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Friday, 4 September 2015

Jesse James

Jesse James was born in Clay County, Missouri, near the site of present-day Kearney, on September 5, 1847. His father, Robert S. James, was a commercial hemp farmer and Baptist minister in Kentucky, who migrated to Bradford, Missouri, after marriage and helped found William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri.

Robert James traveled to California during the Gold Rush to minister to those searching for gold and died there when Jesse was three years old.

After Robert James' death, his widow Zerelda remarried twice, first to Benjamin Simms in 1852 and then in 1855 to Dr. Reuben Samuel.

Jesse James had an almost obsessive love for his mother, which extended to him marrying his first cousin, who was also named Zerelda on April 24, 1874.

Tintype of Zerelda Mimms, wife of Jesse James
Pastor's daughter Zerelda and Jesse had two surviving children:
Jesse Edward "Tim" James (August 31, 1875 - March 26, 1951)
Mary Susan James (June 17, 1879 - October 11, 1935)
They also had twins Gould and Montgomery James who both died in infancy.

Jesse and his brother Frank James were part of a group of Confederate guerrillas that wracked the state of Missouri during the Civil War. They were accused of participating in atrocities committed against Union soldiers, including the Centralia Massacre.

Jesse and Frank were possible culprits in the robbery of $62,000 from the Clay County Savings Association of Liberty, Missouri. It was the first daylight armed bank robbery in the United States during peacetime. No evidence has been found that connects either brother to the crime, nor conclusively rules them out.

Jesse James first became famous on December 7, 1869, when he and Frank robbed the Daviess County Savings Association in Gallatin, Missouri. The robbery netted little money, but the daring escape he and his brother made through the middle of a posse shortly afterward, put his name in the newspapers for the first time.

The 1869 robbery marked the emergence of Jesse James as the most famous of the former guerrillas and the first time he was publicly labeled an "outlaw," as Missouri Governor Thomas T. Crittenden set a reward for his capture.

Around this time the James brothers joined with Cole Younger and his brothers John, Jim and Bob, as well as other former Confederates to form what came to be known as the James-Younger Gang. With Jesse James as the public face of the gang, the group carried out a string of robberies from Iowa to Texas, and from Kansas to West Virginia.

The James-Younger Gang turned to train robbery on July 21, 1873, derailing the Rock Island locomotive in Adair, Iowa, and stealing approximately $3,000.

Jesse James portrait

In 1874 Jesse James and his gang robbed a train near Gadshill, Missouri, than gave the engineer a press release about the robbery and ordered him to pass it along to the local newspaper.

Jesse James was shot while at home in the back of the head and killed by Robert Ford on April 3, 1882,  for a $5,000 bounty that was placed on the outlaw by Thomas T. Crittenden.  Ford, who was a new recruit in James' gang never did receive the reward he was expecting.

Jesse James's home in St. Joseph, Missouri, where he was shot..Wikipedia Commons

Robert Ford was charged with murder, sentenced to hang, and pardoned all in the same day. He was gunned down ten years later in a Creede, Colorado, saloon.

Frank James, after a career of robbery and murder in the company of his brother Jesse, settled down to a peaceful life of 32 years. He sold souvenirs at the James farm, worked as a doorman of a theatre, and fired the starter's gun at Missouri races. He lived to the age of 72.

The outlaw's son, Jesse James Jr, (August 31, 1875 – March 26, 1951) , starred in two silent films about his notorious father in the 1920s. Often going by the name of Tim Edwards to conceal his real identity, Jesse Jr turned his hand to many things during his life - including practicing law.

1 comment:

  1. Photo of Jesse says taken May 22 1882. Ford killed Jesse April 3 1882. Hows that work?