The Infamous Younger Brothers

John Harrison Younger (1851-1874) – The younger brother of Cole and Jim Younger, John was the 11th of 14 children born in the Younger clan. When brothers Cole and Jim joined William Quantrill’s Guerillas during the Civil War, John and his brother, Bob, were too young and stayed home to look after their mother and sisters.

After the war was over, when John and Bob had driven their mother into Independence, Missouri for supplies in January 1866, a soldier recognized the family and began to make rude comments about Cole. When 15-year-old John told him to be quiet, the soldier slapped him on the face with a frozen fish, at which point John pulled out a revolver and shot him between the eyes. After the dead soldier’s body was examined, it revealed a slingshot, so the killing was ruled as self-defense.

John Younger

John Younger

Soon after, the Younger family headed to Texas until mother Bersheba became ill and the Younger brothers, with the exception of Cole, took her back to Missouri in 1870. However, no sooner had they arrived when a posse seeking information about Cole began to harass John and Bob. Knocking Bob unconscious, the men hanged John four times, but obviously he lived to tell the tale.

When mother Bersheba died in June, Jim, John, and Bob began to move between Missouri and Texas for safety and on January 20, 1871, John shot a killed two Texas Deputy Sheriffs who attempted to arrest them.

Two years later, all three brothers joined the James-Younger Gang, where John was suspected to have taken part in the robbery of the Ste. Genevieve bank in Missouri in 1873 and a train robbery in Adair, Iowa the same year. On March 17, 1874, Jim and John were on the road between Roscoe and Osceola, Missouri when they encountered two Pinkerton agents and a constable from Osceola. A shootout began and John was shot through the neck and died. Also killed were St. Clair County Deputy Edwin Daniels and Pinkerton Agent Louis J. Lull. Jim managed to escape.

Bob Younger

Bob Younger was the baby of the Younger brothers. 

Robert “Bob” Ewing Younger (1853-1889) – The youngest of the Younger brothers, Bob was the 13th of 14 children. He was born on October 29, 1853, and well-educated in his early years.

When brothers Cole and Jim joined Quantrill’s Guerillas during the Civil War, Bob and his brother, John, were too young and stayed home to look after their mother and sisters. During the war, he saw his father killed by Union soldiers and his home burned to the ground. When his brothers formed the James-Younger Gang, along with Frank and Jesse James, Bob later joined them and for the next ten years robbed banks, trains, and stagecoaches across Missouri, Kansas, and other nearby states.

On September 7, 1876, the James-Younger Gang attempted to rob the bank in Northfield, Minnesota and when they killed a clerk, the townspeople began to fight back. In the ensuing shootout, Bob was wounded in the elbow.

All three Younger brothers were captured on September 21, 1876, and sent to prison. While there, Bob contracted tuberculosis and died on September 16, 1889. His body was returned to his home where is buried in the Lee Summit Historical Cemetery In Lees Summit, Missouri.

© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated February 2020.

Also See:

James Younger Gang – Terrorizing the Midwest

Jesse James – Folklore Hero or Cold-Blooded Killer?

Jesse James Timeline

Outlaws on the Frontier

Outlaw Gangs

3 thoughts on “The Infamous Younger Brothers”

  1. Where did the remaining members of the Younger Gang end up after being released from prison after the Northfield, Minnisota robbery? I have some rumours that at least two of the surviving Younger brothers ended up in Brownsville, Texas and had family there with them.

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