I bet you have heard of the boy in this picture even if you do not remember him. His name was Jesse James, and he was born on this day in 1847. He left Missouri when he was 17 to fight with the Confederates in the Civil War. Following the war, he returned to Missouri and organized an outlaw gang with his brother, Frank, and other ex-Confederates (Cole Younger and his brother amongst others). They robbed their way across the old West targeting stagecoaches, stores, and more.
In spite of their outlaw activity, people actually adored this gang. In the East, he was often seen as a modern day Robin Hood. Yes, it is true that he harassed railroad executives who seized private land for the purpose of building the railroads, he did it for his personal gain. He cannot be called a humanitarian in any sense of the word!
In 1882, history tells us that his fellow gang member, Robert Ford fired a shot in the back of Jesse James’s head. He wanted the $10,000 reward, but he only got a fraction of it.
His mother had this engraved on his epitaph in Missouri:
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY BELOVED SON, MURDERED BY A TRAITOR AND COWARD WHOSE NAME IS NOT WORTHY TO APPEAR HERE
Now I do have something to share in relation to the story of Jesse James. I wonder if you have heard that Jesse James may not be buried in Missouri? There is a story that says he staged his death, and he came to Granbury, Texas. I have visited that grave site in Granbury, and I am going to leave the link to a site that gives some evidence that Jesse James really died in 1951 in Granbury.
|“Jesse James” grave in Granbury, Texas|
I am going to tell you that I do not know where he died. I cannot say I am convinced either way. But at least I know that this is the anniversary of his birthday!
Check out these two sites that give different accounts of Jesse James’s death: