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Researched & Written By:
Esther M. Ziock Carroll
(Copyright 1998)

Jesse James  and his brother Frank (sons of a Baptist minister) were well known Missouri outlaws.  Their life of crime began at an early age when they joined the notorious Confederate Civil War guerilla band of William Clarke Quantrill which terrorized the Kansas-Missouri border zone.  After the war the James brothers continued robbing banks, trains, and stages from 1866 to 1881 with more than twenty-five raids in and around Missouri amounting to a take of about a half a million dollars.

Missouri produced many outlaws after the Civil War but it is basically the James gang that is credited for Missouri being nicknamed "The Outlaw State".  Some people thought of Jesse as a sort of Robin Hood who robbed the rich and gave to the poor.  Others described him as a lawless, merciless, murdering robber who terrorized the countryside from Missouri to Texas.  Rewards of up to $5,000.00 were offered for Jesse and his gang - DEAD OR ALIVE.  Pursuers were warned to take no chances and to shoot to kill as these were the most desperate men in America.

Strong evidence indicates that the "James Gang" committed the first Missouri train robbery which took place on the Iron Mountain Railroad at a small, remote flag station called Gads Hill in Wayne County (approx. an hour south of Washington County) on Saturday, January 31, 1874.   The robbers held the citizens of the tiny town prisoner while waiting for the little Rock Express which would be coming from St. Louis.  A red flag was put out to assure that the train would stop.  When the train arrived at Gads Hill at 4:45 p.m. the unsuspecting conductor stepped off to greet his new passengers but instead had a six-shooter stuck in his face and was told, "..........stand still or I'll blow the top of your head off!"

The train was then boldly robbed by five large masked men (over six feet tall) heavily armed with navy revolvers and double barreled shotguns.  The passengers were threatened and told to "shell out" or have their "brains blown out."  They were then robbed of their cash, watches and jewelry.  A man suspected of being a Pinkerton detective was taken to another part of the train and striped naked.  As the robbers were carrying money, mail and packages from the train Mr. Wilson the express agent commented to one of them, "I have always been in the habit of having people sign a receipt when I deliver them packages."
    The outlaw replied, "O, well,  just hand me your book and I'll sign."  He took the book and wrote in the back, "ROBBED"!

The robbery lasted about 40 minutes.  When the robbers were through they shook hands with the engineer and then galloped away into the woods with over $4,000.00 worth of loot.  It was suspected that the gang consisted of Jesse and Frank James, Arthur McCoy, and Cole and Bud Younger.  The incident created ".......a hell of an excitement in this part of the country!"

The next day a posse of approximately twenty-five men was organized and left in pursuit of the outlaws.  One version of the story states that they went in a northwest direction through Texas and Wright counties and toward Laclede County.  However, according to the legend of Meramec Caverns which is in Franklin County near the Washington County line the James Gang was tracked to the Caverns (at that time called Saltpeter Cave).  The posse waited outside the entrance of the cave for three days.  When the outlaws didn't come out the posse went in, but all they found were horses wandering around in the dark.  The outlaws had managed to escape from the cave by a secret route and were not apprehended.Gene__Jesse.JPG (11773 bytes)

Gene Carroll who is an eighteen year resident of Potosi, Washington County, Missouri has ties to the James
family.  Jesse James' great grandmother was Mary Hines and Gene Carroll's great,  great, great grandmother was Margaret Elizabeth Hines.  Also Gene's great, great aunt Margaret Carroll of Cooper and Miller counties, Missouri was married to Jame M. James, a cousin of Jesse and Frank James.  Frank visited Margaret and her husband often.  One time when Frank and Jesse spent a week with Margaret Carroll James there was a big bank robbery - Jesse James strikes again!  After that Margaret swore Jesse didn't do half he was credited with.

The information regarding Margaret Carroll &
James M. James was provided by cousin Malinda James.

Gene & I went to Jackson, Missouri back in 1988 & rode on the old train that they use there for tourists. Jackson Train.JPG (10353 bytes)They re-enacted the Gads Hill robbery.  It was really fun!!! They had some guy dressed up as "Jesse James" & he robbed the train! Really - as he stole my purse! He came down through the aisle of the train, snatched up my purse & took it up to the engine compartment. I didn't know what to think at first! Then later towards the end of the ride he brought it back only he didn't give it back to me until he rifled through it in front of all the passengers. When he did this he pulled a bra & pantyhose out of my purse & everyone thought they were mine except that they weren't - the people in the engine compartment had put them in my purse as a joke! We all had a real good laugh!! Then when he finally left the train he rode his horse along side the train & peeked in all of the windows making funny faces at the passengers! Everyone had a great time! Anyone who has not rode this train yet I would highly recommend it - you'll have a lot of fun!!!!



Ride with the James-Younger Gang

Visit Jesse & Frank James

Friends of James Farm

Meramec Caverns
Reputed To Be Jesse James' Hideout




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