Jesse James Timeline

Jesse James

Jesse James



Just able barely to mount a horse and ride about a little in the spring of 1866, my life was
threatened daily, and I was forced to go heavily armed. The whole country was then full
of militia, robbing, plundering, and killing.

— Jesse James



December 28, 1841 Robert James and Zerelda Elizabeth Cole were married in Stamping Ground, Kentucky.
January 10, 1843 Alexander Franklin “Frank” James is born at the family form near Centerville (Kearney), Missouri.
July 19, 1845 Robert James Jr. was born on the James family farm. However, the baby died just 33 days later.
September 5, 1847 Jesse Woodson James is born at the James Farm in Kearney, Missouri.
November 25, 1849 Susan Lavenia James is born.
August 18, 1850 Reverend Robert James dies of cholera in a Placerville, California gold camp. The Reverend had been asked to serve as chaplain on a wagon train heading to California during the Gold Rush.
September 30, 1852 Zerelda marries Benjamin Simms, a neighboring farmer.
January 2, 1854 Benjamin Simms is killed in a horse accident.
September 25, 1855 Zerelda marries her third husband, Dr. Archie Reuben Samuel.
December 26, 1858 Sarah (Sallie) Louisa Samuel born to Zerelda and Rueben.
May 4, 1861 Frank James joins the Confederate Army at 18. Later he is discharged and joins William Clark Quantrill’s Raiders.
December 25, 1861 John Thomas Samuel was born to Zerelda and Rueben.
1862 Perry Samuel, the illegitimate son of Dr. Archie Reuban Samuel, is born out of wedlock by one of the slaves. The mulatto boy was raised as part of the Samuel family.
July 1862 Frank joins William Clark Quantrill’s Raiders.
August 21, 1863 William Clark Quantrill led a massacre of Lawrence, Kansas, in the early morning hours. His raiders tore through the Free-State town, robbing two banks, looting other buildings before setting them on fire, and killed more than 180 men, women, and children. Frank was a member of the Raiders and was part of the barbaric attack. There is some doubt as to whether Jesse was involved; however, he was said to have bragged about it later.
October 18, 1863 Fannie Quantrill Samuel born to Zerelda and Rueben.
Late, 1863 A party of Union soldiers invaded the Samuel farm looking for information about the location of Quantrill’s camp. Jesse, who was just fifteen at the time, was questioned, then horse-whipped when he refused to answer the soldiers’ questions. Dr. Samuel, who also denied knowing where the raider’s camp was located, was dragged from his house and was repeatedly hanged from a tree in the yard. Somehow, the doctor managed to survive the interrogation and torture.
1864 Jesse joins “Bloody” Bill Anderson’s guerilla forces at the age of sixteen.
September 27, 1864 William “Bloody Bill” Anderson led a raid on Centralia, Missouri, where a gang of more than 100 guerillas robbed the passengers of an incoming train. Twenty-four unarmed and wounded Union soldiers were dragged from the train by the frenzied ruffians and were murdered. An experienced Federal Infantry followed the band of guerrillas. About three miles south of Centralia, the Union forces were bushwhacked by the band and were nearly annihilated. Over 120 federal troops were killed. Only three of the guerrilla forces were reported to have been killed in the battle. Both Frank and Jesse were part of the battle. Jesse is said to have killed Union Major A.V. Johnson and is “credited” with taking the lives of seven other men on that tragic day. It is disputed that Frank and Jesse took part in the massacre of the unarmed Union soldiers earlier in the day.
October 1864 Union soldiers ambush ” Bloody” Bill Anderson’s guerrillas at Independence, Missouri. Several guerrillas are killed. Bill Anderson is killed and is decapitated later that day. Jesse James and a few other guerrillas escape.
May 10, 1865 Quantrill’s Raiders are ambushed by Union soldiers, where many are killed and captured. Quantrill is shot twice, one of which ends up fatal when he dies in June. One of the captured guerrillas is Jim Younger, who recently joined the guerrillas.
May 1865 Jesse rode into Lexington, Missouri, carrying a white flag. He was shot in the chest when he attempted to surrender by occupying Union troops. Surviving the attack, he crawled to safety.
Early February 1866 Jesse and Frank James meet with Cole Younger to plan their first bank robbery.
February 13, 1866 Frank James, Cole, and Jim Younger, and nine more members of the gang robbed the Clay County Savings Bank in Liberty, Missouri, of $62,000. Upon their retreat from the bank, a 17-year-old boy was killed. This was the gang’s first robbery and the first daytime robbery of any U.S. bank during peacetime.
July 26, 1866 Archie Peyton Samuel is born to Zerelda and Rueben.
October 30, 1866 Five members of the James-Younger Gang robbed The Alexander Mitchell and Co. Bank in Lexington, Missouri making off with $2,000. No one was injured. Though Frank and Jesse were said to have part of the robbery, other reports place them out of the state at the time.
1866-1867 John Newman Edward contributes to the fame of Jesse James and his gang by writing glorifying articles and “dime novels.”
March 2, 1867 The James-Younger Gang robbed the Judge John McClain Banking House of Savannah, Missouri.
May 22, 1867 With 12 members, the James-Younger Gang made off with $4,000 from the Hughes and Wasson Bank of Richmond, Missouri. Three men were shot and killed.
March 20, 1868 Credited with getting away with approximately $14,000, the gang hit the Nimrod Long Banking Co. of Russellville, Kentucky. One person was wounded, but there were no fatalities.
December 7, 1869 The James-Younger Gang hold up Davies County Savings Bank of Gallatin, Missouri, killing cashier John W. Sheets and wounding clerk William McDowell as he ran for the door. Making off with only $700, a $3,000 reward is offered for their capture.
June 3, 1871 Four members of the James-Younger Gang, the Ocobock Brothers’ Bank of Corydon, Iowa taking $6,000. No one was injured.
April 29, 1872 The James-Younger Gang, including 5 riders, robbed the Bank of Columbia in Columbia, Kentucky, killing cashier R.A.C. Martin in the process. The gang made off with $6,000.
September 26, 1872 Jesse, Frank, and one other member of their gang robbed the Kansas City Exposition Ticket Office at the fair of $8,000. One girl was shot.
May 27, 1873 Four members of the James-Younger Gang stole $4,100 from the Ste. Genevieve Savings Bank of St. Genevieve, Missouri. There were no injuries.
July 21, 1873 The James-Younger Gang robbed their first train near Adair, Iowa. They wrecked the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad Train during the robbery and overturned the engine. The train engineer died in the accident, and the gang made off with $3,000 from passengers and funds retrieved from the express car.
January 15, 1874 Jesse James and four members of the gang robbed their first stagecoach near Hot Springs, Arkansas, taking cash and jewels valued at approximately $3,000. No one was injured. After Jesse’s death, a good watch taken from one of the stage passengers was found among his effects.
January 31, 1874 Five to seven members of the gang held up the St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern Railroad train at Gads Hill, Missouri, making off with $12,000. No one was injured.
March 10, 1874 Pinkerton agent Joseph Whicher arrives in Clay County, Missouri. He plans to go to the James farm, become acquainted with Jesse and Frank, and then capture them. He is advised not to do this but attempts it anyway. The next day, his body is discovered, shot three times.
April 23, 1874 Jesse married his first cousin Zerelda Amanda Mimms in Kansas City, Missouri. The newlyweds honeymooned in Galveston, Texas.
April 1874 A stagecoach robbery in Austin, Texas, is credited to members of the gang, who made off with $3,000. No one was injured.
June of 1874 Frank James marries Annie Ralston in Omaha, Nebraska.
August 30, 1874 The Waverly-Lexington Omnibus Stagecoach was blamed on the James Gang; however, there is some question as to they were actually responsible. No one was injured.
December 7, 1874 The Tishomingo Savings Bank robbery in Corinth, Mississippi, is blamed on the James-Younger Gang. $10,000 was taken from the bank, and no one was injured. However, the blame for this robbery seems highly unlikely, as the James-Younger Gang robbed a train in Kansas just the very next day.
December 8, 1874 The Kansas Pacific Railroad in Muncie, Kansas, was held up by the James-Younger Gang, who made off with $55,000. No one was injured.
January 26, 1875 Thinking that the James Brothers were hiding out at the family farm, six Pinkerton agents surrounded their mother’s home near Kearney, Missouri. In an effort to lure them out, the agents tossed a smoke bomb into the house. However, Archie Samuel, thinking it was a loose stick from the fire, tossed it “back” into the fireplace when it exploded. The explosion killed the young boy and took the lower part of Zerelda’s arm off.
August 31, 1875 Jesse Edwards James is born to Zee and Jesse.
September 5, 1875 On Jesse’s 28th birthday, the James-Younger Gang robbed the Huntington Bank in Huntington, West Virginia, making off with somewhere between $10,000-$20,000. Unfortunately, one of their gang was shot during the robbery.
July 7, 1876 The Missouri-Pacific Railroad train in Rockey Cut, Missouri, was robbed of $15,000 by the James-Younger Gang.
September 7, 1876 In the infamous failed attempt to rob the First National Bank of Northfield, Minnesota, the James-Younger Gang was destroyed. Bank cashier Heyman refused to open the safe and ducked down. Angered, Jesse put a pistol to his head and shot him. The shot was heard beyond the bank and when the bank alarm began to go off, the Northfield citizens opened fire upon the gang. Charley Pitts and Bill Chadwell were killed. Cole, Jim, and Bob Younger were badly wounded but managed to escape. However, they were captured just two weeks later. Frank and Jesse escaped back to Missouri unharmed.
February 6, 1878 Robert Franklin James, Frank and Annie’s only child, is born at the Walton Farm.
June 17, 1879 Mary Susan James was born to Jesse and Zee James
October 8, 1879 The Chicago, Alton & St. Louis train at Glendale, Missouri, was robbed by the James Gang of about $10,000.
September 3, 1880 The brothers made off with $1,800 from a stagecoach in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. No one was injured.
February 1881 B. J. Woodson (a Frank James alias) rents a house for $8 a month on Fatherland Street in Nashville, Tennessee. A man by the name of John Davis Howard (a Jesse James alias) comes to visit.
March 11, 1881 $5200 was taken from a paymaster as he left a bank in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The James brothers are recognized.  No one was injured.
July 15, 1881 The James Gang rob the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad train near Winston, Missouri of $2,000. Frank murdered Frank McMillan and conductor William Westfall.
September 7, 1881 Their last train robbery was that of the Chicago and Alton train at Blue Cut, near Glendale, Missouri. The gang made off with $3000 in cash and jewelry taken from the passengers.
December 24, 1881 A Tom Howard (a Jesse James alias) and family rent a house on Lafayette Street in St. Joseph, Missouri.
April 3, 1882 Bob Ford with his brother Charles enter Jesse’s home at about 8:27 am. When Jesse turns to straighten a picture on the wall, Bob shoots him just below the right ear, killing him instantly. His body hit the wall then fell to the floor, lying on his back. Within no time at all, word quickly spread throughout the town that Jesse James had just been assassinated.
Late April 1882 The distraught Zee James is forced to sell almost all of her and her husband’s possessions to earn money, and she and her children move in with her brother in Kansas City.
October 5, 1882 Frank James surrenders to Missouri Governor Thomas Crittendon.
May 6, 1884 Charles Ford, scared to death of Frank James, has been on the run ever since his brother Bob killed Jesse. Moving constantly from town to town and changing his name several times, he finally gave up and committed suicide.
1885 Frank James is acquitted on all charges.
June 8, 1892 Bob Ford, Jesse’s killer, is himself shot down in a saloon in Creede, Colorado.
November 13, 1900 Zee James, who has suffered a deep depression ever since her husband Jesse’s death, dies herself. Zee is buried at the Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Kearney, Missouri.
1901 Dr. Samuel was placed in an Insane Asylum in St. Joseph, Missouri, where he remained until his death in 1908.
1903 Frank James and Cole Younger start James-Younger Wild West show.
March 1, 1908 Dr. Archie Rueben Samuel dies in a St. Joseph Insane Asylum.
February 10, 1911 Zerelda Samuel dies of a heart attack at the age of 86. She is buried at the Mt. Olivet Cemetery next to sons Jesse and Archie, husband Reuben, and daughter-in-law Zee.
February 18, 1915 Frank James dies at the age of 72


© Kathy Weiser-Alexander/Legends of America, updated June 2021.

Jesse James Dead

Jesse James Dead

Also See:

Jesse James – Folklore Hero or Cold-Blooded Killer?

James Younger Gang – Terrorizing the Midwest

Jesse James Missouri Attractions

Zee James – Jesse’s “Poor” Wife

The Infamous Younger Brothers