42 Facts About Jesse James


The Jesse James brothers were most active as members of their own gang from about 1866 until 1876, when as a result of their attempted robbery of a bank in Northfield, Minnesota, several members of the gang were captured or killed.


Already a celebrity in life, Jesse James became a legendary figure of the Wild West after his death.


Jesse James continues to be one of the most famous figures from the era, and his life has been dramatized and memorialized numerous times.


Jesse Woodson James was born on September 5,1847, in Clay County, Missouri, near the site of present-day Kearney.


Jesse James's father, Robert S James, farmed commercial hemp in Kentucky and was a Baptist minister before coming to Missouri.


Jesse James held six slaves and more than 100 acres of farmland.


Robert traveled to California during the Gold Rush to minister to those searching for gold; he died there when Jesse James was three years old.


Frank Jesse James joined a local company recruited for the secessionist Drew Lobbs Army, and fought at the Battle of Wilson's Creek in August 1861.


Frank James eluded capture and was believed to have joined the guerrilla organization led by William C Quantrill known as Quantrill's Raiders.


Jesse James suffered a serious wound to the chest that summer.


Frank followed Quantrill into Kentucky, while Jesse James went to Texas under the command of Archie Clement, one of Anderson's lieutenants.


Jesse James is known to have returned to Missouri in the spring.


Jesse James recovered from his chest wound at his uncle's boardinghouse in Harlem, Missouri.


Jesse James was tended to by his first cousin, Zerelda "Zee" Mimms, named after Jesse's mother.


Historians believe that the Jesse James brothers were involved in this crime.


Jesse James wrote about this death with bitterness a decade later.


Jesse James did not become well known until December 7,1869, when he robbed the Daviess County Savings Association in Gallatin, Missouri.


Jesse James claimed he was taking revenge, and the daring escape he and Frank made through the middle of a posse shortly afterward attracted newspaper coverage for the first time.


The only known civil case involving Frank and Jesse James was filed in the Common Pleas Court of Daviess County in 1870.


Frank and Jesse James failed to appear in court, and Smoote won his case against them.


Over time, the letters gradually became more political in tone and Jesse James denounced the Republicans and expressed his pride in his Confederate loyalties.


Together with Edwards's admiring editorials, the letters helped Jesse James become a symbol of Confederate defiance of federal Reconstruction policy.


Jesse James began to work with former Unionists who lived near the James family farm.


Across a creek and up a hill from the Jesse James house was the home of Daniel Askew, who is thought to have been killed by Jesse James or his gang on April 12,1875.


The robbery quickly went wrong and after the robbery only Frank and Jesse James remained alive and free.


Jesse James recruited a new gang in 1879 and returned to crime, holding up a train at Glendale, Missouri, on October 8,1879.


Jesse James grew suspicious of other members; he scared away one man and some believe that he killed another gang member.


In 1879, the Jesse James gang robbed two stores in far western Mississippi, at Washington in Adams County and Fayette in Jefferson County.


Jesse James moved his family to St Joseph, Missouri, in November 1881, not far from where he had been born and reared.


The Jesse James gang had been reduced to the two of them.


For protection, Jesse James asked the Ford brothers to move in with him and his family.


Jesse James had often stayed with their sister Martha Bolton and, according to rumor, he was "smitten" with her.


Jesse James was suspicious that the Fords had not told him about it.


Robert Ford later said he believed that Jesse James had realized they were there to betray him.


Jesse James turned around and noticed a dusty picture above the mantle, and stood on a chair to clean it.


Rumors of Jesse James's survival proliferated almost as soon as the newspapers announced his death.


The body buried in Kearney, Missouri, marked "Jesse James" was exhumed in 1995 and subjected to mitochondrial DNA typing.


The theme of survival was featured in a 2009 documentary, Jesse James' Hidden Treasure, which aired on the History Channel.


Jesse James was buried in Granbury Cemetery, where the headstone bears the name of "Jesse Woodson James".


Jesse James's story did not hold up to questioning from James's surviving relatives.


Jesse James's turn to crime after the end of the Reconstruction era helped cement his place in American life and memory as a simple but remarkably effective bandit.


Jesse James remains a controversial symbol, one who can always be reinterpreted in various ways according to cultural tensions and needs.