Jesse James Research
The Jesse James Birthplace Museum houses two small research libraries, and both are open to the public by appointment only.
Harold Dellinger Memorial Library
December 28, 1841
Robert James and Zerelda Cole marry
January 10, 1843
Frank James born at Thomason farm
July 19, 1845
Robert R. James born, dies a month later
Robert James purchases farm
September 5, 1847
Jesse Woodson James born
November 25, 1849
Susan Lavenia James born
August 18, 1850
Reverend Robert James dies in California
September 30, 1852
Zerelda marries second husband Benjamin Simms
September 25, 1855
Zerelda marries third husband Dr. Reuben Samuel
December 26, 1858
Sarah (Sallie) Louisa Samuel born
May 4, 1861
Frank joins the Confederate army
December 25, 1861
John Thomas Samuel born
Frank swears loyalty to the Union and posts $1000 bond
Frank joins Quantrill’s guerrillas
Federal militia hangs Dr. Samuel, beats Jesse, manhandles Zerelda
August 21, 1863
Raid on Lawrence, Kansas
October 18, 1863
Fannie Quantrill Samuel born
Jesse joins the guerrillas
September 27, 1864
January 29, 1865
James-Samuel family exiled to Nebraska
May 15, 1865
Jesse shot in chest by soldier with the Third Wisconsin Cavalry
May 21, 1865
Jesse surrenders near Lexington, Missouri
July 26, 1865
Frank surrenders at Samuel’s Depot, Kentucky
February 13, 1866
Clay County Savings Association robbery
July 26, 1866
Archie Payton Samuel born
Jesse seeks treatment for chest wound from Dr. Paul Eve in Nashville, Tennessee
Frank and Jesse travel to California
April 24, 1874
Jesse marries first-cousin Zerelda (Zee) Amanda Mimms at her sister’s home in Kearney
Frank elopes with Anna Ralston of Independence, Missouri
January 26, 1875
Pinkerton detectives raid James farm; eight-year old Archie dies, Zerelda permanently maimed
August 31, 1875
Jesse Edwards James born
Twins Gould and Montgomery die shortly after birth
February 6, 1878
Robert “Bob” Franklin James born
June 17, 1879
Mary Susan James born
April 3, 1882
Bob Ford assassinates Jesse at house in St. Joseph, Missouri
April 6, 1882
Jesse’s funeral and burial
October 5, 1882
Frank surrenders to Missouri Governor Thomas Crittenden
Frank’s trial and subsequent acquittal for the Winston train robbery begins in Gallatin, Missouri
Frank’s trial and acquittal for robbery and murder of Federal paymaster at Muscle Shoals, Alabama held Huntsville, Alabama
Frank sells shoes in Nevada, Missouri
Frank works for Mittenthal Clothing Company in Dallas, Texas
March 3, 1889
Susan James Parmer dies in Texas
Frank tends horses for Shep Williams in Texas, Louisiana, and New Jersey
Frank works as doorman at burlesque house in St. Louis
November 13, 1900
Zee James dies in Kansas City
June 29, 1902
Jesse’s body moved from farm to Mt. Olivet cemetery
Frank performs in plays The Fatal Scar and Across the Desert
Frank and Cole Younger travel with the James-Younger Wild West Show
March 1, 1908
Dr. Reuben Samuel dies
Frank and Annie living in Fletcher, Oklahoma
February 10, 1911
Zerelda James Samuel dies
Frank and Annie move to the farm
February 18, 1915
Frank James dies
September 15, 1915
Sallie Samuel Nicholson dies
May 30, 1922
Fannie Quantrill Samuel dies
March 15, 1932
John T. Samuel dies
October 11, 1935
Mary James Barr dies
House is modernized with electricity
July 6, 1944
Anna Ralston James dies
March 26, 1951
Jesse Edwards James dies
November 18, 1959
Robert Franklin James dies
Clay County purchases James farm from Jesse’s grandsons
October 14, 1978
Jesse’s original burial site excavated
1822 cabin restored
1893 Eastlake Cottage addition restored
New roof, logs and clapboard siding added to 1822 cabin
July 17-19, 1995
Jesse James exhumation
October 28, 1995
Jesse James funeral and reburial in Mt. Olivet cemetery
1822 cabin bedroom restored
Gather as much information as you can about your ancestors, and then take a look at the James family tree below to search for your ancestors. Are you really related to Jesse James??
William James (1754-1805)
believed born in Pembrokeshire, Wales (Please see note.)
settled near Lickinghole Creek, Goochland County, Virginia
married Mary Hines, July 15, 1774
John James (1775-1827)
born in Goochland County, Virginia
settled along Big Whippoorwill Creek, Logan County, Kentucky in 1811
Baptist preacher and farmer[iii]
married Mary “Polly” Poor, March 26, 1807
Richard Cole, Sr. (1729-1814)[iv]
born in Pennsylvania
settled near Midway, Woodford County, Kentucky
American Revolutionary War Veteran[v]
farmer and owner of Cole’s Bad Inn[vi]
married Ann Hubbard in 1762; Emsey Margaret James in 1795
Richard Cole, Jr. (1763-1839)[viii]
born in Culpepper County, Virginia[ix]
farmer and owner of Black Horse Tavern
Woodford County constable
married Sally Yates
James Cole (1804-1827)[x]
married Sallie Lindsay 1822
Robert Salle James (1818-1850)
born Logan County, Kentucky July 17, 1818
graduate Georgetown College, Georgetown, Kentucky
married Zerelda Elizabeth Cole December 28, 1841
died August 1850
Zerelda Elizabeth Cole[xi]
born Woodford County, Kentucky January 29, 1825
died February 10, 1911
[i] Phillip W. Steele, Jesse and Frank James: The Family History (Gretna: Pelican Publishing, 2003), 23-24. Please note Steele does not cite primary sources, therefore William James’ place of birth is unclear. The commonality of the name William James, does not allow for a clear line to Frank and Jesse. A search of James Family pedigrees traced to Frank and Jesse lists three different Williams, each having a son named John. Birth dates and places for those “Williams” include (1) William James born in Wales 1638, (2) William James born in Wales 1692, and (3) William James born in Gloucestershire, England 1754. Steele’s section on the Tennessee branch of the James family, page 89-90, suggests the William James born in 1692 is the plausible James lineage. Goochland County, Virginia tax records list William James for the years 1789 and 1802; however he does not appear on 1790 census records, but this census is incomplete. A search of American Revolutionary soldiers reveals William James as a very common name among soldiers from Virginia and Pennsylvania.
[ii]Steele, 24, 27-29.
[iii] W. Terry Martin, “Rev. Robert Salle James or Baptists, Books, and Bandits,” James Farm Journal, v8, no. 3: 3.
[iv] Steele, 39-40.
[v] Cole served as a private and is buried in the Cole Family Cemetery in Versailles, Kentucky. National Cemetery Administration. U.S. Veterans Gravesites, ca. 1775-2006.
[vi] The Last Will of Richard Cole, Sr. Woodford Will Book D, page 275. Although the will does not state Cole’s occupation, it does reveal his financial worth and estate distribution.
[vii] Alice Cole married Anthony Lindsay in 1788. Their daughter Sallie Lindsay married James Cole in 1822.
[viii] Steele, 41.
[ix] Heritage Consulting. The Millennium File. Salt Lake City, Utah.
[x] Steele, 41-42.
[xi] Steele, 42.
[xii] Family Bible records birth, death, and marriage dates for the James and Samuel families. Permanent Collection, James Farm and Museum, Kearney, Missouri.
Jesse James Impostors
Jesse James Impostors
After Jesse’s death there were at least 26 men who claimed to be Jesse James. The most well known of these impostors was J. Frank Dalton who claimed to be 103 years old when he died in 1951. In the 1930’s J. Frank Dalton claimed to be the last of Quantrill’s guerrillas and that he had known Frank and Jesse. He even claimed to be a pallbearer at Jesse’s funeral.
In the 1940’s Rudy Turilli of Meramec Caverns in Missouri promoted J. Frank Dalton as Jesse James. According to Dalton’s story a man by the name of Charles Bigelow was killed in his place so that he could lead a normal life. After leaving his old life behind, he claimed he attended law school and medical school and was a flying ace in World War I as well.
In 1970 Rudy Turilli offered $10,000 to anyone that could prove J. Frank Dalton wasn’t Jesse James. Jesse’s daughter-in-law, Stella James, took him up on the offer and won the case.
At the time of Jesse’s death, his body was viewed by thousands of people, enemies and law officials as well as friends. Not one person voiced a doubt that the deceased was Jesse James.
Granbury, Texas, exhumed a body, believed by folks in Granbury, Texas, to be that of Jesse James, however, the wrong body was exhumed and nothing further has been done.
Betty Duke of Texas writes a book about her great-grandfather, James Courtney who she believed to be Jesse James.
In the spring of 2003, another Jesse James claimant in Kansas appears. A Jesse James Museum opens. In May of 2003 Jeremiah James was exhumed, believed to be Jesse James. After DNA tests proved him not to be Jesse the museum in Wichita closes immediately.
Dating Your Old Photos
SO YOU THINK YOU HAVE A JAMES FAMILY PHOTO…..
Researching the James family is very interesting, even more so if you think you have a photo of Jesse and Frank James or one of the James family members. The Jesse James Birthplace gets this question on a weekly basis along with copies of the photos visitors are trying to identify.
Here are several suggestions regarding researching your photo.
- Try and date your photo by three different methods
- Type of photographic paper the picture is printed on
- Does your photo have a frame that can be dated?
- Do you live near an art museum? If so, contact the curator and they can assist you with dating your photo.
- Is there some type of identifying mark in or on the photo, such as a street sign or the photographer’s name? If so you can possibly research where and when the photo was taken.
- Provenance of your photo is going to be of the utmost importance.
Then think logically. We know Jesse was born in Clay County, Missouri, on September 5, 1847, and Frank in 1843. Look at the subjects in your photo. How old do they look to be? Do the dates jive? An excellent book to assist you with your research is Dressed for the Photographer by Joan Severa. This book can help you date photos from the 1840s-1900.
For example, a photo was recently posted by a visitor to this facebook page as being James family members. It was easily determined that the subjects in the photo were not James family members. We determined this based on who the visitor thinks the subjects were in the photo by their birth and death dates, looked at the clothing styles and quickly figured out it was not James family members.
For instance, a subject in a photo was born in 1863 and looks to be about 10 years old in the photo, however, the clothing styles are early 1890s. So the subject should be early 30s and not a young girl. It didn’t jive.
Another example, a subject in the photo was born in 1849. The clothing style is definitely 1890s; however, we know this family member passed away in 1889 so we know it is not a family member. This happens many times with photos that are thought to be Jesse James. When you look closely at the photo you can see that the clothing or an identifying mark in the photo is clearly after Jesse’s death in 1882.
Please research your photos closely before paying for something you THINK might be Jesse James. Jesse James was a wanted man. Why would a wanted man have his picture taken? Frank on the other hand, lived to be an old man and greeted guests at the James family farm and often had his photo taken. The same holds true for Zerelda, Frank and Jesse’s mother, as she gave tours at the farm after Jesse’s death. Many visitors posed with her in the yard of the farm.
Preserving Family Documents
Even professional conservators with comfortable budgets find it challenging to preserve some historic documents. But taking a few simple and inexpensive precautions will go a long way toward saving your family’s important papers for the enjoyment of future generations.
- Store documents at room temperature or slightly below. Humidity between 45 and 55 percent is best. Store documents away from extreme heat and dampness, such as in basements, attics and against outside walls. If the temperature and humidity feels good to you, it’s probably good enough for your documents.
- Avoid displaying important documents for long periods of time in fluorescent light or in direct sunlight. Ultraviolet rays that cause sunburn in people also encourage the physical breakdown of paper and ink. Fluorescent light produces a bluer light than incandescent bulbs, and the blue end of the visible light spectrum is more damaging to documents. The best solution is to store important documents in the dark.
- Avoid folding and unfolding important documents. Folding weakens paper fibers. Ideally, large documents should be stored flat in acid free containers. Use care when unfolding or unrolling documents to avoid breaking or tearing them.
- Newspapers are inherently unstable because they contain unpurified wood pulp that causes discoloration and eventual disintegration. If newspapers or clippings are more important for the information they contain than as artifacts, photocopy them. The photocopies will outlive the newsprint. In any case, store newspaper separately from other less acidic documents.
- Do not use paper clips, staples, or rubber bands on important documents. Do not glue, tape or laminate them. Metal fasteners can rust. Rubber bands lose their elasticity and adhere to paper. Both glue and tape hasten paper deterioration. Glue is also a favored meal for various kinds of insects. Lamination may or may not be harmful to documents, but is almost always irreversible.