The son of a Baptist preacher, Jesse was born in Kearney, Missouri on September 5, 1847. When he was three his father died in the California gold fields, his mother, Zerelda, remarried. The marriage soon failed, Zerelda married again, for the third time, to Dr. Reuben Samuel.

Zerelda James  Ma  James     Robert James Pa James    Dingus Thomas Howard   Jesse     franklin James Frank

When the Civil War broke out, Frank and Jesse (then a teenager) aligned with the Confederate cause. In 1864 Jesse joined brother Frank in Quantrill's guerrilla army, Bloody Bill Anderson was leading the guerrilla band. Quantrill taught Jesse the ways of outlaw life, murder, Bank robbery, horse thievery, and a multitude of other life needed things.

Jesse and Frank along with other former guerrillas turned to out right Thievery, their associates were the Younger brothers, Cole, James and Bob, they robbed banks in Missouri and surrounding states for many years.

                                              Youngers, Cole, Bob, Jim  & Sister

On April 23, 1874, Jesse married his long time honey, Zee Mimms ( Jesse's first cousin), within two years they had a son, Jesse Jr. and a daughter Mary. In 1875, the Pinkerton Detective Agency, raided the family home outside of Kearney, Missouri, a firebomb was tossed into the house. The explosion, tore off the arm of Jesse's mother, and killed his half-brother Archie.

                                           Zee Mimms  Zee      Jesse Jr and Mary James Jesse   Jr.   & Mary

September 7, 1876 was the final showdown. The James-Younger gang tried to rob the Northfield, Minnesota First National Bank. The bank staff resisted and the towns people rallied, the battle was bloody. Jesse and Frank escaped, the Youngers remained, all three were captured, Bob was wounded and later died, Cole and Jim went to Stillwater Prison, Cole was paroled in 1901, Jim died in prison.

Jesse and Frank moved to Nashville, Tenn. after the Northfield blunder. They remained there for three years; Jesse assumed the name of Thomas Howard. Jesse was not happy, he needed to rob and kill, so he and Frank began robbing trains.

Was Jesse Woodson, the son of a Baptist preacher, a Robin Hood, or was he a cold-blooded killer and robber, I vote for the latter.                                                                            

                    Robert Ford Bob Ford      

Jesse James was murdered by one of his own gang, Robert Ford ( Jesse's cousin), on April 3, 1882, in St. Joseph, Missouri. Ford shot him in the back as he was standing on a chair adjusting a picture.

                          Dead Jesse James Dead   Jesse