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Alexander Franklin James

Also Known As: "Frank", "Charles A. Morgan"
Birthplace: Kearney, Clay County, MO, United States
Death: February 18, 1915 (72)
Washington Township, Clay County, MO, United States
Place of Burial: Cremated, location of ashes unknown
Immediate Family:

Son of Rev. Robert Sallee James and Zerelda Elizabeth James
Husband of Anna James
Partner of Malvina Timms and Mdoza Thompson
Father of Elvira May Willis; Emma James; Robert Franklin James; Private and Robert Franklin James
Brother of Joseph "Joe" F. Vaughn (claimed to be Frank James); Robert Reuben James; Jesse James, American Outlaw; Susan Lavenia Parmer and Sarah Sallie Cole
Half brother of Sarah "Sallie" Louisa Nicholson; John Thomas Samuel; Fanny Quantrill Hall; Archie Peyton Samuel and Mary Samuel

Occupation: farmer~outlaw with Quantill Raiders, James Gang, James-Younger Gang, American Outlaw, Outlaw
Managed by: Patti Kay Gourley
Last Updated:

About Frank James

Frank James ORIGINAL NAME Alexander Franklin James BIRTH 10 Jan 1843 Kearney, Clay County, Missouri, USA DEATH 18 Feb 1915 (aged 72) BURIAL Hill Park Cemetery Independence, Jackson County, Missouri

Western Outlaw. He was born Alexander Franklin James in Kearney, Missouri to a Baptist minister,

Children Photo Robert Franklin James 1877–1959

Alexander Franklin "Frank" James (January 10, 1843 – February 18, 1915) was a famous American outlaw. He was the older brother of outlaw Jesse James.

He was born Alexander Franklin James in Kearney, Missouri to Baptist minister Reverend Robert Sallee James and his wife Zerelda (Cole) James, who had moved from Kentucky. He was the oldest of three children. His father died in 1851 and his mother re-married Benjamin Simms in 1852. After his death she married a third time to Dr. Reuben Samuel in 1855 when Frank was 13 years old. As a child, James showed interest in his late father's sizable library, especially the works of William Shakespeare. Census records show that James attended school regularly, and he reportedly wanted to become a teacher.

In 1861, when he was eighteen years old, the American Civil War began. Missouri remained in the Union although a minority favored secession (nearly three times more Missourians fought for the Union). The secessionists including Governor Jackson attempted to push the Union army out of the state but were eventually defeated. The James family was from the heavily Confederate western portion of the state. On September 13, 1861, the Missouri State Guard, including private Frank James, besieged Lexington, Missouri. Frank fell ill and was left behind when the Confederate forces later retreated. He surrendered to the Union troops, was paroled, and was allowed to return home. On his arrival, however, he was arrested by the local pro-Union militia and was forced to sign an oath of allegiance to the Union.

After the withdrawal of regular Confederate troops in the fall of 1864, a bitter guerrilla conflict soon began between bands of pro-Confederate irregulars (commonly known as bushwhackers) and the Union homeguards. By early 1863, Frank, ignoring his parole and oath of allegiance, had joined the guerrilla band of Fernando Scott, a former saddler. He soon switched to the more active command led by William Clarke Quantrill.

Guerrilla warfare was brutal, and both sides committed atrocities, including shooting their prisoners. Union militiamen searching for Fernando Scott raided the Samuel farm and briefly hanged Dr. Reuben Samuel, Frank's stepfather, torturing him to reveal the location of the guerrillas. Shortly afterward, Frank took part with Quantrill's company in the August 21, 1863, Lawrence Massacre where approximately 200 mostly unarmed civilians were murdered.

During his years as a bandit, James was involved in at least four murders between 1868 and 1876, resulting in the deaths of bank employees or citizens. The most famous incident was the disastrous Northfield, Minnesota, raid on September 7, 1876, that ended with the death or capture of most of the gang.

Frank James was an employee of Aaron Mittenthal, the future grandfather of composer Aaron Copland, at his Dallas dry-goods store. It was James's theft of the store's profits that convinced the Mittenthals to leave Texas and return to New York City.

Five months after the killing of his brother Jesse in 1882, Frank James boarded a train to Jefferson City, Missouri, where he had an appointment with the governor in the state capitol. Placing his holster in Governor Crittenden's hands, he explained,

"I have been hunted for twenty-one years, have literally lived in the saddle, have never known a day of perfect peace. It was one long, anxious, inexorable, eternal vigil." He then ended his statement by saying, "Governor, I haven't let another man touch my gun since 1861." Accounts say that James surrendered with the understanding that he would not be extradited to Northfield, Minnesota.

He was tried for only two of the robberies/murders – one in Gallatin, Missouri for the July 15, 1881 robbery of the Rock Island Line train at Winston, Missouri, in which the train engineer and a passenger were killed, and the other in Huntsville, Alabama for the March 11, 1881 robbery of a United States Army Corps of Engineers payroll at Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Among others, former Confederate General Joseph Orville Shelby testified on James' behalf in the Missouri trial. He was acquitted in both Missouri and Alabama. Missouri accepted legal jurisdiction over him for other charges, but they never came to trial. He was never extradited to Minnesota for his connection with the Northfield Raid.

His New York Times obituary summarized his arrest and acquittal:

"In 1882 ... Frank James surrendered in Jefferson City, MO. After his surrender James was taken to Independence, MO., where he was held in jail three weeks, and later to Gallatin, where he remained in jail a year awaiting trial. Finally James was acquitted and went to Oklahoma to live with his mother. He never was in the penitentiary and never was convicted of any of the charges against him." In the last thirty years of his life, James worked a variety of jobs, including as a shoe salesman and then as a burlesque theater ticket taker in St. Louis. One of the theater's spins to attract patrons was their use of the phrase "Come get your ticket punched by the legendary Frank James." He also served as an AT&T telegraph operator in St. Joseph, Missouri. James took up the lecture circuit, while residing in Sherman, Texas. In 1902, former Missourian Sam Hildreth, a leading thoroughbred horse trainer and owner, hired James as the betting commissioner at the Fair Grounds Race Track in New Orleans. He returned to North Texas area where he was a shoe salesman at Sanger Brothers in Dallas.

In his final years, James returned to the James Farm, giving tours for the sum of 25 cents. He died there on February 18, 1915, aged 72 years. He left behind his wife Annie Ralston James and one son.

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Frank James's Timeline

January 10, 1843
Kearney, Clay County, MO, United States
March 13, 1859
Age 16
Age 26
South Dakota, United States
February 6, 1878
Age 35
Nashville, Davidson County, TN, United States
February 18, 1915
Age 72
Washington Township, Clay County, MO, United States

Alexander Franklin James Death Certificate on record at:

Full Name: Alexander Franklin James
Date of Death: February 18, 1915
Death Place: Washington Twp, Clay County, MO
Cause of Death: apoplexy - cerebreal
Age: 72 yrs, 1 mos, 8 days
Sex: M; Color or Race: W; Married;
Birth Date: Jan 10, 1843
Birthplace: Clay County, MO
Occupation: farmer
Father: Robert James, born in KY
Mother: Zerella Cole, born in KY
Informant: Robert James, Kearney, MO

February 1915
Age 72
Cremated, location of ashes unknown Profile:

Burial: Cremated, location of ashes is unknown.