The James Family &
James / Younger Gang Time Line

James Family Farm - 1902 Postcard
© MPR Virtual Museum Collection

  • DECEMBER 28, 1841 - Robert James & Zerelda Elizabeth Cole married in Stamping Ground, Kentucky.

  • JANUARY 10, 1843 - Alexander Franklin "Frank" James born in Kentucky.

  • JULY 19, 1845 - Robert James Jr. was born near Centerville (Kearney), MO, on the farm in Kearney. Died 33 days later.

  • SEPTEMBER 5, 1847 - Jesse Woodson James born on the 257 acre Kearney family farm.

  • NOVEMBER 25, 1849 - Susan Lavenia James born.

  • AUGUST 18, 1850 - Reverend Robert James dies of cholera in a Placerville, California gold camp after leaving his family to seek riches during the Gold Rush.

  • SEPTEMBER 25, 1855 - Zerelda marries her third husband Dr. Reuben Samuel after second husband, Benjamin Simms, is killed in a horse accident.

  • DECEMBER 26, 1858 - Sarah (Sallie) Louisa Samuel born to Zerelda and Rueben Samuel.

  • MAY 4, 1861 - Frank James joins the Missouri State Guard - Confederate Army at 18. Frank joins with General Sterling Price's Missouri State Guard. Seeing action at The Battle of Wilson's Creek, on August 10, 1861 resulting in Confederate victory. Frank also saw service at the Battle Of Lexington, Missouri on September 13, 1861. The Battle of Lexington was the second major victory of the Missouri State Guard and Confederates took control of Southwestern Missouri by October.

    Frank, however, fell ill at Lexington and had to be left behind by the advancing Confederate forces. He would later surrendered to Union forces and return home. There he was arrested by a local Unionist militia. He was released when he signed a statement of allegiance to the Union. Frank is later paroled and joins Captain William Clark Quantrill and his unit of Missouri Partisan Rangers.

  • DECEMBER 25, 1861 - John Thomas Samuel born to Zerelda and Rueben Samuel.

  • MAY 25, 1863 - Yankee soldiers rough up Zerelda James Samuel, hang her husband Rueben Samuel (it doen't kill him), and beat up Jesse James for not giving them the location of Quantrill's guerrillas.

  • AUGUST 21, 1863 - Lawrence, Kansas. 5:00-9:00 a.m. The Payback. At dawn, approximately 400 Missouri Partisan Rangers came from the east and had been riding all night to make it there. The Partisan Rangers carried with them a "death list" of criminals and murderers they were looking for. The list had the names of 12 prominent leaders from Kansas. On the very top of the list was James Lane, who made his home in the Jayhawker headquarters of Lawrence.

    Although the Missouri Partisan Rangers found none of the men on their list, they killed approximately 150 men. Contrary to the Federal, Yankee, Redleg & Jayhawker accounts, the Missouri Partisan Rangers never harmed a woman or child. An estimated 85 widows and 250 children were left behind. Frank was a member, but there is some specualtion that Jesse had joined. Some fanciful Yankee stories tell how Jesse bragged at the killing of 36.

  • OCTOBER 18, 1863 - Fannie Quantrill Samuel born to Zerelda and Rueben Samuel and named in honor of Captain William Clark Quantrill.

  • SEPTEMBER 27, 1864 - The Raid & Battle of Centralia, Missouri. 11am. Captain William T. Anderson and 80 of his men stopped an incoming train from St. Louis. Captain Anderson and his men halted the train and set fire to the train depot. Aboard the train were 23 Yankee soldiers. By way of the nature of the "No Quarter" war, Captain Anderson and his men permanently furloughed these twenty-three Yankee soldiers to meet their maker. News came of a large Yankee force which gave cause to leave Centralia and head south. These 23 soldiers were on furlough after just leaving Sherman's deadly "March To The Sea" which killed thousands of civilian men, women and children. Call it "Karma."

    At 3:00 p.m. that same afternoon, Yankee Major A.V.E. Johnston, with roughly 155 men of the 39th Missouri Infantry rode into Centralia after seeing smoke on the horizon coming from the burning depot. The 39th Missouri Infantry was a mounted infantry unit that carried single shot Enfield muskets as their weapons. As Johnston's men left town, the soldiers saw a band of about ten Partisan Rangers ride up close to them, halt and gallop off (an old Indian trick). The men of the 39th were excited thinking that the enemy was retreating and trying to get away. They quickly followed the men across the prairie. With the Partisan Partisan Rangers still a considerable distance away, Johnston prematurely ordered a volley to be fired.

    At the same time, the remaining Partisan Rangers, who had been hiding in the woods on both of Johnston's flanks, attacked the Federals. The Yankee soldiers had no time to reload for a second volley. It was all over in a minute. According to Frank James, the Partisan Rangers rode over the Yankee ranks and Jesse singled out Major Johnston and shot him in the forehead. The Yankee bodies were left on the battleground as a warning to other Yankee commands who might dare fight the Partisan Rangers.

  • SOMETIME IN APRIL, 1865 - Jesse is badly wounded when he attempted to surrender (take amnesty) at the war's end. Jesse rode into Lexington, MO carrying a white flag. Jesse was premeditatedly and deliberately shot in the chest by occupying Yankee soldiers. Afterwards, he went to Rulo, Nebraska to recuperate from his wound before returning to Missouri. He was nursed back to health by his family and especially by Miss Zerelda Mimms, who eventually became his wife.

  • FEBRUARY 13, 1866 - Frank James, Cole and Jim Younger rob the Clay County Savings Bank in Liberty, MO of $72,000. An insignificant amount of accounts state that Jesse's legend is embellished when he is placed at the scene as well, reporting Jesse was sick in bed, with his chest wound still bothering him.

  • JULY 26, 1866 - Archie Peyton Samuel born to Zerelda and Rueben Samuel.

  • OCTOBER 30, 1866 - Mitchell and Company banking firm of Lexington, MO. is robbed and Jesse a Frank are blamed, even though they were not in the state.

  • SOMETIME IN 1867 - Jesse has image made in San Francisco, CA. After taking a ship from New York, across the isthmus in Panama and another ship to San Francisco. He had a relative who lived in Paso Robles that he was suppose to have visited and also he looked for his father's grave in Placerville with no success.

  • 1866-1867 - John Newman Edward contributes to their fame with articles and dime novels.

  • MARCH 20, 1868 - The gang robs the Southern Deposit Bank in Russellville, Kentucky for $14,000.

  • 1868-1969 - The James boys spend most of the rest of these years in the Nashville, Tennessee area.

  • DECEMBER 7, 1869 - The James & Youngers hold up Davies County Savings Bank of Gallatin, MO. The teller, a man by the name of John Sheets, was a former Yankee officer who was involved in the ambush and death of Missouri Partisan Ranger Captain William T. Anderson. Jesse hated him for this and shot the man in the back of the head. When clerk William McDowell ran for the door, he too was shot, but survived the whole affair. Making off with only $700.00, a $3,000.00 reward was placed on their heads.

  • JUNE 3, 1871 - Jesse and the rest rob the Ocobock Brothers Bank in Coryton, Iowa of $6,000.

  • APRIL 29, 1872 - Bank in Columbia, Kentucky is robbed and cashier R.A.C. Martin is murdered for the $6,000 supposedly taken by the James & Youngers.

  • SEPTEMBER 26, 1872 - The James Brothers rob the cashier at the Kansas City Fair of $8,000

  • MAY 27, 1873 - The James & Youngers rob $4,000 from the Savings Association in Genevieve, MO.

  • JULY 21, 1873 - The James first train robbery. They wrecked the train to rob it, killing Engineer John Rafferty. They took $3,000 from passengers and the express car of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific RR near Adair, Iowa.

  • JANUARY 15, 1874 - Jesse James and gang rob their first known stagecoach holdup of between $1,000-$8,000 of cash and jewels near Hot Springs, Arkansas.

  • JANUARY 31, 1874 - Jesse James held up the St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern RR train at Gads Hill, MO of $10,000.

  • APRIL 24, 1874 - After nine years of courtship, Jesse James marries Zee Mimms at Centerville (Kearney) MO.

  • JUNE 1875 - Frank James marries Annie Ralston in Omaha, Nebraska. - - - But, author J. W. Buel says they were married in Jackson County Missouri in September 1875 in his book "The Border Outlaws", published in 1882.

  • JANUARY 26, 1875 - Pinkertons toss a smoke "bomb" into the Samuelson farm house in Kearney and the "official" Pinkerton conclusion is that eight year old Archie Peyton Samuel thought it was a loose stick from the fire and tossed it "back" into the fire and it exploded, killing him and severely wounding Jesse & Frank's mother, Zerelda. Recent documents have revealed that the Pinkerton's actually threw 2 bombs. The first smoke bomb did not yield results. Then, they threw in an explosive bomb meant to destroy lives and property.

    A Pinkerton agent Jack Ladd was posing as a field hand at work on the farm across the road from the James Farm. The farm, belonging to neighbor Dan Askew, served as a hideout for the Pinkerton spy. On April 12, 1875, Dan Askew, the neighbor who had sheltered Jack Ladd, was found in Askew's home with a bullet to his brain. Later in the same month, Jack Ladd was also found shot and killed.

    "No other act than this 'inexcusable and cowardly deed,' [as the press termed it] could have earned more sympathy for the James boys," accounts Jay Robert Nash in Western Lawmen & Outlaws. "The newspapers vilified the Pinkertons...and labeled them child-killers and human monsters who attacked defenceless women."

    Even though Allen Pinkerton repeatedly denied that any of his men had thrown a bomb into the Samuels' home, his agency fell into total disgrace.

    To say that Jesse went wild and wrathful when he heard what happened is an understatement. Frank and several farmers had to literally restrain him from saddling up that night to kill the first policeman he saw. But, for once, most of America understood his vehemence. Reportedly, Jesse traveled to Chicago to assassinate Pinkerton, but couldn't get the opportunity he hoped for to get close enough to the detective.

  • AUGUST 31, 1875 - Jesse Edwards James is born to Zee and Jesse James .

  • SEPTEMBER 6, 1875 - The James / Younger gang rob a bank of $20,000 in Huntington, VA.

  • JULY 7, 1876 - Missouri-Pacific train is robbed of $17,000 by the James / Younger gang.

  • SEPTEMBER 7, 1876 - In their attempt to rob the First National Bank of Northfield, Minnesota cashier Heyman refused to open the safe and ducked down, Jesse put a pistol to his temple, pulled the trigger and killed him. The shots were heard as well as the alarm from a lad and angry town folk open up on the James & Younger gang. Charley Pitts and Bill Chadwell are killed. Cole, Jim and Bob Younger are shot to pieces and are captured two weeks later. Frank and Jesse escape to Missouri, through Iowa.

  • FEBRUARY 6, 1878 - Robert James is born to Frank and Annie James.

  • OCTOBER 8, 1879 - The Chicago, Alton & St. Louis train at Glendale, MO is robbed of $40,000.

  • FFEBRUARY 1881 - B. J. Woodson (Frank James) rents a house for $8 a month on Fatherland Street in Nashville, Tennessee. J. D. Howard (Jesse W. James) comes to visit.

  • MARCH 11, 1881 - $5200 taken from a paymaster as he left a bank in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The James are recognized.

  • JULY 15, 1881 - The James gang rob the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad train near Winston, MO of $700. Frank shot Frank McMillan and conductor William Westfall.

  • SEPTEMBER 7, 1881 - Their last train robbery at Blue Cut, near Glendale, MO. nets $3000 in cash and jewelry taken from the passengers.

  • DECEMBER 24, 1881 - A "Tom Howard" and family rents a house on Lafayette Street in St. Joseph, MO. Robert and Charles Ford live under the same roof with the Howard's for most of the winter months.

  • APRIL 3, 1882 - Bob Ford with his brother Charley enter the home of the Howard's and at about 8:27am Bob sees his chance and shoots Mr. Howard below the right ear and the bullet lodges in the frontal bone near the left ear. He is killed instantly. The force at such a close range slammed his body into the wall and he fell to the floor with another bounce that laid him out on his back. Within minutes the town discovers that the infamous Jesse James had just been assassinated. A coroner's inquest was held on April 4, 1882 and Zee and others formally identified the body.

  • APRIL 4, 1882 - Jesse's body was then packed in ice and taken by train to Kearney, where he was displayed and viewed by hundreds of friends and admirers, including many old Quantrill veterans. Jesse was later buried on the family farm with only close family and friends present. His seven-foot deep grave was placed near Zerelda’s front door, so that she could keep an eye out for trespassers and souvenir hunters. This was the first of three burials of Jesse Woodson James.

  • OCTOBER 5, 1882 - Frank James (alias B. J. Woodson) surrenders to Thomas T. Crittenden, Governor of Missouri. Six months after the murder of his brother Jesse on April 3, 1882, Frank boarded a train to Jefferson City, Missouri, where he had an appointment with in the state capitol. Placing his holster in Governor Crittenden's hands, he explained:

    "I have been hunted for twenty-one years, have literally lived in the saddle, have never known a day of perfect peace. It was one long, anxious, inexorable, eternal vigil."

    He then ended his statement by saying:

    "Governor, I haven't let another man touch my guns since 1861."

  • OCTOBER 6, 1882 - Frank James, as quoted from a newspaper article regarding his reason for surrendering:

    "I was tired of an outlaw's life. I have been hunted for twenty-one years. I have literally lived in the saddle. I have never known a day of perfect peace. It was one long, anxious, inexorable, eternal vigil. When I slept it was literally in the midst of an arsenal. If I heard dogs bark more fiercely than usual, or the feet of horses in a greater volume of sound than usual, I stood to arms. Have you any idea of what a man must endure who leads such a life? No, you cannot. No one can unless he lives it for himself."

  • AUGUST 20, 1883. First day of trial of Frank James. The only prosecution of either James brother in Missouri. Frank charged on the specific charge of killing Frank McMillan at the Winston train-robbery. Judge H.C.S. Goodman of Albany, Missouri presides. W. H. Wallace, Prosecuting Attorney for Jackson County is the prosecution for the State of Missouri. One of the highlights of the trial is testimony given on the 6th day of trial by former Confederate Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby of the famed Jo Shelby's Missouri Iron Brigade.

  • September 8, 1883. Frank James trial is over as the jury returns a verdict. Three days were consumed in the argument of the counsel for State and defense when the jury returned the following verdict:

    State of Missouri vs. Frank James—murder: We, the jury in the above entitled cause, find the defendant not guilty as charged in the indictment. (Signed,) Wm. T. Richardson, Foreman.

  • 1883-1915 - The last thirty years of Frank James's life saw him work in a variety of jobs. Frank James was never convicted of any crimes and other than some time in jail during the trials, served no prison time. He shunned offers to capitalize on his outlaw fame, turning down offers of $100,000 and more for appearances, taking menial and honest jobs instead - including a shoe salesman and then as a theater guard in St. Louis. In 1902, former Missourian Sam Hildreth, a leading thoroughbred horse trainer and owner, hired James as his betting commissioner at the Fair Grounds Race Track in New Orleans.

  • SEPTEMBER 1899 - After attending many reunions of the Ex-Confederate Association Of Missouri, famed Missouri Partisan Ranger and ex-outlaw Alexander Franklin "Frank" James and his beloved wife Annie thought it time to start reuniting the surviving members of the old Missouri Partisan Ranger guerrilla band.

    Frank and wife Anna decided to put together a Quantrill reunion - Quantrell's Guerillas. Frank and Annie hosted the reunion in Blue Springs, Missouri, and became the first of many annual reunions.

  • JULY 29, 1902 - When Zerelda could no longer live alone, her deceased son, Jesse James’ body was moved to the Mount Olivet Cemetery in town. Zee had died in 1900 and Jesse was placed next to his wife. This was Jesse's second burial.

  • 1903 - In his twilight years, Frank James reversed his policy to an extent, joining Cole Younger and lectured and toured the south. Frank also joined with Cole Younger in a traveling wild west show using their names and outlaw fame as its main draw. Aptly titled "The Cole Younger and Frank James Wild West Company."

  • FEBRUARY 10, 1911 - Zerelda Samuel dies of a heart-attack at the age of 86. She is buried at the Mt. Olivet Cemetery next to sons Jesse and Archie, husband Reuben, and daughter-in-law Zee.

  • FEBRUARY 18, 1915 - Frank James dies of a heart attack at the Clay County homestead & family farm in Kearney, MO.

  • IN 1993 - Through the years, some had suggested that a man by the name of Charlie Bigelow, who strongly resembled Jesse, had been killed on April 3, 1882. And that a hoax to throw off the authorites followed to save Jesse from punishment and possible death from Pinkertons and authorities. So, after all these years of speculation, in 1993 the families agreed to allow a medical team to finally have his body exhumed. Much DNA and forensic testing were done. The results came back on the skull, bone and tooth fragments that the body in the grave was indeed that of Jesse Woodson James.

  • OCTOBER 28, 1995 - Jesse James had his third funeral and an interment ceremony at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Kearney, Missouri when he was reburied after being exhumed for DNA tests to determine if he was really Jesse James. It was indeed Jesse Woodson James.

    Rest in peace, Jesse.


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