Outlaw Jesse James is born in Missouri

Outlaw Jesse James is born in Missouri

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Seen by some as a vicious murderer and by others as a gallant Robin Hood, the famous outlaw Jesse Woodson James is born on September 5, 1847, in Clay County, Missouri.

Jesse and his older brother Franklin lost their father in 1849, when the Reverend Robert James abandoned his young family and disappeared forever into the California gold fields. Their mother, Zerelda, quickly remarried, but rumor had it that their new stepfather treated Jesse and Frank poorly, and a third husband soon followed. Perhaps it was a violent and unstable family life that led the young Jesse and Frank into lives of crime. Regardless, it is certain that the brothers first learned to kill during the Civil War. As Confederate sympathizers, both Jesse and Frank joined William Quantrill’s vicious Missouri guerilla force, and Jesse participated in the cold-blooded murder of 25 unarmed Union soldiers in August 1863.

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

When the war ended, neither man felt any enthusiasm for the drab life of a Missouri farmer-earning a living with their guns seemed easier and more exciting. Joining a motley band of ex-soldiers and common thieves, Jesse and Frank staged the first daylight bank robbery in U.S. history on Valentine’s Day in 1866, making off with $57,000 of the hard-earned cash of the citizens of Liberty, Missouri. For the next decade the James Gang would steal many thousands more from banks, stores, stagecoaches, and trains.

The boldness of their crimes and the growing resentment among westerners of big railroads and robber barons led some to romanticize Jesse and Frank, a process that was encouraged by the authors of popular dime novels who created largely fictional versions of the James brothers as modern-day Robin Hoods who stole from the rich to give to the poor. In reality, the James brothers’ crimes preyed as much on the common folks as on the very rich, and they did little to spare the lives of innocents caught in the crossfire. The Robin Hood myth conveniently ignores the little girl shot in the leg during a botched robbery at the Kansas City Fair, the train engineer killed when the James Gang derailed his locomotive, or the dozens of other innocent bystanders murdered or maimed by Jesse, Frank, or their gang. Nonetheless, the myth that Jesse James was a good-hearted hero of the common folk remains popular to this day. Robert Ford shot James in the back of the head, killing him on April 3, 1882.

Jesse James: The Real Story

To most people, the story of Jesse James is a part of the story of the Old West, of outlaws and gunslingers and saloons. But the real story of Jesse James is the story of the Civil War.

Jesse Woodson James was born on a farmhouse in Clay County, Missouri, in September 1847. His father Robert was a Baptist preacher who had moved to Missouri from Kentucky, where he soon owned a 100-acre commercial hemp farm and six slaves. In 1849, Robert James went to California to preach in one of the gold-rush towns, but died there a year later, leaving his widow Zerelda with their sons Frank and Jesse and their daughter Susan. In 1852, Zerelda married a wealthy local farmer named Benjamin Simms, but he didn’t get along with Jesse or Frank, and Zerelda left him in 1853–he died shortly afterwards when he was thrown from a horse. In 1855, Zerelda re-married again, this time to a doctor named Reuben Samuel.

But it was politics, both local and national, that would have the greatest impact on young Jesse James. The issue was slavery. In 1818, the Territory of Missouri had applied for US statehood, but was refused because the northern states did not want to admit another slave state. When Maine applied for statehood in 1819, the slavery issue came to the fore again. In 1820, the “Missouri Compromise” was reached–Maine would be admitted as a free state, Missouri would be admitted as a slave state, and a line was set at latitude 36′ 30″, above which any future US states would be free states, and below which they would be slave states.

The Missouri Compromise ended the political contention over the slavery issue, but only for a while. In 1854, Nebraska Territory applied for statehood. Under the terms of the Missouri Compromise, it would be admitted as a free state. But then Senator Stephen A Douglas of Illinois (who would soon become famous as Abraham Lincoln’s campaign debate opponent) introduced a bill to fund a transcontinental railroad which, coincidentally, would pass through Chicago. To pass his railroad bill, Douglas needed support from Southern Senators, and he got it by introducing a bill to split the Nebraska Territory into two separate states (Nebraska and Kansas), and allow each of them to vote whether they wanted slavery or not. This effectively ended the Missouri Compromise (which was soon legally ended too, when the Supreme Court ruled, in the 1857 Dredd Scott decision, that any limits on the spread of slavery were unconstitutional).

The Nebraska-Kansas Act, coupled with the Dredd Scott decision, brought the sectarian conflict between North and South to the boiling point, and set the US on the path to Civil War. In “Bloody Kansas”, pro-slavery militias known as “bushwhackers” and anti-slavery militias known as “jayhawkers” fought each other in pitched gun battles, and the fighting spilled over into neighboring Missouri. The Whig Party, one of the two major political parties in the US, split over the slavery issue and quickly disappeared–southern pro-slavery Whigs joined the Democratic Party, and northern anti-slavery Whigs joined the new Republican Party. In 1860, Republican Senator Abraham Lincoln was elected President on an anti-slavery platform. Even before Lincoln had assumed office, South Carolina announced its secession. The Civil War was on.

There was little doubt which side the James family in Missouri would support. The family farm had always had at least half a dozen slaves, and Clay County had so many Southern sympathizers that it was known as “Little Dixie”. Frank James quickly joined the local secessionist militia Jesse, just 13, was too young to go. On August 10, 1861, Frank James fought for the Confederates at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek near Springfield, Missouri–the first major battle of the Civil War. After that, Missouri became the site of a bloody irregular war, in which roving bands of guerrillas attacked each other and both sides shot prisoners, executed civilians, and mutilated their bodies. In 1863, Union troops came to the James farm looking for Frank, who was known to be a member of “Quantrill’s Raiders”, a guerrilla group that carried out raids and massacres in Missouri and Kansas. The Federals tortured Reuben Samuel for information and, according to later stories, also whipped young Jesse. When Jesse James turned 16 in 1864, he joined his brother Frank in the Confederate guerrilla band led by “Bloody Bill” Anderson. In one action, Anderson’s group killed 22 unarmed Union prisoners in another, they shot over 100 Federal troops who were attempting to surrender. According to later legend, it was Jesse James himself who had killed the Union commander Major A.V.E. Johnson. In October 1864, Jesse was shot and seriously wounded when his band was surrounded by a Union patrol, putting him out of action for the rest of the war.

The Civil War ended in 1865, but the tensions in Missouri did not. Confederate officer Archie Clement, Jesse’s commander, kept his band of guerrillas together and made plans to attack the new Republican state government. In February 1866 Clement’s gang robbed a bank in Liberty, Missouri, that was owned by local Republicans. It is not known whether Frank or Jesse James were involved, but most historians have concluded that both brothers participated in the raid on a Missouri jail in June which freed several Confederate prisoners. After Clement was killed by militia troops, the gang continued to rob banks. The James Brothers remained relatively unknown, however, until December 1869, when they robbed a bank in Gallatin, Missouri, and James executed the bank teller, mistakenly believing him to have been one of the militia troopers who had killed Clement. The Missouri Governor set a price on Jesse James’ head.

After this, Frank and Jesse James joined forces with another former Confederate guerrilla, Cole Younger, and carried out a string of robberies ranging from Iowa to West Virginia. Jesse began sending a long series of published letters to the pro-Confederate editor of the Kansas City Times. As his fame grew, Jesse’s letters turned into political manifestos, condemning the Republicans and supporting the secessionist cause. To diehard Confederates in Missouri, the James Gang became heroes who were defying the oppressive Northern occupiers.

In July 1873, however, the James Gang turned to a new target, when they robbed a train in Adair, Iowa. More train robberies followed. The Populist Party was at the time winning support in the West by condemning the railroads as rapacious plutocrats, and the James Gang now gained a new image as Robin Hoods who were robbing the rich (though they never gave any of the stolen money to the poor). They were targeted by police throughout the midwest. In January 1875, the famed Pinkerton Detective Agency launched a raid on the James family farm, which was burned to the ground.

In September 1876, the James Gang robbed a bank in Northfield, Minnesota, but while they were inside, the local citizens surrounded them and opened fire. In the ensuing gunfight, two gang members were killed. Jesse and Frank fled to Missouri the rest of the gang was killed or arrested in Minnesota.

For a time, the James brothers laid low in Virginia. But in 1879, Jesse formed a new gang and carried out a number of robberies. Unlike the ideology-united guerrillas of his earlier days, however, this new gang was fractious, and several arguments broke out. James himself is believed to have killed at least one of them as a suspected informer. By December 1881, Jesse had returned to Missouri, and rented a house in St Joseph. He was accompanied by two trusted members of the gang, brothers named Charley and Robert Ford.

James may have been hoping to lay low for a while again. But unknown to him, the Ford brothers had already made an agreement with the Governor of Missouri to bring Jesse in, dead or alive, in exchange for clemency and the $10,000 reward money. On April 3, 1882, as Jesse James stood on a chair to straighten a picture on the wall, Robert Ford pulled his gun and shot him once in the back of the head. James was killed instantly.

In an odd postcript to the Jesse James legend, in May 1948, an elderly Texan named J Frank Dalton went to the press with a sworn affidavit claiming that he was actually the 101-year-old Jesse James. According to Dalton’s story, the person who was actually killed by Robert Ford was a lookalike named Bigelow, and the James family had staged the whole thing so that Jesse would be declared dead and be free to live out his life. Dalton was pronounced an imposter by people who had known James, but his claims continued to be supported by various crackpots even after he died in 1951. To put the matter to rest, a team of investigators exhumed James’ body in 1995, and DNA testing showed conclusively that it was the body of Jesse James.

War's Influence On Jesse James's Outlaw Underlying Motivation

Zerelda James Samuel's Family's Homestead in Kearney Missouri

Missouri events were leading to secession. Zerelda James Samuel held allegiance with Southerner's way of life. Circumstances influenced creation of a state militia: the Home Guard. Frank, aged 18, signed up as a Private nearby. 1  His first fight was the Battle of Wilson's Creek, a rough encounter with heavy losses. The Missouri Home Guard, with Arkansas, defeated Federal troops. 1- 3

In November 1861, Missouri Southern sympathizers illegally voted to enter the Confederacy. Since the official state government still held for the Union. 1  Now a fully divided state! From late 1861 until early 1865 Confederate guerrilla fighters and certain Federal units wreaked brutal havoc on Missouri residents. These "vicious skirmishes started by both Union militia and Confederate raiders. struck brutally, harming civilians and crippling the economy." 3  

Young Jesse James

William C. Quantrill led one group of Confederate raiders, relishing tactics of deceit and brutality. Jesse's older brother Frank joined them. Likely for vengeance at the Union's heartless misdeeds. 1  Zerelda James Samuel did what she could to help the Southern cause. She kept watch, kept her ears open, informing raiders of options. Young Jesse was her helpful aide, roaming fields and woods, sending messages around. 2

Jesse James Portrait in His Youth

Their family's undercover work didn't escape Union notice. A Northern militia group entered the James/Samuel farm in 1863. Questioning how they were helping Confederate raiders. They wanted information about where and who they were, where Frank was, etc. 2-3

When 15 years old, Jesse was working in the fields, when Union troops appeared. Jesse wouldn't talk, so they assaulted him. Then intimidated the family, hanging his father from a tree for hours to get cooperation. Reuben Samuel finally led them to the raiders' camp. Samuel was imprisoned until paroled, June 1863. 2

Marking Jesse's turning point, he went on the offensive. He tried joining a guerrilla group, but they rejected him. Maybe he was too young, or they felt he wasn't good with fire-arms. In 1862 he'd lost his left-hand middle finger tip while cleaning his gun (his family's account). Anyway, he was well-needed at home to help with the children, work the fields, and do farm chores. His family was very busy with the cause. 2  

America’s Admirable Outlaw: Jesse James

Jesse James was Americas admirable and infamous outlaw.

Jesse James was born in Clay County Missouri in September 1847. He had two siblings with one father and four more siblings with another father. His own father died and widowed Jesse’s mother. They own a tobacco farm with a total of seven slaves. Jesse lived during the Civil War Eraand after the Kansas – Nebraska Act there was a lot of atrocities in Missouri. Everyone was fighting over sides. Jesse and his family were Confederatesand Jesse was a part of Confederate militias and used guerrilla warfare.

After the Civil War Missouri was in shambles and was economically destroyed. People were starving and dying. Jesse was wounded in the chest and was recuperating while his old commander kept the bushwhacker gang going. Jesse and his gang robbed a handful of banks throughout the United States.

One of the most famous is the robbery of the Clay County Savings Association in the town of Liberty, Missouri, on February 13, 1866. After their later robberies took place and they became legend. Jesse James did not become famous, however, until December 7, 1869, when he and (most likely) Frank robbed the Daviess County Savings Association in Gallatin, Missouri. The robbery netted little money, but it appears that Jesse shot and killed the cashier, Captain John Sheets, mistakenly believing him to be Samuel P. Cox, the militia officer who had killed “Bloody Bill” Anderson during the Civil War.

Jesse and his gang committed a series of crimes until their downfall in 1876. The James-Younger gang were attempting to rob the first National Bank of Minnesota. After the robbery and manhunt only two members, one being Jesse James, were left alive. Jesse soon after found his own new gang and set out for more crimes. In 1879, the James gang robbed two stores in far western Mississippi, at Washington in Adams County and Fayette in Jefferson County. The gang rested in some cabins when they attacked by police and were killed. Jesse and his brother were the only ones to survive and they fled to Missouri where they felt safer.

Jesse went to the only people he trusted at that time which were Charley and Robert Ford. On April 3, 1882 Jesse was preparing for a robbery when he sat down for a minute and Bob Ford shot Jesse in the back of his head. Bob Ford then wired the Governor to claim his reward. The Ford brothers were charged with first degree murder and sentenced to death by hanging. All in the same day the Ford brothers were charged, indicted, and pardoned by the Governor. Jesse’s death was a national sensation. People lined up at the St. Joseph house to take a glimpse of the criminals’ dead body. His death marked the end of one of history’s most well-known criminal.

Jesse James was a historical figure. He was an example of how life was in the west during this time period. Jesse did what he had to do to survive and care for his family. He wasn’t a criminal, thief, or murderer. He was a struggling human in search for a better life for him and his family. Jesse was a father, husband, and man with a job to do. Jesse James’ death was the outcome to a corrupt life style and a struggling life which drove him to his crimes. He was intelligent, caring, courageous, ruthless and dedicated. Jesse James is the American outlaw everyone had nightmares about.

English: This building in Russellville, Kentucky was once a bank robbed by the Jesse James gang (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Family tree of Jesse JAMES

Jesse Woodson James was born in Clay County, Missouri, near the site of present day Kearney. Jesse James had two full siblings: his older brother, Alexander Franklin "Frank", and a younger sister, Susan Lavenia James. His father, Robert S. James, of Welsh ancestry, was a commercial hemp farmer and Baptist minister in Kentucky, who migrated to Missouri after marriage and helped found William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri. He was prosperous, acquiring six slaves and more than 100 acres (0.40 km2) of farmland. Robert James travelled to California during the Gold Rush to minister to those searching for gold and died there when Jesse was three years old. After the death of Robert James, his widow Zerelda remarried twice, first to Benjamin Simms and then in 1855 to Dr. Reuben Samuel, who moved into the James' home. Jesse's mother and Reuben Samuel had four children together: Sarah Louisa, John Thomas, Fannie Quantrell, and Archie Peyton Samuel. Zerelda and Reuben Samuel acquired a total of seven slaves, who served mainly as farmhands in tobacco cultivation in Missouri. The approach of the American Civil War overshadowed the James-Samuel household. Missouri was a border state, sharing characteristics of both North and South, but 75% of the population was from the South or other border states. Clay County was in a region of Missouri later dubbed "Little Dixie," as it was a center of migration from the Upper South. Farmers raised the same crops and livestock as in the areas from which they had migrated. They brought slaves with them and purchased more according to need. The county had more slaveholders, who held more slaves, than in other regions. Aside from slavery, the culture of Little Dixie was southern in other ways as well. This influenced how the population acted during and after the American Civil War. In Missouri as a whole, slaves accounted for only 10 percent of the population, but in Clay County they constituted 25 percent.

After the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, Clay County became the scene of great turmoil, as the question of whether slavery would be expanded into the neighboring Kansas Territory came to dominate public life. Numerous people from Missouri migrated to Kansas to try to influence its future. Much of the tension that led up to the Civil War centered on the violence that erupted in Kansas between pro- and anti-slavery militias.

© Copyright Wikipédia authors - This article is under licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Geographical origins

The map below shows the places where the ancestors of the famous person lived.

The Descendants Of Thomas Sims Graves

Not since the days of the noted English highwayman Robin Hood and his merry men has an outlaw captured the imagination of the public, as the hard-riding, straight-shooting bank and train robbers, Frank and Jesse James and their bushwhacking band of outlaws. They are perhaps the most famous robbers of the old West, not excluding Kentucky. In Missouri their birthplace is a state monument, the only one for any outlaw. They gave the nation its first peacetime bank robbery and perfected train robbing, the first was on August 7, 1863. The Liberty, Missouri Tribune, a pro-Union newspaper, carried the following item:

&ldquoThree Southern Gentlemen In Search Of Their Rights-On the morning of the 6 th of August, Frank James with two other companions, stopped David Mitchell, on his road to Leavenworth, about 6 miles west of Liberty, and took from him $1.25, his pocket knife, and a pass he had from the Provost Marshal to cross the plains. This is one of the rights these men are fighting for. James sent his compliments to Major Green, and said he would like to see him.&rdquo

Such was the first recorded robbery committed by Frank James. During the next two decades he, his brother Jesse, and their sidekicks, the Younger brothers, became America&rsquos most famous outlaws. Today, a century after Jesse&rsquos murder and Frank&rsquos surrender in 1882, they still possess that distinction. Here is the story of their rise to fame, along with the sometimes-brutal facts: facts which have been concealed by legends, like a bandit&rsquos face by a mask.

Frank and Jesse James father, Robert Sallee James was born July 17, 1818 in Logan County Kentucky, a place called Lickskillet on the Whippoorwill Creek. He died August 18, 1850 near Placerville El Dorado California. He was the son of John and Mary Poore James, both natives of Virginia, but very early settlers of Logan County, Kentucky. Robert was one of nine children, five sons and four daughters. The five sons were as follows: Wm. James (1811), John James (1815), Robert S. James (1818), Thomas M. James (1823), Drury Woodson James (1825) Mary James (1809) m John Mimms, Elizabeth James (1816) m Tillman West, Nancy James (1830) m George Hite, Mary Elizabeth James (1827) m John R. (Hugh) Cohorn. Mary Elizabeth mother, Mary (Poore) James died the following day after she was born. A neighbor, Mary Elizabeth Hendricks (who had lost her child one week before), breast fed the new infant girl a few weeks until she became very healthy and continued to raise her as her own until she was married. The name &ldquoMary Elizabeth&rdquo came from three sources, the names of her two older sisters, so she may always remember them, her mother, Mary and her godmother&rsquos name, Mary Elizabeth Hendricks who raised her to adulthood. (Facts obtained from the old Hendrick-Newton bible, on record at the James Museum, Kearney, MO.)

Robert S. James graduated from Georgetown College, having completed all requirements of the four-year classical course, on June 29, 1843. His degree was the Bachelor of Arts. According to faculty records, final examination for the senior class was taken on May 24, 1843. Robert is listed as having tied for third place honors in the class. For his accomplishment, he was awarded the opportunity to present an oration at the commencement exercises. All associates who knew him spoke of him as a kindly man of God. So convincing as a Minister one would remember his sermons the rest of their life. He was an educator, gifted orator, and a successful farmer.

While attending Georgetown College, at a church function, Robert met Zerelda Cole. Zerelda was attending St. Catherine&rsquos Female School in Lexington. In May 1840, Robert in his studies at the seminary was encouraged to attend a meeting where a group of young people of different faiths was present. There he could see how he handled himself. He lectured at St. Catherine&rsquos and tried to convert the girls. One girl in particular seemed to respond to his every word, and he soon found out she was Baptist. Soon after they met, they started seeing each other and attended other Baptist Church functions. It is said, Stamping Ground Baptist Church is where they most often met.

By the time school ended in the spring of 1841 they were not speaking. Most young men in those days had strong beliefs that a woman should be silent and not express their political thoughts. Zerelda was of the Cole and Lindsay Families, who had been famous for their courageous deeds during the Revolutionary War. She inherited these same traits, and with her education it made her unwilling to comply with his wishes. But three days later before fall 1841, the desire and love for Zerelda was too strong, Robert proposed to her. Robert and Zerelda were married December 28, 1841 at the home of Uncle Judge James Madison Lindsay, in Stamping Ground, Kentucky. The house is still standing and presently owned by Marguerite Sprague on Locust Fork Pike, Scott County.

Zerelda was dismissed from the Stamping Ground Baptist Church on the fourth Saturday in February 1842. In August 1842, the young couple made a journey through the semi-wilderness to visit her mother Sarah, and her step-dad Robert Thomason in Clay County, Missouri. Robert James with a sad heart returned to Georgetown College, leaving alone his pregnant wife with her mother. His desire was to finish his final year of theological training and return home by next Christmas, but the Missouri River was frozen the poor roads were treacherous, so it was spring after he had graduated before he arrived at Kearney, to reunite with his wife and a new son born January 10, 1843, Alexander Franklin James. He later returned to Georgetown College in 1848 where he received his Masters Degree. He then decided to settle in Clay County where he purchased a farm from Asa W. Thomason, near Centerville, a town which later changed it&rsquos name to Kearney. The farm had no house and they built a cabin during the next spring. Robert bought two slaves.

He then began to farm and to preach and was good at both. His other children are as follow: Jesse James was born 1847 Susan in 1849 and Robert only lived 1 month. Robert S. James lived in Missouri for about eight years. During that time the minister&rsquos farming supported them. In a volume of records about religious activity in Western Missouri between the years 1842-1850, Maple and Rider, have this to say about the Reverend James ministry:

&ldquoThe influence of this pioneer toward the Baptist cause in Western Missouri is not measured by the length of time for which he entered into all enterprises that worked towards the building up of the cause of Zion in his section to the state. His period of labor embraced the time of great conflict between Missionary Baptist and the Anti-Missionary Baptist, and fought for righteous cause of Missions in a truly soldier-like manner.&rdquo

In August 1843, Elder James was chosen pastor of the New Hope Baptist Church, some twelve to fifteen miles east of Liberty. This church was organized in 1829, but had a rather checkered existence. First, the Anti-Missionary controversy diminishes its membership, so that when the minister began serving the church, it consisted of only twenty members. However, these members were staunch, and his labors with them were phenomenally successful for a county congregation. At times he would baptize as many as 60 converts at one time. Before he left to go to California his members had increased to two hundred

During his stay in Missouri between 1847-1850 he established a number of churches in the thinly settled counties of Ray, Clay and Clinton where he was instrumental in organizing churches, some of which still exist and one particularly &ldquoProvidence Baptist Church&rdquo is a model country church, up-to-date in method and spirit. Preaching was not the only passion for Robert James he was also interested in education. A history of William Jewel College compiled by James G. Clark states that when the charter for the school was granted on February 27, 1849, Robert was one of twenty-six men appointed to be on the first Board of Trustees. Robert was a man of importance to the State of Missouri. Many of his churches that exist today became monuments to the man who rode horseback, carrying a Bible, in the dense woods of the frontier lands. His monuments are as real, but lesser known than those built by his horse riding and pistol carrying, so called outlaw-murdering sons, Frank and Jesse James.

The background of Zerelda Cole is just as impressive. She was born January 29, 1825 in Woodford County Kentucky at her Grandfather&rsquos (Richard Cole Jr.) Black Horse Inn. The brick portion was attached to the Inn in 1799. It was the living quarters of her father James Cole, born September 8, 1804 to February 27, 1827 and her mother Sarah (Sallie) Lindsay (4-15-1803 to 10-12-1851). She was the daughter of Anthony and Alsey (Cole) Lindsay. Alsey was the daughter of Richard Cole Sr. being James Cole&rsquos Aunt. After her husband Richard died in 1850 she was married to a Mr. Sims, who died. She married again to Mr. Samuels and had four more children, who were half brother to Jesse and Frank James.

The Cole family had come from Pennsylvania through Virginia to Kentucky. Richard Cole Sr. helped to survey with Humphrey Marshall &ldquoThe Vacant Lands&rdquo, where Frankfort is now located in June and July of 1785. He later settled in Woodford County near what is now the town of Midway and Leestown Pike. He bought a large track of land from Hancock Lee. Hancock&rsquos son, Maj. John Lee helped in the settlement of Versailles, KY. Richard Cole Sr. operated a Tavern by the name, &ldquoCole&rsquos Inn,&rdquo located on Cole&rsquos Road, (late renamed Leestown Road.)

Mary J. Holmes wrote many books about this area and time, as this community was known by the notorious name of &ldquoLittle Sodom&rdquo by many righteous people. The Inn, often called &ldquoCole&rsquos Bad Inn,&rdquo burned in the winter of 1811. The following year Richard&rsquos son Richard Cole Jr. bought out his father&rsquos former competitor on Old Frankfort Pike, The Kennedy and Dailey Stagecoach Stopover, and named his new business the &ldquoBlack Horse Inn.&rdquo The Inn was known far and wide and frequented by the likes of Henry Clay. The Tavern is still standing a Gallery and Studio are operating a business there at present.

Richard Cole Jr. (4-23-1763 to 7-9-1839) married Sally Yates. He was a wealthy farmer operated the Black Horse Inn he was one of the first constables of Woodford County and was commissioned Lieutenant in the Woodford Light Infantry Company, November 10, 1796.

  • Most of the family is buried in the Cole Family Cemetery on a hilltop near the former Cole&rsquos Bad Inn*
  • For more information see the Cole, James, and Graves Families.

There seems to be a striking similarity in the personalities of Richard and his granddaughter Zerelda, in their strong personalities, blunt acceptance of facts pleasant or unpleasant, high courage and almost fanatical loyalty to their families. They were friends to be desired and enemies to be feared and avoided. Richard Cole Junior&rsquos latter days were marred by violent and tragic events, which did not cease with his death but continued to plague his family unto &ldquothe third and forth generation.&rdquo

Richard and Sallie&rsquos children were: William Cole, Mary Cole, Elizabeth Cole, Sally Cole, Jesse Cole, and Amos Cole who were killed in a fight at Black Horse Inn 1827. ( See the Frankfort Argus Newspaper dated May 27, 1827) James Cole (2-8-1804 to 9-27-1833) was married to his first cousin Sally Lindsay. She had only two children before his death. It is said he died after being thrown from a horse. Zerelda was then only two years old, she continued to live at the Black Horse Inn with her grandfather as guardian. After James death her mother married again to Robert Thomason whom Zerelda did not favor. According to members of the family Zerelda &ldquohated&rdquo Robert Thomason and became a favorite to her Grandfather, Richard Cole Jr. who gave her the proper education and training to become a lady of prominence. When Sally and Robert moved to Clay County Mo. Zerelda did not accompany them, instead she went to live with her Uncle James M. Lindsay, at Stamping Ground, Scott Co. Ky. It was at the Church in Stamping Ground she and Robert James became engaged.

Alexander Franklin James and Jesse Woodson James were born, respectively, on January 10, 1843 and September 5, 1847 on a farm near Kearney, Missouri, a town twelve miles northeast of the Clay County seat at Liberty and twenty-seven miles from downtown Kansas City to the Southwest. Robert Sallee James was a well-known ordained minister their mother, Zerelda Cole, attended school at a Catholic convent in Lexington, KY. In 1842, shortly after being married, Robert and Zerelda left their native Kentucky to settle in Clay County, where Robert became pastor of a Baptist Church, acquired a farm and two slaves, and helped found William Jewell College and Liberty, Missouri. Thus the family background of Frank and Jesse seems to have been quite solid and respectable.

But it did not remain so for long. In 1850 Robert joined the rush to California, some say in quest of gold. Others prefer to think he was ever the evangelist, and went to preach God's Word. The answer may be found in his last sermon at New Hope Baptist Church on the thirty first day of March 1850. He told his congregation that he was not intersted in gold but rather in saving the souls of the gold miners. Instead he found illness and death. He died August 18, 1850 at Hang Town Gold Camp (later know as Placerville, El Dorado, CA). He was buried in an unmarked grave. His cause of death is not known, but there was a Cholera outbreak in the area at the time. Zerelda remarried twice first Benjamine Simms, who soon left her and then died.

In 1859 she married Doctor Reuben Samuel, a quiet, humble man who devoted himself to working the James&rsquo farm. Zerelda bore him four children, two boys and two girls. How young Frank and Jesse reacted to their father&rsquos departure and death, their mother&rsquos remarriages, and the influx of half brothers and sisters in unknown.

In the summer of 1861 the Civil War came to Missouri. Most of the population remained loyal to the Union. However, in the hemp-growing and slaveholding counties of western Missouri many people supported the Confederacy. Among them were the James-Samuel families. Frank now a lanky, callow looking youth of eighteen, joined the pro-Confederate Missouri forces of Major General Sterling Price and took part in the Battle of Wilson&rsquos Creek (August 10, 1861) and the siege of Lexington, Mo. (Sept 12 through the 20, 1861). But, when Price retreated to Arkansas early in 1862, Frank, as did many other discouraged Rebels, deserted and returned home. Frank took an oath of allegiance to the United States and posted $1,000 bond for good behavior.

Meanwhile, Guerrilla war had broken out in Missouri. Bands of Kansas Jayhawkers ravaged the western border, and Unionist militia persecuted and plundered Confederate sympathizers. In defense and retaliation the latter formed gangs of &ldquobushwhackers&rdquo who raided into Kansas and terrorized Unionist in Missouri. The most successful and notorious of these gangs was that of William Clark Quantrill, an Ohio-born renegade. One of the Quantrill&rsquos followers was tall, muscular Thomas Coleman Younger. Cole Younger joined Quantrill in January 1862, at the age of eighteen, after jayhawkers burned his father&rsquos livery stable at Harrisonville and threatened to kill him. Subsequently they did murder his father, imprisoned his sister, and drove his mother out of the family home, which they burned.

Contrary to the assumption of some writers, he was not related by blood to the James&rsquo. Cole by no means should be considered a backwoodsman, or an uneducated grudge bearing outlaw, however he was an outlaw. A quote from President Taft President Taft, during a speech at University Club dinner, held in Washington D.C., speaking of Cole Younger said &ldquoI am impressed with the fact that the University of Missouri is a great institution or learning. I am informed that these men great in public life of the country for many years were graduated there. I mean Steven Elkins, Bill Stone and Cole Younger.&rdquo

By July 1862 bushwhacking was so rampant that the governor of Missouri ordered every man of military age to enroll in the state militia. Since this had the effect of forcing pro-Confederates to side with enemies against friends, many of them promptly &ldquotook to the brush,&rdquo or to say went underground. Among them was Frank James. In time he became a member of a Clay County guerrilla band headed by William &ldquoBloody Bill&rdquo Anderson, a ferocious killer who decorated the bridle of his horse with the scalps of Federal soldiers.

On August 21, 1863 Anderson and his gang, Frank included, joined Quantrill in a raid on Lawrence Kansas, where they helped massacre upwards of 100 helpless men and boys. Six weeks later, on October 6, 1863, they participated in the slaughter of nearly one hundred Union Soldiers at Baxter Springs, Kansas. It is rumored that Cole Younger had a great desire for good pistols and rifles. He collected the finest guns money would buy. He measured the quality of a good gun by having many of his victims stand one behind the other, where he would shove the gun into the first mans stomach and fire it. If as many as six men fell dead, he considered it a good rifle and kept it.

During the winter of 1863-64 the bushwhackers camped near Sherman Texas, where they robbed and occasionally murdered civilians. Many of them by then were crossing the line, always narrow, between guerrilla war and sheer banditry. In the spring of 1864 the Anderson band returned to its &ldquostomping Ground&rdquo in Missouri. Soon afterward Jesse James, now seventeen, joined the group that included his brother Frank. More than likely he would have done so in any case, at this point in time, Zerelda was married to Dr. Samuel and was pregnant. During the summer Union militia had harassed Mrs. Samuel, tortured Dr. Samuel, Frank and Jesse&rsquos stepfather, and administered a whipping to Jesse. This removing any hesitation he might have felt for taking up arms against the Union side. Under Anderson and riding behind Frank, he took part in numerous raids, robberies, ambushes, fights, and massacres. The most gruesome robbery occurred September 27, 1864 at Centralia. First Anderson&rsquos men stopped a train, robbed all the passengers, and then murdered nearly thirty of them, mostly unarmed Federal Soldiers home on leave. Next they attacked and overwhelmed 147 militiamen, slaughtering 124 of them and mutilating their corpses. If the testimony of Frank is to be credited (a risky thing to do), Jesse distinguished himself in this &ldquobattle&rdquo by shooting the militia commander, Major A. V. E. Johnson.

Militiamen subsequently killed Anderson in a fight outside Richmond Missouri, cut off his head, and mounted it to a telegraph pole. At the same time the Federals routed Prices Army, which had invaded Missouri in a last desperate attempt to secure it for the Confederacy. Most of the bushwhackers, including Jesse, followed Price into Texas, where they spent the winter. However, Frank joined a number of guerrillas who went to Kentucky. Frank James along with Quantrill formed a new gang called Morgan&rsquos Raiders, with a new leader, Marcellus Jerome Clark (better known as Sue Mundy) and it totaled more than 50 guerrillas. On February 3, 1865 twenty-six guerrillas burned the town railroad depot at Midway, Kentucky. While the depot was burning, they robbed the stores and everybody they met, taking money, watches and jewelry and anything of value. Having done this they left, headed towards Versailles, and stopping at the crossroads, Frank must have had some thoughts about the old Black Horse Inn, his mother&rsquos birthplace.

Earlier that year the Versailles-Midway Road Company had turned the old tavern into a tollgate house. No mention has been recorded whether he robbed anyone there, or let it be, however, he proceeded west about one mile and a half on the Old Frankfort Pike to the Harper&rsquos Nantura horse breeding farm, with a band of some 50 or more guerrillas under the leader, Sue Mundy raided the Harper family then proceeded to press horses (taking horses at will for the purpose to serve in the Civil War). Old John Harper tried to stop the band at his gate, but their drawn pistols deterred him. Shots were exchanged between residents of the farm and the guerrillas. Adam Harper, the younger brother of John was, shot dead.

Having taken the best riding horses they wanted they continued one half mile to Robert Alexander Woodburn Farm, although they were discovered and a confrontation took place. No one was killed because they had captured old man Viley and Mr. Alexander would not risk their desire to kill him. Instead he argued and bargained the amount of horses they could have. However, they did not keep their word and took many more horses, including some of his famous thoroughbreds. Included was one in particular, Norwich, for which Mr. Alexander had recently refused $15,000. Alexander and his employees pursued but soon had to give up the chase.

Maj. Warren Viley and Col. Zachariah Henry volunteered to rescue Norwich. They found the trail of the guerrillas on the other side of the Kentucky River and chased them into Nelson County. Viley and Henry masqueraded as irregulars themselves. Late in the day they came into hailing distance of two of the guerrillas, one of whom was Frank James, riding Norwich. At a call the bandits stopped and drew their guns. For a moment it looked as if the chase would end fatally for both Viley and Henry, but a parley ensued, during which Viley told Frank (setting astride Norwich) that the horse was a pet and asked him to sell it. Frank refused to listen, saying it was the best horse he ever rode. Finally he agreed to give up the horse for $500.00. Further haggling got the price down to $250.00. Viley promptly paid and took over the horse safe and sound back to Woodburn Farm.

Sue Mundy, his guerrilla gang increased in number because he was the most unsavory homegrown outlaw and became one of the most feared throughout the Border States. He was captured on March 11, 1865 in Mead County (Brandenburg, Ky). He was tried, found guilty and hanged in Louisville on Broadway near 18th Street on March 15, 1865.

Quantrill, along with Frank and 22-50 guerrillas continued to plunder throughout Kentucky towns and villages. At Brandenburg, during the early part of June 1866, Frank got into a fight with four Federal soldiers. The soldiers are said to have mistaken Frank for a horse thief and attempted to arrest him. Frank was wounded during the shoot-out, and wrote for Jesse to come to Brandenburg. Jesse did so, even though he was weak, and stayed until Frank had recovered, October 1866. Before Frank was wounded, he killed two, wounded a third, and was shot in the joint of the left hip by the fourth before he escaped.

During the war Major General William T. Sherman stated in a dispatch to the Judge Advocate in Washington complaining that too many spies and villains were not being punished because of time-consuming trials. Sherman said: Spies and guerrillas, murderers under the assumed title of Confederate soldiers, should be hung quick, of course after trial, our own scouts and detachments have so little faith in the punishment of known desperadoes that a habit is growing of losing prisoners in the swamp, &ldquothe meaning of which you know&hellipunless a legal punishment can be devised, you will soon be relieved of all such cases&hellipforty or fifty executions now would in the next twelve months save thousands of lives&rdquo.

Captain Donnie Pence was in combat when he had his horse shot from under him and he was shot thru the thigh. It was at this time that an incident occurred that forever made a friend of the notorious Frank James. &rdquo The Confederate&rdquo with the exception of Frank and Capt. Pence, had passed thru a gate and before it could be closed, Pence, in order to cover the retreat of his comrades, turned his horse and single-handedly held at bay about 100 Federal Calvary.

At this time he had started to rejoin his men. The pursuing cavalry had closed in on him with a volley from their Carbines. Pence&rsquos horse was killed and he was wounded. The horse fell on top of Pence pinning him to the ground. Frank James seeing the condition of Pence, and realizing his danger, rode to the rescue. He succeeded in reaching Pence and rescuing him from the dangerous position, carrying him on his horse and out of danger. On account of this incident the warmest friendship was began between Capt. Pence and Frank James. It has been claimed, on many occasions, Quantrill believed that he could lead his band to Washington, assassinate President Lincoln, and from the resulting demoralization bring victory to the South.

Quantrill spent some time with a man named Dawson, Dawson&rsquos daughter, Nanny, asked Quantrill for his autograph and instead he wrote her a poem. One of the lines in his poem was &ldquo though dark clouds are above me. &ldquo Quantrill was right dark clouds were above him and the Confederacy. On May 10, 1865, he and his men were ambushed in a muddy Spencer County, KY barnyard. Quantrill had a new horse, one that was not used to sounds of battle. It reared and bucked in terror and before he could pull himself into the saddle, a heavy carbide slug smashed into his back, spinning him into the barnyard. Federal Troops found him paralyzed from the shoulders down. Quantrill told them his name was Capt. William Clarke, of the Fourth Missouri Cavalry. He bribed Edward Terrill, the Federal officer in charge, saying he was in much pain, and asked the officer to let him stay in a nearby farmhouse, owned by James H. Wakefield.

Later that night Frank James and other survivors of Quantrill&rsquos last fight crawled out of the woods and came to Wakefield&rsquos house. They wanted to rescue Quantrill, but he told them he had promised Terrill he would not leave and that if he did, Yankee&rsquos would burn Wakefield&rsquos home in reprisal. Two days later the Federal Troops returned. By then they had learned that their famous prisoner was William Clarke Quantrill, famous guerrilla commander, and not some unknown Missouri cavalry captain. They loaded him into a wagon and hauled him to a hospital in Louisville, where he died on June 6, 1865, at the young age of twenty-seven.

Ironically, General Robert E. Lee had signed the Con-federacy&rsquo surrender papers, on Easter Sunday, more than a month before Quantrill was shot. But news traveled slowly, and the status of surrendering guerrillas was vague. Frank James and the rest of Quantrill&rsquos veterans, Donnie Pence, Bud Greggs, James Wilkerson, Joab Perry, Bud Pence, George Shepard, Oliver Shepard and Cole Younger, to mention a few, surrendered at Samuel&rsquos Depot, KY on July 26, 1865 and were paroled on orders by General John M. Palmer.

When the Quantrill guerrillas with Frank James first came to Kentucky, they went straight to the home of T.W. Samuels, cousin to Dr. Samuels who was Frank&rsquos stepfather. The reason given was that during the later days of the war, Quantrill&rsquos guerrillas were having a tough time finding a hideout and lacked provisions. Also, by coming to Kentucky, they could remain active in their rebel activities while having the security of being a part of the law, so to speak.

Old T.W. Samuels was elected High Sheriff of Nelson County in 1864, and in those days the Sheriff was local law. Much of Quantrill&rsquos army stayed at Samuels Depot. Two brothers Donnie and Bud Pence who rode with Quantrill for a period of two years were members of the first James Gang. Both eventually married Samuel&rsquos sisters and they both ended up in law enforcement.

Jesse James may have spent the winter of 1864-1865 in Texas, as concluded by some historians, led by Dave Pool, Arch Clements and Jim Anderson, brother of Bloody Bill Anderson. However it is known that he was in Franklin County KY on Sulfur Lick during July 1864, visiting his Aunt Mary Elizabeth Cohorn, who was the youngest sister to his father, Robert. While visiting there and attending to his wounds, Jesse would sit on the back porch, possibly bored for the lack of something to do, and would shoot birds out of a large maple tree. When he shot her favorite mocking bird, Mary (Elizabeth having a good temper of her own), shot between his legs into the old porch, then grabbed a coffee pot full of hot coffee and threw it on him. Jesse somewhat dazed, ran, saying it was hotter there than being in a Union raid. Later that evening he apologized, told his aunt she was surely family, that he loved her, got his belongings and left never to be see again by his aunt.

General Greenville M. Dodge sent instructions to Colonel Chester Harding: &ldquoYou can say to all such who lay down their arms and surrender and obey the laws that the military law will not take any further action against them, but we can not protect them against the civil law should it deem best to cognizance of their cases.&rdquo

Jesse James was almost captured, on April 23, 1865. There seems to be quite a bit of confusion about what happened that morning. A.L. Maxwell of Lexington, MO, whose brother-in-law obtained the facts firsthand from Barnett Lankford, who willingly took Jesse in that night, reports the events of that day as follow: A group of men on horseback (guerrillas) were headed for Burns Schoolhouse where they intended to surrender. In this group was Jesse Hamlett, a friend of the family. They suddenly saw a band of five horsemen coming from the direction of Salt Pond Road. These men charged the guerrillas, firing on them.

Hamlett&rsquos horse was shot out from under him and Jesse James was shot three times, twice in the right breast and once in the leg. In spite of these wounds, Jesse got his friend up behind him and they rode as fast as they could. What happened to Hamlett is not known, but Jesse was so seriously injured that he had to dismount and crawl off the roadside into the brush. He the crawled into an old abandoned coalmine. When night came, he went up to a house, which proved to be the home of Barnett Lankford. He was a Southern sympathizer and willingly took Jesse into his home. Jesse stayed there for two days. By this time, he could stay on a horse and painful though it was, he rode until he came to the Hill Farm where Dr. A. B. Hereford treated his wounds, Jesse returned the horse he had borrowed from Mr. Lankford by way of a veteran of Price&rsquos army, who had come to the Hill Farm with Jesse.

On this farm was an abandoned log house and in it Jesse hid until he was able to travel to his mother&rsquos home. She had been banished from her Missouri home to Rulla, Nebraska. In another story, Jesse was wounded a bullet penetrated a short distance from the scar of the wound of August 1864. A bit of cloth may have been the thing that saved Jesse&rsquos life this time. He was wearing a flannel shirt and the bullet carried a piece of this cloth into the wound, and apparently helped stop the flow of blood from the wound. The existence of the cloth in the wound was not known at the time but months later he coughed up small recognizable bits of the flannel.

He finally told his mother, Zerelda, that if he died, he did not want to die in the North. He asked to be taken back home. Dr. Samuels closed out his practice and they started their trip home in August of 1865. On the way back, they stopped at Aunt Mary Mimms, his father&rsquos sister, who lives in Kansas City. Here Jesse met Zerelda Mimms, who nursed him while he was recovering from his wounds. As soon as he began to get better, they started again for home. During the return trip, Jesse told his mother that he wanted to marry his cousin, Zee (Zerelda Mimms) as he called her. It was not until April 4, 1874 that they got married.

It was thought that the war being over, and Jesse and Frank having been wounded, that the majority of the bushwhackers who wanted to settle down and lead a peaceful, law-abiding life would be able to do so. The trouble was that some of them did not want to, or at least did not try very hard. This was especially true of those whose criminal tendencies had been developed and confirmed by bushwhacking. Finding humdrum, poverty-tinged existence on a farm tedious after the exciting life and easy money of wartime, they could not resist the temptation to make use of the skills acquired under Quantrill and Anderson. A month later Jesse was in Clay Co. Mo.

On the afternoon of February 13, 1866, a dozen former bushwhackers looted the Clay County Savings Bank in Liberty Mo. of nearly $60.000, in the process murdering a student from William Jewell, the college Frank and Jesse&rsquos father helped establish. It was the first daylight bank robbery in American history, not counting the plundering of two banks in St. Albans, Vermont in 1864 by Confederate raiders operating out of Canada. It also marked the beginning of a series of bank holdups by gangs of guerrillas: Lexington, Mo., October 30, 1866 Savannah, Missouri, March 2, 1867 Richmond, Mo., May 22, 1867.

In June 1867, Jesse was in Nashville, Tenn. under the care of Dr. Paul Eve. He told Jesse that his lung was too badly decayed for cure and that the best thing he could do was to go home and die among his own people. From Nashville Jesse went to Logan County, KY. Jesse and the boys decided to rob a bank in Russellville, KY on March 20, 1868. Jesse James had five of his guerrillas (supposedly Jim White, Cole Younger, John Jarrette, George and O. Shepard).

Cole had previously visited the bank of Nimrod Long and Company posing as a cattle dealer. A few days later the bank was robbed, and the gang escaped with a sum reportedly as high as $9,000. Long, who refused to obey the robbers&rsquo orders, suffered a scalp wound when a bullet grazed his head. There are different stories where the robbers came from. One place was thought to be Nelson County, where Donnie Pence lived, and another story was that they stayed with their Uncle George Hite in Adairville, KY.

Probably Frank and Jesse participated in all of these robberies, although at the time they occurred, neither the authorities nor the newspaper accused them of involvement. But then, on December 7, 1869 in Gallatin, MO, two men entered the Daviess County Saving Bank, where one of them cold-bloodedly shot the cashier, a former Union militia officer, through the head and heart. As they left the bank carrying several bags of hundreds of dollars, townsmen opened fire. The bandit who murdered the cashier was unable to mount his excited horse, whereupon he jumped up behind his companion and together they galloped out of town. Several citizens identified the abandoned horse as a mare belonging to Kentucky robbers. A posse pursued the bandits to the James-Samuel farm, only to see Frank and Jesse dash out of a barn on fresh horses and escape.

The James brothers denied responsibility of the Gallatin murder and robbery and even obtained affidavits (of dubious worth) from people in Clay County swearing to their innocence. However, they refused to submit to arrest and stand trial, claiming (with good cause), that they would be lynched like several other former bushwhackers suspected of crimes. Hence, they became, if they were not already, professional outlaws.

Little that is reliable is known about the beginning of Cole Younger&rsquos bandit career. If we are to believe his own story, which is filled with distortions and exaggerations, following the end of the war he settled down on a farm near Lee&rsquos Summit, MO (known as Kansas City suburb) and tried to live a lawful, peaceful life. But vindictive Unionist forced him to go into hiding in order to avoid arrest for an alleged wartime murder. Then they falsely blamed him and his brother Jim, also and ex-Quantrill, for every crime committed in the area. Finally, out of sheer desperation, they decided to live up to their reputation and so teamed up again with the James&rsquo.

Between 1870 and 1876 the James-Younger gang ranged from Kansas to Kentucky and from Iowa to Texas robbing banks, holding up stages, and sticking up trains. The latter especially excited the public imagination, being both novel and dramatic. Although the Reno brothers of Indiana were the first bandits to engage in train robberies, those committed by the James&rsquo and Younger&rsquos received far greater publicity. Furthermore, they did not necessarily get the idea from the Reno&rsquos as already noted Frank and Jesse were with Bloody Bill Anderson when his band waylaid a train at Centralia, Ohio in 1864.

&ldquoFrank and Jesse James and the Younger brothers&rdquo were household names over America. Newspapers headlined their exploits, often attributing to them deeds they cold not possibly have performed unless they had a supernatural knack for being in two widely different places at the same time. The Police Gazette and similar magazines published vivid accounts, accompanied by garish drawings, of their supposed doings. Hack writers made them the hero&rsquos of highly imaginative stories published in crudely illustrated dime novels, which were sold at depots and aboard trains, among them the very trains they robbed!

Sheriffs and police officers throughout the West tried to track down the famed outlaws, as did the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Their efforts were invariably and sometimes absurdly futile. Besides their own bumbling ineptitude, they were handicapped by the fact that thousands of Pro-Southern Missourians believed that the James&rsquo and Younger&rsquos were innocent victims of Unionist-Republican persecution and hence were more than willing to help them. Foremost among these was newspaper editor John N. Edwards, a former Confederate Major and a close friend of Frank and Jesse. Not only did he defend them, he glorified them in his various writings. Thus, following their recovery of the gate receipts at the Kansas City Fair on September 26, 1872, during which they accidentally shot a little girl in the leg, he published an editorial in the Kansas Times entitled &ldquoThe Chivalry of Crime&rdquo in which he compared them to the Knights of the Round Table.

Missouri sympathy for the bandits peaked early in 1875. On the night of January 26 a group of Pinkerton detectives, three of whose colleagues had been gunned down by the James&rsquo and Younger&rsquos in recent encounters, sneaked up to the James-Samuel home and tossed what they later claimed was a flare lamp through a window. According to the report of the Adjutant General of Missouri, Dr. Samuels pushed the flaming device into the fireplace. He thought it was a turpentine ball and it exploded, killing a 9-year-old Archie Samuel and mangling Mrs. Zerelda Samuel&rsquos right arm so badly that it had to be amputated below the elbow. Neither Frank nor Jesse was captured, although evidently, at least one of them was present. On January 28th Archie Samuel was laid to rest at the Kearney Cemetery. Zerelda, overcome with grief, did not attend. Funeral services were performed by the Reverend Thomas H. Graves.

The tragic event aroused indignation throughout Missouri and led to the introduction of a bill in the legislature, which provided for the pardoning of all ex-bushwhackers for their Wartime deeds and promised them a fair trial for all alleged post-war crimes. But before the legislature could act Frank and Jesse murdered (so it was thought) a neighbor whom they suspected of aiding the Pinkertons. As a result, the trend of public sentiment turned against them and the bill failed.

So far all the robberies perpetrated by the James&rsquo and Younger&rsquos had taken place in regions they were familiar with and where friends or relatives could aid them in case they needed to escape the law. Then, late in the summer of 1876, following a July 7 train stickup at Rocky Cut near Otterville, MO, a member of the gang known as Bill Chadwell (real name William Stiles) persuaded the rest of the gang that his home state of Minnesota offered rich and easy pickings. As a consequence, on the morning of September 7 eight men, all dressed in long, linen dusters, rode into Northfield, Minnesota. They were Frank and Jesse James, Cole and Bob Younger, Chadwell and two ruffians called Clell Miller and Charlie Pitts.

Three of the men dismounted and entered the First National Bank. They ordered cashier Joseph Heywood to open the vault. He refused. One of the robbers, probably either Jesse or Frank, shot him. The teller, A.E. Bunker, ran out the back door, undeterred by a bullet in the shoulder. Meanwhile several townsmen, having perceived that a robbery was in progress, opened fire with rifles and shotguns on the mounted men outside the bank. Two of them, Chadwell and Miller tumbled dead from their horses. Bullets from the robbers&rsquo revolvers in turn killed the sheriff and a Swedish immigrant who understood neither English nor what was happening.

The outlaws inside the bank rushed out, remounted, and along with the others galloped away under a hail of bullets. Bob Younger&rsquos horse went down. Bob, whose right elbow had been shattered by a rifle bullet, was picked up by a companion, most likely Cole Younger, then continued to fight.

As hundreds of grim-faced posse men scoured western Minnesota, the unsuccessful raiders sought to make their way back to Missouri. But they were slowed down by their ignorance of the countryside, heavy rain, and above all by the badly wounded Bob Younger. According to some accounts, Frank and Jesse proposed abandoning him, or possibly killing him. Cole, however, refused to allow it. Eventually the James&rsquo went off alone and reached home safely.

The Younger&rsquos and Pitts were less lucky. On September 21, 1876 near Madelia, Minnesota a posse cornered them in a swamp. A short, one-sided gun battle ensued. Pitts was killed and the Younger&rsquos, literally riddled with bullets, surrendered. After recovering sufficiently they stood trail for murder and attempted robbery. They pleaded guilty and were sentenced to life imprisonment in the Minnesota State Penitentiary at Stillwater.

For three years following the Northfield fiasco, Frank and Jesse lay low. Contrary to the billboards of certain present-day tourist traps, neither then, nor at any other time, did they hide out in caves. Instead they lived under assumed names with their wives and children in places like Nashville, St. Louis, and even Kansas City.

As Frank once remarked, &ldquoMost people look alike in the city.&rdquo Given the primitive identification devices and the haphazard police communication in the era, it was not necessary for them to adopt disguises or take elaborate precautions. In fact, law enforcement agencies lacked both photographs and detailed descriptions. All they knew was that they were tall, lanky, and bearded, which was not much to go on.

Then, in spectacular style, the James boys, or a least Jesse, came out of retirement. First, on October 8, 1879, a gang led by Jesse ransacked a safe aboard a train at Glendale, Missouri. Next, on July 15, 1881, they held up a Rock Island train near Winston, MO, murdering the conductor and a passenger. And on the night of September 7, 1881 (fifth anniversary of the Northfield raid), the gang robbed both the safe and the passengers on a Chicago & Alton train at Blue Cut, east of Independence. The engineer of the train stated that the leader of the bandits, before riding off, shook hands with him and said, &ldquoYou are a brave man&helliphere is $2 for you to drink to the health of Jesse James tomorrow morning.&rdquo In addition, a Jackson County farmer who had been arrested for participating in the Glendale affair testified in court that Jesse had recruited him and provided him with a revolver and shotgun. As a result, only fanatics like Edwards continued to call Frank and Jesse guiltless victims of persecution.

Thomas T. Crittenden, the newly installed Democratic governor of Missouri, decided to put and end to the James&rsquos once and for all. They had caused Missouri to become known as the &ldquooutlaw state,&rdquo they were bad business, and they were furnishing political ammunition to the Republicans, who accused the Democrats of not really trying to apprehend them. Accordingly he announced a reward of $10,000 (to be paid by the railroad companies) for information leading to the capture, dead or alive, of either Frank or Jesse.

Crittenden often produced results. Among the new members of the James gang were two more brothers, Charles and Robert Ford. On December 4, 1881 Bob Ford and a veteran bandit named Dick Liddell killed Wood Hite, also an outlaw and Frank and Jesse&rsquos cousin, in a quarrel over a woman. Fearful that Jesse would kill him in revenge, Liddell arranged to surrender to Sheriff James A. Timberlake of Clay County after first obtaining assurances of leniency from Crittenden if he helped apprehend Jesse. On learning of this, Bob Ford realized that Jesse surely would suspect him as a friend of Liddell. Hence, he too contacted Timberlake and Crittenden, with the result that he and his brother agreed to tip-off Timberlake as to the time and place of the gang&rsquos next operation. For his part Crittenden promised the Fords immunity from punishment and a share of the reward money.

Late in March 1882, the Fords went to the house in St. Joseph, MO where Jesse, under the alias of Thomas Howard, had been living with his wife and two children since November. Together with Jesse they planned to rob the bank in nearby Platte City on April 4. However, on the morning of April 3, while eating breakfast with the Fords, Jesse read in the Kansas City Times that Liddell had surrendered to the authorities.

Immediately Bob Ford sensed that Jesse now knew that the Fords intended to betray him. So when Jesse removed his pistol belt, something he had never done before, and stood on a chair to dust a picture on the wall, Bob Ford possibly thought these two things. First, &ldquothat Jesse was seeking to throw me off guard by pretending to have confidence in me as a companion&rdquo second, that now or never is my chance. If I don&rsquot get him now he&rsquoll get me tonight.&rdquo So he slowly pulled his revolver and fired. The bullet tore through the back of Jesse&rsquos skull behind the right ear, and &ldquohe fell like a log, dead.&rdquo

Bob Ford was brought to trial in St. Joseph on a charge of murder. Charles and Bob pleaded guilty, were sentenced to death, and were promptly pardoned by Crittenden. Ten years later, in Creede, Colorado, Bob Ford himself fell victim to a murder&rsquos pistol, having achieved the gloomy notoriety of being &ldquothat dirty little coward that shot Mr. Howard.&rdquo Charles Ford committed suicide in 1896.

By 1882 Frank James was thirty-nine and at least semi-retired from banditry. The murder of Jesse convinced him that if he was going to reach forty, he had better make peace with the law. Therefore, with Edwards serving as his intermediary, he surrendered to Crittenden at Jefferson City on October 5, 1882 twice, once at Gallatin, MO and again at Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Frank stood trial for his alleged crimes, and each time a sympathetic jury acquitted him for lack of convincing evidence. It never was proven in a strictly legal sense that the James boys ever committed so much as a single robbery!

During the years that followed his second acquittal Frank managed to make just enough money working as a shoe clerk to get by on. Then he tried working as a theater guard, in St. Louis, and as a horse race starter at county fairs. Meanwhile a group of Missourians sought pardons for the Younger brothers, who in terms of parole were model prisoners. In 1901 the governors of Minnesota granted conditional paroles to Cole and Jim, but required them to remain within the State borders, Bob died of tuberculosis in 1889 soon after his release. Jim, despondent because the parole board refused him permission to marry, committed suicide in a St. Paul hotel room. In 1903 the Minnesota authorities gave Cole Younger a complete pardon, and he returned to his old home at Lee Summit. He was now a fat, bald, old man. Only his hard, cold eyes bespoke the tough young bushwhacker and bandit of days gone by.

For a while Frank James and Cole Younger traded on their notoriety by touring with the &ldquoCole Younger-Frank James Wild West Show.&rdquo Then not being too successful, they parted with Frank who was spending most of his time at the old James-Samuel farm, where he charged visitors fifty cents a piece for a tour. On February 18, 1915 he died. As for Cole, he gave lectures on &ldquoWhat Life Has Taught Me,&rdquo published an autobiography in which he claimed that the only robbery he ever took part in was at Northfield, and was the center of attention at the annual reunion of the survivors of Quantrill&rsquos band. One year after Frank&rsquos death, he too went to his reward.

Thus Frank and Cole ended their long careers as living legends&helliplegends somewhat tarnished, however, by the very fact they were alive and had to make money to survive. Jesse on the other hand achieved the perfect legend, having been killed and becoming a martyr. Even before he died he was more famous than Frank, in part because of the alliterative sound of his name, in part, because he had a stronger personality and was more active, at least in the later years. His death and the manner of it wiped away, in the popular mind, the harsh reality of his deeds had transformed him into the classic bandit-hero whose daring and cunning rendered him invincible until he is undermined by base treachery. In this sense, Bob Ford did Jesse a favor It would not have been the same if he had died in bed, like Cole and brother Frank, of old age.

&ldquoIf anything we should dispel some of the myths about the James&rsquo.&rdquo First, legend has it that the two brothers were brutal murders and came from an illiterate family. First of all, the James&rsquo were never convicted of any crime, nor have any letters, or personal statements been found to the contrary. No one knows for sure if any published story was accurate. Second, &ldquoThe James brothers robbed banks and stole from the railroads because those two institutions were forcing people into poverty.&rdquo They raised grain prices, forcing farmers to sell their farms. Jesse came to the aid of the downtrodden.

&ldquoAs far as the James family being illiterate, that&rsquos completely false.&rdquo There are many letters written both by Frank and Jesse and they were well thought out and well composed.


8-7-1863 Frank James robbed David Mitchell-$1.25 & knife
8-21-1863 Frank & Jesse, Quantrill, Anderson killed 100 men
9-27-1864 Frank & Jesse gang killed 124 men Centralia, Ohio
10-1864 Bloody Bill Anderson Killed
2-3-1865 Morgan Raiders, Frank included burned Depot Midway
2-4-1865 Morgan Raiders, Stole Horses, killed Adam Harper
2-4-1865 Morgan Raiders, Stole Horses, Rob. Alexander Farm
3-10-1865 Jesse James got shot, got away
3-15-1865 Marcellus Clark (Sue Mundy) Hanged at Lou. KY
4-23-1865 Jesse James got shot, escaped
5-10-1865 Quantrill captured, shot in back, died 6-6-1865
7-29-1865 Frank James Paroled
2-13-1866 Liberty, MO Bank robbery
6-1866 Frank James shot in Brandenburg, KY
6-1867 Jesse James was reported living in Nashville
12-1867 They were in Chaplin, KY
3-20-1868 Russellville, KY robbed Nimrod Long & Co. Bank of $8,000 to $14,000
12-7-1869 Gallitan, MO Daviess Co. Saving Bank $700-$3,000
7-3-1871 Coryden, Iowa Osobock Bros. Band #6000-72000
4-29-1872 Columbia, KY Deposit Bank $200-$1,500
9-26-1872 The Box Office of the World Agriculture Exposition in Kansas City, $10,000
5-27-1873 St. Genevieve, MO $3,000-$4,000-$6,000
7-21-1873 Council Bluffs, Iowa Train Robbery Adair to Rock Island train, $3,000
1-15-1874 Arie Stage Coach Milburn to Hot Springs, watch, diamond stick pin, $4,000
1-31-1874 Grads Hill, MO train robbery, $10,000
4-7-1874 Austin Stagecoach, $3,000
4-24-1874 Jesse James got married to Zee Mimms
8-30-1874 Lexington, MO, stagecoach robbery
1-27-1875 Archie Samuel, Jesse half brother killed by Pinkerton
8-31-1875 Jesse James son born, Jesse Edward James
9-1-1875 Huntington, WV Bank $4,500-$10,000
12-1-1875 Muncie, Kansas, Kansas Pacific train $55,000
7-7-1876 Otterville-Rockie Cut, MO $15,000
9-7-1876 Northfield, Minn. 1st National Bank
12-7-1876 Tishomingo Savings Bank Corinth Mo.-MI $5,000
12-8-1876 Muncie, Kas. Kansas Pacific RR
10-8-1879 Glendale Train & Chicago Alton Train
9-8-1880 Mammoth Cave, Key Stagecoach robbery, watch, diamond ring, etc. +
3-11-1881 Muscle Shoals, Al. Gov. Pay Mast. $5,200
7-15-1881 Winston, MO Chicago-Rock Island & Pacific train
9-7-1881 Rocky Cut. MO Chicago-Alton Train $15,000

Banks robbed in similar fashion, not thought to be by Frank & Jesse James gang.
9-2-1867 Savannah, MO
5-22-1867 Richmond, MO
7-11-1881 Davis Sexton Bank, Riverton, Iowa

Joe Nickell

An American embodiment of the Robin Hood legend, notorious outlaw Jesse James, with his older brother Frank, rode boldly into U.S. history in the wake of the Civil War, during which the two had trained for a career of daring bank and train holdups. Born in Missouri, they nevertheless had many connections to Kentucky, and it was these the editor of The Kentucky Encyclopedia (Kleber 1992) asked me to investigate—with special attention to the 1868 robbery of the bank at Russellville to determine if it was actually perpetrated by the James gang. I completed that assignment (Nickell 1992), as well as a longer, historical-journal article (Nickell 1993a), and produced other related writings (Nickell 1993b 1999). The following is a summary that also looks into Jesse James ghost-lore and other legends.


The James boys, Frank (1843–1915) and Jesse (1847–1882), were born and reared in Missouri, the sons of Robert Sallee James (1818–1850) and Zerelda Cole James (1825–1911). Beginning in 1839, Robert attended the Baptist institution Georgetown College (where I once taught and examined the original records).

Zerelda’s grandfather, Richard Cole, Jr., operated a stagecoach inn near Midway, Kentucky. I visited it and the home of Zerelda’s guardian, Judge James Lindsay, where the couple was married on December 28, 1841. They then moved to Missouri. Following the births of Frank and Jesse, they had one more child, Susan Lavinia, born in 1849 (Nickell 1993a, 218–220). After Robert S. James died during the California gold rush, his widow remarried but was soon widowed again, and finally, in 1856, she wed Dr. Reuben Samuel, by whom she had four more children.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, Frank James joined a Confederate guerilla band, and his fifteen-year-old kid brother did likewise two years later. Jesse thus embarked on a course of outlawry that would end only with his violent death in 1882.

Figure 1. The Long Bank in Russellville, Kentucky, was robbed in 1868. Was it by the Jesse James Gang as legend holds? (Photograph by Joe Nickell.)

The James Gang

After the war, the so-called James Gang—largely a postwar band of former Quantrill’s Raiders, originally led by Cole Younger—was held responsible for numerous robberies in several states. These included, in Kentucky, a pair of stagecoaches near Mammoth Cave and banks in Columbia and Russellville (Nickell 1993a Beamis and Pullen n.d., 10–19, 45, 56–60).

The Long Bank (owned by Nimrod Long) in Russellville (Figure 1) was the scene of a “daring” robbery on the afternoon of Friday, March 20, 1868. Days before, a man using the apparent alias of “Thomas Coleman” attempted to sell a $500 bond, but it was suspected of being counterfeit. On the Wednesday before the robbery, he tried again with a $100 treasury note, which was also declined. He was accompanied by a man who appeared to be observing the layout of the bank. Finally, on March 20, “Coleman” and two others arrived at the bank from different directions, hitched their horses, and walked inside. While they attempted to cash a $50 counterfeit note, two other riders came up and waited outside.

The robbery began when Coleman drew his gun, but owner Long sprang toward a rear door, receiving a bullet-grazed scalp in return. (A bullet hole was left in the bank’s wall where I examined it during my visit to the historic building.) Nevertheless, Long escaped and ran to the street where the two sentries were now firing their Spencer repeating rifles at anyone who approached. The three robbers ran outside carrying saddlebags filled with greenbacks and silver and gold coins. The band then fled out of town and, although citizens soon pursued them, vanished in the woods (Nickell 1993a, 222–224). Were the bank robbers indeed the James Gang?

To answer this question, I approached it from several angles. One strategy was to assess the perpetrators’ modus operandi (or M.O., “method of operation” [Nickell and Fischer 1999]) for which I had had special training (Nickell 2008). I also used additional clues, such as aliases, descriptions, and other factors. It is necessary, however, first to recognize that the group—at this time really the Younger-James gang—was a loosely constituted band whose membership could vary from robbery to robbery.

In fact, both of the James brothers had an alibi for the Russellville robbery: they were holed up in Chaplin, Nelson County, Kentucky, recovering from gunshot wounds. But the modus operandi of the crime was exactly that used and developed by the Younger Gang: “genteelly dressed” men arriving in town posing as cattle buyers or the like, then converging on the bank, with half going inside and the rest keeping guard with Spencer rifles—the two groups able to communicate with each other through a man inside the doorway. The desperadoes then fled on fast horses, splitting up to take preplanned routes, and disappeared. The 1872 Columbia bank robbery, for example, followed the same M.O., and the robbers escaped into Nelson County, a known James sanctuary (Nickell 1993a, 225–232).

Despite the alibi of the James brothers, Louisville detective D.G. Bligh, who investigated the case, believed they were nevertheless involved. Moreover, two of the actual robbers were identified: One, having a “defect in one eye,” was George Shepherd, a Chaplin resident and compatriot of the James brothers so was the other, George’s cousin Oliver Shepherd, who had been away from home at the time of the robbery and who signaled his guilt by resisting arrest. Oliver was shot to death, and George was sent to prison for his role. The alias used by the leader of the band, “Thomas Coleman” (as given in the legal indictment against the five holdup men, probably having been taken from a hotel register), almost surely identifies Thomas Coleman “Cole” Younger (1844–1916), the original leader of the “James Gang” (Nickell 1993a, 228–232 “Russellville” 1868 Settle 1977, 30–44).

Riding into Legend

Although only five men robbed the bank in Russellville, popular writers would extend the number to eight or even a dozen and spur them into town at a gallop with guns blazing. Soon, the legend grew that the robbery was that of the James brothers.

Jesse’s cowardly murder by Bob Ford in 1882 helped make him the focus of later legends. Pistols, often with his name carved thereon, proliferated. So did photographs “said to be” of the outlaws or their family members (Nickell 1994, 78). Among other artifacts, there are no fewer than three gold watches alleged to have fallen from dead Jesse’s pocket.

In the legends, the James Gang’s adventures multiplied. For example, Jesse was said to have robbed a bank in West Virginia in 1875 (more on this presently). Again, he has been seriously credited with another Kentucky heist—that of a Muhlenberg County coal mine office—although Jesse, his wife “Zee,” and their two children were in Kansas City at that time, while Frank was in Texas (Nickell 1993a, 231, 236).

The James brothers’ alleged hideouts were also ubiquitous. Said one writer, there were a reputed “thousand places where Frank James and Jesse James had been seen and it wasn’t only Kentucky it extended all the way to Florida, New York” (qtd. in Watson 1971, 75).

The Impostors

As artifacts and tales about Jesse James proliferated, so did the persons who—following his death on April 3, 1882—claimed to be the real, escaped-from-death outlaw, some seventeen by one count (Nickell 1993b).

Jesse had been living as “Thomas Howard” with his wife and children in St. Joseph, Missouri. On that fateful day, young Bob Ford and his brother Charles—new members of the James Gang—were at the home. Bob Ford intended to kill Jesse for the reward money offered by Missouri Governor Crittenden, so when the unarmed notorious outlaw and respectable family man stepped up on a chair to dust a picture, Ford quickly drew his pistol and shot Jesse in the back of the head, killing him instantly. The act inspired a ditty: “. . . Oh, the dirty little coward that shot Mr. Howard! And they laid Jesse James in his grave.”

Almost immediately, however, came doubt that the dead man really was Jesse James. This was despite a positive identification by a coroner’s jury—relying on people with personal knowledge of his features and on distinctive identifying wounds (including a pair of scars on his right chest and a missing left middle fingertip). Scarcely had a year passed when a Missouri farmer claimed he had seen Jesse James. Other sightings followed, not unlike those of Elvis Presley in more recent times. Eventually, men claiming to be the “real” Jesse came forward (Nickell 1993a, 234–235). As American folklorist Richard M. Dorson (1959, 243) observed: “In the tradition of the Returning Hero, who reappears after his alleged death to defend his people in time of crisis, ancient warriors have announced that Jesse James lives in their emaciated frames.”

The last—and best known—Jesse James claimant was one J. Frank Dalton. I recall him on a television program when I was a boy. I have an old book that was used to promote Dalton’s claim—first made on May 19, 1948—that he was James the book (Hall and Whitten 1948) was published in that year. According to Dalton—then said to be nearly 101 years old—the man killed as Jesse was Charley Bigelow, a former member of the James Gang. Jesse’s wife acted her part in the conspiracy, the book says, crying out, “They have killed my husband.”

Figure 2. The author at the site of Jesse James’s grave in the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Kearney, Missouri, where his remains were exhumed in 1995. (Author’s photo.)

Investigating ‘Jesse’

This is all fantasy and conspiracy nonsense of course, aimed at the credulous. I compared some of Dalton’s “memories” (as related by the authors of his story in 1948) and found them absurd. For example, except for the date of the Russellville bank robbery, he gets almost nothing else correct, referring to the town as “Russell” and describing what had been a carefully planned act as a wild raid: “A group of mounted men, armed with revolvers and bowie knives, dashed through the streets of Russell, shouting and yelling. They rode up to the front of the bank and two lines of men were placed across the street to keep anyone from interfering.” Then the James brothers went inside the bank, where Frank trained his pistol on the cashier while Jesse “took the money from the safe” (Hall and Whitten 1948, 19).

Other evidence discredits Dalton. Whereas writers cite his “damaged fingertip” (“J. Frank Dalton” 2015) and specifically the “mutilated tip on the left hand index finger” (Taylor 2014) as supposed proof that he was Jesse James—in fact, as we have already seen—the actual digit in question was Jesse’s left middle finger, and its tip was missing (Settle 1977, 117–118). Then there is the handwriting. Forensic document examiner Duane Dillon determined that Dalton’s writing characteristics were distinctly different from James’s (Starrs 2005, 185).

As a historical document consultant (see Nickell 2009) and author of textbooks on handwriting (Nickell 1990 1996), I independently compared Dalton’s “Jesse James” signature (on the cover of the 1948 book by Hall and Whitten) with known signatures of James (Hamilton 1979, 89, 91).

In contrast to the real Jesse’s “Jesse W James” and “JWJames,” Dalton omits the middle initial, writes the first name above the last, fails to connect the first J with the following e and the second J with the following a, uses an entirely different form for the three s characters, adds an uncharacteristic final stroke to the last s, and more. The real James did not pen the words “Jesse James” written by J. Frank Dalton.

I also ran down two stories of old men in my hometown area who thought they had encountered Jesse James in 1875, about the time he supposedly robbed a West Virginia bank (mentioned earlier) one was in Morgan and the other in Elliot County, Kentucky. In 1950, the latter (then in his nineties) reportedly visited J. Frank Dalton in Missouri and declared, “He is Jesse James” (Nickell 1999). Dalton died the following year. His death left for many the question: Who is buried in Jesse James’s grave?

Identifying Jesse James

That question has since been answered by James E. Starrs, a professor of law and forensic science at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He headed the James identification project. (He and I were fellow speakers in 1998 at a forensic conference in Nova Scotia where we swapped investigative stories over lunch.) In July 1995, the project exhumed the remains from the grave in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Kearney, Missouri (having in 1902 been transferred there from Jesse’s initial burial in his mother’s front yard). (See Figure 2.)

The skeletal remains yielded evidence consistent with being those of Jesse James. For example, an anthropological analysis showed the remains to fit his known profile as to sex, age, height, and racial typing. A spent bullet was found amid fragments of the right ribs where Jesse was known to have carried an unremoved bullet. The skull—carefully reconstructed—yielded evidence of a single entrance wound behind the site of the right ear. Found later were traces of the lead from a bullet’s passage on a fragment of an occipital bone. Many of the teeth had gold fillings and evidence of tobacco chewing (nicotine staining and corrosive influence)—both expected from known facts of the outlaw’s life (Starrs 2005, 181–185).

The definitive evidence came from mitochondrial DNA (mt DNA), i.e., genetic material passed from mother to child. A DNA specimen from one of the teeth matched that from blood samples taken from Robert Jackson and Mark Nichols, the two known descendants of Jesse’s sister Susan. The remains thus proved to be those of Jesse Woodson James (1847–1882) with a significant degree of scientific certainty. The sequence of base pairs in the DNA matching was “so singular” that it was reportedly “the first time it was encountered in the entire mt DNA database for the Northern European population” (Starrs 2005, 185–186).

Ubiquitous Ghost

In death, the legendary Jesse James attracts mystery mongers—including buried-treasure enthusiasts and ghost hunters—like a magnet. Often the two topics are combined.

A large component of the lost-treasure genre consists of proliferating yarns about lost mines and outlaws’ buried loot, including the alleged troves of the James Gang. As it became fashionable to identify places where Frank and Jesse had allegedly had a meal or hidden from pursuers, numerous caves were supplied with suitable “legends.” Said one writer, “There was hardly a cave they hadn’t hidden in” (qtd. in Watson 1971, 75). Buried treasure (real or hoaxed) was sometimes used to promote caves as commercial attractions. (For example, see Hauck 1996, 340.)

The same problems with lost-treasure tales are also true of haunting yarns—so many of them also beginning with the ubiquitous “It is said that.” I have spent quality time in places allegedly haunted by the ghost of Jesse James. For example, as a board member I attended a meeting of the Historical Confederation of Kentucky at the old Talbolt tavern in Bardstown in 1993 that was, however, uneventful as to ghost activity. A display in the inn’s upstairs foyer warned guests that they might experience ghostly phenomena (Holland 2008, 195), thus using the power of suggestion to set them up for a “haunting” experience.

Reportedly, there were various banging noises, common to the setting of old buildings and the effects of temperature changes on timbers and stairs the sounds of people talking and laughing, possibly real people at the bar or nearby the chiming of a bell eleven times at 4:00 am, likely a clock needing resetting and a dream of a man being hanged, perhaps the effects of alcohol, and the “eerie” atmosphere, together with the historical backdrop.

I have also toured the old James farm where Jesse’s original gravesite still reposes in the front yard. (From there, his mother sold pebbles to souvenir hunters for a quarter each, replenishing them as necessary from a nearby creek [Settle 1977, 166].) The entire farm is haunted, according to sources citing the usual anonymous experiencers. The sounds of “low voices” and “restless horses” that were allegedly heard by a single staff member (possibly due to imagination or to sounds carried on the wind) were claimed in another source, exaggeratedly, to be from multiple reports (Taylor 2000 cf. “Missouri Legends” 2015). Supposedly, lights “have been seen” inside the farmhouse at night, one source claiming they are “moving” (Taylor 2000) and another that they go “on and off” (“Haunted” 2013) a common explanation for many such ghostly house lights is reflections on the window glass from various external sources (Nickell 1995, 50–51).

With ghost tales of Jesse James—as with buried-treasure and other legends of the notorious outlaw—we must remember the old skeptical maxim: Before trying to explain something, first be sure that it really occurred.

The James, Whitsett, Andruss Connection

On January 25, 2009, Laura Anderson Way, an excellent genealogist, emailed me telling of a discovery she made while perusing Eric James’ website, “Stray Leaves – A James Family In America Since 1650”. [1] Laura’s find provides more strong written and pictorial evidence supporting my family story. Since some readers may not be familiar with this story, I’ll relate only the part that pertains to her find.

For as long as I can remember I’ve heard family stories that claim Jesse Woodson James was my paternal great-grandfather. The story goes that he assumed the alias of James L. Courtney and hightailed it to Texas. He was living there when he got away with his April 3, 1882 murder, and lived there until he died of old age on April 14, 1943. He told his friend and neighbor, J. Z. Jackson, that “a name to live by is a name to die by”, hence his tombstone bears the name of James L. Courtney instead of Jesse W. James.

In 1995 I decided to either prove, or disprove, this story once and for all, and after several years of extensive research I became convinced that it is true. Realizing that this story and my findings needed to be made public for the sake of historical and genealogical accuracy, I wrote my first book on the subject, Jesse James Lived & Died In Texas, [Eakin Press, 1998]. Soon afterwards I became very aware that the now deceased Judge James R. Ross, who is generally accepted as Jesse James’ great-grandson, aggressively challenged any new information about Jesse James that differed from the historically accepted version of his life and death.

Eric James, Judge Ross’ spokesperson, Kathy Reynard, and others, joined forces and started a genealogical war against my family story and my findings. These individuals adamantly pursue all avenues attempting to totally discredit my family story and my findings. Ms. Reynard, who was once their spokesperson, created the website Jesse James In Texas?, which mimics my website of the same name minus the question mark. Her website was formerly accessed at http://www.jessejamesintexas?.com, but is now hosted by Eric James’ Stray Leaves website at http://www.ericjames.org/JesseJamesinTexas/index.html.

This particular story began with Laura’s email to me and developed to its current status through emails. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I included these messages, only taking the liberty of italicizing them in order to differentiate them from my commentary.

In an effort to disprove your theory, they [my detractors] completely don’t realize that Whitsett is last name of one of the guerillas and James Simeon Whitsett died in New Mexico.

Eric never mentions the obvious.

Andruss and Whitsett Livery Stables.

A look at the history of Johnson County, Missouri will show this is the same Whitsett family. Now I have to check those Andrusses too. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/

James “Sim” Whitsett was John Rankin Whitsitt’s son.

I wonder exactly where those stables were.

Laura was referring to the letter pictured below which is currently displayed on Eric James’ web site at http://www.ericjames.org/JesseJamesinTexas/index.html. This letter was written by J. R. Andruss to Mr. James L. Courtney, (Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney, my paternal greatgrandfather), on stationary bearing a letterhead reading:

G.P. Whitsett J. R. Andruss

Whitsett & Andruss


Lamar Livery, Sale & Feed Stable

On Broadway, half block north of Square.

Lamar, MO., January 11, 1887

Please note that Exhibit 2E is written in the lower right hand corner of the above pictured letter. This exhibit was presented at my 1999 exhumation hearing as evidence against my claim that Jesse W. James was my greatgrandfather.

Please keep in mind that my great-grandfather was known in Texas as James L. Courtney, but a body of evidence indicates he was actually Jesse W. James. He revealed the truth of his true identity in his 1871 diary by signing it “J. James” “JWJ” and James L. Courtney”. He also included the following rhyme:

“When stemm and tryst James L. Courtney is my heist.”

Definitions of the key words: Stemm = a line of descent Tryst=a secret prearranged meeting and Heist= to steal.

The fact is that Jesse James and James L. Courtney were cousins descending from a common ancestor, Sarah Mason Barbee James, daughter of George Mason, who is known as “The father of the Bill of Rights”.

From this point forward I will refer to the letter pictured above as Exhibit 2E.

Jesse James didn’t just pull the Courtney name to use as his alias out of his hat – there actually was a real James L. Courtney. And, adding even more intrigue to this story, is the fact that the real James L. Courtney assumed the alias of James Haun. No one knows for certain why he did this, but from here on I will refer to him as the real James L. Courtney or James L. Courtney AKA James Haun, in order for the reader to differentiate him from Jesse W. James AKA James L. Courtney.

The real James L. Courtney was the son of Stephen and Dianah Andruss Courtney, and they, as well as all of their children, reportedly also assumed the alias of Haun. Some living Courtney’s and Haun’s claim that Stephen Courtney changed his entire name to Andrew Jackson Haun, while the rest of his family kept their given names only changing their surname to Haun. But bear in mind that the claim that Stephen Courtney and Andrew Jackson Haun were the same man is theory and not fact.

My opposition claims as fact that my great-grandfather was the real James L. Courtney and only assumed the alias of James Haun because he got into some trouble with the law. But their theory just doesn’t make any sense. If he really was James L. Courtney and got in trouble with the law, trouble so serious it caused him and his entire family to change their names to Haun and leave Missouri and move to Kansas…why on earth would he change his name back to James L. Courtney?

The rest of the Stephen and Dianah Courtney family reportedly lived the rest of their lives in Kansas as Haun’s, and are buried as Haun’s.

Kathy Reynard offers this following version as the reason for the reported name change – written exactly as she wrote it:

“Shortly after the [April 1867] wedding [Stephen and Dianah’s daughter, Harriet Courtney Black], Stephen, Diannah, and the four boys abruptly left their home in Miami County [Kansas] and moved to Morris County, Kansas where there were few settlers, and they built a home on what later became known as Haun Creek. Stephen Courtney had changed his given and surnames and was now Andrew Jackson Haun. Diannah and the boys kept their given names, but the entire family now called themselves the Haun family. Much research has been done to find the reason for the name change and the move to Morris County. My husband’s Aunt Frances and Lee Haun, grandson of Theodore, who had never met, remembered hearing stories about it being because of a stolen horse. Jane Haun of Ponca City, Oklahoma remembered her mother telling, very quietly, that they were “really supposed to be Courtneys, but don’t tell anybody.” Kathy Lyons, a great granddaughter of Robert Haun, said that her mother remembered hearing that either Robert Haun or his father had shot and killed a man during an argument, and they had to move quickly in order to keep him from being arrested. This gave me something to go on, and I went to the State Archives in Topeka to go through the newspapers of this time period. I found an interesting article in the Johnson County paper in mid-May 1867 that told of a man shooting his brother during a heated argument. He was arrested, held for just a few hours, then released. And then in the middle of the night, the entire family had packed up and left. No names were mentioned. There is just one problem with trying to link this incident to the Courtney/Haun family — neither Stephen nor Diannah had a brother that had died in May 1867, in Kansas or anywhere else. There are no police or court records for this time period, so I think this is as close as we are going to get in solving this mystery. The Hauns went to great lengths to protect their new identity even the probate records of Stephen and Diannah mention their son James L. Haun living in Texas, although James had resumed the use of the Courtney name when he moved to Texas in 1871. No one knows why he did this. He sold the farm he had purchased in Morris County to his father, and also sold land that he had purchased in Johnson County, Missouri as James L. Courtney.” [2]

Did one of the Courtney boys shoot the real James L. Courtney dead and then Jesse James stepped in and assumed his name? Kathy Reynard states as fact that Stephen Courtney assumed the alias of Andrew Jackson Haun, yet she presents no proof of this and neither has anyone else. Or did one of the Courtney boys shoot their father dead instead of their brother? Since no one has ever proved that Stephen Courtney and Andrew Jackson Haun were the same man, maybe Dianah married again and her new husband was Andrew Jackson Haun.

Dr. David Hedgpeth also has a theory about the reason for the name change. He believes that Rev. Robert Sallee James, (Jesse James’ father), faked his death and assumed the alias of Andrew Jackson Haun. If this proves to be true, the real James L. Courtney AKA James Haun, and all of his siblings, would have become Jesse James AKA James Courtney’s step-siblings. This would also mean that Dianah Andruss Courtney AKA Dianah Andruss Haun would have been his step-mother.

Whatever the case may be, Exhibit 2E was written to my great-grandfather who was living as James L. Courtney in Blevins, Texas at the time. As stated earlier, he wrote the rhyme in his 1871 diary revealing that he stole James L. Courtney’s name. No one knows exactly when he assumed this alias, perhaps in 1867 after the shooting incident, but his diary proves that he was using the name James L. Courtney by the time he reached Decatur, Wise County, Texas on June 28, 1871.

Since the real James L. Courtney discarded his name, it appears Jesse James seized the golden opportunity of putting it to good use as his own. And he couldn’t have made a better choice since Courtney was a name he was very familiar with. As stated earlier, James L. Courtney was his cousin, perhaps his step-brother, and some of his Courtney cousins were his neighbors in Clay County, Missouri. 3

Believing that Exhibit 2E provides proof that my great-grandfather was James L. Courtney AKA James Haun, my opposition included it in their brief for my 1999 exhumation hearing in Marlin, Falls County, Texas. I was seeking a court order from Falls County Judge Michael Meyer, to retrieve a small dime-sized sample of my great-grandfather’s bone from his grave for DNA testing purposes, but my request was denied. I was upset at the time, because I want a definitive answer as to my true lineage, but I later learned that Judge Meyer did me a great favor.

If the judge had granted the order to exhume, the mtDNA sequence obtained from my greatgrandfather’s remains was to be compared to the mtDNA sequences of the two men used as DNA reference sources for the 1995 exhumation in Kearney, Missouri, and at that time I wasn’t aware that their validly as DNA reference sources is highly questionable.

To the best of my knowledge no one at the hearing had any idea that Exhibit 2E actually held an important clue supporting my family story. If Kathy Reynard hadn’t pictured it on her website, and if Eric James hadn’t included her website on his website, Laura may have never seen it and wouldn’t have discovered the highly important name of Whitsett.

I believe my oppositions’ line of reasoning regarding the significance of Exhibit 2E is this: Since the real James L. Courtney’s mother’s maiden name was Andruss, her nephew, J. R. Andruss, wouldn’t have written to my great-grandfather if he hadn’t been the real James L. Courtney. But what none of us realized at the time was that the real James Courtney and Jesse James were cousins, and perhaps step-brothers, and that the Whitsett name held an important clue to my great-grandfather’s true identity.

In response to Laura’s initial email I emailed her the following excerpts from my latest book, The Truth About Jesse James, as well as a picture of my great-grandfather taken in Lamar, Barton County, Missouri (pictured below the excerpts) :

Frank James was at this time in bed upstairs in the hotel, receiving seven former Quantrill men who had come in on the morning train from Kansas City. They were William H. Gregg, J. Frank Gregg, James Whitsett, Hiram J. George, Benjamin H. Morrow, Warren W. Welch, and J. C. Ervin, who was the alternate pallbearer to the other men who would carry Jesse’s body at his second burial. [3]

  1. L. Courtney received a letter dated January 11, 1887, from James Russell Andruss in Lamar, Missouri. J. R. Andruss was the son of Orville Rice Andruss, brother of Dianah D. Andruss Courtney AKA Dianah D. Haun, the real James L. Courtney’s mother and perhaps Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney’s step-mother. The letter acknowledges this in closing with ‘your cousin’. [4]

I also included the following in my email to Laura:

Was James Simeon “Sim” Whitsett part of G. P. Whitsett’s family?

Laura, that picture of my g-grandfather pictured in my latest book, the one that’s signed Jessie James “alive”, was taken in Lamar, Missouri. (Pictured below.)

“This photo is a CDV image from the 1880’s as the photographers backmark suggests. The man in the image is in his mid-thirties which would put his birth date close to mid-century just as Jesse James’.” (Greg Ellison, http://theellisoncollection.com/). Due to the obvious surprise of the individual who identified the man pictured as Jessie James “alive”, this leaves no doubt that this is an image of Jesse Woodson James, and it was taken after April 3, 1882, the date Bob Ford reportedly shot him dead. The face in this photo matches the face of my great-grandfather in other known photos of him.

The back of the Jessie James “alive” photo shows that the photographer’s studio, J. C. Consaul’s New Gallery, was located on the Square in Lamar, Missouri.

Out of all my photographic evidence none speaks louder in telling the tale of my great grandfather’s true identity than this photo, the original of which is owned by John B. Barritt of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. What makes this picture so important is that John Barritt is not related to me and we had absolutely no knowledge of one another other until he read about my story in the Dallas Morning News, yet he owns a picture of my great-grandfather identified as Jessie James. Mr. Barritt’s story follows:

“Upon the death of my Uncle Clifford’s widow, her daughter, (no relation to me), offered to me a valise which contained many photos of the Barritt family. I, of course, accepted them.

One of the photos in the group was a photo upon which was written “Jessie James alive”. It was not unusual to see such a photo because many of the so called desperadoes of the “Old West” often were seen at the “Medicine Shows” which were popular at the time. Emmett Dalton and Elmer McCurdy were examples. Whether it was an actual photo of Jessie made no difference to me, it was not to be discarded.

When I saw the article in the Dallas Morning News about a lady who claimed to be a great granddaughter of Jessie James and had written a book about him, I compared my picture with the one shown in the article. I contacted Betty Duke, the author and sent her a copy of the picture because I believed it was authentic.

I wondered about it being among my great-grandfather’s effects so I decided to investigate the matter.

In the middle of the 19 th century, about the time Jessie was born, my great-grandfather was living in Ohio. He put up his farm as bail for the release of a friend whom he believed to be innocent of the murder for which he was charged and lost it as a result.

It was then he left Ohio and settled in Missouri. Other relatives were already in Missouri and Kansas. He then moved to Oklahoma where he operated the Batchel Hotel in Venita, I. T. ]Indian Territory], and the Miami Hotel in Miami [Oklahoma].

The acquisition of the land by the railroad could have been his reason for the move to Oklahoma, but it could have been the Civil War, as well.

The Pony Express was the link between the two ends of the railroad. It was started on April 3, 1860 and could have been instrumental in the possibility of my great-grandfather’s having known Jessie besides him being a neighboring farmer.

It was at this time Jessie was active in his outlaw’s role and would need sanctuary. What better place to hide than in your friend’s hotel? And even when he rode with Bill Anderson?

Is it not, also, plausible that, on his return trips from Texas, he would choose the same place from which he could easily contact anyone in the area with whom he chose to visit.

The picture was taken by a photographer from Lamar, Missouri, a mere 60 miles from Miami, Oklahoma, but many of the photographers did travel to the surrounding towns. The picture could have been made at the hotel at any time Jessie chose to do it to share with a trusted friend a secret known only to a select few.

Other photos in the group were those of family members and friends of the family, and were taken by photographers from ten or more towns in the area around Lamar.

No matter how hard you try there will always be those whom you cannot convince, not even with the truth. There are skeptics in every instance who will never admit their position.

The truth always wins and I hope my meager contribution will help it do so.

Great-grandson of Henry Clay Barritt – John B. Barritt Jr.” (1999)

Mr. Barritt added in a separate letter that “Jesse” was spelled with an “ie”–Jessie– in some old documents, and that it wasn’t until later years that the “ie” was used for girls. I have found this to be true in fact, some of my older family members spelled my great-grandfather’s name Jessie. Mr. Barritt also said “The name Jessie James “alive” was added to the picture before it was taken for it to turn out like it did.”

The following tintype of my great-grandfather is believed to have been taken shortly after his arrival in Texas in 1871. The face in this photo, as well as other known photos of my great grandfather, pictured in both of my books and on my website, has been determined by a facial identification professional to be the same face pictured in the Jessie James “alive” photo:

This tintype of my great-grandfather was given to me by Ms. Marion Gibbs, one of the compilers of the book, “Families of Falls County”, compiled by the Falls County [Texas] Historical Commission. She explained that she wanted me to have it because one of my “Courtney” cousins had dropped it off at her home to be pictured in the book, but this cousin never returned to get the picture after numerous requests from Ms. Gibbs to do so. She then told me that this “Courtney” cousin, along with several others, proclaimed after the book was published that this is not a picture of my great-grandfather, known in Texas as James L. Courtney. I couldn’t help but laugh because my “Courtney” cousins sure do hold true to form in denying pictures they fully well know are images of my great grandfather. However, they did tell her a bit of truth – the man in this picture isn’t James L. Courtney — he was Jesse James.

After further research I sent Laura another email:

The J. R. Andruss who co-owned the livery with G. P. Whitsett was the real James L. Courtney’s cousin, and, according to one source, G. P. Whitsett was Sim Whitsett’s brother, nephew, or cousin. I’m trying to determine which. James Simeon “Sim” Whitsett rode with Quantrill and identified the body of Jesse James at his reported first funeral.

Now we believe that Jesse didn’t really die in 1882 and wasn’t buried as reported, and we may now have one of the pallbearer’s brothers from that fake funeral closely connected to my great grandfather. The letter written on that stationary from J. R. Andruss was written to James L. Courtney. By that time my great-grandfather was living in Texas under the alias of James L. Courtney, so the letter was written to him. You can see on that letterhead that the livery was located on the square at Lamar, Missouri. Now check out the back of the attached picture — the photographer’s studio was also located on the square in Lamar, Missouri.

I’m pretty excited about this. I wonder what else I’ve overlooked? — Betty

Years ago, Barbara Irwin, an Andruss family researcher, sent me copies of her research which also includes Merriam Morrison Kokojan’s research. Their research revealed some very intriguing information about J. R. Andruss which I recall reading then, but the significance of it meant nothing until Laura discovered the Whitsett – Andruss connection:

“James Russell Andruss was born near Holden, Missouri in 1857. Around 1886 he purchased a livery stable from President Harry S. Truman’s father in Lamar, Barton Co. Missouri. It was known as the Truman & Andruss Livery for a while.”

Further research revealed that the Truman & Andruss Livery eventually became known as the Whitsett & Andruss Livery. Now the plot thickens…President Harry S. Truman was James J. “Jim Crow” Chiles’ nephew, and Jim Crow Chiles was one of Quantrill’s guerrillas. Joanne Chiles Eakin, co-author of Branded as Rebels, is also related to him. G. P. Whitsett had cousins who rode with Quantrill and may have also rode with Quantrill himself. At the very least the Andruss’ were related to Jesse James through the Courtney’s. Jesse James also rode with Quantrill during the Civil War.

The following article reveals little known information about President Harry S. Truman (written exactly as the article appears):

“All history books readily and freely educate of the great President Harry S. Truman and his legacy left to the world. How he saved the world from the destruction of World War 2 as well as the heroic, monumental decisions he made to end that long war.

What isn’t spoken of is that President Harry S. Truman was a card carrying member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans ! Yes, you read it correctly.

Not only was Harry S. Truman the thirty-third President of the United States (1945-1953) as well as the thirty-fourth vice president – Harry S. Truman he was a direct descendent of Confederate soldiers and was a staunch & loyal supporter of the history and glory of the Missouri Partisan Ranger movement in Missouri against illegal and cruel occupation by Federal forces during the War of Northern Aggression.

Most know the back story of President Truman from childhood and history books. To wit – Truman was born on May 8, 1884 in Lamar, Missouri, the oldest child of John Anderson Truman (1851-1914) and Martha Ellen Young Truman (1852-1947). His parents chose the name Harry after his mother’s brother, Harrison Young (1846-1916), Harry’s uncle. His parents chose “S” as his middle name, in attempt to please both of Harry’s grandfathers, Anderson Shippe Truman and Solomon Young the initial did not actually stand for anything, as was a common practice among Celtic / Scots-Irish.

During World War I Truman served as an artillery officer. After the war he became part of the political machine of Tom Pendergast and was elected a county commissioner in Missouri and eventually a United States Senator.

John Truman was a farmer and livestock dealer. The family lived in Lamar until Harry was ten months old. They then moved to a farm near Harrisonville, then to Belton, and in 1887 to his grandparents’ 600 acre farm in Grandview. When Truman was six, his parents moved the family to Independence, so he could attend the Presbyterian Church Sunday School.

As a young boy, Truman had great interests in reading and most importantly in history. Both highly encouraged by his mother. He was very close to his mother for as long as she lived, and as president solicited political as well as personal advice from her. Truman also read a great deal of popular “spun” history.

What is not readily known nor is this taught to our children, is that Harry S. Truman was a Confederate son – through and through! Truman and his family’s unwavering support of the South and the Confederate States Of America was immense, steadfast and allegiant.

Yes, Harry S. Truman had at least 2 ancestors, who were Confederate soldiers. First, William Young, son of Solomon and Hariette Louise (Gregg) Young, served under Upton Hayes. Solomon & Hariette were the grandparents of Harry S. Truman. Redlegs stole the family silverware, killed over 100 hogs, and burned his barns and haystacks. This occurred after Hariette had fed the men. Young rode with Hayes, Virgil Miller, Cole Younger, Dick Yeager & Boon Muir in August of 1862. Sources: Joanne Eakin & Donald Hale, “Branded as Rebels” page 484 John N. Edwards, Noted Guerrillas, page 94.

The other man was James J. “Jim Crow” Chiles. Actually, he was an in-law, his wife was a daughter of Solomon Young. Source: Joanne C. Eakin & Donald Hale, “Branded As Rebels” page 71.

Also highly probable, is that since Truman’s grandmother Hariett was a Gregg, she may have been related to William Gregg, who rode with Captain William Quantrill.

Of additional resource is an excellent article in the July 2007 edition (Volume 10, Number 2) of North & South magazine titled, Border State Son: Harry S. Truman and the War Between the States by David D. Schafer. The author is a former staffer at the Harry S. Truman NHS in Independence, Missouri, and former member of the Civil War Round Table of Kansas City. The article is about how the War of Northern Aggression highly influenced Truman’s life.

President Harry Truman’s grandmother Hariette (Gregg) Young was put in a “prison camp” due to Ewing’s General Order #11 (Listed at end of chapter). Harry’s mother was Martha Ellen Young. She, from childhood, remembered her home being burned, following Order #11. In 1861, when Kansas “Redlegs” made their first raid on the Truman’s family’s property, the Youngs were living southeast of Kansas City near Hickman Mills.

At this time, the Redlegs tried to make Harrison Young, Harry’s uncle, an informant and reveal information on Missourian’s loyal to the South. Harrison refused and was repeatedly “mock hanged” and his neck stretched to torture and make him talk. Harrison Young never broke to this torture !

During Harry’s WW1 service, Harry never wore his “Dress Blues” when visiting home, as Momma “…didn’t like the damned Yankees…” As well – because of the burning of the family’s farm and destruction by yankee predators, when Truman’s mom Martha Ellen, came to visit him at the While House, she refused to sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom !

In closing, the true & complete history of our beloved Harry S. Truman, our thirty-third President of the United States was of a true Confederate son, proud of his family and very adamant of the preservation and memory of the atrocities committed against Missouri by Lincoln and the savage Kansas scurf that pushed this nation into war.

Something the spin doctors and revisionists will never allow to come to light. For how could one of the greatest president ever have been of Confederate extraction and loyal to the South! That can’t come to light… Especially that before during and after his term as President Of The United States, that Harry S. Truman was a proud, bona-fide, card carrying loyal member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans ! Plain & simple.

So proud was President Truman, that he actually attended some of the Quantrell Reunions of survivors of Captain Quantrill’s command and other Missouri Partisan ranger heroes.

We leave you with 2 quotes directly from Harry S. Truman that puts all into perspective. The truth cannot be denied. As follows…

‘But Quantrill and his men were no more bandits than the men on the other side. I’ve been to reunions of Quantrill’s men two or three times. All they were trying to do was protect the property on the Missouri side of the line…’

‘…They tried to make my uncle Harrison into an informer, but he wouldn’t do it. He was only a boy… They tried to hang him, time and again they tried it, ‘stretching his neck’, they called it, but he didn’t say anything. I think he’d have died before he’d said anything. He’s the one I’m named after, and I’m happy to say that there were people…around at the time who said I took after him.’

Truman speaking about what the Kansas “Red Legs” did to his 13 year old uncle, during the War Of Northern Aggression.’ [5]

Missouri has a saying — the three most famous people of Missouri are Harry Truman, Mark

Twain, and Jesse James. President Harry S. Truman agreed with many Missouri folks in thinking that Jesse James was kind of a Robin Hood, a good old boy, who took care of the widows and others. He never allowed himself to forget where he came from, and he often put a Western Missouri spin on issues debated in the Senate Chamber. An example was a speech Truman made in 1937 on his attempt to depict the scale of the subterfuge he believed the nation’s financiers had been guilty of. Truman goes on to describe a railroad robbery committed in 1873.

‘The first railroad robbery was committed on the Rock Island back in 1873 just east of Council Bluff, Iowa. The man who committed that robbery used a gun and a horse and got up early in the morning, said Mr. Truman. He and his gang took a chance of being killed and eventually most were. That railroad robber’s name was Jesse James.” The said Jesse James held up the Missouri Pacific in 1876 and took the measly sum of seventy thousand dollars from the express car.

About thirty years after the Council Bluffs hold up, the Rock Island went through a looting by some gentleman known as the “Tin Plate Millionaires.” They used no guns but they ruined the railroad and got away with seventy million dollars or more. They did my means of holding companies. Senators can see what “pickers” Mr. James and his crowd were along side of some real artists.’ [6]

President Truman’s quote leads one to conclude that he knew the family stories about Jesse James, and thought of him as more of a Robin Hood than the tin plate millionaires who were ripping the railroads off twenty times his rate. Harry S. Truman knew more about Jesse James than just his outlaw history. The past of both men’s families reflect a similar story.

At the tender age of sixteen Jesse James witnessed a band of federal militiamen appear at the James farm looking for his older brother, Frank James, a member of Quantrill’s Band. His step-father, Dr. Reuben Samuel, also had his neck stretched repeatedly in an attempt to make him tell of Frank’s whereabouts. Jesse’s mother was pregnant at the time and the Union militia slammed her into a wall. When they finally found Jesse in the field working a team of horses they beat him unconscious with bayonets and plow lines. All of this torture proved fruitless so the Feds left promising worse treatment on their next visit.

But President Harry S. Truman and Jesse James had more than a Civil War story in common, they shared a family tree:

Laura sent the following excerpt to me from Ron Wall’s biographical sketch of James Simeon “Sim” Whitsett:

“Simeon’s parents, John and Eliza Whitsett, lived about a mile north of Hickman’s Mill. Ironically, Hickman’s Mill and an area of one mile surrounding it was one of the few areas in Jackson County that was exempt from the order.

Perhaps John and Eliza escaped the devastation that befell most of Jackson County. Isaac and Cynthia Whitsett at Lee’s Summit certainly did not, nor did Sim’s cousin Stewart Whitsett and his family. Evidence indicates that they moved from Lee’s Summit to Lafayette County where several Whitsett families lived. Some of the Lafayette County Whitsett’s were cousins and the ties may have been close enough for one or more of these families to take them in.” [7]

Besides Sim Whitsett’s family, future President Truman also lived in Hickman Mills (Hickman’s Mill?) along with his parents and siblings: “The Truman family returned to Jackson County in 1866, to live on a farm two miles north of Hickman Mills, in an area later known as Holmes Park.” [8]

Laura and I were still attempting to determine if Sim Whitsett was related to G. P. Whitsett, and if so…how? But it didn’t take Laura long to determine that Sim and G. P. Whitsett’s fathers were first cousins. This would mean that G. P. and Sim Whitsett were either first cousins once removed or second cousins, I’m not sure which.

“Samuel Whitsett had many children, but John H., James W., and Joseph are the ones we are concerned with.

John H Whitsett 1770-1845is the ancestor of Gilbert Pink Whitsett

James W Whitsett 1773-1838 is the ancestor of James Simeon Whitsett

Joseph Whitsett 1774-1824is the ancestor of Stewart and William Whitsett

(They married the Crawford girls named Laura and Susan, cousins of the Youngers)

Susan Crawford had married William Whitsett. When he died she then married Thomas Vandever. She died in the jail collapse.

Another sister Armenia Crawford Selvey also died in the jail collapse. Jeptha Crawford ..Story of their father’s murder http://www.rulen.com/partisan/deeds.htm.

Riley Crawford was also a guerilla and was their brother.

I believe that John H. Whitsett and James W. Whitsett were serving in the War of 1812 in the same co. (from Montgomery co, KY)

Joseph lived in Indiana, but somehow the descendants all ended up in Missouri.

The Indiana/Kentucky migration was pretty common I think. These men were originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Laura’s attached document follows:

Roll of Captain Micajah McClung’s Company, Kentucky Mounted Volunteer Infantry – Commaded by Major Peter Dudley.

Besides Whitsett’s being listed on the above pictured roster, there’s a Barron, a Wilkenson/Wilkerson, and a Younger. These names could also prove significant because my paternal great-great-grandfather was Thomas Hudson Barron, and he was in the War of 1812 at the Battle of New Orleans. Wilkenson/Wilkerson’s and Younger’s rode with Quantrill and later the James Gang, and Bill Wilkerson, a known member of the James Gang, is mentioned in my great-grandfather’s diary as sitting with the family at Thomas Hudson Barron’s death bed.

Many genealogists and historians claim that most of Quantrill’s men were related by blood or by marriage.

Laura related the following information in a later email:

“James “Sim” Whitsett’s grandfather was James W. Whitsett (1773-1838) and Gilbert P. Whitsett’s grandfather was John H. Whitsett (1770-1840)

John H. and James W. were brothers. Both were sons of Samuel Whitsett.

And they each had a son they named John R Whitsett born about the same time

Some researchers make the mistake of thinking John R Whitsett is one man…..That is why some people say that Sim and GP are brothers……but they are not brothers.

These two John R Whitsett’s are 1st cousins to each other…….

Reverend John R Whitsett 1803-1879 GP’s dad

and John Rankin Whitsett 1805-1892 Sim’s dad

I’m not sure if they are called second cousins…..but I think that is what the relationship is called.

They are not first cousins.

I hope you will also let them know about the other son of Samuel Whitsett named Joseph Whitsett (1774-1824) whose children settled in Lafayette County, Missouri.

Joseph’s son Isaac Ellis Whitsett had the two son’s William and Stewart who married Jeptha Crawford’s daughters.”

Laura wrote on February 15, 2009: “Sim was mostly in Jackson County, GP was mostly in Johnson County, other guerrillas and their family that descended from Joseph were mostly in Lafayette Co.” Her email also contained two biographical sketches, one for G. P. Whitsett, and one for his brother, T. Jep Whitsett. The latter sketch contains the following information (written verbatim): “…he moved to what was then Lafayette county, which embraced also the present Johnson county.”

The highlighted portion above indicates that the Whitsett cousins very likely knew each other.

Laura did the genealogical research while I perused all of the many books I’ve acquired over the years about Jesse James and his associates for any mention of the Whitsett name. Many of these books mentioned James Simeon “Sim” Whitsett, but none mentioned G. P. Whitsett, but fortunately Donald R. Hale’s, Branded as Rebels Volume Two, contains the following information contributed by Cecil R. Coale which supports Laura’s genealogical findings:

Whitsett, Joseph Haden: “I am a distant cousin of James Simeon Whitsett who was once of Lee’s Summit…..My great great uncle Joseph Hayden Whitsett of Bonham, Texas was the same age as Sim and when Quantrill and Sim came to Texas that winter of October, 1863 to May, 1864, they ran around together here in north Texas. Uncle Hade died at age 103 in 1950 in Bonham. He was one of the three living Confederate veterans in 1950 in Texas. …..Uncle Hade was born in Barren County, KY., as was his father. Sim Whitsett was born in Jackson County, Missouri, but his father was from Kentucky……..Quantrill and Sim had departed Texas by May 1964 [should be 1864]. Uncle Hade joined Shelby’s 2 nd Missouri Cavalry regiment after the Battle of Westport in October, 1864. Uncle’s Hade’s company was the one that became “Shelby’s Escort” later at Fulton, Arkansas. Shelby’s cavalry retreated from Westport to Bonham where General McCulloch’s garrison and commissary were located. Uncle Hade spent the last the next 9 months in a long retreat from Bonham to Clarksville, Texas and then Corsicana, Texas. Shelby disbanded the Missouri Cavalry in Corsicana in July, 1865 and Uncle Hade made his way back to Bonham….

Ref: Letter to Don Hale, July 26, 1998, from Cecil R. Coale, Jr. McKinney, Texas.”

In a later email Laura wrote that she is fairly certain that Gilbert Pink Whitsett (G. P. Whitsett) and Sim Whitsett were second cousins:

On James Simeon Whitsett and Gilbert Pink Whitsett……

I think they are related like this …….but I am not 100% sure yet.

James “Sim” Whitsett’s Ancestors Gilbert Pink Whitsett’s Ancestors

Samuel Whitsett b 1745 ……… Same guy…… Samuel Whitsett b 1745

John Rankin Whitsett 1805-1892 ….Cousins……. Rev. John R Whitsett 1803-1879

James Simeon Whitsett ………… 2nd cousins…..Gilbert Pink Whitsett

Plus the Crawford sisters ….Susan and Laura …..related to the Youngers through their mother……married the Whitsett brothers (William and Stewart) who were sons of Isaac Ellis Whitsett b 1804.

William died soon after he married Susan. She married Thomas Vandever and she was killed in the jail collapse. Isaac’s father was Joseph Whitsett b 1774 who was another son of Samuel Whitsett.

Armenia Crawford Selvey was also killed. She is sometimes called Armenia Whitsett Selvey. (Maybe she married another Whitsett brother before marrying Charles Selvey.)

Riley Crawford……who died when he was seventeen was often mistaken for Bloody Bill Anderson….They said he was quite a ruthless killer after his father Jeptha Crawford was murdered and his two sisters died in the Jail Collapse. (Susan Vandever and Armenia Selvey.)

The following information relates that Sim Whitsett and Jesse James were comrades and friends:

“James Simeon Whitsett (John R. 6 , James W. 5 , Samuel 4 , Ralph 3 , William 2 , Samuel 1 ), was born March 19, 1845 in Missouri, and died May 22, 1928 in Missouri. He married (1) Martha M. Hall January 6, 1870 in Jackson County, Missouri. She was born August 21, 1844, and died July 1, 1878 in Jackson County, Missouri. He married (2) Margaret Angelina Arnold February 26, 1880, Cass Co., Missouri. She was born April 29, 1848 in Kentucky and died August 26, 1926, Hereford, Deaf Smith County, Texas.

  • Rode with Quantrill’s Raiders. Friend of the Youngers and James brothers. Biographical sketch in “Branded as Rebels” by Don Hale of Lee’s Summit, Missouri
  • In the Marley Brant book, “The Outlaw Youngers: A Confederate Brotherhood” states that one of Bob Younger’s pall bearers on September 20, 1889 in Lee’s Summit, Missouri was James S. Whitsett. Also, at the funeral of Jim Younger in Lee’s Summit, Mo. on October 22, 1902 J.S. Whitsett was again a pallbearer and mentioned as a childhood friend of the Youngers (probably cousins).” [9]

Finding information on G. P. Whitsett, co-owner of Whitsett & Andruss Livery, proved more difficult than it did for his well documented cousin. The History of Johnson County, Missouri, census records, and a death certificate provided more information.

The History of Johnson County, Missouri:

“GILBERT P. WHITSETT, stock dealer. Among the enterprising citizens of Centerview, may be mentioned Mr. G. P. Whitsett, who was born in Johnson County, January, 1845. He is the second son of John R. Whitsett, a native of Kentucky. In 1874, Gilbert P. was married to Miss Georgia Mitchell, of Centerview, a native of Kentucky, and daughter of T. H. Mitchell, Esq. He then engaged in the grain and live stock business, and followed this until 1881, when he opened a livery stable, and is at present engaged in the livery business. He has three children living:

Jeddie P., Mary M. and Birdie H. Mr. Whitsett’s mother was a native of Tennessee, and was a daughter of James Cull.” [10]

The information located above says that Gilbert P. Whitsett opened a livery stable sometime around 1874, but it didn’t say where. But thanks to a letter J. R. Andruss wrote to my greatgrandfather on January 11, 1887, I now know that livery was located very near the Square in Lamar, Missouri…the same Square where Jesse James had his picture taken.

The real James L. Courtney, along with his parents and siblings, also lived in Warrensburg, Missouri. [11]

Neither Laura nor I could locate a military record for Gilbert Pink Whitsett, which is odd since he was of the right age to have served in the Civil War that officially began in 1861 and officially ended in 1865. But since there are no complete roster for all the men who rode with Quantrill or the James Gang, he may have ridden with Quantrill. No other information was found about G. P. Whitsett until 1870. Was he riding with Quantrill during the war and maybe Jesse James afterwards?

According to the information provided by census records and, The History of Johnson County, G. P. Whitsett was born in 1845, but according to his death certificate he was born in 1840. The informant for his death certificate, Ella Whitsett, said that his birthday was January 4, 1840 and that he died a widower in Lamar, Missouri on October 2, 1925. [12] His occupation is listed as a stock dealer. [13] In 1870 he was a teamster and living in Reno, Washoe County, Nevada. [14] Ella Whitsett also said that G. P. Whitsett’s father was Jack, (nickname for John), Whitsett, but she apparently didn’t know who his mother was because this space was left blank. (Death Certificate pictured below.)

Laura learned that G. P. and Sim Whitsett were related to other men who rode with Quantrill:

I’m trying really hard not to get anyone mixed up with anyone else.

I see where the two Armenias are getting confused.

One was born as Armenia Crawford (She died in the Jail collapse) who was related to the Youngers through her mother who was a Harris.

At least two of her sisters married Whitsetts who were brothers.

Laura Francis Crawford married Stewart Whitsett (Son of Isaac Ellis Whitsett) Susan married William Whitsett who died ……and then she married Thomas Vandever

Susan died in the Jail collapse.

I think Susan’s oldest daughter named Armenia Whitsett b 1855 is being confused with Susan’s sister Armenia Crawford Selvey b 1835.”

In another email she shared more information on the Whitsett’s relationship to other Quantrill guerrillas:

“I sent this to you about two years ago ………but want to refresh your memory because of the Crawfords who married the Whitsetts.

Rueben Harris b 1760 in Virginia and Died May 6, 1842 in Jackson Missouri.

His parents were William Harris and Sarah Steele.

Three of Rueben’s children headed up households of the Allied Families

Married Rhoda Burnett (Burnetts married into the Younger family) Children:

Rhoda Burnett took in the families after husband died. Just one of the censuses I have on her.

1860 United States Federal Census about Rhoda Harris Name: Rhoda Harris

Home in 1860: Sni A Bar, Jackson, Missouri

Household Members: Name Age

Rhoda Harris 59 (Vandevers lived with the Harris family)

Armina Vandever 5 Last name is Whitsett

married Laura “Lavina” Matilda Fristoe

(her sister is Bursheba Fristoe mother of the Youngers)

Elizabeth Harris b. 1814 married Jeptha Crawford who was murdered on 29 Jan 1863.

I have her date of death as 29 Jan 1862 which I believe is incorrect. Most accounts say she was turned out in the cold after the execution of her husband.

Laura Crawford Married Stewart Whitsett

Susan J Crawford Married William Whitsett, then Thomas Vandever Ann E Crawford

On July 16, 2009 Laura sent me the following email:

Sim Whitsett’s YDNA shows he is not related to the Whitsettt’s who married Crawford women.

But each person in those families had their own guerrillas, the most ruthless of all being Riley Crawford.

Sim Whitsett obviously has documentation to show he was a guerrilla.”

The DNA information is important, but just knowing that G. P. Whitsett was Sim Whitsett’s cousin is enough for me. However, this still doesn’t prove that either of them knew my greatgrandfather, but on January 27, 2009, Carol Holmes, a genealogist who mainly concentrates on the James family, sent me the following email:

“That is the same man standing next to Courtney who you have listed as might being John Brown [Pictured in my first book, Jesse James Lived & Died In Texas]. That man standing next to him is Sam Whitsett. Compare the pictures on the web page that you just sent to the one in your first book.”

I checked out the picture she referred to, and as soon as I saw it, I saw what she saw. There are several known photos of Sim Whitsett pictured on Ron and Sue Wall’s Family History website, but the owner of these pictures prefers that I not use them which is totally understandable. The link to their website follows:

Controversy surrounds a picture on the Wall’s website that was identified as Sim Whitsett by his niece:

“This picture of attendees at the 1920 reunion of the surviving members of Quantrill’s band was published in the 1956 edition of William E. Connelley’s, “Quantrill And The Border Wars,” (Pageant Book Co., 1956). The picture was donated by a niece of Sim. Sim Whitsett was identified by his niece as the man behind Jesse James Jr. (the man in the lower right corner with the white hat). However, in 1963 the Williams family identified the man as John W. Williams. The roll of men attending the 1920 reunion shows that Sim Whitsett was not present, but John W. Williams was. Peculiar is that Miss Lizzie Wallace, who was on her porch standing behind the men, was completely removed from the picture.”

According to census records Sim Whitsett lived in Missouri and Texas in 1920. He lived in his son-in-law’s household in Amarillo.

Source Citation: Year: 1920Census Place: Cimarron, Union, New Mexico Roll: T625_1079 Page: 6A Enumeration District: 222 Image: 829.

The following picture and notice appears on Ron and Sue Wall’s website: [15]

“This photo incorrectly identified as Sim Whitsett at the 1920 reunion is actually John W. Williams, a Civil War vet but not a Quantrill Raider.”

I don’t think the man pictured above looks like Sim Whitsett either, but I do believe Sim may be pictured in the group photo pictured both above and below. In the photo below look at the man on the back row to the far left – the man with a white beard and dark suit. Joanne C. Eakin and Donald R. Hale, authors of Branded as Rebels, tentatively identified this man as “John Brown. The group photo pictured below in its original state and includes the admirable Miss Lizzie Wallace. This original photo is pictured in Branded as Rebels:

The photo pictured below was found in my great-grandfather’s personal belongings after his death. The man standing next to him (on the right) looks similar to the man pictured above tentatively identified as “John Brown?”, but he also looks very similar to Sim Whitsett who is believed by some to not be pictured.

My great-grandfather, Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney, is on the left. The man standing next to him is extremely likely James Simeon “Sim” Whitsett. Both of them lived in Texas after the Civil War.

I emailed the photo pictured above to Ron Wall to see if he thought the man standing next to my great-grandfather is Sim Whitsett, and this was his reply:

“After using some simple photo software to overlay the photo of the face in your picture on one regarded as an authentic picture of Sim as an old man, the two faces seem to match to an incredible degree. I then reversed the photos, overlaying the known Sim Whitsett photo on your photo with the same striking result. I certainly do not qualify as an expert, but my experiment seems to indicate that the two pictures are of the same man.” [16]

Why would Sim Whitsett, an ex-Quantrill guerrilla, be pictured with the real James L. Courtney who was a Union soldier? Quantrill’s men were known for not socializing with Union soldiers. To me this picture provides very strong circumstantial evidence that my great-grandfather was Jesse W. James, just as my family said. In my fifteen years of research I have never found evidence of him being anyone else.

While attempting to locate a known picture of the actual John Brown who rode with Quantrill in order to compare it to the picture tentatively identified as being him, I learned that there were two John Browns who rode with Quantrill, but I haven’t had any luck locating pictures of either of them.

Rose Mary Lankford, author of, The Encyclopedia of Quantrill’s Guerillas (1999), wrote:

“I have 2 John Browns in my list of Quantrill’s Guerrillas. One was born June 11, 1843, in Ohio. His father was John T. Brown and his uncle was the infamous John Brown of Osawatomie, Kansas. The family moved to Vernon County, Missouri. When Brown was a young boy, his father was killed and the family scattered about. Brown joined Quantrill at the age of 15 and he took part in the Lawrence Raid. After the war, he went back to his home in Vernon County, and married Matie Gilmore. He died at Sheldon, Vernon County, MO on September 20, 1940.

The other is John L. Brown born Jan. 31, 1844, in Simpson County, Kentucky. The family moved to Lafayette County, MO when John was 11 years old. He joined Quantrill in December of 1861. In the spring of 1862, he joined Jackman and later joined the Confederates in July of 1862. He was in the battles of Lone Jack, Springfield, Cane Hill, Prairie Grove, Hartville, and was in the Lawrence Raid. In 1864 he was in northern Missouri and went to Denver. He never surrendered after the war. He lived in Texas, Kansas, and settled down in Lafayette County, Missouri.” [17]

As evidenced by the information presented above, Laura Anderson Way’s discovery of the James-Whitsett-Andruss connection proved to be significant clue in my quest to determine my great-grandfather’s true identity. Her discovery in turn led to the fact that President Truman and Jesse James were related through the Woodson line, which in turn explains why Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney had connections to the Whitsett & Andruss Livery, formerly known as Truman & Andruss Livery. Two of the owners, John Truman, father of President Truman, and J. R. Andruss, were his cousins, and at the very least he was associated with G. P. Whitsett through

Instead of discrediting my family story and my findings as my opposition hoped for, Exhibit 2E actually helped it, just as other information my opposition uses to discredit my claim has done. Dr. David Hedgpeth wrote, “I compare Betty to the ‘Roadrunner’ and her opposition as the ‘Coyote.’ No matter how hard they try to get the roadrunner they just keep blowing themselves up. Wouldn’t it be far more productive to put the energies into a common direction? Wouldn’t working with Betty eventually get true results? I’ll provide two examples of this:

  1. The secret Y DNA testing they did on Haun/Courtney descendants in an effort to lay my family story to rest once and for all, actually proved that my great-grandfather was not James L. Courtney. They publicly announced on the Internet that they had definitive proof that my great-grandfather was not Jesse James. [18]

But DNA expert Dr. M Al Salih said the opposition’s claim is not true. His statement follows: “With regard to the question about the basis for exclusion in forensic case-work (such as this case) a difference at any single locus is considered the base for exclusion. Exclusion in this case is the lack of relationship between two families. Unproven mutations cannot be used to justify the exclusion as has been suggested in this case. They have to show that other members of these families have a similar mutation as was found in this case.” [19]

Internet: “Watch the references to the “photo experts!

Remember, I have statements from them that totally discredit Betty’s claims to photo matches. The Austin Police Department and the state of Texas do not agree with Betty’s statements in her book Visionics has washed their hands of her claims.

The forensic artist she used is flabergasted with Betty’s claims!” [20] [21]

The fact is that Visionics did not wash their hands of my claim, and they did not retract their statement of recognition. CeCe’s fabrication was further exposed by William McCann’s post on the James Family Genealogy Forum: “I am the supervisor of the Forensic Science Multimedia Lab for the Austin Texas Police Department. I received a Bachelor of Science degree from The University of Texas at Austin, School of Communications. I have worked professionally in photography and video production for over 17 years. I was asked by Betty Duke to examine a number of photographs of her family members and known photographs of the James/Samuel family. After visually inspecting both sets of photos (Duke’s and historically accepted photos of the James/Samuel family), my staff and I determined with a high degree of certainty that the faces in question matched. Despite opinions to the contrary I stand by my conclusion. Ms. Duke is very sincere in her search for the truth. Her photographic evidence and supporting documentation is very compelling. I am disturbed by the viciousness of the personal attacks that have been posted on GenForum in regard to Ms. Duke. If it is truly our desire to unravel the mystery surrounding the death of Jesse James what good is served by comments ranging from petty cheap shots to outright slander?” [22]

When I first began this quest to determine my true lineage my mother offered some sound advice which I have adhered to: “Don’t ever exaggerate or lie about anything you say, because if you do and it is found out you will be totally discredited.” My opposition has provided a prime example of the wisdom of her words.

The fact is that both “John Brown?” and Sim Whitsett rode with Quantrill, so regardless of whether or not the man tentatively identified as “John Brown?” was John Brown or Sim Whitsett, the ex-Quantrill guerrilla pictured in the group photo at the 1920 Quantrill Reunion was photographed standing next to my great-grandfather. I am convinced this man was Sim Whitsett. This old family photo provides pictorial evidence that my great-grandfather was closely associated with ex-Quantrill guerrillas. And anyone who has the least bit of knowledge about these men knows this would have been highly unlikely if my great-grandfather had really been James L. Courtney, the ex-Union soldier. This pictorial evidence is supported by written evidence provided by my great-grandfather’s personal diaries which prove with his own words that he was associated with ex-Quantrill guerrillas and known members of the James Gang. All of these facts, plus many more, sure make it difficult for anyone to truthfully say that Jesse James getting away with his own murder and living on after 1882 as James L. Courtney is just another tall Texas tale.

First, ___ All persons living in Jackson, Cass and Bates Counties, Missouri, and in that part of Vernon included in this district, except those living within one mile of the limits of Harrisonville, Hickman Mills, Independence and Pleasant Hill and Harrisonville, and except those in the part of Kaw Township, Jackson County, north of Brush Creek and west of the Big Blue, embracing Kansas City and Westport, are hereby ordered to remove from their present places of residence within fifteen days from the date hereof. Those who, within that time, establish their loyalty to the satisfaction of the commanding officer of the military station nearest their present places of residence will receive from him certificates stating the fact of their loyalty, and the names of the witnesses by whom it can be shown. All who receive such certificates will be permitted to remove to any military station in the district, or to any part of the State of Kansas except the counties on the eastern border of the State. All others shall remove out of the district.

Officers commanding companies and detachments serving in the counties named will see that this paragraph is promptly obeyed.

Second, ___ All hay and grain in the field, or under shelter in the district, from which the inhabitants are required to remove, within the reach of the military stations, after the 9th of September, next, will be taken to such stations and turned over to the proper officers there and reports of the amounts so turned over made to district headquarters, specifying the name of all loyal owners and the amount of such produce taken from them. All grain and hay found in such district after the 9th of September, next, not convenient to such stations, will be destroyed.

Third, ___ The provisions of General Order No. 10 from these headquarters will be at once vigorously executed by officers commanding in the parts of the district, and at the stations not

subject to the operations of paragraph first of this order, especially in the towns of Independence, Westport and Kansas City.

Fourth, ___ Paragraph 3, General Order No. 10, is revoked as to all who have borne arms against the government in the district since August 20, 1863.

By order of the Brigadier General Ewing,

[3] Pioneer Times, The Courtney’s of Clay County, January 1986, Vol. 10, No. 1.

[4] Duke, Betty Dorsett, The Truth About Jesse James, Fiddler’s Green Press, 2008.

[7] Ferrell, Robert H. Harry S. Truman: A Life, University of Missouri Press, 1996.

[8] Wall, Ronald N., James Simeon Whitsett, Quantrill Raider, page 38, 2005. www.whitsettwall.com/…/James%20Simeon%20Whitsett,%20Civil%20War%20Guerrilla.pdf

[9] ROOTED IN HISTORY: The Genealogy of Harry S. Truman:

[11] THE HISTORY OF JOHNSON COUNTY, MISSOURI-Biographies for Centerview Township, Pages 817-836 Kansas City Historical Co. 1881: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/

[12] Federal Census: Stephen Courtney household, Johnson Co., MO, Post Oak TWP, 1860, Series: M653 Roll: 626

[13] Missouri State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Certificate of Death, File # 29953.

[17] Email from Ron Wall to this author, 2/23/2010.

[19] Genealogy.com: James Family Genealogy Forum: Home: Surnames: James Family Genealogy Forum Definitive Proof: JLC was not JWJ Posted by: CeCe Taylor Date: July 20, 2000 at 15:08:11 of 42409

[20] Fax from Dr. M. Al Salih to this author from DNA Reference Lab in San Antonio, Texas, August 7, 2000.

Genealogy Trot

I got an IM from my cousin Tricia that said, "Hey Mat - this past weekend our daughter, Alyssa, asked me how our family is related to the outlaw Jesse James? I had to admit that I'd only heard that story but I had no idea if it was really true. I know you're interested in genealogy so I'm wondering if you know the details?"

I vaguely remember hearing about this family connection to Jesse James from my mother. Since I have been actively engaged in family history I have never searched out this connection.

My first step was to log into relativefinder.org and see my connection.

According to Relative Finder, Jesse Woodson James is my 8th cousin 6 times removed. The problem with this connection besides how far away we are related is that the path that leads to me is through my father's side of the family and my cousin Tricia is on my mother's side.

I next decided to learn a little about Jesse James and his family to see if there are any common place names or family names that I can make a connection through.

photo from wikipedia

On biography.com it says, "American outlaw, robber and legendary figure Jesse Woodson James was born on September 5, 1847, in Kearney, Missouri. Jesse and his brother Frank James were educated and hailed from a prestigious family of farmers. Their father, the Reverend Robert James, was a Baptist minister who married Zerelda Cole James and moved from Kentucky to Missouri in 1842. In the summer of 1863, the James farm was brutally attacked by Union soldiers. Jesse was 16 when he and Frank became Confederate guerrilla soldiers, riding alongside William Quantrill and 'Bloody Bill' Anderson." The biography goes on to say, " In 1874, Jesse married his longtime sweetheart and first cousin, Zerelda, and had two children." On April 3, 1882, Jesse was shot Jesse in the back of the head and died instantly at age 34.

Annie James - I though at first she was holding a rifle in this photograph.

I next looked to see where else Jesse may fit in my tree. My grandfather's mother's name is Anna Williams James. She was born in 1877 in Fayette, Utah. She is the daughter of John Saunders James and Elizabeth Henry Williams who were both born in England. Although this James family is the most closely related to me I do not believe that they could be directly related to Jesse James. Tracing Jesse James' family tree, it does not leave the Americas before 1770.

Having Mormon heritage is is well known that Missouri is a common place where our ancestors lived, were chased out and traveled through on their way to Utah. To summarize the entry for Clay County, Missouri in the Joseph Smith Papers it says Liberty was designated county seat in 1822. It served as a refuge for Latter-day Saints expelled from Jackson Co. in 1833. The LDS population in 1834 was about 900. Missouri citizens demanded the Saints leave in the summer 1836. Most Saints immigrated to newly formed Caldwell County by 1838. Joseph Smith was imprisoned in the jail at Liberty over the winter of 1838�.

The time the Mormons spent in Clay county before Joseph Smith's martyrdom in 1844 was before Jesse's birth. Although Jesse and his brother Frank were know to have traveled all over the American West. I am not sure anyone can say for sure that they were ever in Utah, Idaho or Wyoming or that they were linked in anyway to the Mormons and in turn my ancestors. Known descendants of the two are also ruled out and direct relatives.

I think the possibility of establishing a relationship within the James family is not possible without DNA. We may be more closely related through other lines and marriages but my 8th cousin 6 times removed connection may be as close as I get to this notorious historical figure. To put this into perspective I am more closely related to Presidents James Garfield, Ulysses Grant, Grover Cleveland, Rutherford B. Hayes, John Quincy Adams, Gerald Ford, William Taft, William McKinley, Calvin Coolidge, George Washington, William Harrison, Richard Nixon, Warren G. Harding, Millard Fillmore and Franklin Roosevelt than I am Jesse James.

Chronology of Jesse James

Jesse W. James Timeline
Betty Dorsett Duke © Copyrighted 2011

Due to the eBay photograph of the James family providing visual proof that Jesse Woodson James got away with his own murder, the following chronicle is the most accurate one currently available. This author has relied heavily on primary source “first hand” evidence including documents, personal diaries and photographs, instead of secondary literature offering second or third hand information.

Arthur Schopenhauer’s quote has proved to be true in the case of Jesse James: "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." The truth about Jesse James was first published in Texas Monthly magazine's August 1997 issue and since that time it has been ridiculed and violently opposed, but, thanks to the recently discovered eBay photograph of the James family and the 1921 Quantrill Reunion photograph, it has now become self-evident.

1843- Alexander Franklin "Frank" James born to Rev. Robert Sallee James and Zerelda Cole in Clay County, Missouri.

-1846 31 OCT - The real James L. Courtney born in Washington, Tennessee to Stephen Courtney and Dianah D. Andruss.

-1847 5 SEP- Jesse Woodson James born to Robert Sallee James, an ordained Baptist preacher, and Zerelda Cole on the family farm in Kearney, Clay County, Missouri.

-1850 18 AUG or SEP - Rev. Robert Sallee James reportedly dies in a mining camp called Rough and Ready, (since renamed Placerville) California, and is hastily buried in an unmarked grave.

-1850- Jesse James is living with his parents, Rev. Robert Sallee James and Zerelda Cole James, in Kearney, Clay County, Missouri.

-1850- Robert Sallee James goes to the gold fields of California with a group of his parishioners.

-1850 – Wood Hite, Frank and Jesse James’ paternal first cousin, born in Logan County, Missouri to George B. Hite and Nancy G. James.

-1850 25 NOV- Susan Lavinia James born to Robert Sallee James and Zerelda Cole.

-1850 14 DEC - The real James L. Courtney, four-years-old, is not listed on census records for the household of his parents, Stephen and Dianah Courtney, in Johnson County, Missouri.

-1852 30 SEP – Zerelda Cole James marries Benjamin Simms.

-1854 2 JAN - Benjamin Simms killed in a horse accident.

-1855 25 SEP- Zerelda Cole James Simms marries Dr. Reuben Samuel.

-1858 26 DEC – Sarah Louisa Samuel, Frank and Jesse James’ half-sister, born to Dr. Reuben Samuel and Zerelda Cole James Simms Samuel.

-1860 - James L. Courtney, age 14, lives in the household of his parents Stephen and Dianah D. Andruss Courtney in Johnson County, Warrensburg, Missouri.

-1860 – Jesse W. James lives on the family farm in Clay County, Missouri.

-1861 4 MAY – Frank James joins the Confederate Army.

-1861 26 SEP - Clarence B. Hite (Wood Hite’s brother) born in Logan County, Kentucky to George B. Hite and Nancy G. James.

-1861 25 DEC – John Thomas Samuel, Frank and Jesse’s half-brother, born to Dr. Reuben Samuel and Zerelda Cole James Simms Samuel.

-1862 FALL – Frank James joins Quantrill’s Confederate Partisan Rangers (guerrillas).

-1862 17 DEC – (Union) Brigadier General Ben Loan, Missouri State, writes to [Union] General Clinton B. Fisk stating, "Messrs. Newland and Courtney are notoriously disloyal." (Again, Stephen Courtney was the real James L. Courtney’s father.)

-1863 - Jesse James joins Quantrill’s guerrillas serving under Chief Lieutenant William T. Anderson.

-1863 27 JAN – (Union) General Ben Loan writes to [Union> Major General Samuel R. Curtis explaining his actions concerning persons claiming to be loyal Unionist, but whom were suspected of being disloyal due to buying and selling of livestock in association with Quantrill. Stephen Courtney is among the men accused of this activity.

-1863 18 JUL - Stephen Courtney is imprisoned in Myrtle Street Prison For Citizens, Confederates, Bushwhackers and Guerrillas in St. Louis, Missouri.

-1863 28 JUL - Stephen Courtney is released after he took the “O &amp B” (Loyalty Oath and Bond and posted a $5,000 bond.

-1863 SUMMER - A regiment of Union militia hangs Dr. Reuben Samuel causing permanent brain damage, severely beats Jesse, and roughs up his mother because they won’t reveal Frank’s whereabouts.

-1863 18 AUG - Makeshift jail in Kansas City collapses injuring and killing young girls and women related to noted Quantrill guerrillas. The females were jailed there after being arrested as spies. Some claim the building was purposely undermined.

-1863 21 AUG - Quantrill's raid against Lawrence, Kansas.

-1863 25 AUG – (Union) General Thomas Ewing, Jr., commander of the District of the Border, with headquarters at Kansas City, issues Order No. 11.

-1863 Mid-October – Quantrill and his men, including Jesse James, cross the Red River at Colbert's Ferry for winter camp.

-1863 18 OCT - Fannie Quantrell Samuel, Frank and Jesse James’ half-sister, born to Dr. Reuben Samuel and Zerelda Cole James Simms Samuel.

-1863 20 DEC - Stephen Courtney testifies regarding "Officers who are too hard on rebels put under arrest and their commands disabled.”

- 1864 - While with William T. Anderson’s company on the way to Howard County, Missouri, Jesse James is reportedly shot in the right lung by an old German Unionist named Heisinger.

-1864 4 JAN - Stephen Courtney signs papers necessary for his son, the real James L. Courtney, to join the Union Army at Warrensburg, Missouri as a bugler.

-1864 8 MAR – Statement from Stephen Courtney to Gen. Rosecrans relating he was arrested, brought to St. Louis, released on parole and without trial, made to give $5000 bonds, mostly illegible.

-1864 27 SEP - Jesse James kills Maj. A. V. E. Johnson at the Centralia Massacre in Centralia, Boone Co., Missouri.

- 1864 01 NOV - Stephen Courtney is arrested for purchasing stolen property from soldiers in Warrensburg, Johnson County, Missouri.

- Early 1865 - Union authorities banish the James/Samuel family from their Missouri home.

-1865 APR - The Civil War officially ends.

- 1865- Census for Miami County, Kansas lists the real James L. Courtney, age 18, born in Tennessee 12 months service in militia and living in the household of his parents, Stephen and Dianah Courtney.

-1865 15 FEB - Jesse James is again shot through the right lung by a detachment of Federals belonging to the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry while coming in to surrender. Dr. Reuben Samuel treated him in Rulo, Nebraska.

-1865 18 April- The Drake Constitution is adopted and enforced for ten years.

-1865 - Post Civil War – Jesse James, Quantrill and some of their comrades, are seen in Sherman, Grayson County, Texas.

-1865 - Post Civil War - Gen. J. O. Shelby spurns the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox. Voluntarily exiling he and 500 of his troops, he marches through Texas following what is now known as I-35 passing through Waco, Austin, San Antonio, on their way to Mexico to join Emperor Maximilian.

- 1865 AUG - Dr. Samuel and Zerelda return to their Clay County, Missouri farm.

- After the 1865 Census – The real James L. Courtney’s parents, (not to be confused as being Jesse James and his parents), Stephen and Dianah Courtney, move from Miami County, Kansas and permanently change their surname to Haun, with the exception of Stephen who changes his full name to Andrew Jackson Haun.

- 1866 13 FEB – A group of men rob the Clay County Savings Association of Liberty, Missouri. Frank James, Jesse James, Oll Shepherd, Bud Pence, Donny Pence, Frank Gregg, James Wilkerson, Joab Perry, Bill Wilkerson, Red Monkus, and Ben Cooper are named as suspects. They later became known as The James Gang.

-1866 26 JUL - Archie Peyton Samuel, Frank and Jesse James’ half-brother, born to Dr. Reuben Samuel and Zerelda Cole James Simms Samuel.

- 1866 30 OCT - The James Gang reportedly robs the Alexander Mitchell and Co. Bank of Lexington, Missouri.

- 1867 2 MAR - The James Gang reportedly robs the Judge John McClain Banking House of Savannah, Missouri.

- 1867 22 MAY - The James Gang reportedly robs the Hughes and Wasson Bank of Richmond, Missouri.

-1868 20 MAR - The Nimrod Long Banking Company of Russellville, Kentucky is reportedly robbed by the James Gang.

-1869 7 DEC – The Daviess County Savings Bank of Gallatin, Missouri bank is reportedly robbed by the James Gang.

-1870 - Frank and Jesse James disappear from Kearney, Missouri.

- 1871- The real James L. Courtney, now known as James Haun, appears to have married Susan Elizabeth Eubanks in Illinois. On the original marriage license, which is pictured on the following page, James Taylor Haun stated that he was a native of Washington, TN. just as the man believed to be the real James L. Courtney's Certificate of War records states.

- 1870’s - Decatur, Wise County, Texas - Frank and Jesse James camp near the Dan Waggoner ranch.

-1871 FEB - Jesse James AKA James Courtney left Chilhowie, Missouri in February 1871. He and a group of his friends head north for Iowa, and then to Nebraska before heading to Texas.

-1871 FEB - Jesse James AKA James Courtney left Chilhowie, Missouri in February 1871. He and a group of his friends ride north for Iowa, and then to Nebraska before heading to Texas.

This man may have been the real James L. Courtney - he is pictured with his wife Susan Eubanks. He was known as James L. Haun (or possibly T,) in 1880, James Haun in 1900, Taylor S. Haun in 1910 and John T. Haun in 1920 while living in the same house in Meeker, Oklahoma. Judging from all of those aliases he was definitely hiding something. Although much shorter, he bears a resemblance to Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney, which is understandable since the real James L. Courtney AKA James Haun and Jesse James were cousins.

-1871 3 JUN- Jesse James, Frank James, Cole Younger, Jim Cummins, and Clell Miller rob the Ocobock Bank in Corydon, Iowa.

- 1871 28 JUN - Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney purchases a blank diary in Decatur, Wise County, Texas. He signs it “J. James”, “JWJ” and “James L. Courtney”. He also mentions cattle barons Dan Waggoner, Burk Burnett, and John and Bill Hittson.

- 1871 4 JUL - Jesse James AKA James Courtney in Ft. Worth, Texas and parts ways with some of his traveling companions.

- 1871 7 JUL - Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney's future father-in-law, Thomas Hudson Barron, an early day Texas Ranger, meets him at a prearranged place near Ft. Worth, Texas.

-1871 8 JUL – Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney made camp and then cautiously moves it to another spot after dark.

- 1871 24 JUL - Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney and Thomas Hudson Barron arrive at Barron’s ranch in Buttermilk (since renamed Blevins), Texas.

-1871 12 &amp 13 AUG – Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney goes hunting with Bud Singleton, a member of the James Gang.

-1871 31 OCT - Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney marries Mary “Ellen” Barron.

-1872- Clay County (Missouri) Deputy Sheriff Oscar Thomason, son of Deputy Sheriff Captain John Thomason, meets Frank and Jesse James in Texas. Jesse pays Oscar $50 for the horse he shot out from under his father sometime after the Gallatin bank robbery on Dec. 7, 1869.

-1872 28 JAN – Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney enters in his diary that “Theodore Courtney AKA Theodore Haun was his “cosen” [cousin].”

-1872 4 FEB - Jesse James AKA. James L. Courtney writes in his diary “…i chilled on Saturday nite” (meaning he had fever).

- 1872 20 APR - The Bank of Columbia of Columbia, Kentucky is reportedly robbed by the James Gang.

-1872 16 AUG- Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney enters in his diary that he and Ellen’s first child was born - a daughter named Mary.

-1872 28 AUG - Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney writes in his diary about his horse “Copperhead”.

-1872 26 SEP - The James Gang reportedly robs the Kansas City, Missouri Exposition ticket office.

- 1873 - Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney makes no diary entries.

-1873 21 JUL - The James Gang, which includes a Robert Moore on this date, reportedly robs their first train near Adair, Iowa.

A Robert Moore is mentioned in Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney’s diary.

-1873 27 MAY- The James Gang reportedly robbed the St. Genevieve Savings Bank of St. Genevieve, Missouri.

-1874 5, 6, 7 JAN – Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney is on the steamboat Emila LaBarge in Louisiana going to meet Bud. He and Jim Snodgrass spend the night at G. Fontenot’s where Bud had recently spent the night. Cole Younger’s nickname is Bud and he is in Louisiana at this time. G. Fontenot rides with the James Gang.

-1874 8 JAN – The James Gang is credited with robbing a stagecoach between Monroe and Shreveport, Louisiana.

-1874 8 JAN - Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney is on a stagecoach between Monroe and Shreveport, Louisiana with Jim Cummins AKA Jim Clark AKA Jim Snodgrass. Jim Cummins is a Quantrill veteran and rides with the James Gang.

-1874 15 JAN - The James Gang reportedly robbed a stagecoach of cash and jewels near Hot Springs, Arkansas.

-1874 30 JAN - The James Gang reportedly robs a Louisiana steamboat at Port Jefferson.

-1874 30 JAN - Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney is at home.

-1874 31 JAN - The James Gang reportedly robs a train at Gad's Hill, Missouri.

-1874 22 FEB - Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney enters in his diary that Bill Wilkerson is with him and the rest of the Barron family at Thomas Hudson Barron’s death bed at Mastersville, now known as Bruceville-Eddy (located close to Blevins, Texas). Bill Wilkerson rides with the James Gang.

-1874 22 MAR- Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney purchases a 160-acre tract of land from his father-in-law’s (Capt. Thomas Hudson Barron) estate paying for it with “Eight-hundred (gold) dollars.”

-1874 10 MAR - Pinkerton Detective John Whicher sent to capture Frank and Jesse James at the James farm. Before going to the farm he lodged at a boarding house in Liberty owned by W. J. Courtney, former Sheriff of Clay County, Missouri, who served the detective his last meal on earth. Det. Whicher’s body was found the next day. He was unaware that W. J. Courtney was a friend, neighbor and relative of the James/Samuel family.

-1874 MAR, APR &amp May - Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney makes no diary entries.

- 1874 APR - Several stagecoaches are robbed between San Antonio, Texas and Austin, Texas, with at least one credited to a five member James Gang. Several of these robberies happen along the Chisholm Trail a portion of which is now called Interstate -35 (I-35).

Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney lives about seven miles east of I-35 in Blevins, Texas.

- 1874 APR - Jesse James reportedly robbed the Shady Villa Inn, (now called The Stagecoach Inn) which is located at Salado, Texas on the same portion of the I-35 corridor mentioned above.
Salado is approximately 28 miles south of where Jesse James AKA James Courtney lived in Blevins, Texas

-1874 24 APR - Jesse James purportedly marries his first cousin Zee Mimms.

-1874 18 JUL - Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney mentions in his diary a man and a mule named Buck. Frank James’ nickname is “Buck".

-1874 20 &amp 25 AUG - Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney enters in his diary the names of two of his horses - John and Reb.

-1874 30 AUG – Second child, a girl named Louisa Ellen, born to Mr. and Mrs. Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney.

-1874 25 OCT – Jesse James AKA James Courtney mentions Little Rock, Arkansas in his diary.

- 1874 23 DEC – Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney makes his last diary entry for the year.

-1875 26 JAN – Eight year-old Archie Peyton Samuel, (Frank and Jesse James’ half-brother), was killed by a Pinkerton bomb. Their mother lost the lower portion of one of her arms in this tragedy.

-1875 12 APR - Jesse James, Frank James, and Clell Miller, reportedly shoot Daniel Askew dead. Mr. Askew, a Clay County, Missouri farmer lived near the James farm and helped the Pinkerton’s by spying on the James/Samuel family.

- 1875 - Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney makes no diary entries this entire year, and he did not make another entry until July 5, 1876. However, thanks to the eBay photograph of the James family, it is now known that Frank and Annie James’ wedding took place at Blevins, Texas sometime this year after his mother’s arm was amputated.

-1875 1 SEP - The James Gang reportedly robs the Huntington Bank in Huntington, West Virginia. Thompson “Tom” McDaniel, a member of the gang, is purportedly shot dead during this robbery.

-1876 5 MAR - The James Gang reportedly bury 2 million in gold in the Wichita Mountains near Lawton, Oklahoma. As a testament to those entitled to a share, they scratch their names on a copper bucket, often referred to as a brass bucket, and Frank and Jesse James bury it.

Some of the surnames etched on the bucket are mentioned in Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney’s diary including Buck (Frank James), Coal/Cole, James, Jones, Miller, Buss/Busse, and Smith.

-1876 07 SEP – The James Gang reportedly robs the First National Bank in Northfield, Minnesota.

- 1876 07 SEP - Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney is at home in Blevins, Texas. This is his first diary entry for the month.

- 1876 - The Sheriff of Clay County, Missouri reports on a wanted poster that Frank James had knee surgery at Waco, Texas following the Northfield bank robbery. He states that Cole Younger rides with the Texas Rangers and knows men in Waco, Texas. Author Carl Breihan wrote: “When Frank James was wounded [at Northfield] they came as far as Waco by train, then Jesse put Frank in a wagon or carriage and left for the ranch.”

Jesse James AKA James Courtney lives about 20 miles south of Waco.

- 1876 6 OCT - Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney enters in his diary that he saw Tom McDaniel on the road to Waco, Texas: "We seen mcdanal on the road and we went to Waco and Tom he boried (illegible) dollars." (Tom McDaniel was a member of the James Gang.)

-1877 10 MAR - Jesse James reportedly writes a letter to an unknown person about cattle asking them to tell Sam to come to Honey Grove, Texas. One of Jesse James’ relatives, Benjamin Patrick Woodson, (a lawyer) lives in Honey Grove, Texas. He once defended a man accused of murder in the small community of Blevins, Falls County, Texas.

- 1877- Summer – Jesse James, along with his wife and son, purportedly rent a house in Humphreys County, Tennessee under the aliases of Mr. and Mrs. John Davis Howard.

-1877 2 DEC- Third child born Mr. and Mrs. Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney and Mary Ellen Barron –a daughter named Lillie Jane. This birth took place in Blevins, Texas.

- 1878 FEB – The wife of John Davis Howard gives birth to twin boys named Gould and Montgomery in Tennessee, both of whom die within days of being born.

- 1879 - Jesse James reportedly forms a new gang including Bill Ryan, Liddil, Tucker Bassham, Ed Miller, and his first cousins, Kentuckians Wood and Clarence Hite.

-1879 11 JAN- Mr. and Mrs. Jesse James fourth child, their first son, James William Courtney, commonly referred to as Willy, is born. (Willy was Eldon Courtney’s paternal great-grandfather.)

-1879 NOV - George Shepherd claims he shot Jesse James dead at Short Creek near Shoal Creek, Missouri.

-1879 MID NOV - Jesse James is reported alive and well in Texas.

-1880 - Frank and Jesse James visit their sister and brother-in-law, Susan James Parmer and Allen Parmer, in Archer City, Archer County, Texas.

- 1880 – Census records show Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney, age 33, and M. E. (Mary Ellen Barron), age 25, along their four children, still living in Blevins, Texas.

-1880- The real James L. Courtney AKA James Haun probably moves from Illinois to Chautagua Co., Kansas. By 1900 he and his family probably lived in Meeker, Lincoln Co., Oklahoma. While living in the same house in the same town he was also known as James (L. or T.) Haun, Taylor S. Haun, and John T. Haun.

-1881 7 SEP – The new James Gang reportedly robs a train a mile east of Independence, Missouri near Blue Cut.

- 1881 DEC – Wood Hite was purportedly shot dead by Bob Ford.

- 1882 MAR - Dick Liddil is at Martha Bolton’s, (Bob and Charley Ford’s sister), house in Ray County, Missouri. Wood Hite is also there.

- 1882 3 APR - Bob Ford purportedly shot Jesse James AKA Thomas “Tom” Howard dead in St. Joseph, Missouri at 1318 Lafayette Street between 8 and 9 AM. Charley Ford is present but reportedly did not fire a shot.

- 1882 3 APR - J. W. Graham photographs the reported body of Jesse James in the early afternoon… just thirty minutes after he was killed.

-1882 3 APR - Upon viewing the body Jesse James’ mother said, “Gentlemen, you have made a mistake that is not my son.”

- 1882 3 APR – Dr. Catlett, superintendent of the mental institution at St. Joseph, and Coroner Heddens make the post mortem examination on the purported body of Jesse James.

He said the reports of the shooting were all wrong, that the ball did not exit the skull and that he had it. The ball went in sideways at one side of the corpse’s head, back of the right ear, lodged just under the skin behind the left, and that is where I found it. The skull was badly shattered due to the bullet passing through the brain.

- 1882 3 APR - Zerelda testifies at the coroner’s inquest that “Jesse was mid-way through his thirty-fifth year." According to Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney’s tombstone in Blevins Cemetery, Blevins, Texas he was born 1846 31 OCT -- the exact date his mother testified he was born.

-1882 3, APR - Zee Mimms testifies at the coroner’s inquest that her husband “neither smoked nor chewed.” She does not how old he was or which of his fingers was missing.

-1882 3 APR - A Winchester rifle Model 1873 retrieved from the house at 1318 Lafayette St., St. Joseph, Missouri has the initials "W.H." and "T.H" etched in the metal.

-1882 4 April - Jesse James’ friends Harrison Trow, James Wilkerson, William J. Clay, C. D. Axman, and Mrs. Mattie Collins (Dick Liddil’s wife) all of Kansas City come up from the World’s Hotel to view the body, and all identify it positively as that of Jesse James.

-1882 5 APR - Fifth child born to Mr. and Mrs. Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney AKA James L. Courtney and Mary Ellen Barron in Blevins, Texas – a daughter named Ida Florence Courtney , this author's paternal grandmother.

-1882 5 April – This is night before Jesse James was buried. The coroner receives a tip that Wood Hite body is buried on the grounds of the old Harbison farm that Bob Ford, Charley Ford, and their sister, Martha Ford Bolton, rent.

-1882 5 APR – Newspapers report that Jim Gibson, the Ford’s hired hand, disappeared about the same time Wood Hite was killed.

-1882 APR – Mr. John G. Morris, constable of Richmond, Missouri, dispatches a message to Gov. Crittenden asking what to do with Wood Hite’s body and claims the reward.

-1882 6 April - Jesse James is buried in the yard of the James farm.

-1882 6 APR - Prudence Samuel Burden, (Jesse James’ aunt who is Dr. Reuben Samuel’s half-sister), notices the body is not that of the Jesse James she knew. She asks Zerelda why she said this man was her son Jesse James, and Zerelda answers, ‘Oh, that’s a rabbit’s foot.”

-1882 6 APR - Cleburne, Texas Train Robbed.

-1882 9 APR - “The Spirit of Jesse Is Apparently Still Around - A Train Robbed In Texas: A special from Dallas to the Gazette says: The north bound train on the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe was robbed a few miles south of Cleburne at 10:00 Friday evening. At a water station called Blum six men wearing masks entered the passenger coaches. All the passengers did as ordered but a conductor entered to see what was going on and a shot was fired at him. The robber jumped off and disappeared. The amount taken was unknown but several parties gave up large amounts.”

- 1882 17 APR - Bob and Charley Ford indicted. Bob for the first degree murder of Jesse W. James and Charley for aiding and abetting. Both brothers plead guilty and are sentenced to be hanged by their necks until dead, but Gov. Crittenden quickly pardons them and they are released.

-1882 5 May - The Galveston Texas News reports, “The real Jesse James has been killed so often that the identification of the body by his mother is no positive assurance that Jesse has finally handed in his checks.”

-1883- Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney appointed as road overseer by J.W. Watkins, County Clerk of Falls County. He writes on the front of the citation, “Won't take it”.

-1884 APR- Sixth child born to Mr. and Mrs. Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney and Mary Ellen Barron in Blevins, Texas - a son, Byron C. Courtney, commonly called “B. C.”.

-1886 14 JUL – Seventh child born to Mr. and Mrs. Jesse James AKA. James L. Courtney and Mary Ellen Courtney in Blevins, Texas - a girl named Nettie Andruss Courtney.

-1887 11 JAN – Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney receives a letter from his cousin J. R. Andruss in Lamar, Missouri written on Whitsett &amp Andruss Livery Stable stationary.

-1891 01 APR- Jesse James AKA James Courtney is appointed Falls County Deputy Sheriff by Sheriff John W. Ward.

-1893 15 JAN - Eighth child born to Mr. and Mrs. Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney and Mary Ellen Barron in Blevins, Texas - a girl named Emma.

-1900 13 NOV – Zee Mimms dies.

-1902 29 JUL - Before the original grave bearing the name of Jesse James was exhumed a postcard arrives in Kearney, Missouri from “The Original Jesse James ”telling it like it was, “I will not be buried in Carny next Sunday. I am not dead. I was not shot by Bobie Ford. Tom Howard was shot by Bobie Ford, but I wasn’t there, so you can’t bury me.”

-1902 29 JUL – Frank James takes Zee Mimms’ body from a morgue in Kansas City where it had been stored since 1900. Her remains are interred with those of her husband under the tombstone bearing the name of Jesse James.

-1905- Frank James and his wife Annie Ralston purchase a farm north of Fletcher, Oklahoma.

-1906 – Frank starts the horse races at a Comanche Carnival in Comanche, Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Someone asks him about Jesse James and he says, "If I knew no one would molest him, I would introduce him. He is within shooting distance."

-1906 – Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney is in Durant, Oklahoma.

-1906 or 1907 – Frank James and a tall male stranger dressed like a cowboy were looking for loot they buried near Henry Yoder’s property on Cache Creek about seven miles NW of Apache, Oklahoma.

-1910 21 OCT- Mary Ellen Barron Courtney dies. She was also known as Mrs. Jesse James.

- 1911 17 FEB – Mrs. Zerelda James Samuels dies on a Frisco train before reaching Oklahoma City. She had just visited her son Frank James in Fletcher, Oklahoma.

-1912 16 NOV - Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney draws one of his numerous encoded treasure maps with known KGC symbols used to document the location of his buried treasures.

-1914 JUN- Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney draws an encoded treasure map with known KGC symbols.

-1915- Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney marries Edna Henry.

-1915 18 FEB - Frank James dies in Excelsior Springs, Missouri.

- 1918 - Jesse James reportedly buries a safe full of treasure and documents near the Brazos River in Waco, Texas.

-1919- Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney marries Ollie Nelson.

-1920’s or 30’s- Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney attends a Wild West show in Belton, Texas. Part of the show features a Jesse James imposter. The Original Jesse James really enjoys the show.

-1933 5 APR – “President Roosevelt issues Executive Order No. 6102 and confiscates everybody's gold. An individual could keep up to $100 in gold, but anything above that was illegal. Possession was punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment for up to 10 years.”

Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney buried his gold.

-1943 14 APR - Jesse James AKA James Courtney dies at the age of 96 or 97, depending on his actual date of birth, and is reportedly buried in Blevins Cemetery at Blevins, Texas.

-1948 16 MAY- Mrs. L. J. (Lilly) “Courtney” Yarbrough, Jesse James AKA James Courtney’s daughter, writes to the Veteran's Administration in Washington, D. C., telling them she wants the thirteen five-gallon cans of lard that her father’s third wife, (Ollie Nelson), took so she can make soap. According to the family story her father stored gold in those cans.

-1978 14 OCT – Unauthorized second exhumation of Jesse James reported grave headed by Milton Perry, the curator of the James Farm &amp Museum. The remains he retrieved were later encased in a Tupperware bowl and reburied in the grave.

-1979- Jesse James’ great-niece, Allen Palmer and Susan James Parmer's granddaughter tells author Jack Loftin of Archer City, Texas that in her mother’s trunk are many letters, some of which prove that Jesse James wrote to Susan James, his sister, after his purported murder on April 3, 1882. The letters are dated and post marked Henrietta, Texas 1884.

-1991- A letter written by Allan Pinkerton to Samuel Hardwick, an attorney in Liberty, Missouri is found by Ted Yeatman in the Library of Congress proving the Pinkerton Detective Agency’s intention was to harm Frank and Jesse James’ family and their dwelling. Allan Pinkerton wrote, “Above everything destroy the house”… "burn the house down".

-1995 15-17 JUL – Professor James E. Starrs of George Washington University exhumes the purported grave of Jesse James in Mt. Olivet Cemetery located in Kearney, Missouri for the purpose of using DNA testing to determine if the famous outlaw was really buried there.

DNA results on the fourteen or fifteen, (reports vary), retrieved from the Mt. Olivet site were expected by September 15, 1995.

-1995 15 SEP- Prof. James E. Starrs obtains a court order to exhume the original purported grave of Jesse James to retrieve a Tupperware bowl said to contain at least one of Jesse James’ teeth. He is quoted as saying “That tooth could tell the tale.”

-1995 19 JUL – Prof. James E. Starrs expresses disappointment that the tooth was not in the Tupperware bowl. However, Clay County Attorney Steven Caruso said teeth were indeed in the Tupperware bowl.

-1996 23 FEB – Opryland Hotel, Nashville, Tennessee. Prof. Starrs announces that he had “Jesse by science” - Jesse James was buried in the grave bearing his name in Kearney, Missouri just as history reports.

-1998 - This author pioneered the investigation and made the subsequent findings proving the 1995 exhumation and subsequent DNA results are tainted and proved absolutely nothing. The teeth and hair submitted to scientists are of unknown origin, and the questionable genealogical validly of the DNA references is highly questionable.

-2005 29 OCT – Retired FBI Analyst Gerald Richards determines that the face of the man in the reported death photo of Jesse James does not match the face of Jesse James in the most famous photo of him alive.

-2005 29 OCT – Katarina Babcock, a New Mexico Department of Public Safety firearms expert, proved on The Discovery Channel’s, Jesse James: Legend, Outlaw, Terrorist, October 29, 2005, that the bullet from either of the pistols Bob Ford claimed to have been the murder weapon would have left large exit wounds. She fired one shot each from a Smith &amp Wesson 44 and a Colt 45 into two ballistics spheres which simulate the human skull, skin and brain. As stated earlier Ford gave conflicting statements as to which gun was the actual murder weapon. He claimed he fired the fatal shot into the man he claimed was Jesse James from a distance of about six feet, with his arm outstretched cutting the distance the bullet traveled about four feet. The ballistics tests showed that either weapon fired from that distance would have left exit holes. Ms. Babcock’s findings show that something is amiss with the alleged death photos of Jesse James. According to her tests, the highly questioned corpse probably wouldn’t have had much a face left if shot in the back of the head at the close range Bob Ford testified to.

-2010 27 OCT - Dallas Hunt posts a photo of Jesse James AKA James Courtney on Greg Ellison’s Jesse James Photo Discussion Forum picturing him attending the 1921 Quantrill Reunion in Missouri.

-2010 14 NOV – Greg Ellison notifies this author via email that a photo of Jesse James AKA James Courtney pictured with Zerelda James Samuel, Frank James, and Annie Ralston is up for auction on eBay. This photo now belongs to this author and is referred to as the eBay photograph of the James Family.

-2011- Matt Hamlin told this author that Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney’s casket was removed from his grave before it was covered with dirt in 1943. He also said it was sent to another state for burial.

-2011 MAR – Stephen Caruso, Deputy Counselor of Clay County at the time of the 1995 exhumation of the purported grave of Jesse James, reveals that the 1995 DNA results are fraudulent.

Watch the video: Home of Jesse James