Located in the Jacksonville City Cemetery is a marker which simply states,
Died Feb 3, 1907
Aged 41 Years
This simple marker ties our community to one of the most notable outlaw gangs of the 19th century. The gang centered around Cole Younger, Frank James, & Jessie James who were commonly referred to as the James - Younger Gang. The gang was born from a group of Confederate “bushwhackers” who terrorized Missouri before and during the Civil War.
During the Civil War, Missouri was a split-state with two governments (one Union and one Confederate) each sending representatives to their appropriate federal authority. Beginning before the Civil War, in the mid-1850s, local Unionists and Secessionists had begun to battle each other throughout the state, and by the end of 1861, guerrilla warfare erupted between Confederate partisans known as "bushwhackers" and the more organized Union forces. Both the James (Frank & Jessie) and Younger brothers (Cole, Jim, John, & Bob) belonged to slave-owning families although their parents were split on their loyalties. Cole Younger’s mother was an outspoken supporter of the South, while his father was believed to be a Unionist. The Younger's initial decision to fight as a bushwhacker is probably tied to the death of his father at the hands of Union forces who believed him to be a Confederate sympathizer when he was not. This occurred in July 1862.
Cole and Frank James fought under one of the most famous Confederate bushwhackers, William Clarke Quantrill, although Cole eventually joined the regular Confederate Army. Jesse James, Frank’s brother, began his guerrilla career in 1864, at the age of sixteen, fighting under the command of Archie Clement and "Bloody Bill" Anderson, officers in the Confederacy. After the end of the Civil War, the brothers in arms joined with other Confederate soldiers to become outlaws.
On February 12, 1866, the group carried out one of the first daylight armed bank robberies in U.S. history when they held up the Clay County Savings Association in Liberty, Missouri. The outlaws stole some $60,000 in cash and bonds and killed an innocent bystander. State authorities suspected Clement of leading the raid, and promptly issued a reward for his capture. In later years, the list of suspects grew to include Jesse and Frank James along with Cole Younger. In October of 1866, Clement was killed after a robbery in Lexington, KY when he refused to surrender.
Although the gang continued its outlaw ways, its membership dwindled down as townsfolk and law enforcement fought back. This set the stage for the James and Younger brothers to emerge as leaders of a newly named James-Younger gang.
Cole Younger was almost arrested in Dallas County, Texas in January of 1871, but escaped. In June of 1871 the gang robbed a bank in Iowa after which the Pinkerton Detective Agency was called on to apprehend them. This was the first of two times the Agency was hired, but each time it failed to capture the outlaws.
On July 21, 1873, the gang carried out what was arguably the first train robbery west of the Mississippi River, derailing a locomotive of the Rock Island Railroad near Adair, Iowa. In addition to taking any valuables from the safe on the train, they also took to robbing the passengers.
On one occasion, the outlaws reportedly examined the hands of the passengers to ensure that they did not rob any working men. Many newspapers reported this was actually done by the "Arthur McCoy" gang. To correct errors, the gang telegraphed their version of the robbery to the St. Louis Dispatch newspaper for publication. This began their publicity campaign to be seen as a “Robin Hood” type gang. In particular, Jesse James began to write letters to the local press, asserting his place as a Confederate hero and a martyr to radical Republican vindictiveness.
After a botched robbery in Minnesota, Cole Younger surrendered and pleaded guilty to murder in order to avoid execution. Frank and Jesse secured horses and fled west across southern Minnesota, turning south just inside the border of the Dakota Territory. In the face of hundreds of pursuers and a nationwide alarm, Frank and Jesse still escaped, but the infamous James–Younger Gang was no more.
On October 4, 1882, Frank James finally surrendered. Only two cases ever came to trial – one in Gallatin, Missouri for the July 15, 1881 robbery of the Rock Island Line train at Winston, Missouri in which a train crewman and a passenger were killed, and one in Huntsville, Alabama for the March 11, 1881 for robbery of a United States Army Corps of Engineers train. Frank James was found not guilty by juries in both cases
Cole Younger was paroled in 1901 on the condition he remain in Minnesota, but later received a pardon in 1903 on the condition that he leave Minnesota and never return. He traveled to Missouri and together with Frank James formed up a “Wild West Show.” They brought their show to Jacksonville, TX in February of 1907.
Other than local media hype, their arrival in Jacksonville might have just passed into history without a note except for an unfortunate event. A member of the band, a drummer named Jack Wallace, died suddenly the day after their performance. Responsibility for his remains fell to the Wild West Show. Younger sent several telegrams in an attempt to find some relative or next of kin, but to no avail. Younger finally purchased a plot in the Jacksonville City Cemetery and made sure the man was given a respectable funeral and burial. Younger must have liked the man because he went a step further and paid for a stone marker to be placed on the grave site. Through all the years, no one has come forward to further identify the man buried there.
With regret, your Vanishing Texana Museum is closed due to the COVID-19 virus. During this period, we are working on projects that during regular business hours we could not do. We look forward to your visit as soon as this epidemic has passed.