Between his days as a teenage Confederate guerrilla and his murder at age 34, James became one of America’s most notorious outlaws.
Jesse Woodson James was born in 1847 and was a famous outlaw of the Old West. Union soldiers ransacked his family farm in Missouri in 1863 and Jesse vowed to seek revenge along with his brother, Frank James. Together, they joined a group of Confederate guerilla soldier’s.
After the war, James assembled a gang known as the James-Younger Gang (named thus because there were four Younger brothers, in addition to the two James brothers). Out of anger about the post-Civil War laws, the gang fought back the only way they knew how by robbing banks, trains, and stagecoaches owned and controlled by Northern companies.
The Younger-James gang murdered anyone that interfered with their crime spree, during which members of the gang robbed more than a dozen banks and trains and reportedly pocketed two hundred thousand dollars.
You may think these robbers would be hated for their crimes but the Missourian’s supported the James-Younger Gang for their loyalty to the Confederacy. But the support of the gang was short-lived after James shot an innocent man in the heart. They had robbed a bank in Gallatin, Missouri on December 7, 1869 and for reasons best known to him, Jesse James got it in
He heard that one of the bankers had killed Bloody Bill Anderson, a leader of the Confederate guerilla group, Quantrill’s Raiders and shot the banker in the heart. The public were angered by this cold-blooded killing and the newspapers called for justice. Bounty’s were placed on James head and the authorities went on a manhunt for him.
James Was Murdered at 34
Rather than dying in a hail of gunfire during a robbery, the Famous Jesse James met his death on April 3, 1882, shot in the back of the head while dusting a picture on the wall of his rented home in St. Joseph, Missouri. His wife and two children were in a nearby room.
Bob Ford, a new recruit into the James gang, had pulled the trigger, having conspired with his older brother Charley, already a member of the gang.
Earlier that year, Bob Ford had arranged with Missouri’s governor to take down Jesse in exchange for a reward. After the Fords announced to authorities they’d killed the infamous outlaw, they were convicted of murder and sentenced to hang; however, the governor quickly pardoned them. The public was transfixed by James’s murder, and the Fords soon began reenacting the event in a traveling show. Charley Ford committed suicide in 1884, while Bob Ford was shot to death in 1894 in a Colorado saloon.
Famous Jesse James’ Body Was Exhumed
Following his death in 1882, his corpse was preserved in ice and put on display. After he died and before his body was collected, people swarmed his house to have a glimpse of his murdered body and continued to do so after he was taken away.
The museum also shows his ice casket. During the 1800, ice casket’s kept bodies cool before embalming became common and the ice included a window on top that allowed people to view the deceased person’s face without having to open it.