June 26, 2023
This just in: some of the facts in my Jesse James stories might be untrue. Which Jesse James stories? You know, the one with facts in them.
Daily Whip Out: "Crazy Jesse James"
Here are a couple corrections, rebuttals and additions to my postings:
"While Jesse undoubtedly had some input, the James-Younger gang, which met its end at Northfield, Minnesota in 1876, was co-led by Frank James and Cole Younger. The number of their robberies is debatable. Jesse wasn't a leader until 1879, when he formed his own gang. He was by then almost certainly suffering from lead poisoning, having a .36 caliber bullet fired from an 1851 Colt Navy revolver imbedded in his right lung since May, 1865. Among the textbook symptoms he exhibited were poor judgement, extreme mood swings and paranoia. Between 1879 and his death in 1882, he was definitely involved in the Oct. 8, 1879 train robbery at Glendale, the robbery of the Dovey coal mine's company store in Muhlenberg County, Ky. in the spring of 1880, the robberies of two stagecoaches near Mammoth Cave, Ky. on Sept. 3, 1880 and the robbery of a government paymaster near Muscle Shoals, Al. on March 11, 1881. He is almost universally implicated in the July 15, 1881 train robbery at Winston, Mo. and the Sept. 7, 1881 train robbery at Blue Cut (in present-day Independence, Mo.). They were definitely committed by members of his gang, most likely led by James Andrew "Dick" Liddil. who, with Charlie Ford, robbed a stagecoach near Excelsior Springs, Mo. on August 15, 1881 and, with Bob & Charlie Ford and Clarence & Wood Hite, a stagecoach near Lexington, Mo. on Aug. 25, 1881. There is ample reason to doubt that Jesse took part in the train robberies at Winston and Blue Cut."
Daily Whip Out: "Paranoid Jesse James"
Whatever You Want Him to Be
"I think this is what has enabled Jesse to be interesting for so long. He can be what you want him to be —the romantic Robin Hood character who steals from the rich and gives to the poor, the freedom fighter who handed out social justice rather than currency, the political terrorist who murdered in the name of a cause but who is ultimately defeated in the same way we must hope to defeat terrorism. But that is all what WE want him to be. What we think he is based on what we think he did. A real person, manipulated through time until he is lost. In that sense, he's probably more like Robin Hood than we realize.
"'At intervals they invited all their neighbors to their Big Bottom place and served an excellent dinner, which was followed by dancing. Hospitality is the soul of the south.' St. Louis Post Dispatch June 24, 1923, containing interviews with those who knew Jesse and Zee during their time in Tennessee. 'He was a lithe, handsome fellow, in spite of chin whiskers which would have ruined a more virile face, and he rode like a Centaur.' Same newspaper."
Daily Whip Out: "The Angel Jesse James"
Somewhere between what historians have said he did and what his enemies claimed he did and what we want to believe he did is the real Jesse, but as Michelle Pollard points out, above, Jesse has been manipulated so much through time he has all but been lost. Well, this may sound pretentious, but I intend to find the real Jesse. How? By showing every aspect of his crazy life—vetted to the max—until it sits up and sings.
For starters, did Jesse James and his fellow robbers wear bandana masks like in all the old Westerns we grew up watching?
The Adair, Iowa Robbery
“Got out of there, damn you get out of there; we are grangers, and rob the rich and give to the poor.” …The remaining robbers, fully masked Ku-klux style sacked the express safe…"
—St. Louis Daily Globe July 23, 1873
Okay, there goes that concept. Ha. I have a hunch there will be a few more before we go to press.
"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but rather their inward significance."