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Frank James

AKA Alexander Franklin James

Born: 10-Jan-1843
Birthplace: Kearney, MO
Died: 18-Feb-1915
Location of death: Kearney, MO
Cause of death: Heart Failure
Remains: Buried, Hill Park Cemetery, Independence, MO

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Criminal

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Bank robber, with James Gang

Military service: Missouri State Guard (allied with Confederates, Civil War)

As a boy Frank James attended school, showed an earnest interest in English literature, and hoped to become a teacher. He was still a teenager when the American Civil War changed his plans. He fought for the Confederates, engaging in at least two bloody battles before falling sick and being left behind by his fellow troops. He surrendered to Union forces and was briefly held prisoner, then sent home. He later took up with guerrilla fighters for the South, and rode with William Quantrill's raiders in several terrorist attacks, including the savage siege of Lawrence, Kansas, where nearly 200 locals were murdered and much of the town was burned.

After the war James and his brother Jesse, along with Cole Younger and several other outlaws, formed an infamous criminal gang. For more than a decade they robbed and killed, roaming across Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and Kentucky, as far north as Minnesota and as far east as West Virginia. Though trials were rare, the James-Younger Gang is generally held responsible for at least twelve bank and seven train robberies, four stagecoach hold-ups, and the murders of at least eleven citizens. Thanks to fictionalized accounts of their crimes, they were seen as celebrities, and were especially admired among Southern partisans.

After the coward Robert Ford killed Jesse James in 1882, Frank James lost interest in crime, and negotiated his surrender on the terms that he stand trial only for his Missouri crimes, and not be extradited to Minnesota, where he was wanted for the botched robbery of the First National Bank of Northfield. He then rode to Jefferson, Missouri, where he surrendered personally to Governor Thomas Crittenden in the state capitol. He was charged only with the murder of a passenger in a train robbery, and at trial he was defended by former Confederate Secretary of War Leroy Pope Walker. Observers wrote that from the selection of jurors sympathetic to the vanquished South, it was clear that the Confederate veteran James had little to fear in the courthouse. Found not guilty in spite of the evidence to the contrary, he spent his last thirty years leading the more ordinary life he had once yearned for, working as a shoe salesman, a night watchman, and a farmer. He reportedly augmented his income by charging tourists 25 to visit his family farm, where they could view artifacts from his criminal years and visit his brother's grave.

Father: Robert Sallee James (minister, b. 7-Jul-1818, d. 18-Aug-1850 cholera)
Mother: Zerelda Elizabeth Cole (b. 29-Jan-1825, d. 10-Feb-1911)
Father: Benjamin Simms (stepfather, m. 1852, d. 1854 horse accident)
Father: Reuben Samuel (second stepfather, physician, b. 1828, m. 1855)
Brother: Jesse James (fellow gang-member)
Brother: Robert James, Jr. (b. 19-Jul-1845, d. Aug-1845)
Sister: Susan Lavenia James Parmer (b. 25-Nov-1849, d. 3-Mar-1889)
Sister: Sarah Louisa Samuel Nicholson (half-sister, b. 26-Dec-1858, d. 15-Sep-1915)
Brother: John Thomas Samuel (half-brother, b. 25-Dec-1861, d. 15-Mar-1935)
Sister: Fannie Quantrill Samuel Hall (half-sister, b. 18-Oct-1863, d. 30-May-1932)
Brother: Archibald Peyton Samuel (half-brother, b. 26-Jul-1866, d. 26-Jan-26-1875)
Brother: Perry Samuel (stepbrother, son of Reuben Samuel and his slave, b. 1862, d. 1-Mar-1936)
Wife: Anna Ralston James (b. 5-Jan-1853, m. 6-Jun-1874, d. 6-Jul-1944, one son)
Son: Robert Franklin James (b. 6-Feb-1878, d. 18-Nov-1959)

    Surrendered to Enemy Lexington, MO (Sep-1861)
    Taken Prisoner of War Sep-1861
    Surrendered to Enemy Samuel's Depot, KY (26-Jul-1865)
    Bank Robbery Liberty, MO (13-Feb-1866)
    Bank Robbery Russellville, KY (20-Mar-1868)
    Bank Robbery Gallatin, MO (7-Dec-1869)
    Bank Robbery Coryton, IA (3-Jun-1871)
    Bank Robbery Columbia, KY (29-Apr-1872)
    Robbery Kansas City Fair, MO (26-Sep-1872)
    Robbery Adair, IA (21-Jul-1873), train robbery
    Robbery Hot Springs, AR (15-Jan-1874), stagecoach robbery
    Robbery (31-Jan-1874), train robbery
    Robbery (7-Apr-1874), stagecoach robbery
    Robbery (30-Aug-1874), stagecoach robbery
    Bank Robbery Huntington, WV (1-Sep-1875)
    Robbery Muncie, MO (1-Dec-1875), train robbery
    Bank Robbery Northfield, MN (7-Sep-1876)
    Bank Robbery Corinth, MO (7-Dec-1876)
    Robbery Muncie, MO (8-Dec-1876), train robbery
    Robbery (8-Oct-1879), train robbery
    Robbery Mammoth Cave, KY (8-Sep-1880), stagecoach robbery
    Robbery Muscle Shoals, AL (11-Mar-1881), payroll robbery
    Murder of Frank McMillan, Winston, MO (15-Jul-1881), acquitted (Aug-1883)
    Robbery Winston, MO (15-Jul-1881), train robbery, acquitted (Aug-1883)
    Robbery Blue Cut, MO (7-Sep-1881), train robbery

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