Sunday, August 25, 2013

Haunted Jesse James Farm

It is said that the James farm in Kearney, Missouri where the notorious outlaw Jesse James grew up is haunted. Jesse James’ parents moved from Kentucky to Kearney in 1842. 

His father was a Baptist minister who wanted his boys to be well educated. However, during a trip to the California gold fields he died leaving his sons without a father, Jesse was just 3 years old. 

His mother, Zerelda lived on this farm for the rest of her life, through three marriages and eight children. 

At the time of the Civil War in 1863, the James’ farm was brutally attacked by Union soldiers. Shortly afterward Jesse age 16 and his older brother Frank became Confederate guerilla soldiers, riding with William Quantrill and “Bloody Bill” Anderson.

Quantrill’s Raiders as they later became known operated out of Missouri. They ambushed Union patrols and supply convoys. They seized the mail and occasionally struck towns on the Kansas-Missouri border. Their primary focus though was against the local pro-Union civilians-- which they tried to drive out of the territory. 

At the end of the Civil War the James brothers, Jesse and Frank, were now officially outlaws. They began to attack trains, banks, and stagecoaches that were controlled by the Northern side, which had instated brutal control to the Missouri legislation.

Jesse and Frank
From 1860 to 1882, the James gang was the most feared band of outlaws in America. Responsible for 20 bank and train robberies they murdered countless individuals that stood in their way. They stole an estimated $200,000. Despite their ruthlessness, they became folk heroes to some. They literally became “legends in their own time.” 

The local citizens of Kearney kept quiet when they were home on the farm during this time. Clay County where the farm is located was in a part of Missouri called "Little Dixie," the entire state was 75% southern sympathizers. 

Both Jesse and Frank were devoted husbands and fathers who spent a lot of time with their families. They were not modern Robin Hoods though, for they kept the money they stole.

Jesse James Dime Novel
In 1869, the gang robbed a bank in Gallatin, Missouri. Jesse shot the banker through the heart feeling he was responsible for the callous murder of Bloody Bill Anderson. 

The James Gang lost some public favor after this. Local newspapers started to call for the capture of “this blood thirty gang.” 

Frustrated at how the locals protected them, Governor Crittenden had the railroad place an enormous price on the James brother’s heads. 

Pinkerton detectives hired by several bankers raided the James farm in 1875 thinking the older brothers were there. They threw a bomb in the window, killing Jesse and Frank’s younger half-brother, Archie as their mother watched. She lost part of her right arm and hand during this struggle.

In one bank robbery, several members of the gang were killed. After this, the Youngers, a part of their group, were sent to prison for 25 years. 

In 1882, the brothers planned one last robbery with Charley and Bob Ford. They did not know these brothers intended to betray them for the hefty price on their heads. 

On the morning they were to commit this robbery Jesse ate breakfast with the Ford’s, he then placed his gun on one of the farmhouse beds and stopped to straighten a picture that hung on the wall. 

Bob Ford shot Jesse in the back of the head. He died instantly and was buried in the side yard of the James’ farmhouse. His remains were later moved to the family plot at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Kearney.

James Farm 
The locals did not appreciate what the Ford brothers had done. Bob Ford, who was pardoned by Governor Crittenden was driven out of Missouri known as the coward who had shot Jesse. He traveled around in a Wild West show ironically about the James gang. 

He was shot and killed in Creede, Colorado in 1892. His older brother Charley stayed in Missouri but was shunned. He committed suicide ten years after his brother was murdered.

Frank James gave himself up after Jesse was killed. He was tried several times, but there never was enough evidence to convict him. He lived peacefully for the rest of his life at the farm. In later years he charged tourists money to give them a tour of the place.

The James farm and house has been considered haunted for over 100 years. Located off James Road in Kearney, Missouri the farm is a museum today. Employees at this farm still report odd occurrences. 

After the museum closes for the night many have spotted lights going on and off in the farmhouse. Others report that doors have slammed shut in front of them without cause.

Several witnesses have reported hearing horse hooves stomping outside on foggy nights. When investigated nothing has been found. 

Others have reported hearing whispered conversations inside the house when no one is there. Some have even heard the bomb going off or cries and gunshots as if a Civil War battle is happening outside. 

Many staff at the museum today will not go into the house alone. They state that they feel an unnatural intense presence in the home that scares them.

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