Folk Hero Legends of the Old West




Jesse James as he looked when

hiding out in Paso Robles in 1868-69

(September 5, 1847 – April 3, 1882)

Jesse and Frank James

taken in the mid 1870's

Frank James

said to be 21 years old in this picture

January 10, 1843 – February 18, 1915


Jesse James, whom a special A&E Television program calls, "far and away the most infamous and best-known outlaw in our history."


Of James, crime historian Jay Robert Nash asserts, "Millions of words would be written about this handsome, dashing and utterly ruthless bank and

train robber. To many of his peers, he would appear a folklore hero who took vengeance in their name upon an industrial society that was grinding

the old agrarian lifestyle to ashes. To others, Jesse James and his band represented the last vestiges of the Old South and its lost cause of secession... He was at large for sixteen years. He committed dozens of daring robberies and killed at least a half-dozen or more men. He died at the age of





September 5, 1847, Jesse James is born in Clay County, Missouri, son of a Baptist minister and slaveholder Robert James and his wife

Zerelda.  Jesse is 5 years younger than his brother Frank.  Story goes he died in Nashville, TN in 1882...assonated so story tells...I heard

stories myself that he was living in Grandbury a Texas hide out for outlaws for many years...rumors run wild.


Jesse's father was a hemp farmer and died when Jesse was just 3 years old.  Tis said Jesse rode with the Quantillis Raiders..."He was

raiding Union towns during the Civil War under the flag of the Confederate cause."  as told by his grandfather...  Because he robbed big

banks, the railroad and other big institutions he was a hero to the common man...The dime novel stories had him as just a bank robber but

he was doing most of this as part of the war between the North and South it is told...

In the summer of 1863, the James farm was brutally attacked by Union soldiers.

Jesse was 16 when he and Frank became Confederate guerrilla soldiers,

riding alongside William Quantrill and “Bloody Bill” Anderson. They were

legends in their own time, popular in Missouri for actively trying to further the Confederate cause.


Movies, books, dime novels, and tall tales of his doings is what Hollywood is

made of...legendary rumors, hearsay, and what someone heard someone

tell...another thing we hear is after April 24th, 1874, Jesse was also a family

man marrying his first cousin, Aerelda "Zee" Mimms, who is named for

Jesse's mother.

The History Channel said, "The story of Jesse James is one of America's most familiar myths..."  The myth of a Colt-packing, six-chambered desperado, yet a Robin Hood, and a Family man, and most of all a Southerner of the Confederate.




"Paso Robles is sometimes referred to as the wild west of the California wine industry, but ironically Paso Robles does have a connection

to the wild west that most people don't know about.  The famous outlaw Jessie James had more than one relative who lived in the area

and owned property in the area.  Dury James, Jesse's uncle lived on a ranch in the Adelaida District from 1868 to 1909.  Another relative,

Dr. Woodson James, operated a hotel at the Sulfur Hot Springs town.  History has it that Jessie and his brother Frank were frequent

visitors at the Dury Ranch, which was known as La Ponza Ranch.  One such visit had Jessie laid up at the Sulfur Hot Springs, recovering

from a gunshot wound he sustained during a train heist.  The old timers in town remembered him as a drinker and a gambler that was

rumored to hang out at the Saloons in Paso Robles.  Jessie felt safe knowing that the maze of tunnels under the old Inn allowed him ample

escape routes if the need ever arose.  In spite of the nationwide manhunt to capture Jessie, he managed to allude the best of them, and

escape back to Missouri with a new identity, only to be shot in the back by one of his friends."    Quoted from:



From Pioneer Pages 1996 edition  Story has it that Jesse and Frank worked as cowhands

for their Uncle Drury, and you hear a number of stories about tales of Jesse in the hot mud baths to assuage his many bullet wounds.  While staying in Paso Robles area

the James brothers were law-abiding cowhands and did nothing to discredit their

Uncle Drury.  As pointed out by the late Paso Robles historian Angus MacLean in

his book, The Ghosts of Frank and Jesse James, Drury James held, "...a highly

respected and influential place in the community."  He would not have tolerated

illegal activities by his two outlaw nephews.


Tis said the brothers arrived in Paso Robles in the summer of 1868...stories tell of

them being here through the winter and some stories say they were here for near 2 years, we even hear stories of Frank returning to Paso Robles a number of times

after Jesse was killed.  A number of stories confirm that they were hiding out from

the Missouri State Militia, and worked on their uncle's 30,000 La Panza Ranch.

The film Biography of Jesse James see full movie...


Story tells that Frank came out on a train to the end of the line then got a stage coach to Paso Robles Jesse took stagecoach to New York where

he got a steamer around cape horn where in Panama he got another steamer up to San Francisco the took a stagecoach to Paso Robles

Ship was the Santiago de Cuba that he boarded June 8th 1868.

Jesse was 21 years old when he got to Paso Robles.  There uncle Drury James first came

to Paso on a trail drive from Southern California driving cattle up the El Camino Real to the

Gold Miners near San Francisco to sell them for beef, then on his trip back south he had

chance to jump in the ancient native hot springs just off the trail, and had the vision after the

sulfur waters healed his saddle sores from the long cattle drive, to turn the area into a health

resort.  He made a deal with the guys that owned the land grant that was








It is told that Jesse and Frank were getting a little wild around town, and there was some saying

they had figured out who Jesse was and because of Drury's status in the town no one did

anything, but he thought best to get them out of he took them to San Francisco where

he bought them both steamer tickets around Cape Horn to New York...


Drury James, uncle of Jesse and Frank

James, cattleman, rancher, and the man

that had to vision to take the hot springs

and turn Paso Robles into a health resort.



But the hideous crimes of the James gang read as something quite different in some papers. Journalists sympathetic to the Confederate cause, like John Newman Edwards, painted Jesse as defending southern ideals and fighting against the establishment -- the corrupt railroad corporations and banks controlled by Northern interests. The legend of the victimized farm boy from Missouri who fought against Northern oppressors spread far and wide, reaching New York, California, Chicago and New Mexico. Jesse himself came to believe the image he created. "All of a sudden, he's in newspapers across the country," author Deb Goodrich comments in the film. "It's a lot easier to buy into that legend than it is to take a long, hard look at yourself."


Drury James brother of Robert James father of Frank and Jesse James.

What makes Jesse a totally fascinating character is the human trait he brought to outlawry, akin only to Robin Hood. "Like his famous predecessor in folklore (although in fact James was a real person), Jesse James robbed from the rich and was kind to the poor," explains Encyclopaedia Britannica's Annals of America series. "(He) was always willing to help some cowpoke who was 'down on his luck'."

Like anyone who has made an incredible dent in his/her own texture of time, Jesse rose above the realm of mortal fame by playing his own life on a human level. He preferred to be known as one of earth's seedlings who fought back against the sequoia of (what he saw) oppression. And by driving his pursuers crazy with anxiety and anger on their own level, that made his victories and, yes, the pursuit, too that much more thrilling.





from dates on a timeline below we can see that he was more than likely on his trip to Paso


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.


Frank is said to have visited here several times after his release from prison.  Was in prison for 3 years

just waiting to be tried for 3 years and was finally let out.


Blackburn and Drury James married sisters in a combined wedding.


Greyhound Stage Lines



Jesse was shot April 3rd, 1882

find also the date of 1882 that he was shot??????


October 5, 1882

Frank surrenders to authorities and is subsequently acquitted. Later in life, he forms a traveling show with Cole Younger called "The Great Cole Younger and Frank James Historical Wild West."

Frank will die in 1915 at Zerelda's old homestead; Jesse's mother herself passed away in 1911, having spent years charging tourists a quarter apiece to take pebbles from Jesse's grave in her front yard.

Jesse's son wrote a book about him, and some 40 years after his death, Jesse's children even appeared in a movie about him called "Jesse James Under the Black Flag."


They thought they be famous for supposedly killing Jesse James but after the fact they were put down and ridiculed

by people and their lives became miserable...


In 1884 Charles Ford killed himself.  Robert Ford left Missouri for Colorado where he ran a saloon until an admirer

of Jesse James- Deputy Sheriff Ed O' Kelly shot him with a shot gun in 1982.


Story tells from Jesse James kin, and seems to confirm that Jesse James was not killed by Robert Ford, and he died of

old age in Grandbury, Texas where many other outlaws had gone to live and be buried. 


After breakfast on April 3, 1882, Jesse turned to straighten a picture on a wall of his home, and Bob shot Jesse in the back of the head. Jesse died instantly at age 34. People in Missouri were outraged at the method used to capture him and considered it a cowardly assassination. Within three months, Frank surrendered to Crittenden. The juries would not convict on the meager evidence, so Frank resumed a quiet life.


James Dean Documentary

In 1953 James Dean Episode: "The Capture of Jesse James"




Jesse James Under the Black Flag

Written & Directed by Franklin B. Coates

Cast :
Jesse James Jr. .... Himself/Jesse James
Diana Reed - Marguerite Hungerford
Franklin B. Coates

James joins Quantrill’s raiders, a guerrilla force which fought against union sympathizers during the Civil War. James takes allegiance to the Black Flag, the raiders’ banner. After the war he receives kind treatment from a judge concerning his acts of crime and later meets and falls in love with Zee. They return home to Missouri after the Civil War hoping to live a life of peace, but he is falsely accused of robbing a bank. He is forced to take up a life of crime by being branded an outlaw. Crimes are committed and blamed on him, his family is maimed by the Pinkerton Detective Agency, but all the while James is able to perform charitable acts for citizens. James is finally assassinated by Bob Ford. All is told in a flashback style by Jesse James Jr. to an eastern beau asking for his daughter's hand in marriage.