History still remembers the Wild West with the bandits and killers who robbed trains and banks. Many outlaws become famous due to the wild legends follow their names. One of the most widely known and significant outlaws of them all is Jesse James. He represents one of the thrilling images of the Wild West. Jesse had a skillful approach with attacking banks and trains. Jesse James was an American outlaw known for being a rebellious bank robber, train robber, gang leader, and murderer whose reckless adventures made him legendary. Jesse had become a popular figure due to his daring stunts and becomes an even greater legend after his death. He contained the debatable image of a hero.
Jesse Woodson James was born on September 5, 1847 on his family’s farm in Clay County, Missouri. Jesse was named after his mother’s brother and his father’s brother; Jesse Richard Cole and Drury Woodson James. Jesse’s father was a Baptist preacher and farmer from Kentucky. Robert was well educated and was liked by the community. His mother was very different compared to his father. She was tough minded and was very commanding and stern. The James’s had three children together; Alexander Franklin but was better known as Frank, Jesse, and Susan Lavenia. Their father, Robert, headed out to California to follow the gold rush but after a few weeks after arriving he died from infection. The family was left with considerable amount of debt. Their mother, Zerelda, had remarried to a farmer Benjamin Simms who was very wealthy. Simms and the children did not get along very well so the kids were sent to live with another family. Soon after the marriage it started to fall apart. After the divorce was final Simms had fallen off a horse and died. Zerelda had a third remarriage to Reuben Samuel who was a doctor. He gave up medicine to care for the family farm. In time four more children were born; Jesse’s half-brothers and sisters. The boys spent most of their time riding horses and hunting. As a teenager Jesse became very handsome. Jesse was around five foot seven, had light brown hair, blue eyes and had a slender build. He was no different than any other boy growing up on a farm. He had to hunt and do chores like take care of the animals and help around the house. In every household in the Wild West was a gun, Jesse and Frank grew up with fire arms and learned to use guns at an early age. Later during the border wars he had to use his knowledge of guns.
Jesse and his brother Frank were Confederate guerrillas during the Civil War. They were sympathetic towards the South. Jesse was around fourteen when the North and the South split due to the issue of slavery and seventeen when he joined the Confederate army. He helped fight for the Unions independence. This had a profound impact on Jesse’s life and how it would be affected after the war. Frank and Jesse’s home state, Missouri, laid between the North and the South and was a border state. At the end of the of fighting the war Jesse suffered many injuries that were minor. At this time Frank joined the William Clarke Quientrell and became friends with Cole Younger during this time. Jesse joined Bloody Bill Anderson. They learned about raiding and robbing soon becoming good at it. Jesse was seriously injured while attempting to surrender at the end of the Civil War. When he was shot the bullet passed through his torso missing all his vital organs. He was brought back to health under the care of his first cousin, Zerelda “Zee” Mimms, who he later marries. It took years for Jesse to fully recover from the injury.
Jesse and Frank had robbed their first bank in Liberty, Missouri within a year. This robbery was the first to take place during the day and they made $60,000. Cole younger and his brothers joined Jesse and Frank, becoming known as the James-Younger Gang. The James-Younger Gang robbed from Iowa to Texas to Alabama. They went from robbing...
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