Jesse James, Prince of Robbers!

BOOK REVIEW: Wybrow, Robert J. Jesse James, Prince of Robbers! A Collection of Essays on the Noted Missouri Outlaw and His Times. (London: The English Westerners’ Society, 2015) 485 pp., illustrations, notes, index. Paperback, $32.00.

By  Nancy B. Samuelson

This is a valuable collection of James gang literature. One trademark of Mr. Wybrow’s work is his in-depth research. Even though he lives in England, he knows how to find things in U.S. archives and newspapers.  The number of resources he has consulted is truly impressive.

Jesse James Prince of Robbers-book cover
Jesse James, Prince of Robbers by Robert J. Wybrow

This collection includes articles about some more obscure robberies and raises questions about the participation of the James boys in the Columbia, St. Genevieve and Concordia bank robberies.  There is one article about the Youngers in the state of Texas, and this article contains some intriguing information about an illegitimate son of Cole Younger in Louisiana. One article is devoted to Dick Liddil’s supposed wife, Mattie Collins. Mattie has always been a rather mysterious lady and this article explores her many escapades in depth. Another article deals with the 1875 raid on the James/Samuel farm that killed young Archie Samuel and caused the amputation of Zerelda James Samuel’s arm. This raid produced a great deal of sympathy for the James boys throughout the state of Missouri.

This book presents information from many obscure sources and at times disagrees with material that has been presented by other well-known authors. Everything in the book is informative and often thought-provoking.  I highly recommend this book; this should be in the library of everyone with more than just a passing interest in the James-Younger gang. This book will serve as an outstanding resource for anyone that is interested in doing further research on the James-Younger gang and their associates.

Robert J. Wybrow is a graduate of the University of London and has worked for the British Gallup Poll for over forty years. He is a long time member of The English Westerners’ Society and began to write and publish articles about the James gang in 1969. Most of his work has appeared in the publications of The English Westerners’ Society. A lot of his articles and booklets are now rare collector’s items and are very difficult to find. He has selected the best of his works about the James gang and related subjects and published updated versions in this book. Some 15 of his articles are included in this collection, and there are also four appendixes. The appendixes are: “From the Pen of a ‘Noble Robber’—The Letters of Jesse Woodson James”, “Dick Liddil’s Confession”, “Clarence Hite’s Confession” and “List of Original Articles”. This final appendix is a complete list of all of the articles about the James gang written by Wybrow.

TO PURCHASE: e-mail Ray Cox, secretary of English Westerner’s Society: rymd.cox@gmail.com. Domestic postage rates in the UK or USA may apply.

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Tuesday June 30th, 2020

Stray Leaves

Here's some colorful video history on George Morgan Chinn, a grandson of Frank James' cohort John Pendleton "Black Jack" Chinn. Whenever I drive from Danville to Midway or Lexington, Ky, I pass the ruins of Chinn's Cave House.
Here also are a couple of testimonials about George, also colorful, from the files of the James Preservation Trust.
#1- "I remember George very well. He was my late father's cousin and we do have his linage through the Morgan's, dating back to John Morgan in 1778. He was a really smart fellow and funny. His [Ed.: grand] father was Jack Chinn. I have a picture of him with William Jennings Bryan, Dicky Brant, and Frank James (Brother of Jesse) seated in a buggy hitched to the only grey horse that won the Kentucky Derby. Jack was fined five dollars for speeding in a horse-drawn vehicle. He paid ten dollars and told them to keep the change because he was going out of town (Harrodsburg, Ky) the same speed he came in. My dad had a lot of these old family tales."
And #2 - "hi I knew him personally. He has a lot of historical books at the Fort Harrod Museum. He also published one about Brooklyn or the Palisades area of Jessamine and Mercer Counties. His wife's nickname was Cotton because of her white hair. They were both feisty. I lived and grew up on five acres that attached to the Chinn land. It was at 5555 Lexington Rd in Mercer county. The Chinn mansion was in a hairpin curve...'Chinn curve.'
"We had hunters and trespassers that would go on the property and we would have to call the Chinns to have them removed.
"My grandfather grew up and ran with Jack Chinn. Jack had a moonshine still in a cave across the ky river from the mansion. He would take a boat across to the cave.
Mr. George Chinn was a historian and you can look for his books on google. Or contact the Fort Harrod in Harrodsburg or the local library. Sorry, that is all I have except I know George had a daughter."
George Morgan Chinn also was a director of the Kentucky Historical Society and editor of their publication "The Register." He authored several books, including "Kentucky: Settlement and Statehood, 1750-1800," still in print, "The Encyclopedia of Hand Arms," and the five-volume work "The Machine Gun."
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