Jesse Woodson James - Circa 1882
Hired by the Adams Express Company to put an end to the depredations of the Younger-James Gang after its success bringing the train robbing outlaw Reno Brothers to justice, the Pinkerton Detective Agency of Alan Pinkerton sends a number of agents secretly into Missouri ... with disastrous results.
Sticking out like a sore thumb among the local residents, agent Joseph Whicher tries to talk his way into a job on the Samuel Farm, but only draws negative attention to himself when he stumbles verbally discussing local horse flesh ... one chance only, unknown riders (thought to be the James Brothers) soon kidnap and murder the poorly masquerading agent. Soon afterwards, two more agents, Captain Louis J. Lull and Captain John Boyle, actually do run into the prey they are hunting ... encountering Jim and John Younger on a country road outside the village of Roscoe, Missouri.
John Younger - 22 - 1875
On there way to see friends in Roscoe, the Younger's instantly suspect Lull and Boyle (they are accompanied by local Deputy Sheriff Edward Daniels) of being Pinkertons after the men stop the outlaws and ask them directions to a nearby farm. Tables turned with guns suddenly drawn (Boyle puts spurs to his horse and takes off for town), blood is drawn when Lull pulls out a hidden gun and shoots John Younger in the neck. Gunfire answered, John rides down the fleeing Lull, kills him with a round through his chest, and then returns to his brother (who has shot to death Daniels), falls off his horse and dies.
Jim Younger - 27 - 1875
Reacting to the deaths of his men, seething in Chicago, Allan Pinkerton sends even more agents into Missouri, determined to be done with the Jame and Younger boys once and for all.
Not Happy Campers
Receiving bad information that the James Brothers are hiding out in their mother's farmhouse (they are actually miles away), on the moonless night of the 26th, over a dozen Pinkerton agents and members of local law enforcement surround the structure. Calling out for the brothers to surrender, when no response is forthcoming, but the lights inside are dimmed, one agent hurls an incendiary device covered in cloth and soaked in oil through a window and into the home. Reacting to the flaming device, Archie Samuel kicks the sputtering object into the fire place ... where it explodes a second later, sending a wrath of shrapnel and flame through the home. In the explosion, Zerelda has her right arm destroyed (later that night it will be amputated), Archie has his chest crushed and dies, and the kitchen is ignited when kerosene stored in the pantry bursts into flames.
Already a killer, Jesse is a man livid for revenge. At first hearing the news, Frank has to stop his brother from riding into town and killing the first lawman he sees. Instead, he calms Jesse down and puts a focus to his brother's rage ... and in April, "unknown" gunmen kill neighboring farmer Daniel Askew, a former Union militiaman thought to have lent his spread out to the Pinkertons to use as a base. Not enough, Jesse next wants to go to Chicago to kill Pinkerton himself.
Jesse & Frank - 1872
Too dangerous, Jesse instead is convinced by Minnesota native and gang member Bill Chadwell that easier revenge is available ... along with a big fat payday ... the gang only needs to ride north to take down the First National Bank of Northfield, Minnesota (said to be owned by former Civil War general Adelbert Ames and his father-in-law, Union general and commander of New Orleans, Benjamin Butler). A grievous mistake, in September of 1876, the citizens of Northfield will show Jesse that he has come to the wrong locale for payback.
Bad Idea Bill