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The Plot to Assassinate Jesse James

The Plot to Assassinate Jesse James

By Phil Stewart

             “The Plot to Assassinate Jesse James” first appeared on Stray Leaves in 1999 as part of Phil Stewart’s Article Archive

Jesse James was killed on April 3, 1882. What began as a desire of several neighbors to the fear and killings since the days of the Civil War had developed into a death plot to kill a wanted outlaw. Jesse James was assassinated in every definition of the word.

The plot against Jesse was building. On December 6, 1881, Wood Hite arrived at the home of Martha Bolton. In addition to being a member of the gang, Wood Hite was Jesse’s cousin. Hite’s presence made it impossible for the gang to discuss, plan, or coordinate their assassination efforts. The next day, Dick Liddil and Bob Ford killed Wood Hite.

Henry H. Craig-Police Commissioner when Jesse James was assassinated
HENRY HARRISON CRAIG – Commissioner of Police, Kansas City, Missouri

The first attempt to capture Jesse James occurred on or around December 28, 1881 in Richmond, Missouri. Jesse walked into Cap Ford’s store asking where he could find Dick Liddil and Wood Hite. Cap Ford told him he had not seen Wood at all. The last time he had seen Liddil was at the Bolton home. As Jesse rode out of town, Cap Ford telegraphed Sheriff Timberlake. By the time a posse arrived at the Bolton’s, Jesse had gone.

Two days after the raid on the Bolton home, in the little town of Greenville, just a few miles east of the James family’s farm, James Rhodus was having a New Year’s party for the young people of the neighborhood. One of those who arrived was eighteen-year-old John Samuel, the half-brother of Frank and Jesse. Rhodus wanted no trouble. It became obvious that John Samuel and his two friends had a bottle. They were becoming increasingly boisterous. Rhodus asked them to leave. Young John pointed out that he was the brother of Jesse James. He would not be told what to do by Rhodus or any man. Rhodus simply pushed him out the door and into the January cold. John Samuel began throwing rocks at the door and windows. Rhodus took a pistol, walked out on the porch, and shot John Samuel in the belly. Many believed the young man would not survive.

Rumors spread, that Jesse would soon arrive to avenge his younger brother. Few would have given a plug nickel for the life of James Rhodus. The group of neighbors discussed the situation. Terry Stephenson, who lived less than a half mile east of the Samuel farm, was selected to give Zerelda a message. The message was clear and to the point. If one hair was harmed on the head of James Rhodus, the Samuel home would be burned to the ground. If the family happened to be inside at the time, so be it.

Thomas T. Crittenden preferred to capture Jesse James and not assassinate him
THOMAS T. CRITTENDEN – Governor of Missouri whose family was close to the James in the days of early Kentucky

On  January 6 of the new year, Sheriff James Timberlake was contacted with Dick Liddil’s proposal. Dick would surrender and assist with the efforts to capture or kill Jesse James in return for a full pardon by the Governor and a part of the reward money if the plan was successful. Both Timberlake and Crittenden agreed.

Dick Liddil surrendered to Sheriff Timberlake on January 24, 1882. He met with Governor Thomas T. Crittenden. He received the Governor’s assurance that he would not be prosecuted if he cooperated and provided information that would bring an end to Jesse James. Dick must have sung like a bird. Within a week, a group of Kansas City officers, led by Commissioner Craig, went to Kentucky. Clarence Hite was arrested and returned to Missouri to stand trial for the Winston train robbery, Commissioner Craig gave to Liddil $500 of the $5,000 reward.

Charlie Ford
CHARLIE FORD – Conspirator to assassinate Jesse James

On February 13, Bob Ford “surrendered himself” to Commission Craig in Kansas City. On February 22, the entire group, including Governor Crittenden and Sheriff Timberlake, Commission Craig, Dick Liddil, and Bob Ford, met at the St. James Hotel in Kansas City to finalize plans and agreements. The group now had an “inside man.”

In late March of 1882, there was another bank to rob. Perhaps it would be his last, for Jesse had inquired about a farm that was for sale in Nebraska. His “gang” now consisted solely of himself and Charlie Ford. Jesse wanted one more man to accompany him on the raid. Two men inside the bank and one outside to hold the horses. It was a tried and proven plan. Charlie suggested his young brother, Bob Ford. Bob was a brash little cuss and could be depended upon. Jesse had little choice in the quality of men who rode with him. Bob Ford, the governments “inside man,” would have to do.

On March 30, 1882, Jesse and Charlie arrived at the home of Martha Bolton. He asked if Bob was around. He was told Ford was with his Uncle Cap in Richmond. Showing boldness, of not arrogance, Jesse rode right into Richmond to the home of Cap Ford. Jesse asked Bob if he was interested in a “little job.” Bob agreed to join him. As Jesse and the Ford brothers left town, Cap Ford sent a message to Sheriff Timberlake and Commissioner Craig. The trap was set. Within day, Jesse James would be assassinated by the “inside man.”

Ed O'Kelley
ED O’KELLEY, killed Bob Ford in Creede, Colorado

Following the events on the morning of April 3, 1882, Charlie Ford received as much condemnation for killing Jesse James as his brother, Bob Ford. The evidence indicates Charlie knew nothing about it until the night before Jesse was killed. Sheriff Timberlake stated he knew that Jesse was living in Leavenworth or Atchison, Kansas, or in St. Joseph, Missouri. These are the exact towns Jesse was checked when searching for a home after leaving Kansas City. Cap Ford said he knew Jesse was living in St. Joseph and he had advised Timberlake of the fact. Timberlake did not want the world to know that he knew where Jesse was living. That fact would not only support the position that Jesse James could have been captured.

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RELATED:   More from Phil Stewart’s 1999 Archive

The Plot to Capture Jesse James

The Gad’s Hill Train Robbery

Frank James – Scholar with a Gun

School Time for Jesse James – Part I

School Time for Jesse James – Part II

Jesse James & Half-Brother Perry Samuel

Jesse James Family – Slaves & Servants

Robert Sallee James – Father of Jesse James

Jesse James Myths & Facts

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Tuesday November 24th, 2020

Stray Leaves

ANOTHER TRAGIC DEATH in the line of Rev. Joseph Martin James & Permelia Estepp. Two days ago, Richard Lee James, age 62 of Wilmington, Ohio, died on the farm of his father Raymond James, age 88, in Russell Springs, Ky. Details are pending. It is assumed to be a farming accident.
Richard’s passing is particularly tragic. His daughter Heather Lee James collapsed and died suddenly at the age of 23 in 2008 from diabetes. In her honor, Richard bore a tattoo image of his daughter on his shoulder.
Richard’s 2nd great grandfather, Judge John Thomas James also suffered a tragic death in 1923. While crank starting his automobile, the car proceeded to run over Judge James and drag him to his death.
Richard Lee James was a veteran and remained an activist in veteran issues.
... See MoreSee Less

ANOTHER TRAGIC DEATH in the line of Rev. Joseph Martin James & Permelia Estepp. Two days ago, Richard Lee James, age 62 of Wilmington, Ohio, died on the farm of his father Raymond James, age 88, in Russell Springs, Ky. Details are pending. It is assumed to be a farming accident.
Richard’s passing is particularly tragic. His daughter Heather Lee James collapsed and died suddenly at the age of 23 in 2008 from diabetes. In her honor, Richard bore a tattoo image of his daughter on his shoulder. 
Richard’s 2nd great grandfather, Judge John Thomas James also suffered a tragic death in 1923. While crank starting his automobile, the car proceeded to run over Judge James and drag him to his death.
Richard Lee James was a veteran and remained an activist in veteran issues.Image attachmentImage attachment

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🙏❤️

Deepest condolences to family and friends. 🙏

Sunday November 22nd, 2020

Stray Leaves

Photos from Jesse James Soul Liberty, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence's post ... See MoreSee Less

Image attachment

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I loved Judge Ross. He was so very kind to me and in the last years of his life we spoke often. The family resemblance between him and my father was uncanny

Tuesday November 17th, 2020

Stray Leaves

The passing of our cousin Cathy Eloise Smith-Suttle is noted. Cathy's common ancestors with our James are Cathy's 5th great grandparents, Judge Joseph McAlister Sr. of Gilmore's Rifles in the Revolution, and wife Nancy Agnes Gilmore. ... See MoreSee Less

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So Sorry 🌸

Tuesday November 17th, 2020

Stray Leaves

Stray Leaves has just learned of the passing of Margaret Elizabeth "Betty" Shouse in Kansas City on April 30th, 2019. Betty is a great-granddaughter of John Watts Shouse, who together with his son James O. Shouse, William Wysong, William Dagley, Joseph T. Pettigrew, William G. Dollis, Riley Henderson, and Dick Liddil formed a plan and tried to get Jesse James to surrender to authorities prior to his assassination. ... See MoreSee Less

Stray Leaves has just learned of the passing of Margaret Elizabeth Betty Shouse in Kansas City on April 30th, 2019. Betty is a great-granddaughter of John Watts Shouse, who together with his son James O. Shouse, William Wysong, William Dagley, Joseph T. Pettigrew, William G. Dollis, Riley Henderson, and Dick Liddil formed a plan and tried to get Jesse James to surrender to authorities prior to his assassination.Image attachment

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❤️🙏

Deepest condolences to family and friends on her passing.

Friday November 13th, 2020

Stray Leaves

The historic meeting place of the James-Younger Gang destroyed in Northfield, Minnesota.
About 20 years ago the historic Archer House hosted the annual meeting of the James-Younger Gang. Many of us resided in the hotel for the term of the conference.
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The historic meeting place of the James-Younger Gang destroyed in Northfield, Minnesota.
About 20 years ago the historic Archer House hosted the annual meeting of the James-Younger Gang. Many of us resided in the hotel for the term of the conference.

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Yeah, it was a beautiful hotel. I stayed there at least 3 times. It is a shame to lose it and it's a huge loss to Northfield.

That’s terrible. Looks like it was a beautiful building

how awful. was it completely destroyed?

UPDATE: The day after the fire. youtu.be/z46Fn0BzNzA

We stayed there in 2018 for a couple of nights. It was a wonderful place. When we arrived, there was a storm brewing and we sat outside along the river and watched it coming closer. The front porch of the house was a lovely place to sit in the mornings. Happy memories.

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