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The Landers, Wyoming Saloon of Jesse James Cousin

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Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

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


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Tuesday October 19th, 2021
Stray Leaves Daily

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Tuesday October 19th, 2021
Stray Leaves Daily

☞Today in Old-West History -- On today’s date 119 years ago, Sunday, October 19, 1902, notorious Old-West outlaw & fiddle player James Hardin “Uncle Jim” Younger (1848-1902) met his earthly demise at the age of 54 when he committed suicide by gunshot whilst on parole at Saint Paul, Minnesota.

☞Requiéscant In Pace, Jim Younger.

☞Jim Younger was one of the central figures of a band of the most desperate outlaws the Old West ever knew -- the infamous James-Younger Gang, which was formed by Jim’s brother Cole Younger along with Frank & Jesse James.

☞Jim Younger joined the Confederate Army during the War Between the States (1861-1865) & served with Quantrill’s Raiders. In 1864, he was captured by Union troops & was imprisoned until the end of the War.

☞After the War, Younger worked on various ranches until he joined the James-Younger Gang in 1873. When his brother John was killed at Roscoe, Missouri in 1874, Jim left the gang & went out west where he worked on a ranch in San Luis Obispo, California.

☞In 1876, Jim returned to the gang, & on September 7 he participated in a bank robbery that became known as the Great Northfield Minnesota Raid. During that robbery he was shot & captured. The James brothers escaped, but Cole, Jim, & Bob Younger were shot up by a posse, arrested, & sentenced to long terms in the state penitentiary at Stillwater, Minnesota, where they were afforded celebrity status.

☞Jim Younger’s fiddle was one of the few possessions that he was allowed to have with him in prison, & he played it often. As time passed, Jim noticed that a little bird would appear most every day in the window of his jail cell. It seemed as though the bird came to listen whenever Jim played his fiddle. Jim was lonely & he befriended the bird which he named “Swipsy.” The bird would fly into the prison cell & Jim would always try to have crumbs to feed Swipsy. One day, a fellow prisoner killed the little bird just for spite. Jim then painted a picture of Swipsy on the back of his violin to remember his little feathered friend.

☞In 1898, the prison warden allowed the prisoners to throw a Christmas party at his own home, with Cole Younger portraying Santa Claus & Jim Younger playing his fiddle.

☞Paroled in 1901, Jim became engaged to his long-time lover Alix Mueller; however, because of the terms of his parole he couldn’t marry her.

☞On October 19, 1902, after a failed attempt to sell tombstones & then insurance, Jim Younger locked himself in his room, wrote a suicide note to Alix, picked up his revolver, & blew his brains out.

☞In 2013, Jim Younger’s fiddle, which was played by him at the famous 1898 Christmas party at Stillwater Prison, was sold at a Dallas, Texas auction for over $11,000.

☞The left-hand photograph depicts the image of Swipsy the Bird that Jim Younger painted on the back of his fiddle. The right-hand photograph depicts an undated studio portrait of Jim Younger.
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Tuesday October 5th, 2021
Stray Leaves Daily

For Drury Woodson James, founder of Paso Robles, CA., and all his descendants, PASO ROBLES FOUNDERS' DAY 2021. ... See MoreSee Less

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