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.