Jesse Woodson is a character in the film Jesse Woodson James was a well-known and renowned bank robber, train robber, and gang leader in nineteenth-century America. He was born into a rich Missouri family and spent his youth happily with his brother Frank until his father abandoned them forever. Jesse and his brother had a tumultuous family life as a result of his mother’s repeated marriages. Both James brothers joined the Quantrill Raiders gang at the age of 16 and began stealing banks and railways. Their initial plan was to attack Union troops and assassinate supporters of Abraham Lincoln. Following this, James’ criminal career took off, and he switched groups and robbed banks. He became a national celebrity after the Daviess County robbery, and detective firms were engaged to apprehend him, and a reward was placed on his head. In 1882, he was assassinated by one of his own close gang members, Robert Ford, who was rewarded for his service to the Missouri police. In America, he is regarded as a legend and has been compared to ‘Robin Hood,’ but it has never been established whether he actually shared his booty with the locals. His life and robberies have become the subject of numerous Hollywood films.
Childhood and Adolescence
Jesse James was born on September 5, 1847, in Clay County, Missouri, to Zerelda and Robert James. His father was a wealthy hemp farmer and a devout Baptist in Kentucky; after marrying Zerelda, he moved to Missouri.
They owned large farmland and six slaves, and they lived a comfortable life. Alexander Franklin and Susan James were James’ other siblings.
His father abandoned the family when James was a small child and went in search of gold in the California goldfields. After Robert left, Zerelda remarried, but James’ new stepfather, Benjamin Simms, mistreated him and his brother. Jesse and his brother are suspected of turning to a life of crime as a result of an unstable childhood.
In 1855, his mother married a third time, to Dr. Reuben Samuel, who moved into the James residence. Sarah, John, Fannie, and Archie were the four children Samuel and his mother had together. They shared a household with seven slaves who assisted them in their tobacco growing in Missouri.
The Career of Jesse
William Quantrill formed a guerilla fighting group in 1862. Frank James, Cole Young, and James Younger were also members of the group when James joined.
The gang attacked mail coaches, assassinated supporters of Abraham Lincoln, and terrorized anti-confederate villages in Missouri and Kansas, in addition to attacking Union troops.
The Quantrill Raiders invaded Lawrence in 1863, which is regarded as one of the worst Civil War crimes. At least 150 people were slain, and 180 structures were set on fire by the gang. Within a year, Frank James led the Quantrill Raiders to Texas, where he and James joined Taylor’s gang in Clay County. James was only 16 at the time.
Taylor was shot with a shotgun in 1864, and he lost his right arm as a result. Following that, Jesse and Frank James joined the bushwhacker organization, which was led by Bloody Bill Anderson. In the same year, James was shot in the chest while participating in one of the group’s activities.
The Clay County marshal apprehended Frank in 1864 for killing more than 100 members of Major A.V.E. Johnson’s regiment. Frank admitted to Jesse that he was the one who fired the shot that killed Major Johnson. They were told to get out of Clay County.
The James brothers split up, with Frank joining the Quantrill gang in Kentucky and Jesse joining the Archie Clement gang in Texas.
In 1866, James, under the supervision of Archie Clement, robbed the Clay County Savings Association in Liberty, Missouri, in broad daylight, during a time when America was at peace.
During the armed robbery, an innocent William Jewell College student was shot in the streets as the gang attempted to flee. It’s still unclear whether James was actually involved in the robbery.
The gang established a heist legend in 1866, and they were dubbed the “Leaders of Clay County Robbery.” Two of Quantrill’s gang members were arrested in Jackson County, Missouri. They requested their release, and the jailor was slain in the process. The James brothers were suspected of being engaged in the crime as well.
In Richmond, Missouri, the group was involved in robbing a local bank with local capital in 1867. The mayor and two other people were slain in this tragedy. In 1868, the James brothers teamed up with Cole Younger, a Quantrill Raiders member, to loot a bank in Russellville, Kentucky.
James gained notoriety in 1869 when he and his brother Frank looted the Daviess County Savings Association in Gallatin, Missouri.
It only netted them a few dollars, but James mistook the cashier for Samuel P. Cox, the officer who assassinated Bloody Bill Anderson during the Civil War. James’ robbery was reported in the papers, and he became well-known as a result.
James became a well-known criminal after the heist of 1869, and he was dubbed an outlaw by the then-Governor of Missouri, who offered a prize for his apprehension.
This was the beginning of James’ renowned relationship with John Newman Edwards, the editor of the Kansas City Times. Edwards made public letters from James in order to inform the world about his motivations. As a result, James became a symbol of Confederate resistance to Reconstruction.
For the first time in 1873, the James brothers, along with Cole Younger and his brothers John, Jim, and Bob, committed a train heist. They snatched 3000 bucks from the Rock Island train in Iowa.
They committed other train thefts later, but never plundered the passengers, which Edward exploited to portray James as a ‘Robin Hood’ among the public, although the group never split the money.
The Pinkerton National Detective Agency was tasked in 1874 with apprehending the James-Younger gang. It was the first major project for this Chicago-based firm. Allen Pinkerton, the agency’s commander, worked with former Unionists to track down the group’s whereabouts.
The First National Bank of Northfield, Minnesota, was plundered by the gang in 1876. This robbery sparked a manhunt, with just the James brothers remaining alive and on the run at the end of it all.
The group is also claimed to have set fire to 14 Rice County mills shortly after the robbery. Jesse Howard, one of the James brothers, fled to Tennessee and assumed the name, Thomas Howard.
James formed a new crew, which held up a train to rob in Missouri in 1879, and then carried out two additional train robberies. In Mississippi, they also raided two establishments.
They stole $2,000 and sought refuge in Louisiana. However, the new gang was not as powerful as the old one, and they frequently turned against one another, making James increasingly nervous.
Following the dissolution of his organization, James relocated to Missouri, near the home where he was born and raised. James requested the ‘Ford brothers’ to move in with him in order to feel more secure.
However, Robert Ford, one of the Ford brothers, bargained with the governor of Missouri to bring James to him. Robert shot James in the back of the head in 1882.
Personal History and Legacy
On April 24, 1874, James married his cousin Zee. Jesse Edward James and Mary Susan James were their two children. They had twins in 1878, but they barely lived to be a few years old. Jesse Edward James went on to study law and practice in Missouri and California.
In 1882, James prepared to join the Ford brothers in a robbery. They went out to prepare their mounts. James took off his coat and firearms and stood on a chair to clean a dusty painting because it was a sweltering day. Robert Ford shot him in the back of the head at this point.
Estimated Net worth
Jesse James’ net worth: Jesse James is a $50 million dollar American entrepreneur and reality television star. With his company West Coast Choppers, which he launched in 1992, James has built a bike customization empire throughout the years.
Since then, it has expanded into a large merchandising and lifestyle empire, with clothing lines, various TV series, a magazine, fast food restaurants, and more.
James’ wounds from the earlier chest shootings, as well as a missing middle finger, helped the authorities identify his body when he died.
The Ford brothers, Robert and Charles, were caught for their role in the assassination of Jesse James when they called the governor to receive their prize. They were initially charged with murder and sentenced to death, but the governor personally pardoned them.
‘In Loving Memory of my Beloved Son, Murdered by a Traitor and Coward Whose Name is not Worthy to Appear Here,’ wrote James’ mother Zerelda Samuel in a book dedicated to his son.
Zee, James’s wife, was poor and died alone.
After his death, it was speculated that James was not killed, but rather that Bob Ford killed someone else so that James could flee and live in safety.
James was portrayed as a psychologically damaged individual in the 1950s, rather than a ‘Robin Hood,’ as the media had previously depicted him.
Many museums honor James and his life, including the Jesse James Home Museum, where he was assassinated, and the Jesse James Bank Museum in Missouri, where he committed his first daylight armed robbery.
Every September, Minnesota commemorates the Defeat of Jesse James. People act out the robbery and spend the five-day celebration playing music and marching in parades.
There have been many movies dedicated to the life of Jesse James like: ‘The great Northfield Minnesota Raid’ in 1972, ‘ The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James’ in 1986, ‘Frank and Jesse’ in 1994, ‘American Outlaws’ in 2001, ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’ in 2007, etc.