(September 5, 1847 - April 3, 1882)
Jesse James is one of the most interesting characters of the old west. He has been portrayed as either a Robin Hood or a high tempered killer. He was neither and both. Like all people Jesse was a product of his childhood and environment. As a Missouri Guerilla, he learned the fine art of deception and relying on the locals of Missouri to provide him shelter while things cooled off between robberies.
In a fateful mistake, they decided to wander outside their normal circle and rob the bank in Northfield, Minnesota. Everything went wrong and when the James-Younger Gang ran for their horses to leave town, the "squareheads" of Minnesota began shooting. Clell Miller and Bill Chadwell never made it out of town. The rest settled in the woods near Madelia, Minnesota. The James left the badly wounded Youngers and Charlie Pitts.
Jesse settled in St. Joseph, Missouri as Mr. Howard and began to form a new gang with Bob and Charlie Ford. On April 3, 1882, Jesse noticed a needle point hanging on the wall was lopsided. He removed his gunbelt so that when he was in full view of the open front door no one would see it. As he stood on a chair repositioning the framed object, Bob Ford fired. Jesse was dead.
Jesse James is buried in the Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Kearney Missouri.
Information compiled by Steve Grimm
Drawing by Richard Florence
Books About Jesse James
Frank and Jesse James by Ted P. Yeatman
I never thought anyone would top Settle's book below, but Yeatman has found new and exciting information. A wonderful book. Jesse James Was His Name by William A. Settle, Jr.
This is the book to read if you want to weed through all the legends and tall tales associated with Jesse. A little dry in parts, it is a through and detailed study of the Jesse James phenomena.
I, Jesse James by James R. Ross
James Ross is the great-grandson of Jesse James. You would think with those connections that this book would have great insight and a unique perspective of Jesse James. Sadly, it does not. Except for a few photos, this book is a rehash of known information.
Saga of Jesse James by Carl W. Breihan
Why this western history writer continues to produce books and why publishing companies distribute them, is a mystery to me. Breihan contributes nothing to Jesse James history with this book and continues to repeat errors from his other books on the James and Youngers.
Robber and Hero by George Huntington
First publish in 1895 and continuing in reprint, this small paperback is dedicated to describing the events and aftermath of the Northfield Bank robbery. Granted the book is a little slanted since it was written by a Northfield resident, but it provides some good details.