The James-Younger Gang

The James-Younger Gang

  • The James-Younger Gang is probably the most famous of all the outlaw bands.
  • Originating out of a Missouri bush-whacking background during the American Civil War, these desperados turned to crime between 1860 – 1882.
  • They later expanded into Kentucky, Iowa, Texas, Arkansas, West Virginia, and Kansas.
  • They are credited with the first ever daylight, peace-time, armed robbery of a U.S. bank.
  • The gang had two core families: The James Brothers (Jesse and Frank) and the Younger Brothers (Cole, Jim, John, and Bob).
  • Other brothers came and went, including the Fords (Robert and Charles), McDaniels (William and Tom), Pences (Bud and Donny), Shepards (George and Oliver), and the Wilkersons (Bill and James).
  • At various times the gang was also said to contain Thomas Coleman, John Jarrett, Arthur McCoy, Jacob Gregg, Joab Perry, Hobbs Kerry, Jim Anderson, Matthew Nelson, Archie Clement, Allen Parmer, Charles Taylor, Clell Miller, Charlie Pitts, Bill Chadwell, Ben Cooper, and Red Munkers / Munkirs.
  • The James and Younger Brothers were excellent horsemen who traded and raced thoroughbreds.
  • Although they killed a numbers of people on raids, they were well-educated and could pass as gentlemen.
  • The gang gained notoriety for robbing stagecoaches, trains, and banks.
  • The Pinkerton Detective Agency was eventually hired to track down the outlaws, but they evaded capture with the support of family and friends.
  • A huge reward was offered in the hope that one of their own members would betray the infamous leaders.
  • Robert Ford succumbed.  Ford shot Jesse James in the back of the head, in his own home, while he was straightening a picture on the wall.  This murder signaled the end of the James-Younger Gang.


Legends Of America, “The James-Younger Gang: Terrorism In The Heartland,” at

HistoryNet, “James-Younger Gang,” at

Rosa, Joseph, G. Age of the Gunfighter: Man and Weapons on the Frontier, 1840-1900. Oklahoma: U of Oklahoma P, 1995.

Wikipedia, “James-Younger Gang,” at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s