Jesse James Biography (1847-1882)

jesse-james(born Sept. 5, 1847, near Centerville, Mo., U.S.—died April 3, 1882, St. Joseph, Mo.) (born Jan. 10, 1843, near Centerville, Mo.—died Feb. 18, 1915, near Kearney, Mo.) Brothers who were among the most notorious outlaws of the American West. Jesse and Frank both fought as Confederate guerrillas in the American Civil War. In 1866 they and eight other men robbed a bank in Liberty, Mo. Joined by other outlaws in subsequent years, the James gang robbed banks from Iowa to Alabama and Texas. In 1873 the bandits began robbing trains; they also preyed upon stagecoaches, stores, and individuals. In 1876 Jesse led a failed attempt to rob a bank in Northfield, Minn.; though the brothers escaped, the rest of the gang was killed or captured. After assembling a new gang in 1879 the brothers resumed robbing, and in 1881 the governor of Missouri offered a $10,000 reward for the brothers’ capture, dead or alive. In 1882 Jesse was shot in the back of the head and killed instantly by Robert Ford, a gang member, who claimed the reward. A few months later, Frank gave himself up. Tried and acquitted three times, he retired to a quiet life on his family’s farm. The exploits of the James brothers were romanticized in pulp fiction and in movies.

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