Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Jesse James

Jesse Woodson James (Sept 5, 1847 – April 3, 1882) was an American outlaw, gang leader, bank robber, train robber, and murderer from the state of Missouri and the most famous member of the James-Younger Gang. A celebrity when he was alive, he became a legendary figure after his death.

After the war Jessie and brother Frank became outlaws and started a gang that included Bob Younger, Cole Younger, James Younger, Bill Chadwell, Clell Miller and Charlie Pitts. On Feb 13th, 1866, the gang robbed a bank at Liberty, Missouri. Over the next few years the brothers took part in twelve bank robberies, seven train robberies, four stage-coach robberies and various other crimes.
At least 11 citizens were killed. As well as their home state of Missouri they were also active in West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and Minnesota. On Sept 7, 1876, the James-Younger gang attempted a raid on the First National Bank of Northfield, Minnesota. After this robbery and manhunt, only Frank and Jesse James were left.

William Stiles, alias Bill Chadwell, taken after his death, Sept 7, 1876.

With his gang annihilated, James trusted only the Ford brothers, Charley and Robert. On April 3, 1882, Bob Ford shot James in the back of the head.
The murder of Jesse James was a national sensation. The Fords made no attempt to hide their role in the killing. Bob Ford wired the governor to claim his reward. Crowds pressed into the little house in St. Joseph to see the dead bandit. The Ford brothers were dismayed to find that they were charged with first degree murder. In the course of a day, the Ford brothers were indicted, pleaded guilty, were sentenced to death by hanging, and two hours later were granted a full pardon by Governor Crittenden.
Bob Ford operated a tent saloon in Creede, Colorado. On June 8, 1892, a man named Edward O'Kelley entered Ford's saloon and said "Hello, Bob" before shooting him in the throat with a 12 gauge shotgun, killing him instantly. O'Kelley was sentenced to life in prison. O'Kelley's sentence was subsequently commuted because of a 7,000 signature petition in favor of his release. The governor pardoned him on October 3, 1902.