Frank James was an American soldier, guerilla, and outlaw who was the older brother of Jesse James, the more well-known outlaw. They were raised on a Missouri farm, and when the American Civil War broke out, they shared their family’s sympathy for the Southern cause and backed slavery. Frank enrolled as a Confederate soldier before becoming an outlaw after the war ended. The gang began holding up trains after robbing banks from Iowa to Alabama and Texas. Stagecoaches, stores, and persons were also prey. While attempting to rob the First National Bank in Northfield, Minnesota, the James gang was nearly decimated. Only the James brothers, out of the eight robbers, avoided death or arrest. The James brothers began thieving after forming a new gang. The governor of Missouri announced a $10,000 prize for their capture, whether they were dead or alive. Frank surrendered after the death of Jesse, who was betrayed by a gang member. He was tried for murder, robbery, and armed robbery, but was acquitted of all charges due to a lack of evidence. He retired to a quiet life on his family’s farm, doing odd jobs, now that he was a free man. He is the least well-known of the two brothers since he submitted to the police, preferring a long life of peace to violence and the possibility of incarceration.
Childhood and Adolescence
Frank James was the oldest of three siblings, including Jesse Woodson James and Susan Lavenia James, and was born on January 10, 1843, in Kearney, Missouri, to Baptist pastor Reverend Robert Sallee James and his wife.
When Frank was 13 years old, his mother married for the third time to Dr. Reuben Samuel after his father and stepfather Benjamin Simms died.
He was fascinated by his late father’s extensive collection as a child, particularly the works of William Shakespeare. According to census records, James went to school on a regular basis and aspired to be a teacher.
Career of Frank James
He enlisted in the Confederate Home Guard of Centerville, Missouri, in 1861. The following year, he was caught by Union soldiers and made to swear not to reenlist in the Confederate army.
During the American Civil War, he joined the Quantrill’s guerilla soldiers, who aided the Confederate army. Jessie James, Cole Younger, and James Younger were among the gang’s other members.
Union forces raped his mother, nearly executed her husband, and thrashed Jesse for not revealing the whereabouts of Quantrill’s insurgents in 1863.
When the Quantrill Raiders stormed Lawrence in August 1863, they slaughtered 150 people and set fire to almost 180 structures, committing one of the deadliest atrocities of the Civil War.
The James brothers became outlaws when the Civil War ended. Bob Younger, Cole Younger, James Younger, Bill Chadwell, Clell Miller, and Charlie Pitts formed a group with them.
In 1866, he stole a bank in Liberty, Missouri, alongside Cole Younger, John Jarrette, George and Oliver Sheppard, and Little Arch Clements, resulting in the death of a civilian.
The brothers were involved in twelve bank robberies, seven train robberies, four stage-coach robberies, and other criminal operations during the next few years, killing at least eleven people.
They robbed their first train, the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad, near Adair, Iowa, in 1873, aiming to acquire $75,000 in gold, but the money was not on board.
After fleeing Minnesota in 1877, he and his wife Annie took up residence in rented housing near Nashville, Tennessee, under false names. He started a family in order to get away from the illegal lifestyle.
Jesse James and his family relocated to St. Joseph, Missouri, where he pretended to be a cattle buyer. In April 1882, a gang member assassinated Jesse and was pardoned by the governor in exchange.
At the time of Jesse’s death, Frank was in Lynchburg, Virginia. In May 1882, he made the decision to surrender directly to the governor with the support of a friend and newspaperman named John Newman Edwards.
Due to a lack of evidence, several of the charges were withdrawn. Dick Liddil, one of his accomplices, named him as a robber and passenger killer in the Winston train robbery.
After the defense pointed out that Liddil himself was a thief and not to be trusted, he was acquitted of engaging in the Winston train heist and of murdering McMillan in 1883.
He tried to make a living as a performer on stage and in the circus. He also transformed the family farm into a museum, with tourists paying 30 cents to see his brother’s grave.
Major Offenses of Frank James
The gang tried to rob the First National Bank in Northfield, Minnesota, in 1876, but the cashier was slain. Members of the town opened fire, injuring Frank, who managed to flee and seek refuge.
In 1881, the brothers robbed a Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad-owned train in Winston, Missouri, of $650, and passenger Frank McMillan was shot and killed by Frank.
Personal History and Legacy
Frank James married Annie Ralston in 1878 in Nashville, and their only child, Robert Franklin James, was born in 1878.
Frank died of a heart attack at his family’s home in Kearney.
This outlaw was immortalized in a number of films, the first of which was Jesse James, starring Henry Fonda in 1939, and the sequel, The Return of Frank James, released the following year.
Johnny Cash portrayed Frank James in the album The Legend of Jesse James in 1980, and six years later, he played Frank in the film The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James.
Estimated Net Worth
Frank is one of the wealthiest criminals and one of the most well-known. Frank James’ net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.
The criminal brothers stole a billion dollars worth of gold, gave some to charity, and buried the remains of the wealth all over Missouri, never to be found by federal officials.
“If there is ever another battle in this nation, it will be between capital and labor,” this outlaw once stated. I’m referring to the conflict between greed and manhood.”