The Life and

Trial

of

Frank James

 

Chapter 2

The second day of the trial:

After a long discussion among the attorneys in regard to the admissibility of Dick Liddell's testimony, he was permitted by the Court to take the stand, and testified as follows:

Dick LiddelI am 31 years old. Was born and raised in Jackson County. I know Frank and Jesse James. First got acquainted with them in 1870, at Robert Hudspeth's, in Jackson County, eight miles from Independence, in Sinabar Township. The Hudspeths are farmers. I was working for them, first for Robert Hudspeth. I saw the James brothers there a dozen times or more from 1870 to 1875. I saw them together some times and sometimes separate. I saw Frank and Jesse James, Cole and John Younger and Tom McDaniel. I have seen two or three of them there together—namely, Jesse James. John Younger and James McDaniel; never saw all five together; they were generally armed and on horseback; they would stay around there may be a day and a night, or two nights, or may be not more than two hours; I supposed from what I heard and saw that they went together in a band.

Objection being made to the wide range of the testimony, the Court ruled that the State must confine itself to showing the preparation for a perpetration of the robbery and murder at Winston.

Witness further testified:

There was a gang known as the James boys; I belonged to it at one time: I joined four years ago this fall, in the latter part of September, at Hudspeth's; I saw Jesse James at Ben Morrow's one day; Ben lives at Port Osage Township: I didn't go with him at once. I did afterwards. The band was Jesse James, Ed. Miller, Bill Ryan, Tucker Basham and Wood Hite. That was in the fall of 1870, in Jackson County, of this State. From there we went to six miles from Independence. I left shortly after that. The others left—that is, part went and part remained. Jesse James and Miller told me they went to Tennessee. I went to Tennessee in the summer of 1880. I went to Nashville. First I went to the High Ferry pike. I went with Jesse James. There we found Frank and Jesse James and their families. We stayed there two weeks. We remained in Nashville nearly a year after that. The others came there in the winter of 1880-that is, Bill Ryan and Jim Cummings. Bill Ryan was from Jackson County. Bill Ryan, myself and Jesse James went there together. That was my second trip. Ed. Miller was not there while I was there. Ryan and Miller stayed with Jesse. Cummings stayed with Frank awhile. Afterwards they boarded with a lady named Kent. I last saw Ryan in the last of February, 1881, about three weeks before I left Nashville. I don't know where he went. He got up and left very mysteriously. I have never seen him since. Jesse James lived for a while with Frank on the High Ferry pike. Then he boarded with Mrs. Kent, and then moved to Edgefield. He moved from there over with Frank on Fatherland street some time in February, 1881. Frank moved there the last of January or first of February, into a brown frame of one story, with four rooms and a porch. The house was No. 814. It was rented from Lindsay. While Frank was living there, there were with him Jesse James, Jim Cummings [note: Jim Cummins—His name is misspelled just about everywhere. It's one of the things that made the authorities not believe him when he tried to surrender], and Bill Ryan. Frank and Jesse and I left March 26, 1881. Bill Ryan had been captured, and we took a scare and lit out. I had seen Bill the day he was captured. He was going to Logan County, Kentucky, to old man Hite's. I first learned about his capture when I got a paper on Saturday describing Ryan's capture on Friday. We got ready and left about dark.

We left on horseback. Frank had a horse of his own. Jesse and. I captured a couple. We were twenty miles when those two horses gave out, and we got a couple more. We went to old man Hite's. We were armed. I had two pistols. Jesse and Frank had a Winchester rifle apiece. It was forty miles from Nashville to Mr. Hite's. We got there at sun-up. At the house we found Mr. Hite, wife and daughter; Mr. Norris, wife, and girl, and Wood Hite. We stayed there a week. There were some officers from Tennessee came after us. We went from there to Mr. Hites nephew's, three miles off—Frank, and Jesse, and Wood Hite and myself. We stayed there a week, and went back to the old man's. We were all armed. We remained there only one night, leaving on Sunday night for Nelson County, Ky., 150 miles off. Frank and Jesse and I went up there on horseback. There was no one I knew when I got there. We stopped at Johnny Pence's, Bud Hall's, and Doc Hoskins. An arrangement was there entered into for robbery by myself, Frank and Jesse James, and Clarence Hite. Wood Hite came afterwards. We first agreed to take the express where the train crossed the river. The river was high, and they had to transfer by boat. The river went down; and we got there too late, and we arranged to take a train here somewhere. This was talked over at Bob Hall's. Wood Hite was then at his father's. This was the latter part of April or first of May, 1881. Jesse's family at Nashville was a wife and one child. Frank's consisted of a wife and two children, living at Fatherland street. Jesse's wife came to Nelson County shortly after we got there.

From there she said she was going to Missouri. I never saw her after that till Jesse was killed. Jesse told me she came to Kansas City. He told me he was renting a house in Kansas City. He told me this in the fall of 1881. I don't know about Frank's wife except that Jesse told me she came out on the train to Gen. Joe Shelby's at Saline. She brought a sewing machine with her and gave it to her mother. Jesse first told me, and Frank told me afterwards about it. That sewing machine was shipped to Gen. Shelby's; so Jesse told me. Jesse made some kick about Frank's wife coming here, and Frank told me that it was all right, and that he told her to come and give the machine to her mother. This he told me on some road somewhere between here and her mother. He objected because he said she told some things she ought not to. Her mother was Mrs. Ralston, and she lived some six miles from Independence. At Nashville Frank James went by the name of B. J. Woodson, Jesse was J. D. Howard, Ryan was Tom Hill, and I was Smith, from Nelson County. Frank and Jesse shipped two guns by Johnny Pence to John T. Ford, at Lexington. They were a Winchester rifle and a breech-loading shot gun. Jesse and I came here together on the cars to Kearney in May, 1881. We came over the Hannibal and St. Joseph part of the way. We went from there to Mrs. Samuels. Frank came out a week later on the following Saturday via the Louisville and Indianapolis. Mrs. Samuels is mother to Frank and Jesse James. She lived four miles from Kearney. I had been to her house before. Wood Hite came afterward. We found Clarence Hite here, he having come out with Jesse's wife to Kansas City, and then came to Mr. Samuels'.

More on the cast of characters in The Outlaws

Wood Hite was not at Hall's when the plan for the robbery was made. The others left word where they would meet him. Clarence Hite was 20 years old. Wood was 33 or 34 years of age. When in Missouri I don't think he wore whiskers. If he did they were thin and light. His name in the gang in Missouri I could not give. We had to change names many times. I was Joe. Frank was Ben in Tennessee and Buck here, and Jesse was Dave in Tennessee. From Mrs. Samuels' I went on the cars to Clay County, and went back on the cars. My horse I bought of Hudspeth. He was a chestnut bay, with several distinguishing marks. At Mrs. Samuels' I found Frank James and Wood and Clarence Hite. Jesse came along afterwards. Jesse had bought a horse from his half-brother, Johnny Samuels. We started out in pursuance of an agreement about a week after. We four started on horseback—Frank, Jesse, Wood and myself. Clarence went on the cars to Chillicothe. We were going there to take a train. I rode the sorrel, Jesse rode a bay, and Frank and Wood Hite rode horses that Wood Hite and I took from a rack in Liberty. From Mrs. Samuels' we started to Ford's, in Ray County, and got there about three o'clock in the morning, and left there the next morning. The Widow Bolton, sister of Charley Ford, lived there a .mile and a half southeast from Richmond. From there we went to Chillicothe, at a moderate gait all day. We got dinner on the way. At night we four stayed at a church on the prairie. We got to Chillicothe about ten, stopping a mile and a half from town in the timber. Wood Hite went. in after Clarence, and found him, and Clarence came out with him. The roads were so muddy that we went back, Jesse and myself to the old lady, Wood and Frank to the Fords', and Clarence to Mrs. Samuels' also. We stayed there three or four days.

Shortly after this we started out again. Four went horseback; one on the cars, Wood going on the train. We came up to this county to look out a place to take a train. Frank was riding a roan pony. He took her at Richmond, and Wood Hite had a little bay mare, taken at the same time. Jesse and I had the horses we rode on the previous trip. The horses gotten at Liberty were turned loose at Richmond. We started that night, and camped out before daylight somewhere in the woods. We were to meet Wood Hite at Gallatin. We stopped and had dinner with a Dutchman in a one-story frame close to the road with a large barn 100 yards from it. He had a family of five or six children. He had a number of fine cows, and sold milk at Kidder. I left my leggings there and had to go back after them. I reckon the place was ten or fifteen miles from Gallatin. At that time I had short whiskers all over my face. Jesse was 5 feet 11½ inches high, round face, pug nose, dark sandy whiskers and blue eyes. He weighed 195 pounds and stood very straight. Frank James had burnsides and mustache. His whiskers were darker than his mustache. From that Dutchman's we went to Gallatin, first stopping in the timber to wait for Wood Hite. This was almost a mile from the town, on the road to Winston. I have never been to the place since.

We met Wood there. We started back. Jesse got sick with toothache, and the creosote he used swelled his jaw and his face and he had to go back. Clarence went on foot, and Frank, Jesse, Wood and myself went on and stopped with a man named Wolfenberger, some sixteen miles from there. I helped him load up a load of wood next morning. We had supper and breakfast there, and left next day. Clarence stayed somewhere else. Jesse was very sick and we had to wait on him. We started for Mrs. Samuels', and Jesse was so sick we had to stop at an old stockman's. Wood Hite took the train to the old lady's and Clarence stayed with us. (Witness described the stockman's place as he described every other place where they stopped, with. great minuteness.) Jesse got the stockman to take him in a buggy to Hamilton Depot. The others then started for Mrs. Samuels', but Frank and I went to Mrs. Bolton's, in Ray County. There was a week or ten days between the first and second trip. Frank and I stayed at Mrs. Bolton's a week, and then met Jesse, Clarence, and Wood at Mrs. Samuels'. In about a week or ten days we went on another trip. I rode the same horse as before; so did Jesse. Frank was riding a mare he got close to Elkhorn. We had a sorrel horse shod on the first trip by an old man. I remember a dog and stool there. The dog jumped up on and knocked down the stool, and the horse started, knocking over the blacksmith, and I had to bring the horse back to the shop. We had some difficulty in making change. On the last trip we all had horses. Frank rode the bay mare from Elkhorn. Wood rode a dark bay, taken by Frank and I from old man Frazier in Elkhorn. Frank rode the sorrel I had started on.

We started at night. I assisted in robbing the Winston train on this trip. We started from Mr. Samuels' at dark, coming northeast to Gallatin. We rode till daylight, when we came into a skirt of timber; where we stayed all night till sunrise. I don't reckon we came over fifteen miles that night. Next day we scattered. Frank and Clarence went together, and I, Jesse and Wood Hite together. We three ate dinner at a white house on the road, with an old shed stable back of it. There we met Frank and Clarence late in the evening. That night we stayed in the timber where we next met Wood on the former trip. We didn't get supper that night. We left next morning. We left, Frank and Clarence together, Jesse and Wood together and I by myself, all going different routes. I got my horse shod in Gallatin on the last trip we were here. I can pick out the shop. It is off the square. It is an old frame shop. There is another shop right below. I had my horse shod all around. I also got a pair of fenders on the square to keep my horse from interfering. The saddler who sold them was a heavy man, with a dark mustache and a dark complexion. We had quite a little conversation over this trade. We were to meet about a mile from Winston. I got dinner on the way, and went on to meet the boys in a skirt of timber near where the road crosses the track. We waited till dark, hitched our horses and went up on foot to the train. Wood and I went. together, and met Frank, Jesse and Clarence at the depot.

The arrangement was that I and Clarence should capture the engineer, and the others do the rest. Clarence and I got up back of the tender, and went over on top to the engine. We had two pistols. We kept quiet till the train stopped; then we hollered to go ahead. We shot to scare those fellows, who both ran onto the pilot.. The first run was about two hundred yards, then a stop. Then the engineer opened the throttle to the usual level. We couldn't stop it. Frank came out and shut off steam, and as she slacked we jumped off while it was running. Frank and Clarence got off first. I went back after Jesse, who was still in the express car. Jesse jumped first, and I followed. We got $700 or $800 that night in packages. It was all good money. We all got together then, except Wood, who had been knocked down as Frank pulled the baggage-man out of the car, and we never saw him. Frank talked to me about the robbery afterward. He said he thought they had killed two men. Jesse said he shot one, he knew, and that Frank killed one. He saw him peep in at the window, and thought he killed him. From there we went to our horses, taking our time. We all unhitched, except Clarence, who cut his halter-strap. From there we went to Crooked River. The money was divided in a pasture, just before daylight. Jesse divided, giving us about $130 apiece, before we got to Crooked River. Wood and I then went to Ford's, the others went toward their mother's. I stayed at Ford's about a week, and then went to Mrs. Samuels', but found no one but the family there. Jesse and Frank came to the Fords' a week later, and then all five of us went to Mrs. Samuels'. We left in a wagon. All the horses had been previously turned loose.

We went to Kansas City, crossing on the bridge. Jesse and Charley Ford got out at Independence. Frank and Wood Hite went to Doc Reed's, about four miles from Ralston. Clarence and I went to McCraw's, fifteen miles east of Independence. Three or four weeks after I saw Frank James in Ray County, in September or October. He was at Widow Bolton's. He came there one night and left the next night for Kentucky with Charley Ford and Clarence Hite. They went to Richmond, missed a train, and took a buggy to the R. and L. junction and went to Kentucky. I have never seen him since. We were all armed with pistols at Winston. I had on a plaid suit; Frank had a bluish suit, all alike. I don't remember Jesse's suit. He had a dark striped coat and pants, and had on a big duster. Clarence had a dark suit, all alike. Wood had pants and coat of different cloth. I saw the guns that were shipped. I saw them at Mrs. Samuels'. Frank and Jesse had them. We didn't have them at Winston. The robbery was in 1881, in July. Either Frank or Jesse designated the meeting place at Gallatin, because no one else knew anything about the country.

At the close of Liddell's direct examination a recess was taken for fifteen minutes, when Liddell, being recalled to the stand, further testified in reply to questions put by the defense, as follows: By Mr. Phillips: I went back to Jefferson City with Sheriff Timberlake in 1882, in January or February. I was there shortly after that with Mr. Craig, of Kansas City. I saw Governor Crittenden both times, first at the depot and the other time at his office. I don't remember telling the Governor at either of those times that after the Winston robbery Frank James upbraided Jesse for killing any one, or reminded him of the agreement before the robbery that no one should be hurt or killed.

At this stage of the proceedings Governor Thomas T. Crittenden was, by consent of counsel, called out of time, in order to save him the trouble of staying here till his name could be reached in the usual order, and testified in behalf of the defense as follows:

By Mr. Phillips: Liddell did make such a statement to me as propounded just now. I think it was the second time he was at Jefferson City. It drew out of asking him why they killed an innocent man engaged in his duties. He said that it was not the intention to do it; that the understanding was there was to be no killing; that Frank had said there was to be no blood shed, and that after it was over Frank said, "Jesse, why did you shoot that man? I thought the understanding was that no one was to be killed, and I would not have gone into it if I had known or thought there was to be anything of that sort done." To which Jesse said, " By G-d, I thought that the boys were pulling from me, and I wanted to make them a common band of murderers to hold them up to me."
 

Return to the Life and Trial of Frank James, Chapter 1

Go to Chapter 3


 

 


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