This was a photoshoot with The Midwest Mysticals
You never know what you will come across in the Missouri outdoors!
This was a photoshoot with The Midwest Mysticals
It is difficult to be raised in Missouri and not hear about Jesse and Frank James and their group of Robin Hood outlaws. Jesse James became the leader of one of the most notorious bands of outlaws in history. He began and continues to be a legend that will likely endure for a long time.
Born on September 5, 1847 in Kearney, MO, Jesse’s youth was plagued by the violence that prevailed along the border states in the years leading up to the Civil War. Jesse’s family were southern sympathizers and as such were subjected to some of the harshest treatments from Union militia units in the area. Their farm was raided repeatedly, the children were abused and the women were occasionally molested.
When the Civil War broke out, the family remained loyal to the Confederate side of the conflict. Jesse’s brother Frank was recruited into the Drew Lobbs Army and saw action at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek. After Frank was identified as a member of the guerilla unit, the Union militia raided the James farm looking for Frank and his cohorts. The militia failed to capture Frank who went on to join what would come to be known as the Quantrill Raiders, a group of guerilla fighters sympathetic to the Confederacy.
Jesse James followed in his brothers footsteps and joined a squad of guerilla fighters commanded by Fletch Taylor. Jesse was only 16 at the time. During the summer of 1864, while serving under “Bloody Bill” Anderson after Taylor had been wounded, Jesse James received the first of two life-threatening chest wounds he would experience in his life.
It was reported by the provost marshal of Clay County that Frank and Jesse James were involved in the Centralia Massacre, where 22 unarmed union troops were wounded or killed. When the regiment commanded by Major A.V.E. Johnson pursued the guerillas, they were ambushed. When more than 100 Union troops tried to surrender they were killed by the group.
When Jesse was trying to surrender to Union cavalry near Lexington, MO he was shot in the chest, his second life threatening wound.
In 1866, the James brothers were believed to have lead, or at least been involved in, the first daylight robbery of a bank during peace time in Liberty, MO at the Clay County Savings Association. No hard evidence has been presented to prove whether they did or did not participate in this robbery however.
It was not until end of 1869 that Jesse became famous. While robbing a bank in Gallatin, MO the Captain John Sheets was mistakenly identified by Jesse as Samuel Cox, who was responsible for killing Jesse’s former commanding officer, “Bloody Bill” Anderson. The bold escape right through the middle of a posse after the robbery and murder helped to put his name in the paper and begin the legend of Jesse James. The murder of John Sheets was described by a history of Davies County as, “The history of Davies County has no blacker crime in its pages than the murder of John W. Sheets.”
Then Frank and Jesse met up with Cole Younger and his gang and formed the James-Younger gang. They robbed stagecoaches and banks throughout part of the midwest and south and as far east as West Virginia. In 1873 they made the jump to begin robbing trains. It was a rare occurrence for the gang to rob the passengers of the trains, instead focusing on the safe. This in part might have given rise to the Robin Hood image that was created with help from the Kansas City Times, that was founded by Jesse’s ally John Newman Edwards, a fellow Confederate sympathizer.
The year 1881 saw Jesse James in St. Joseph, MO while his brother Frank moved to Virginia where he felt it would be safer. On April 3, 1882, Robert Ford shot and unarmed Jesse James in the back of the head while he was straightening a picture on the wall of his home. Robert Ford and his brother, Charley were likely expecting a reward for killing the outlaw, but were instead arrested and indicted for the murder. Their sentence was to hang, however, within a few hours Governor Crittenden issued pardons for them .It was startling to people that appearances seemed to implicate the governor in having knowledge of or had conspired in the murder of Jesse James, which further added to the legend. The scars left from the two life-threatening wound Jesse had received earlier in life would be used to identify the outlaw’s body.
Jesse’s mother chose perhaps the best words she could have for his epitaph, “In loving memory of my beloved son, murdered by a traitor and a coward whose name is not worthy to appear here.”
There is much more to the story and legend of Jesse James and I invite you look further into the history of this outlaw and make your own conclusions on whether he was a Robin Hood bandit, or merely an intelligent outlaw that manipulated the press to build his image.
The Jesse James Farm is still found near Kearney, MO and the outlaw and his wife are buried at the Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Kearney.
Hours and Admission
The James Farm
21216 James Farm Road
Kearney, Missouri 64060
Patee House Museum
1202 Penn St
Saint Joseph, MO 64503
The Patee House is now open during the week, Monday-Friday from 10am-4pm, as well as Saturday from 10am-4:30pm, and Sunday from 1pm-4:30pm.
Getting out of high school is supposed to be a fun and exciting time for most people, but for me it was a time of sadness and heartache. A week before receiving my diploma, my grandfather passed away. I used to go walk down to visit with him almost daily and listen to the stories about his life and experiences. I nearly always went home knowing something new or seeing something in a new way. My opinion of my grandfather may be exaggerated because of how his passing affected me, but to me, he was always a great man. The qualities that are getting rare today and defined what a real man is defined my grandfather. To me, he seemed fair and his logic and views always seemed just to me.
Almost immediately after his funeral, I moved a few hours away to get away from everything. When I came back, I started visiting his grave one a week. I sat there for awhile, wondering how he was doing, hoping there was a heaven where one day I would see him again. I did this for a few weeks.
One day, while I was sitting there, still feeling the sadness over the loss, something on the grave moved and caught my attention. I looked for a few seconds and then, there it was again. A small mound of dirt slowly rose and then fell. Of course, anyone that knows me knows I like zombie movies. You can guess where my mind flashed to almost immediately. I watched a few more times, as the dirt rose and fell atop the grave. A small part of me was almost afraid to get closer and find out what it was, yet I could not bring myself to leave either.
A chipmunk. A small chipmunk finally broke through the dirt and sat there looking at me for several seconds before scurrying off through the cemetery.
I still miss my grandfather. I probably always will. He was one of few people I have ever looked up to and respected. He would never allow me to record, or write down his stories, so they are in my head waiting for my son to get older and I can tell him what a man his great grandfather was. I wish my son could have met him and learned the lessons I did. No matter how good I strive to be or how strong, I will only ever be half of the man my grandfather was.