Tag Archives: May

The Landers, Wyoming Saloon of Jesse James Cousin

The man in the mirror is Thomas Jesse Cole, a third cousin of Frank & Jesse James. Though unrelated, Thomas Jesse Cole had much in common with the man looking into the camera. He is Orson Grimmet. The two are standing at the bar in Grimmet’s saloon in Lander, Wyoming.

Orson Grimmet was born in Birmingham, England in 1850. When five years old. He and his parents arrived in America and headed west. Over several years they wandered around Utah and Idaho, where his father died. Orson’s mother moved on to Lander, Wyoming, where she died.


Though twenty-five years younger than Grimmet, Thomas Jesse Cole found himself orphaned to his mother at age four. His father, Ben Cole, had become crippled by a knee infection after bringing his family to Brownsville, Nebraska from Missouri. The infection claimed him at age forty. Jeanette Cole moved on with her son to Litchfield, Nebraska, where she died shortly after arrival.

In Lander, Orson became a stockman. He was elected Sheriff of Fremont County, serving two terms. He was active in Democratic politics, and invested in copper and gold mines. He belonged to the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, and the Knights of Pythias. All the while, he worked each day in the saloon, that became his unofficial office. There, he met Thomas Jesse Cole.


Sometime between 1893 and 1896, Thomas Jesse brought his wife and daughter to Lander. There, Orson Grimmet became a mentor to Thomas Jesse Cole. Unknown is whether the two were partners, or whether Orson was Thomas Jesse’s financier in his own saloon. Thomas Jesse is pictured here, standing behind his bar. The pair remained friends. Both were acquaintances of Butch Cassidy, who frequented each their saloons.

When Caspar, Wyoming elected Pat Royce sheriff, it was very likely Orson Grimmet who arranged the appointment of the daughter of Thomas Jesse Cole, Pearl May, as the first female deputy sheriff in Wyoming. In 1908, Thomas Jesse named his third son Thomas Orson Cole. Orson Grimmet died ten years later. Thomas Jesse Cole a decade after him.

PEDIGREE

Thomas Orson Cole
. Thomas Jesse Cole
.. Ben Cole
… Jesse Cole Jr.
…. Jesse Cole Sr.
….. Richard James Cole
…. James Cole
… Zerelda Elizabeth Cole & Robert Sallee James
.. Jesse Woodson “Jesse” James
.. Alexander Franklin “Frank” James

PHOTOS:
From the Phillip Cole Archive; The James Preservation Trust.
1. Orson Grimmet Saloon; Lander, Wyoming
2. Thomas Jesse Cole Saloon; Lander, Wyoming
3. Thomas Orson Cole; My First “Harley” 1928