History Moment By William “Doc” Halliday

Jesse James

jesse-james-5In April of 1882, Jesse Woodson James died at the hand of Bob Ford.  Jesse was straightening, or perhaps dusting, a picture on the wall of his rented home in St. Joseph, Missouri when Bob Ford shot him in the back of his home.  Jesse had led a gang of outlaws for over a dozen years when he was assassinated by a new member of his gang.  The Fords were treated as members of the James family with Jesse’s wife cooking for them.  Mrs. James and their two children were in a different room at the time of the murder.  Bob Ford was just 20 years old when he committed the murder.  Jesse was 34 years old at the time of his death.

Robert Ford was assisted in the murder by his brother Charles.  They had been in contact with Thomas T. Crittenden, the Governor of Missouri, who had offered a $10,000 reward for the killing or capture of Jesse James.  The Fords surrendered to the local authorities, but were surprised and demoralized when they were charged with first degree murder.  Unlike our present day legal system, the Ford brothers were indicted, plead guilty, and sentenced to death by hanging in just one day!  Luckily, Governor Crittenden came through on his promise and issued a pardon for the brothers.

Less than seventeen months after the murder of Jesse James…

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