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Chasing Frank and Jesse James: The Bungled Northfield Bank Robbery and the Long Manhunt

BOOK REVIEW: Fanebust, Wayne; Chasing Frank and Jesse James: The Bungled Northfield Bank Robbery and the Long Manhunt

(Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2018) pp.v-238, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index, ISBN 978-1-4766-7067-6, paperback, $35.00

By Nancy B. Samuelson

This is another rehash of the Northfield Bank Robbery and the escape of Frank and Jesse James. The author used several creditable sources for the book, but he also used a lot of newspaper articles as sources. The newspapers are often from areas far removed both geographically and in time from the crimes which they described. It stretches the imagination to believe newspapers from Vermont or Florida forty years after the incident would be considered as accurate sources.

The author repeats many of the more garish tales about the James and Younger gang members and often says that what he repeats is probably just a story. For example the tale of Cole Younger checking out his new Enfield rifle. Cole supposedly lined up fifteen Kansas Jayhawkers and kept shooting until he killed them all. Competent historians have long dismissed this story as a complete myth.

Author Wayne Fanebust

The author repeatedly proves that his knowledge about the state of Missouri is not very comprehensive. He makes the statement that Missouri was a slave state with most slaves in the southern part of the state. In fact, most of the slaves in Missouri were along the Missouri River in the area often referred to as “Little Dixie.” When Jesse James is living in St. Joseph, Missouri, the author states he was living there in the “Cracker Neck District”. The Cracker Neck area was located in Jackson County, near Independence, Missouri, not in St. Joseph.

Jesse James is made out to be a most brutal man. He reportedly shot and killed a “St. Louis drummer” who was just walking down the street out of pure wantonness.  Jesse was also a real ladies man and had liaisons with hundreds of women. He supposedly had a daughter living in Howard County, Missouri at the time of his death. And Jesse also killed Ed Miller because Miller caught Jesse fooling around with his girlfriend. Ed Miller was a married man, but I guess he might have had a girlfriend too.

Bill Anderson’s men always rode under the Black Flag. And when Anderson’s men killed Major Johnson and his troops during the Centralia raid, they shot Johnson and all 148 men in the head.

Two new members of the James gang are revealed in this book, Sam Kaufman, and Sam Hill. None of the most reliable books about the James gang every mentions these two names. This author also claims the notorious liar, Kit Dalton, is a friend of Jesse James. This is very unlikely although Kit Dalton did know Frank James in later years.

This book has little to recommend it. The book is full of inaccuracies, has misspelled words (deputy marshal is consistently deputy Marshall) and contains some dubious photos. It is very disappointing to see McFarland & Company publishing such a poor quality book at such an outrageous price.

RELATED

The following two books by John J. Koblas, Faithful Until Death and The Jesse James Northfield Raid,  remain the most authoritative accounts of the James-Younger Gang’s robbery of the Northfield Bank.


 

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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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Thursday June 25th, 2020

Stray Leaves

This 1879 map from the US War Dept. shows the extent of the 10,000 acres rancho of Drury Woodson James. The rancho reached from Paso de Robles to Chalome. The map also identifies the probable route DWJ took through the Palonio Pass and past the Salt Springs during the drought of 1863-64 when he drove 5,000 head of cattle from Paso to Lake Tulare to save and preserve the bulk of his wealth. ... See MoreSee Less

This 1879 map from the US War Dept. shows the extent of the 10,000 acres rancho of Drury Woodson James. The rancho reached from Paso de Robles to Chalome. The map also identifies the probable route DWJ took through the Palonio Pass and past the Salt Springs during the drought of 1863-64 when he drove 5,000 head of cattle from Paso to Lake Tulare to save and preserve the bulk of his wealth.

Comment on Facebook This 1879 map from ...

...and we're speaking the same language! Really awesome!

Wednesday June 17th, 2020

Stray Leaves

When this image of Drury Woodson James and wife Louisa Dunn, an uncle & aunt of Frank & Jesse James, went into auction of the Wilbur Zink Collection in 2013, I was skeptical about its authenticity. Previously, the only known images of DWJ were of him in his later years. Recently, I was contacted by a 3rd great-grandniece of DWJ's business partner Daniel Drew "D.D." Blackburn. She provides us with family history that connects the James-Blackburn families to Bradley & Rulofson, the photographer of the image. William Herman Rulofson was the spouse of Mary Jane Morgan. Morgan is a niece of D.D. Blackburn and a 2nd great-grandaunt of our informant. Rulofson also photographed DWJ's political mentor Leland Stanford, founder of Stanford University. In San Francisco, Bradley & Rulofson was the premier photographer of actors, writers, musicians, socialites, politicos, and Indians of early California. ... See MoreSee Less

When this image of Drury Woodson James and wife Louisa Dunn, an uncle & aunt of Frank & Jesse James, went into auction of the Wilbur Zink Collection in 2013, I was skeptical about its authenticity. Previously, the only known images of DWJ were of him in his later years. Recently, I was contacted by a 3rd great-grandniece of  DWJs business partner Daniel Drew D.D. Blackburn. She provides us with family history that connects the James-Blackburn families to Bradley & Rulofson, the photographer of the image. William Herman Rulofson was the spouse of Mary Jane Morgan. Morgan is a niece of D.D. Blackburn and a 2nd great-grandaunt of our informant. Rulofson also photographed DWJs political mentor Leland Stanford, founder of Stanford University. In San Francisco, Bradley & Rulofson was the premier photographer of actors, writers, musicians, socialites, politicos, and Indians of early California.Image attachmentImage attachment

Comment on Facebook 699902420163063_1705731522913476

Thank you...love this authentication!

Tuesday June 16th, 2020

Stray Leaves

We’re sorry to learn of the surprising and untimely passing of Kurt Leslie James 1952-2020 in Kansas. Kurt was the embodiment of the complex character found in many of the James family. A lawyer and lover of poodles, “He was an avid golfer, animal lover, a great storyteller, a gambling man, and one that loved the theater, art, the blues, live music, fine food and traveling.” Like many James, controversy attached to him, too. Kurt is descended from his 4th great grandparents John M. James & Mary “Polly” Poor through his 2nd great grandparents Robert Woodson James & Mary Elizabeth Deal. ... See MoreSee Less

We’re sorry to learn of the surprising and untimely passing of Kurt Leslie James 1952-2020 in Kansas. Kurt was the embodiment of the complex character found in many of the James family. A lawyer and lover of poodles, “He was an avid golfer, animal lover, a great storyteller, a gambling man, and one that loved the theater, art, the blues, live music, fine food and traveling.” Like many James, controversy attached to him, too. Kurt is descended from his 4th great grandparents John M. James & Mary “Polly” Poor through his 2nd great grandparents Robert Woodson James & Mary Elizabeth Deal.

Comment on Facebook We’re sorry to ...

Sorry for Your Loss 🌸

Condolences.

Very sorry, prayers for all affected by his loss.

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