Thursday, April 3, 2014

In Search Of... Jesse James

Jesse James was shot and killed by Bob Ford on this date in 1882.

"Yet in 1948, J. Frank Dalton claimed he was Jesse James.  Is it possible that Jesse James could've perpetrated a hoax on the entire country for over 60 years?" So begins an episode of In Search Of... from 1981, that you can watch on You Tube HERE.

Jesse James was not the Robin Hood-figure of popular legend. In reality, he and his brother were veterans of the Civil War from Missouri who fought on the Confederate side as part of a succession of guerrilla groups who perpetrated a series of notorious massacres, sometimes of unarmed men and boys. Like some other bitter ex-Confederates, after the Civil War ended Jesse James and his brother became outlaws, robbing banks. The favorable Jesse James legend was created and nurtured at this time by the pro-Confederate editor of the Kansas City Times newspaper, John Newman Edwards.

"Who knows if the real Jesse James is buried in the plot in Kearney, Missouri?" asks Leonard Nimoy rhetorically at the end of this episode of In Search Of...  Well, in 1995, Jesse James' body was exhumed from that plot and was subjected to DNA testing, confirming his identity.

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