LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
I GIVE YOU THE ONE AND ONLY
~Mr.Jesse James ~
Jesse Woodson James, born in Missouri, on September 5, 1847. By the time Jesse was eight, his mother had remarried twice more. From the third marriage, Jesse gained two stepbrothers and two stepsisters, in addition to the two natural brothers he had. In 1861, Jesse?s brother Frank left home to fight for the rebel cause. Jesse joined him in 1863 . Somehow Jesse acquired the nickname of Dingus. He was part of the Centralia massacre in 1864. He is also known to have been a spy for the rebel army. Jesse was wounded towards the end of the Civil War.
Frank and Jesse had talked about forming a gang with Cole Younger, but Jesse was not with them when they committed their first robbery in February of 1866 at Liberty, Missouri. Frank and Cole Younger got about $57,000 from that job. But it wasn't until March 1867 that they pulled their first job together. They tried to rob a bank at Savannah. All three aimed at the bank president, but all were poor shots, and only one bullet barely grazed him. This job failed. In March of 1868, the James brothers and Younger brothers robbed the banking house of Nimrod & Cin in Russellville, Kentucky. In 1869, they robbed a Richmond, Missouri Bank. That same year they robbed the Daviess Savings Bank at Gallatin, Missouri. On April 29, 1872, five men, including the James, robbed a bank in Columbia, Kentucky. Jesse is thought to be the mastermind behind robbing railroad express cars. Their first target was the Chicago and Rock Island express near Adair, Iowa, on July 21, 1873. They stopped the train by removing a portion of the track. Jesse killed the engineer during that robbery. They got $2,000 from the safe and the valuables of the passengers. Two months later Frank and Jesse stole $10,000 from a Kansas City fairground. By that time the Pinkertons were after them. Pinkerton detective J. W. Whicher was killed while pursuing the James brothers, allegedly by Jesse and Frank. Pinkerton sent more agents after them. On January 31, 1874, they robbed the Iron Mountain Railroad train in Wayne County, Missouri. While hiding out in Roscoe, Missouri, the Pinkertons caught John and Jim Younger. During the gunplay that resulted in their capture, John was shot in the neck and killed by Captain Louis
J. Lull of the Pinkertons. This occurred on March 17, 1874. On January 25, 1875, they laid siege to the Samuel's home. James and Frank got away. Sometime during the shootout, a device was thrown in the window, where it hit Mrs. Zerelda Samuels, which caused her to lose most of her right arm.
Three months later Jesse married his cousin Zerelda, after a courtship of nine years. She always knew he was an outlaw. Others had asked for her hand, but she wanted Jesse. They would eventually have two children, Mary and Jesse. Frank married Annie Ralston about the same time. They eloped and her father had no idea who she was married to. It wasn't until a posse showed up at the Ralston house that he realized who his daughter had married.
The following year, a disastrous robbery attempt at Northfield, Minnesota, resulted in many of those in the James gang losing their lives. Unlike many of their previous escapades, this time the citizens fought back. As they approached the bank, several citizens thought they looked suspicious and alarmed the sheriff. The outlaws rode up and down the street firing randomly to try to get people to stay away while they robbed the bank. Inside the bank, the three tellers resisted handing over the money. Outside many were fighting the other gang members. The owner of a nearby hardware store killed gang member William Stiles. Henry M. Wheeler, a medical student, killed Clel Miller. He also wounded Bob Younger. The remaining robbers rode away, getting absolutely nothing for their efforts.
Hundreds of volunteers joined posses to go after the gang. Stiles was most familiar with the territory and he was dead. They were also short on horses. Two men had to share one horse. They were cornered at Medalia, Minnesota, where they shot their way out of a gunfight. During this fight, another gang member was killed and three more were wounded. They were jailed at Faribault, Minnesota. They pled guilty and were sentenced to life imprisonment at Stillwater State Penitentiary. Jesse and Frank made good their escape, but had to lay low for over three years. He kept moving and took up residence across the country in Tennessee, California, and Colorado. For awhile he worked a rich strike in California Gulch in Colorado with Frank and the Ford brothers. In October 1879, he was back to his old tricks with a new gang. They robbed a Chicago and Alton train. They robbed four more trains in 1881, the last one at Glendale, Missouri. Two of their gang members were captured after that one. After that the James gang was never heard from again. Jesse was killed by Bob Ford, a gang member, on April 3, 1882, reportedly for the reward money. After Jesse was killed his guns and gunbelt were auctioned off for fifteen dollars. He had owned a Colt .45 Peacemaker and a .45 Smith and Wesson Schofield.