Jesse James was born in Clay County, Missouri. His father, Robert James, was a farmer and a Baptist preacher. In addition to Jesse, the family raised the son of Alexander Franklin, who was called exclusively Frank and daughter Susan Lavinia.
When the gold rush burst the flock decided to go to California in search of wealth. Robert followed her. But when Jesse was only three years old, he died. The widow Zerelda Cole did not grieve for long. In 1852, she married Benjamin Simms, but this marriage turned out to be fleeting. And already in 1855, Zerelda became the wife of Dr. Ruben Samuel. In this marriage, she gave birth to four more children: Sarah, John, Archie and Fanny. So, Jesse grew up in a big and friendly family.
I must say that the state of Missouri was located between the northern states and the southern states. And if the former promoted equality and freedom, the latter lived in the old manner, preserving slaveholding values. And in Missouri most of the population just adhered to, shall we say, the southern views. Because of this, during the civil war (1861-1865 years), this territory became one of the main theaters of hostilities.
The family of Samuel-James was also a slave owner. They owned several slaves who grew tobacco on the farm. And when the war began, Frank, the eldest of the brothers, took the side of the Confederates. According to some reports, he took part in the battle at Wilson Creek. But soon, for health reasons, he was forced to leave the front and return home.
There is also a version according to which Frank, after his recovery, ended up in a partisan detachment under the leadership of Bloody Bill Andersen. Those warriors were considered real thugs who robbed and killed people indiscriminately. At the same time, they were covered with pompous slogans and freedom, independence and equality. The dashing guys were wielding mostly in the rear of the northerners, preferring partisan activity to confrontation head-on. And Bloody Bill was most proud of his collection of scalps and ears, cut off from defeated enemies.
In 1863, Northerners were attacked by Samuel James’s farm — they were trying to find Frank or someone from Andersen’s partisan detachment. But, of course, they did not succeed. In retaliation, the attackers hanged Ruben Samuel, and sixteen-year-old Jesse was whipped.
After the end of the war, the victorious northerners did not pursue the defeated enemies. So Frank returned home. But the farmer’s peaceful and peaceful life was clearly not for him. Therefore, he and Jesse decided, so to speak, to continue the guerrilla war.
In 1866, James, with their cousins Cole Younger and Cleal Miller, made a gang and robbed banks in small towns. They had two favorite methods of robbery. In the first case, the gangsters just went to the bank, sent weapon on employees and demanded money. In the second, at first they drove the townspeople home, arranging a real show, and then took the money and freed the prisoners from prison.
Locals considered James a hero. Still, after all, he is the “last partisan” who fought with the hated northerners. After the defeat in the civil war, the Southerners literally drowned in poverty. Against their background, bankers and railroad dealers, who began to occupy the land en masse, looked rich. In addition, the availability of money allowed them to take away whatever they wanted. Accordingly, there could be no question of any kind of justice. Southerners were defenseless before the winner. It was on these feelings that the Jesse gang played. And, I must say, played masterfully.
About criminals, robbing the rich, spoke quickly. But who exactly defended the “humiliated and offended” was unknown. The people (and the police, of course) found out about James and their cousins only three years after the first robbery. In 1869, Jessie and his accomplices raided a bank in Gallatin, Missouri.
At first, everything went well - the bank was taken. But when the criminals left the building, one of the employees raised the alarm. Jesse's no luck. His horse, frightened by the loud noise, jerked away. Since Jesse only put his foot in the stirrup, the animal several meters dragged him along the ground. Frank came to the rescue. He managed to free his brother's leg and put him on his horse. Jesse, as they say, got off with a slight fright.
Although the residents of Gallatin did not have time to organize the chase, in their hands was a thoroughbred horse, Jesse. A lover of expensive horses in the state was one - James. In addition, the bank employee recalled that the owner of the animal did not have a phalanx of the middle finger (Jesse shot it when he was cleaning the revolver). In general, one criminal could be calculated. And it was clear to everyone, since Jesse is in a gang, then Frank is there too.
The police worked quickly. But ... to attract the brothers James did not work. The absence of a phalanx is not proof, since after the war there were plenty of people without any limbs in the area. And the horse ... So it was stolen long ago. By the way, the neighbors of the legend of James confirmed. And the witnesses of the robbery themselves soon abandoned their words. Apparently, someone whispered to them about the consequences ...
Inspired by the success, James, Younger and Miller began to clean not only the banks. They attacked stagecoaches, ammunition depots and trains carrying money. All crimes were not presented as robbery, but as a real guerrilla war. People are increasingly falling in love with their defenders. These tender feelings, by the way, Jessie periodically fed with money taken from the northerners. There is a version that journalist John Newman Edwards worked on the appearance of a defender and deliverer. All the articles about James that came from under his pen were imbued with respect and admiration. Even murders, which bandits never abhorred, were presented as the triumph of good over evil. Unfortunately, the cost of such a PR campaign is unknown to Jessi.
But thanks to the journalist, word of mouth passed история "About justice". Once the gangsters stopped the stagecoach. All passengers meekly gave the criminals money and jewelry. All but one. By their accent, the gangsters realized that he was a countryman. And then Cole Younger asked: "Are you a southerner?" He nodded affirmatively. Then it turned out that the passenger of the stage was involved in the war. “We are not robbing southerners, especially Confederate soldiers,” answered Cole. “But Yankees and porkers don't care about that.”
In early June, 1871, the Jesse gang ended up in Iowa. And to be more precise - in the town of Corydon. The four criminals chose the perfect time of the visit, because the town was literally extinct - all residents went to church for the service, which was served by pastor Mr. Dean.
One remained to guard the horses. The second one was watching the entrance. The rest of the bandits went to gut the bowels of the bank. Surprisingly, there they met a man - it was the owner Oscar Okobok. By an absurd coincidence, he missed the service, deciding to finish some business at the bank. Of course, Oscar didn't have a chance to cope with the robbers. They twisted it in two accounts and took away about six thousand dollars in banknotes and gold.
The way back of the gang ran just past that church. Jesse dismounted and stepped inside. After taking a few steps, he stopped and said: “Hey, some lads have cleared your bank!” After that, Jesse laughed out loud and left. The inhabitants of Corydon, of course, did not believe him and decided that the stranger was just joking ignorantly. After the end of the service, an unpleasant surprise awaited them and Okobok was bound ...
The bandits did not stop there. Soon they were able to afford to hire an informant on the railway. This man for a generous reward told Jesse about when the next big batch of gold would set off. The first raid more than covered the expenses of the “informer”, since the gang was enriched by a huge amount for those times - twenty-two thousand dollars!
After the robbery, Jessie handed the driver a piece of paper and said: "Pass it on to the newspapers." On a piece of paper it was written: “The most daring robbery in history
A southbound train stopped at 5 Iron Rock, well-armed people who had stolen ______ dollars tonight. The robbers arrived at the station a few minutes before the train, arrested the agent, transferred the arrows and stopped the train. All robbers are large men a little less than six feet tall. After the robbery, they drove south. All were on beautiful horses.
Ps this edge damn fun. "
Jesse remained true to himself. He did not specifically indicate the amount stolen, giving it to journalists. Also, with his note, he tried to confuse the police because there were four people in his gang, not five. But about the southern direction and the beautiful horses, James did not lie. He was well aware that reporters would hardly believe his words. And he was right. The next day, the local newspapers came out with the same headlines: "Jesse James covers the tracks."
Soon the serene life of the bandits ended. From the “first team” there was only Jesse himself. One cousin was killed, another was arrested. Frank is "laying down on the bottom." But the most terrible and dangerous wing in the other - for Jesse began hunting Alan Pinkerton, who was hired by the bosses of the railway.
By the way, James considered Pinkerton his main enemy and dreamed of avenging him for the death of his younger brother Archie. The fact is, in 1875, the agents burned the farm of James and the guy could not escape. When Jesse found out about his death, he vowed to shoot Pinkerton in the face so that he could see the eyes of his murderer before he died. It is worth saying that the plan for revenge could not be realized. Pinkerton survived Jesse by two years and died his own death.
In 1879, a ten thousand dollar reward was announced for the head of the robber. Of course, such money could not overshadow the mind of relatives of James, but the new friends were not. Jesse, as he could, tried to protect himself. Sometimes he behaved like a real paranoid: he was changing shelters almost every two or three days, without hesitation he killed any person if he seemed suspicious to him. The only friends Jesse could rely on were the brothers Robert (Bob) and Charlie Fords. And what is surprising: in spite of manic suspicion, James was unable to discern in them traitors, who were bribed by the governor of Missouri. His proposal was not just profitable, it was royally generous. The governor offered Fords not only the money laid for Jesse’s head, but exemption from punishment for numerous crimes. The brothers could not refuse the new perspective of a new and rich life.
Jesse James was killed by Bob Ford 3 on April 1882 at his home in St. Joseph. At the sound of the shot, his wife Zerelda came running, but the legendary criminal was already dead. The Fords were proud of themselves. Moreover, Bob asked the governor to reveal the name of the killer James. He considered himself a hero, dreamed of fame and recognition. But it turned out the opposite. The people perceived him as a traitor and a coward. Yes, and the governor did not stand on ceremony with the brothers. They were accused of murder and sentenced to death. True, the loop is not reached. Robert and Charlie freed 500 dollars and handed them in place of the promised 10 thousand.
For a while, the brothers earned their living by playing a mini-performance at fairs, in which Charlie had to play the role of Jessie and die over and over again to the whistle and hoot of a disgruntled public. But it was enough for a while. Already in 1884, Charlie could not stand such a life and committed suicide.
As for the killer of the hero of the nation, then he died from a bullet a few years later. Trying to start life from scratch, he moved to Colorado and opened the saloon. It was there that a certain O'Kelly shot him.
A curious fact: O'Kelly was first sentenced to life imprisonment. But the state governor received so many letters in support of the Ford assassin that at first the term was reduced to eighteen years. A little later, and threw another ten.
After the death of Jesse, the prints of his posthumous photographs were not published only by a lazy publication. Moreover, they were sold for two dollars apiece. A photograph from the morgue got into the set for stereoscopes. The company, by the way, was represented by images of the Roman catacombs, the Taj Mahal and the Sphinx.
Jesse's family moved to Kansas. There she was sponsored for years by Thomas Crittenden, the son of the governor of Missouri.
By the way, Frank James appeared six months after the death of his brother and voluntarily surrendered to the authorities. But he was acquitted.
Immediately after the funeral, rumors began to appear that Jesse was alive. Like, he and Bob just staged a perpetrator's death. But in fact, James changed his name and engaged in an even work. Only in 1995, the remains of Jesse were exhumed and DNA analyzed. He confirmed that it was James, the legendary criminal of North America, who rested in the grave.
Jesse James is considered an integral part of American culture. In September, Missouri residents hold an annual festival in honor of the criminal. The house in which he was killed became a museum. The life of James formed the basis of several dozen films. And the role of Jesse was played by Colin Farrell (“American Heroes”) and Brad Pitt (“How cowardly Robert Ford killed Jesse James”).