Jesse James Fact File Biography: Lifespan: 1847 - 1882 *** Full Name: Jesse Woodson James *** Occupation: American Outlaw, Bank and Train Robber, Guerrilla Gang Leader and Murderer *** Date of Birth: Jesse James was born on September 5th 1847 *** Place of Birth: He was born in Kearney, Missouri, U.S. *** Early life and childhood: He grew up with two siblings, an older brother Alexander Franklin and a younger sister, Susan Lavenia *** Education: Jesse James was unlikely to have received an education *** He died on April 3, 1882.
Jesse James Fact 1: Jesse James was born on September 5th 1847. His father was Robert S. James and was a hemp farmer and a minister in the Baptist church and his mother was Zerelda Elizabeth Cole
Jesse James Fact 2: The part of the country Jesse James grew up was very much a border state, largely populated by those from the South they did share characteristics with the North as well.
Jesse James Fact 3: During the American Civil War the James household took sides with the Confederates and Frank became a member of a local company that fought at the Battle of Wilsonís Creek.
Jesse James Fact 4: Having returned home because of illness, a Union militia group came to the family farm looking for him and his gang. They tortured Reuben Samuel, the boysí step-father and it is thought that they also abused Jesse James.
Jesse James Fact 5: When he was sixteen years of age he joined his brother's gang, headed up by Fletch Taylor.
Jesse James Fact 6: During the summer of 1864 Taylor lost his arm due to a gunshot blast and Jesse also suffered a serious injury to his chest.
Jesse James Fact 7: It was reported by the Clay County provost Marshall that Jesse James and his brother Frank had both taken part in the Centralia Massacre that had taken place in September. Guerrillas attacked and wounded around twenty two Union troops who were unarmed, the dead were scalped and dismembered by the guerrillas.
Jesse James Fact 8: His brother Frank would later identify Jesse James as a member of the gang that had shot Major Johnson.
Jesse James Fact 9: The family were forced to move from Clay County as a result of the boys activities but they only moved in nearby Nebraska.
Jesse James Fact 10: After Bloody Bill Anderson, the gang leader, died the brothers went their separate ways, frank headed for Kentucky while Jesse when with Archie Clement, who was one of Andersonís lieutenants and headed for Texas although he would make a return to Missouri.
Jesse James Fact 11: While try to surrender to a Union cavalry patrol not far from Lexington, Jesse James again found himself wounded in the chest in the second life threatening injury he sustained.
Jesse James Fact 12: During his convalescence at his uncleís boarding house, he was tended by his cousin, Zerelda. The two became close and began what would be a nine year relationship at which point the pair married in April of 1874, together they had four children, Jesse Edward followed by twins Gould and Montgomery who both died in infancy, and Mary Susan.
Jesse James Fact 13: The gang of Archie Clements is thought to be responsible for the first bank robbery post war at Clay County Savings Association in Liberty, Missouri in February of 1866. It is not confirmed whether or not Jesse James and his brother Frank took part in this robbery.
Jesse James Fact 14: A jail break took place in Jackson County, Missouri in which the jailor was killed and it is thought both James brothers took part in the break out.
Jesse James Fact 15: It would not be until December 1869 that Jesse James really made a name for himself when he and his brother robbed the Daviess County Savings Association in Gallatin, Missouri. It is said Jesse shot and killed a cashier. Jesse James made the newspaper for the killing of John W Sheets.
Jesse James Fact 16: It was at this stage that a reward would be offered for Jesse James and he would be publicly acknowledged as an outlaw.
Jesse James Fact 17: By 1873 they had turned to robbing trains and utilized Ku Klux Klan masks. This would lead to his likeness to Robin Hood as he mainly targeted the safes on board and not passengers.
Jesse James Fact 18: In 1874 the Pinkertonís were hired to deal with the James gang and eventually the founder, Allan Pinkerton would also get involved in tracking down Jesse James.
Jesse James Fact 19: In September 1876 the gang made an attempt to rob the First National Bank of Northfield in Minnesota with only Jesse and Frank escaping with their lives. Jesse James Fact 20: By 1879 the James gang was active in Mississippi followed by Louisiana. By 1881 they made a return to Missouri where they both felt safer. Jesse James and his family set up home in St Joseph, Missouri near his childhood home with the intention of giving up the life of crime and Frank headed for Virginia.
Jesse James Fact 21: With plans to settle down Jesse asked Charley and Robert Ford to move in with him and his family for protection, believing he could trust these men. Unbeknownst to him, Robert Ford was already negotiating with the governor of Missouri, Thomas T Crittenden for the capture of the outlaws.
Jesse James Fact 22: His suspicions would become aroused when he read of something that the Ford brothers should have mentioned regarding another gang members confession. Having realized something was not right, Jesse James placed his weapons on a table and instead of confronting the brothers, notice dust on a picture frame and moved to remove it.
Jesse James Fact 23: As he did this Robert Ford took aim and shot him in the back of the head. He was later identified by previous healed wounds. Jesse James was killed on April 3, 1882 in his own home.
Influence & Legacy: Jesse James and his brother Frank went down in American history as two of the most notorious outlaws of all time. Over time they would be depicted in comics and films with Jesse James becoming acknowledged as an American Robin Hood figure.
Short Facts about Jesse James for Kids
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