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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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Sunday April 5th, 2020

Stray Leaves

From the line of John James "of Alvarado," Glenda Ray Johnson-Dunn shares her 3 generation collage. Her mother, Fredda Louise James-Johnson, daughter of Jackson Waite James & granddaughter of John James. Herself and her three daughters, Kristi, Kari, & Lindsey Dunn.
Yours truly adds his own 6 pack of fathers collage.
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From the line of John James of Alvarado, Glenda Ray Johnson-Dunn shares her 3 generation collage. Her mother, Fredda Louise James-Johnson, daughter of Jackson Waite James & granddaughter of John James. Herself and her three daughters, Kristi, Kari, & Lindsey Dunn.
Yours truly adds his own 6 pack of fathers collage.Image attachment

Sunday March 29th, 2020

Stray Leaves

Our James family cousin Jamie Harmon reports about the virus from his family's worldwide tour:
Day 214. New Zealand is under national lockdown. We are completely fine and overall happy to be stuck here. But it is serious: rules enforced by police - who can question you if you go for a walk and officially have the power to enter your home (but they probably don’t do that much). We are 5 days in, and it is minimum 28 days. When the government announced the lockdown, they gave everyone 48 hours to plan. Our hotel told us it was closing, and we scrambled to find a house to rent. We are in a good spot, but we did have to cancel the hotels and flights for the last 100 days of our trip. Many of our countries cancelled on us because they imposed travel bans. Sad to see those go, but our problems are small compared to many. NZ imposed a national grocery store limit of 2 of the same item per person, but we have enough food. The country is not out of toilet paper, but they are out of flour for some reason. Regarding the picture, this is actually from 6 weeks ago in an airport in Asia. We were in Asia for about 2 months when Asia was the center of all this, and Hazel in particular has been really scared of the virus. We have been wearing masks in airports and the few crowded places we went. But we mostly felt safe by being in small hotels that were out of the way. We have been so sad to watch the virus spread in the USA. Such crazy times. Stay safe out there!
... See MoreSee Less

Our James family cousin Jamie Harmon reports about the virus from his familys worldwide tour:
Day 214. New Zealand is under national lockdown. We are completely fine and overall happy to be stuck here. But it is serious: rules enforced by police - who can question you if you go for a walk and officially have the power to enter your home (but they probably don’t do that much). We are 5 days in, and it is minimum 28 days. When the government announced the lockdown, they gave everyone 48 hours to plan. Our hotel told us it was closing, and we scrambled to find a house to rent. We are in a good spot, but we did have to cancel the hotels and flights for the last 100 days of our trip. Many of our countries cancelled on us because they imposed travel bans. Sad to see those go, but our problems are small compared to many. NZ imposed a national grocery store limit of 2 of the same item per person, but we have enough food. The country is not out of toilet paper, but they are out of flour for some reason. Regarding the picture, this is actually from 6 weeks ago in an airport in Asia. We were in Asia for about 2 months when Asia was the center of all this, and Hazel in particular has been really scared of the virus. We have been wearing masks in airports and the few crowded places we went. But we mostly felt safe by being in small hotels that were out of the way. We have been so sad to watch the virus spread in the USA. Such crazy times. Stay safe out there!
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