Wanted in following States
Last Know Whereabouts:
Criminal Occupations: Bank robber, Train Robber
Gangs Associated With:
a young boy, Jesse James had a difficult life. Growing up in Civil War times
in Missouri, Jesse’s family was caught up in the fight between whether
or not Missouri would be a slave state. Missouri decided to join the Union,
but the James family agreed with the Confederates. Jesse’s older brother
Frank joined Quantrill’s Raiders, a group of renegades who conducted
surprise raids on cities in Union territory.
One day, some Union soldiers came to the farm where Jesse and his family lived, looking for Quantrill’s Raiders. Since Reuben Samuel (Jesse’s step-father) refused to talk, they hanged him from a tree. He was saved when his wife cut him loose. The soldiers also attacked Jesse who was plowing a field. He was beaten with a rope. Jesse’s rage soon drove him to join Quantrill’s Raiders too. Jesse’s first killing was when he killed a Union Commander during one of the raids. When the war was over, Jesse tried to surrender to Union troops, but he was shot. His cousin, Zee Mimms, helped him until he was healthy again. Later, he married her.
Jesse’s first bank robbery was probably one he committed with his brother Frank in Liberty, Missouri in 1866. An innocent college student was killed, and the robbers got away with $60,000 in cash and bonds.
Many more bank robberies and train robberies followed. Jesse even robbed the box office at the Kansas City Fair. Jesse liked the publicity he got. Once, after a train robbery, he gave a paper to the trainman. It had a newspaper article Jesse had written himself about the robbery. The headline said, “THE MOST DARING ROBBERY ON RECORD.” Jesse wanted the newspapers to get the facts straight. Besides, he liked to read about his crimes.
Jesse was a merciless killer. If someone innocent was killed, he would say, “The fool shouldn’t have gotten in my way.” In 1876, the James-Younger Gang decided to hold up a bank in Northfield, Minnesota. The robbery went badly, and Frank and Jesse were the only outlaws who escaped unharmed. Jesse returned home to Tennessee where he started using the name J. D Howard. He joined the church choir. He raced his horse in the County Fair, and worked as little as possible. He lived off of money from his holdups.
Now and then he would rob a stagecoach or two to get extra cash. Eventually, he had to start planning a bank robbery again. One of his helpers, named Bob Ford, went to Jesse’s home and shot him from behind while Jesse was dusting a picture. Ford wanted to collect the reward money that was offered for Jesse’s capture. Ford was known after that as the “dirty little coward that shot Mr. Howard.”
Jesse James, age 14
Jesse James age 17
Jesse James, age 21
Jesse and Frank James
here to see more about Jesse, and his Wanted Poster.