth and soaked in oil. We rolled it into the fireplace to keep it from setting the house on fire. Then it exploded. A piece of the shell struck little Archie in the breast, going nearly through him and killing him almost instantly. Another piece tore my right arm off between the wrist and elbow. We rushed out doors but could see no one in the darkness. We found the house had been set afire and was blazing fiercely, but we put it out. Those fiends had intended to kill us all with the bomb and then burn us up. There was a light snow on the ground and the next morning we tracked the cowardly hounds, and it appeared there were eight of them. We found a revolver one of them had dropped, and it was stamped with the Pinkerton name."

My grandmother has yet at her home the half of this iron bombshell, and visitors to her home may see it there. It is wrought iron, with a shell about one-fourth of an inch thick, and it is eight inches in diameter. The edges are torn and jagged by the force of the explosion that burst it asunder. A photograph of Archie Samuels, who was murdered by the Pinkertons, hangs in a corner of the parlor of my grandmother's home and it shows a bright, sweetfaced boy. Beside it on the wall, hanging in a faded frame, is a piece of exceedingly delicate needlework made by grandmother when she was a school girl in a Catholic convent in Kentucky. On the other side of it hangs the picture of a gravestone, and beneath the monument is this inscription:

In Loving Remembrance of My Beloved Son,

Aged 34 Years, 6 Months, 28 Days.

Murdered by a Traitor and Coward whose

Name is Not Worthy to Appear Here.

Before my father was killed my grandmother did not know he was living in St. Joseph. She never knew where he lived at any time after the war, nor anything of his comings and goings. He came often to see her but would never talk to her about himself. Once shortly after his marriage he visited his mother and she asked him where he was living, and he told her:

"Ma, don't ever ask me where my family is."

"Because if you knew where we were living, every wind that blew from that direction would make you uneasy."

A year or two ago my grandmother told in my presence and hearing the following to a reporter for the Kansas City Star, and it was printed in that paper:

"A few days ago," said Mrs. Samuels, "a man came here to look around and said to me that he believed my boys were after him once.

"No, sir" I told him, "my boys were never after you. If they had been they'd have got you. If my boys ever started after a man they always got him.

"My boys were brave. I saw enough of it." Mrs. Samuels laughed heartily and went on: "I remember one day during the war Jesse and three more of Quantrell's men rode up here to wash up and change shirts. They told me they were hard chased and while they were washing my colored boy held their horses back of the house and I watched from the front. By and bye I saw about forty Federal soldiers going up through the field over there toward old Dan Askew's house. Dan was a Northern spy. I shouted to Jesse:

" 'How many, mother?' asked Jesse.

" 'Going up through the field to old Dan Askew's.'

" 'Well, keep your eye on them, mother,' said Jesse, and they went right on washing.

"In a minute I saw them coming down toward our house and I shouted:

" 'Boys, they're coming to the house.'

"Jesse was spluttering with his face down in the water basin and he stopped long enough to say:

" 'Let 'em come, mother there are four of us, and I guess we can whip forty Federals all right enough.'

"I got scared and I ran back to where the boys were washing and begged them to run.

" 'Do go, Jesse,' I said. 'They're crossing the branch and will be right here in half a minute.'

"Jesse just laughed at me and said: 'Don't get rattled, mother. I'm not going away from here with a dirty neck if I have to fight two hundred and forty Federals instead of forty.'

"Well, sir, those four boys did not mount their horses till the soldiers were at the front gate and they heard the latch rattling. Then they sprang into their saddles, and leaped the back fence and rode across the pasture like mad. The Federals galloped around the house, part one way and part the other, and pulled their cavalry pistols, and such shooting and cursing you never heard. Our boys shot back as they ran, and the last I saw of them was a waving line of horses going over the top of the hill. I waited half an hour and then I could stand it no longer. I got on my horse Betsy, and went up over the hill expecting to find the bodies of four boys shot full of holes. About a mile from the house some one hailed me from the brush.

"It was Jesse, and he and the boys were coming down from the old schoolhouse loading their horses and looking for their caps they had lost during the fight. They wouldn't listen to anything I'd say, but rode back to the house with me after they'd found their caps. They washed up again and then rode away.

"Jesse seemed to take delight in getting me scared and playing jokes on me. You know I was always watching out for detectives, and we had plenty of them spying around here. That was long after the war, when Jesse was accused of every bank and train robbery that was done. One day a, big man rode up to the gate, hitched his horse and stalked right up to the house and demanded to know where Jesse James was. He said he was a detective and he pulled out a big revolver and threatened to kill him on sight. He took Jesse's gold watch out of his pocket and showed it to me, and said he had killed Jesse and took his watch. I told him I knew he was lying. He searched the house and barn, bulldozed my colored man and woman, and I followed him around, daring him to harm a hair of anyone around the place. At last he sat down in a chair and laughed until I thought he'd split. He told me he was Dave Poole, a friend of Jesse's, and he handed me a letter from Jesse, who had told him to pretend he was a detective and give me a scare. Jesse had said to him:

" 'The old lady may take a shot at you, but if she doesn't hit you, go right in.'

"Some of the detectives that came prowling around here had narrow escapes," continued Mrs. Samuels. "You see, they were all cowards I never saw a detective in all my life who wasn't a coward, and Jesse know that well enough, too. The detectives used always to come when they thought my boys were away, but two of them missed it once and came very near getting killed. Jesse was here one day when I saw two men coming down the road. We could tell a detective on sight, and we knew they were detectives. They stopped at the gate and hallowed. Jesse stepped just inside the door to the stairway leading to the attic and stood there with his revolvers in his hands. Jesse said:

"I opened the door and one of the men said they were cattle buyers, and asked me if we had any fat cattle.

" 'Tell them yes, mother,' said Jesse. 'Tell them the cattle are here and for them to come in and get them.'

" 'The cattle you are looking for are in the house come in and get them!' I shouted. They talked together awhile in whispers and then went on. I guess that was as near as I ever came to seeing shooting right here in the house.

"But the funniest thing that ever happened was one day when a sheriff--I won't mention his name, because he is living yet--came here alone after Jesse. I had ten harvest hands at work in the field, and Jesse was hiding in the attic. When dinner was ready I brought Jesse down to eat first before the hands came in at noon. Just as he came down stairs there was a knock at the door. Jesse peeped out the window and said it was the sheriff. He drew his revolver and said:

"I opened it and the sheriff walked in.

" 'Your gun, please,' Jesse said, as cool as could be, and the sheriff took out his revolver.

" 'Throw it over on the bed,' ordered Jesse, and he did so.

" 'Now, sit down and have dinner with us,' commanded Jesse, and the two sat down at the table and chatted like old friends while they ate a hearty meal. After it was over Jesse handed the sheriff his revolver and bid him good-bye. The sheriff never came back. He was always a great friend of my boys after that."

As an instance of the courage displayed by the survivors of Quantrell's guerrilla band, who were persecuted. and driven from pillar to post after the war, I will tell here of an adventure of Clel. Miller, who was hounded by officers because he had been seen in company with my father. Miller had broken his log in a full from his horse and was lying at the home of his cousin near Carrollton, Mo. While he was there the sheriff of the county with a posse rode up and surrounded the house. The sheriff dismounted and came to the door and inquired:

"I understand that Clel. Miller is here?"

"No, he is not here" answered Miller's cousin, who had answered the knock at the door.

"Yes, he is here. I have the information from a most reliable source. Unless you surrender him at once we will set fire to the house and smoke you all out."

Clel. Miller was lying on a sofa in the parlor and overheard every word of this conversation. Suddenly he sang out:

"Yes, I am here in the front room with a broken leg and unable to move. Come in, sheriff, and I will talk over terms of surrender."

The sheriff knew that Miller's leg had been broken only a few days before. He had no fear of Miller, and so he walked boldly in.

"Take a chair and sit down, sheriff, I want to talk to you," said Miller.

The sheriff sat down and Miller said:

"Give me a chance to fight the whole posse, and you can take me, dead or alive."

"No I will listen to no propositions. You must go along and take your chances at a trial in the court."

"All right I will go with you it you will give me your promise to protect me from violence at the hands of the posse."

"I will do that. I will be personally responsible for your safety," the sheriff said. "That is satisfactory. Help me put my overshoe on my good leg and I will go with yon."

The sheriff had no reason to suspect that Miller was not sincere. Miller reached under the sofa as if to get his overshoe, but instead of bringing out a shoe he jerked out a revolver and put it to the sheriff's ear. His manner changed instantly from one of politeness to fierceness. He threatened the sheriff with instant death it he did not obey. He took away the sheriff's revolvers and put them in his own pockets. Then he put his left arm around the sheriff's shoulders and leaned upon him for support and with the muzzle of his huge revolver stuck in the sheriff's ear he hobbled on one foot outside the front door. Standing there, in full view of the posse, he called out that if one man advanced a step toward him he would kill the sheriff and then shoot into the posse and kill all he could before he himself was killed. He made the sheriff order the posse to stand back and obey orders. Then the sheriff assisted Miller to the sheriff's horse and helped him mount, and then the sheriff got up in front of him. Miller ordered the posse to stay where they were, threatening to kill the sheriff if one of the posse stirred. He rode with the sheriff for three miles and then made him dismount, thanked him, bade him good bye, and rode sway alone in the gathering darkness and escaped.

My father was anxious at all times to surrender to the proper authorities, upon proper guarantees of protection from violence at the hands of his enemies and fair treatment at the hands of the officers of the law. These overtures on his part were spurned. My grandmother and friends of the family went to three different governors of Missouri and begged and pleaded for fair terms upon which he could surrender. My father said to his mother shortly before his death:

"I would be willing to wear duck clothing all my life if I could only be a free man."

But all his pleadings for a fair chance to surrender were spurned. His old enemies were working constantly to prejudice the public and the officers against him. For twelve years every train robbery and every bank robbery in the country was attributed to him. I have looked through the old files of the daily papers published in Kansas City during these years, and it is really ridiculous to see what crimes were charged up to the account of my hunted and outlawed father. This week there would be a bold robbery somewhere in Missouri, and the newspapers in great head lines charge it to "The James Gang Again." The next week there would be a robbery in Texas, and again it would be the "James Gang." To have committed one-fourth of the crimes charged to him my father would have to have been equipped with an air ship or some other means of aerial flight, for no known method of terrestrial transportation could have made it possible for him to rob a bank in West Virginia Monday night and hold up a train in Texas three nights later.

Yet the credulous public believed the most of these stories. And the gangs who were doing these robberies wished the public to so believe, and in most of these robberies the leader always took pains to inform the robbed people that he was Jesse James, or to write a notification to that effect and leave it where it could be found.

The very day upon which my father was killed there was a peculiarly bold and successful hold up and robbery of a train in Texas, and the newspapers over all the country attributed it to Jesse James. If there is anyone who doubts this to be true, he may prove it true by turning back to the files of the daily papers of that date and find the account of this train robbery upon the first page. In most of the newspapers the name "Jesse James" is the first and most prominent headline, and the succeeding headlines tell of how he and his "gang" held up and robbed the train. And at the very moment this train was robbed my father was lying dead in St. Joseph.


Watch the video: THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES No Eulogies Ending