The James-Younger Gang

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The James-Younger gang was a 19th century gang of outlaws based in Missouri. Notable members of the gang include the two sets of brothers the gang was named after, Frank and Jesse James, and Cole, Jim, Bob and John Younger.

The gang was originally part of a group of Confederate guerrillas that fought in Missouri during the American Civil War. When the war ended, the group continued to rob, loot and kill throughout the state and in other states in the south.

Since their former leader, Bloody Bill Anderson, had been killed in the Civil War, the group were being led by Archie Clement.

The motivations behind the gang’s actions vary. The Younger brothers seemed to be motivated by revenge, frustration, greed, ego and blind family loyalty. The brothers came from a prosperous family of farmers and ranchers who had suffered greatly as a result of the Civil War. Their father, a farmer, was a Union supporter but had been shot dead by a Union soldier from Kansas. It’s believed that this act inspired the Younger brothers to join Quantrill’s Raiders to seek revenge against the Union and later even prompted Cole Younger to join the Confederate army.

The James brothers and their families had also suffered due to the war, particularly when Jesse and his stepfather were beaten and mistreated by Union soldiers and when Frank was captured by Union troops and forced to give allegiance to the Federal government.

Members of the James-Younger Gang: Jesse James (top left), Frank James (top right), Cole Younger (middle left), Bob Younger (middle right) Jim Younger (bottom left) and John Younger (bottom right)

When the Younger brothers met the James brothers, the chemistry between the two Confederate families was explosive and it helped forge one of the most feared outlaw gangs in the wild west.

An 1873 St. Louis Dispatch article written by Jesse James’ friend, John N. Edwards, about the Rock Island train robbery that year described the five men accused of the crime, the James and Younger brothers and Arthur McCoy, as “creatures of the war—three of whom lived upon the border and were tried in the savage crucible of border warfare” and suggested that the violence they were subjected to during the war drove them to become outlaws.

The gang usually robbed banks that had ties to Missouri unionists, as was the case with the first bank they robbed, the Clay County Savings Association, which was owned and operated by former Union militia officers who had recently held the first Republican Party rally in the county.

Archie Clement is believed to have planned and led the Clay County Savings Association robbery, on February 13, 1886, in Liberty, Missouri. Clement continued to lead the men on more robberies and raids that year until he was killed by a state militia unit in Lexington, Missouri in November of 1866 while trying to drive Republican voters away from the polls on election day.

Eventually, the senior members of the gang were either killed or captured and the only members that remained were the Younger brothers and the James brothers.

The gang later branched out from robbing banks to robbing stagecoaches and trains. Some of their robberies turned deadly when they killed train passengers and bank clerks who refused their demands or tried to flee.

The James-Younger gang eventually disbanded in 1876 after the Younger brothers were captured in Minnesota following the failed robbery of the Northfield First National Bank.

In 1879, the James brothers formed a new gang, the James gang, which included the Ford brothers Charles and Robert Ford.

James-Younger Gang Members:

Jim Anderson: (1842 – 1871) Born in Missouri. Brother to guerrilla leader Bloody Bill Anderson. Killed by George Shepherd in Austin, Texas in 1871.

Bill Chadwell: Born in Missouri. Killed in Northfield bank robbery in Minnesota in 1876.

Archie Clement: (1846 – 1866) Born in North Carolina but raised in Missouri. Served as lieutenant of Bloody Bill Anderson. Took over as leader of the gang. Killed by state militia in 1866.

Jim Cummins: (1847 – 1929) Rode with Quantrill’s Raiders. Left the James-Younger when it disbanded and became a farmer. Died in 1929.

Ben Cooper: Possibly took part in the Clay County Savings Bank robbery. Not much else is known about him.

Frank Gregg: (1844 – 1906) Born in Missouri. Served in various Confederate guerrilla groups during the Civil War. Was accused of participating in the Clay County Savings Bank robbery in 1866. Left the James-Younger gang and became a farmer but was arrested in 1869 on a war indictment. Held prisoner until he was released in 1870. Died in 1906.

Frank James: (1843 – 1915) Born in Missouri. Brother to Jesse James. Served as a Confederate soldier and guerrilla. Was a member of the James-Younger gang and the James gang. Died in 1915.

Jesse James: (1847 – 1882) Born in Missouri. Brother to Frank James. Served as a Confederate guerrilla. Was a member of the James-Younger gang and the Jesse James gang. Was shot and killed in St. Joseph, Missouri by fellow gang member Bob Ford in 1882.

John Jarrette:(1836 – 1876) Born in Kentucky. Married Mary Younger, sister to Cole Younger. Served as a Confederate soldier and guerrilla. Was a member of the James-Younger gang. Died in 1906.

Hobbs Kerry: Met the gang in 1875 when he invited the Younger brothers and the James brothers to take part in a bank robbery he had planned at Granby. Kerry was only involved in one train robbery with the James-Younger gang, the Missouri Pacific train robbery in 1876. Was later arrested and confessed to his involvement and served two years in prison.

Arthur McCoy: Served as a soldier in the Confederate army. Participated in several robberies with the James-Younger gang and is believed to have killed a Pinkerton agent. Left the gang and moved his family to Texas.

Clell Miller: (1850 – 1876) Born in Missouri. Served in Quantrill’s Raiders during the war. Took part in several robberies with the James-Younger gang and was captured and tried for the 1871 Ocobock Brothers’ Bank robbery but was acquitted. Killed in Northfield bank robbery in Minnesota in 1876.

Red Monkus: (1845-1867) Participated in the Clay County Savings Association bank robbery in 1866. Was later shot and killed by the Missouri State Militia on May 18, 1867.

Allen Parmer: (1848 – 1927) Served in Quantrill’s Raiders during the war. Allegedly took part in the Clay County Savings Association bank robbery in 1866. Married Jesse and Frank’s sister, Susan James, and moved to Texas where he died on October 25, 1927.

Bud Pence: (1842 – 1880) Served in Quantrill’s Raiders during the war. Allegedly took part in the Clay County Savings Association bank robbery in 1866.

Donny Pence: (1847 – 1896) Served in Quantrill’s Raiders during the war. Allegedly took part in the Clay County Savings Association bank robbery in 1866. Later became a sheriff in Nelson County, Kentucky where he died of typhoid fever in 1896.

Charlie Pitts: (1844 – 1876) Real name was Samuel Wells. Born in Oklahoma. Close friend of Cole Younger. Was involved in several of the gang’s robberies during the 1870s. Killed during the Northfield bank robbery in Minnesota on September 27, 1876.

George Shepherd: (1840 – 1917) Born in Missouri. Served as 1st lieutenant in Quantrill’s Raiders during the war. Was convicted in the Russellville Kentucky bank robbery in 1868 and served three years in prison. Tracked down and killed fellow gang member Jim Anderson in 1871 on the lawn of the state capital in Austin, Texas in revenge for the murder of his nephew Ike Flannery. Shot and wounded Jesse James at Short Creek, Missouri in 1879 also in retaliation for Flannery’s death. Died on February 23, 1917.

Oll Shepherd: (1842 – 1868) Served in Quantrill’s Raiders during the Civil War. Took part in a couple of the early James-Younger gang robberies until he was tracked down by law enforcement in Jackson County, Missouri, on April 4 and died in the ensuing shootout.

Bill Wilkerson: Brother to James Wilkerson. Believed to have taken part in the Clay County Savings Associate bank robbery in 1866.

James Wilkerson: Brother to Bill Wilkerson. Believed to have taken part in the Clay County Savings Associate bank robbery in 1866.

Jim White: Brother to John White. Believed to have taken part in the Hughes and Wasson Bank robbery in Richmond, Missouri in 1867.

John White: Brother to John White. Believed to have taken part in the Hughes and Wasson Bank robbery in Richmond, Missouri in 1867.

Cole Younger: (1844-1916) Born in Missouri, Served as a Confederate guerrilla. Took part in majority of the James-Younger robberies. Was wounded and captured along with his brothers after the Northfield bank robbery in 1876. Paroled from prison in 1901. Later wrote a memoir about his life and started a wild west show with Frank James. Died on March 21, 1916, in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.

Jim Younger: (1848-1902) Born in Missouri. Served in the Confederate army before joining Quantrill’s Raiders in 1864. Believed to have joined the James-Younger gang in 1873. Quit the gang in 1874. Returned to the gang to take part in the Northfield bank robbery in 1876, Was wounded and captured along with his brothers. Paroled in 1901. Died by suicide in a hotel room in St. Paul, Minnesota on October 19, 1902.

Bob Younger: (1853-1889) Born in Missouri. Believed to have joined the James-Younger gang in 1873. Was wounded and captured along with his brothers in the Northfield bank robbery in 1876. Died of tuberculosis in Stillwater prison on September 16, 1889.

John Younger (1851-1874) Born in Missouri. Believed to have joined the gang in 1873. Shot and killed by a Pinkerton detective in St. Clair County, Missouri on March 17, 1874.

James-Younger Gang Robberies:

Not every member of the gang took part in every robbery and historians disagree on exactly who participated in each crime. Due to the secrecy of the gang’s activities, it can’t be confirmed who participated in each crime.

Also, there are a few robberies that the gang did not claim credit for but law authorities attributed the crime to do them, such as the Judge John McClain Banking House robbery in 1867, the two stagecoach robberies in Waverly-Lexington, Missouri in 1874 and the Tishomingo Savings Bank robbery in 1874.

The following is a list of robberies committed by or attributed to the James-Younger gang:

February 13, 1866: Clay County Savings Association in Liberty, Missouri.

October 30, 1866: Alexander Mitchell and Co. Bank in Lexington, Missouri

March 2, 1867: Judge John McClain Banking House in Savannah, Missouri

May 22, 1867: Hughes and Wasson Bank in Richmond, Missouri

March 20, 1868: Nimrod Long Banking Co. in Russellville, Kentucky

December 7, 1869: Davies County Savings Bank in Gallatin, Missouri

June 3, 1871: Ocobock Brothers’ Bank in Corydon, Iowa

April 29, 1872: Bank of Columbia in Columbia, Kentucky

September 26, 1872: Kansas City Exposition Ticket Office in Kansas City, Missouri

May 27, 1873: St. Genevieve Savings Bank in St. Genevieve, Missouri

July 21, 1873: Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad in Adair, Iowa

January 15, 1874: Stagecoach in Hot Springs, Arkansas

January 31, 1874: Iron Mountain Railroad in Gad’s Hill, Missouri

April 7, 1874: Stagecoach in Austin-San Antonio, Texas

August 30, 1874: Two Stagecoaches in Waverly-Lexington, Missouri

December 7, 1874: Tishomingo Savings Bank in Corinth, Mississippi

December 8, 1874: Kansas Pacific Railroad in Muncie, Kansas

September 5, 1875: Huntington Bank in Huntington, West Virginia

July 7, 1876: Missouri Pacific Railroad in Otterville, Missouri

September 7, 1876: First National Bank in Northfield, Minnesota

How Much Money Did the James-Younger Gang Steal?

The gang is estimated to have stolen about $200,000 as a result of the 20 robberies that they committed and/or that were attributed to them.

If you want to read more about Jesse James, check out this article on the best books about Jesse James.

Sources:
Younger, Cole. The Story of Cole Younger, By Himself. The Henneberry Company, 1903.
“Telegraphic Notes.” Kansas Weekly Herald, 2 Sept. 1876, newspapers.com/clip/48093082/hobbs-kerry-is-a-fraud-jesse-james/

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