Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Some More Western Wednesday...!

Behind every great story of the old west, there is a back story!

Often we think we know the complete story, but true history has a way of getting twisted and turned around. The more a story is told, the more a legend can be made to fit popular demand!
Sep 5, 1847:
Outlaw Jesse James is born in Missouri

Seen by some as a vicious murderer and by others as a gallant Robin Hood, the famous outlaw Jesse Woodson James is born on this day in 1847, in Clay County, Missouri.

Jesse and his older brother Franklin lost their father in 1849, when the Reverend Robert James abandoned his young family and disappeared forever into the California gold fields. Their mother, Zerelda, quickly remarried, but rumor had it that their new stepfather treated Jesse and Frank poorly, and a third husband soon followed. Perhaps it was a violent and unstable family life that led the young Jesse and Frank into lives of crime. Regardless, it is certain that the brothers first learned to kill during the Civil War. As Confederate sympathizers, both Jesse and Frank joined William Quantrill's vicious Missouri guerilla force, and Jesse participated in the cold-blooded murder of 25 unarmed Union soldiers in August 1863.

When the war ended, neither man felt any enthusiasm for the drab life of a Missouri farmer-earning a living with their guns seemed easier and more exciting. Joining a motley band of ex-soldiers and common thieves, Jesse and Frank staged the first daylight bank robbery in U.S. history on Valentine's Day in 1866, making off with $57,000 of the hard-earned cash of the citizens of Liberty, Missouri. For the next decade the James Gang would steal many thousands more from banks, stores, stagecoaches, and trains.

The boldness of their crimes and the growing resentment among westerners of big railroads and robber barons led some to romanticize Jesse and Frank, a process that was encouraged by the authors of popular dime novels who created largely fictional versions of the James brothers as modern-day Robin Hoods who stole from the rich to give to the poor. In reality, the James brothers' crimes preyed as much on the common folks as on the very rich, and they did little to spare the lives of innocents caught in the crossfire. The Robin Hood myth conveniently ignores the little girl shot in the leg during a botched robbery at the Kansas City Fair, the train engineer killed when the James Gang derailed his locomotive, or the dozens of other innocent bystanders murdered or maimed by Jesse, Frank, or their gang. Nonetheless, the myth that Jesse James was a good-hearted hero of the common folk remains popular to this day. Robert Ford shot James in the back of the head-- killing him on April 3, 1882.

Makes it a lot more interesting when you know the rest of the story, doesn't it?

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. Chocolate brownies on the side, if that's alright!

7 comments:

aHunkaHunkaBurningLove said...

57K on there 1st bamk robery, seems like that would have made them all rich and they could have just retired then. instead of going around causing all that trouble they could have just relaxed and maybe drank some coffee on the patio.

Sixbears said...

Wednesday already? The days zip right by.

James wasn't a Robin Hood but a hood robbing.

Coffee in the kitchen this morning, watching the rain come down.

linda m said...

Very interesting when you hear the rest of the story. Why not retire with the 57K and be a river boat gambler or something. It's a shame that people glorify outlaws like the James gang. Also I am tired of criminals blaming their actions on a "rotten" childhood. Whatever happened to taking responsibility for your own actions?

JOJO said...

Have to agree with Linda m, And some had great childhoods but still used it as an excuse. Oh well good post Jim.

Coffee and brownies sounds delightful. And of course its all right with me.

Dizzy-Dick said...

Good post as usual. With all the fiction and movies about the James brothers, it is refreshing to her the facts.

Billy Bob said...

It would take much research to find the answer to why Frank and Jesse turned outlaw. I think I remember a story, of their childhood, where the new husbands beat the boys. But I think it was the war, where 13 year old boys were trained in the ravaging, murdering and stealing lifestyle.
Robin Hood...I think not. They were no good murders to the core.

HermitJim said...

Hey Hunk...
Does seem like they could have taken that money and retired, doesn't it?

Guess the thrill of the robbing was just too great!

Guess we will never know what turned them to the life they chose!

Thanks for coming over this morning!


Hey Sixbears...
Seems like the older I get, the faster time flies! I can't keep track of it sometimes.

Guess I'm not the only one that has that trouble, though.

Thanks for dropping by today!


Hey Linda...
There will always be those of us that will glorify the outlaw for one reason or another!

Guess that's just part of human nature!

I sure am glad you came by for a visit today!


Hey JoJo...
I reckon there will always be outlaws and robbers around. Good or bad, their childhood doesn't completely excuse them for their actions!

Always glad to have the company of my favorite long-time friend!

Thanks, sweetie, for coming by today!


Hey Dizzy...
Sometimes such a legend gets built up around these types, it's hard to separate the fact from fiction!

Such is the nature of the beast, I guess!

Thanks, buddy, for coming over today!


Hey Billy Bob...
Without a doubt, the war probably affected the lifestyle of many folks.

Still, having the skill of a killer doesn't always lead to being one, even in today's world!

Thanks, Billy Bob, for coming over this morning!