Jesse James and Frank James

 in Cowboy Wine Country

by Buffalo Benford


Jesse James is shot in Nashville.  After a gun fight with a militia that had come  to his mom's

to his mom's house he decided to head for the West Coast to hide out.  Frank James, his

brother, took the train, and Jesse took a steamer around the Horn from New York, because

of his gun shot to the lungs the train or horseback would have been too hard on the ailing

outlaw.  In California his uncle Drury James owned a hot springs in the new town of Paso

Robles.  Story goes he first came to El Paso De Robles in 1951 on a cattle drive, where

he visited the Hot Springs Hotel, which was at the Stage Coach stop.  In 1865, Drury be-

came a partner in the Paso Robles Inn buying a percentage of the resort.


Drury James hid out the outlaw Jesse and his brother Frank, and story goes that Jesse came

a few times a week to the hot springs from his uncles ranch, and healed his gunshot wound

 in the hot sulfur waters that had been healing springs since the Salinan Indians lived there,

and ancient tribes prior...then came the Spanish and established Casa del Paso de Robles. 

In 1813 they built a shelter over the springs.  Meanwhile back at the Springs...


After Jesse had healed his wounds and was getting restless in the small town, he and Frank

took the steamer again back to New York.  Still seen as a hero and a "Robin Hood" of

sorts, Jesse James was assassinated in 1882 by "...the coward Robert Ford."  More on

that movie down the page folks...

to be continued...


Jesse and Frank James



"They were dangerous men and killers, but, they were always kind to the poor people and often helped them. One story I like was when they stopped at a farm and asked for supper to be made. In those days that was common and the meals were paid for. The woman said she didn’t have much in the house to cook as she was just a poor widow who was about to lose her farm to the local banker. She cooked what she could find and the boys asked more about her plight. She said she owed the banker $800.00 she didn’t have and he was coming at 4:00p.m. that afternoon to get it. Jesse asked her what this man looked like and how he would be traveling to get to the farm. She told him and after the meal Jesse gave her $800.00 he said was a loan. Frank made out a receipt she was to copy in her own handwriting and told her to be sure to get the skinflint’s signature on that paper before handing over the money as that was the right way to do business of that sort.
You can see the rest coming! After the skinflint left the farm with his money the gang way-layed him and took back their $800.00. The woman had her farm and another banker had been hoodwinked."   





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 thirty-four."

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.




"I hear tell..."

Paso Robles -- "pass of the oaks" -- so named for the

clusters of oak trees scattered throughout the rolling hills.

It was established in 1870 by Drury James, uncle of

outlaw Jesse James (who reportedly hid out in tunnels

under the original Paso Robles Inn on Spring Street.)



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.

Frank is said to have visited Paso Robles 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.



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


"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 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 in 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 drinker and 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...


Brad Pitt plays the outlaw Jesse James in  "The Assassination of Jesse

James by the Coward Robert Ford," he will join a formidable fraternity

of celebrities who have stepped into the shoes of the legendary outlaw,

Jesse James.  Leading the list of Hollywood infamy are Robert

Duvall, Macdonald Carey, Rob Lowe, Colin Farrell. James Coburn,

Wendell Corey, James Keach, Kris Kristofferson, Hugh Beaumont and

James Drury.


The two most provocative names among the James impersonators, however,

are namesakes James Dean and Jesse James, Jr. Dean, whose brief acting

career and premature death earned him a celebrity arguably on a par with

that of the Missouri outlaw, played James in a 1953 segment of the "You Are

There" TV series entitled "The Capture of Jesse James."


James Jr., a son of Jesse James who grew up to be a Los Angeles attorney,

played his father in two 1921 silent films, "Jesse James as the Outlaw" and

"Jesse James Under the Black Flag."



The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford'' apart from two dozen or so other films about the legendary outlaw.  The lingering close-ups, absence of big shootouts and emphasis on psychology over action will probably disappoint viewers expecting a traditional Western, but the cerebral style is also what makes it a distinctive American classic.

The film is based on a novel by Ron Hansen about the final year of James's life and his relationship with Robert Ford, a young man who idolized James, joined his gang and ended up shooting his hero in the back of the head. It's a complex tale, told by screenwriter/director Andrew Dominik with originality, striking cinematography and sterling performances by Brad Pitt as James and Casey Affleck as Ford.

James was smart, cunning, moody and ruthless. Toward the end, he also was extremely paranoid. Pitt manages to convey all those aspects of James's personality without caricature or cliché and with minimum dialogue. In this movie, what's going on inside James's head is more significant than what he's doing with his fists or his pistol.    


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.


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 admirerof Jesse James- Deputy Sheriff Ed O' Kelly shot him with a shot

gun in 1982.


At a reunion of the Jesse James family in 2002 in Paso Robles, California, the start up of the James Family DNA Project was announced.  It was hosted by a great grandson of Jesse James, James R. Ross, a retired Superior Court judge.  Two other great grandsons of the outlaw and other family lines also attended from  all over the country. In 1995 Judge Ross employed DNA technology in the exhumation of Jesse James' body.  DNA then proved the body to be that of Jesse James, and disproved claims of a family relationship by others.


At the same time the James family was able to find the true members.  Over history and the years the James family had become disconnected.  The times including westward migration, the Civil War, and many in the James family after his death not wanting to be known as kin to the outlaw, found the family being lost. 


Joan Beamis, a James family member, put together the first genealogy, disseminated to other James family, and In 1970 she published "Background of a Bandit" with William E. Pullen.


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.


I am working on more research on Frank James coming back to Paso Robles, and even

being Baptized by the First Baptist Church.  I have a picture of the lake and location where

it took place near Paso Robles...


Drury James brother of Robert James,

and was uncle of Jesse and Frank.  Drury

James, cattleman, rancher, and the man

that had to vision to take the hot springs

and turn Paso Robles into a health resort

after healing in the springs from a long

cattle drive, and he stopped on the trail

to rest in the springs on Spring Street.













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