The Life and



Frank James


Chapter 3

The third day of the trial:

On August 27th the trial of Frank James, for murder in the first degree, was resumed at eight o'clock. Dick Liddell being cross-examined, testified as follows:

By Mr. Phillips: "When I left Jackson County I went to Vernon County somewhere along. in 1875 or 1876 and worked for my father, and some other parties also."

Question. What time were you tried there?

Objected to and the objection overruled.

"I don't remember the date of the trial," witness continued. "The party associated with me on trial was named Frakes. I was in the Penitentiary for that offense thirty-one and a half months. I left in June, but cannot give the year. I went to Hudspeth's, in Jackson County. I first saw Jesse James at Ben Morrow's, in 1879. I also saw Ed Miller and Wood Hite. I think this was in the latter part of September, 1879. I saw Bill Ryan and Tucker Basham at other places. Frank James was not there at that time. Up to 1879 I had not met Frank James. I joined the gang in 1879. We scattered out at this time. I went to Ft. Scott and stayed there about three months. I went the latter part of October or the first of November. We had been in some trouble and thought it best to scatter."

Q. What trouble?

To this question counsel for the State objected, as being an endeavor to investigate another and distinct offense. The point being raised that witness had a right to decline to answer if he should criminate himself, the Court informed witness of his privilege.

Mr. Phillips here stated his intention to investigate the Glendale robbery, which occurred October, 1879, and was therefore, so far as any question of privilege was concerned, barred by the statute of limitations.

Mr. Wallace averred that this offense was not barred, and the Court remarked that the statute did not run against robbery.

To this Mr. Phillips retorted that he didn't know whether the Glendale affair was a robbery or a larceny, which called forth the observation from Mr. Wallace that if the defense went into the Glendale matter the State would take up the robbery at Blue Cut.

Witness further testified: "From Fort Scott I went to Carthage; then came up to Six Miles, and went over to Mrs. Samuels', and from there, in July, went to Tennessee. Jesse James and Bill Ryan went with me to Tennessee."

Witness here detailed the course taken en route to Tennessee. "On this trip we did not see Joe Shelby or stop at his place. I never saw Shelby but once in my life, and that was in November, 1880. I was at his house then one evening and came back next morning again. We crossed the Mississippi at Cape Girardeau, went to old man Hite's in Logan County, Kentucky, and went to Tennessee to Frank James'. From 1874 1 didn't see Frank till I saw him in Tennessee at his place, three miles from Nashville, on the High Ferry Pike. From Frank's we went back to old man Hite's, and then I went back to Frank James' place in August, and stayed four or six weeks. From there we went to Atlanta. We left on Saturday night by rail, returning Sunday morning, a week later. We next returned to Missouri. We arrived about the 1st of November, 1880. Jesse James only came with me. Bill Ryan had come out in September previous. We came out after Bill Ryan. We didn't know but what we might do something. We went back without doing anything. We went back the same route. Bill Ryan, Jim Cummings, Jesse James and myself were the party that went back to Tennessee. Jim Cummings was five feet eleven inches high, very slender, with sandy hair and whiskers and blue eyes. He was about forty or forty-one years old. Mr. James (the defendant) and he are about one age. I never heard about his being a married man. First met Jim Cummings on the 1st of November, 1880, at Ford's, near Richmond, in Ray County. On this trip South we saw Gen. Joe Shelby at his house, or rather about 100 yards from his house, getting out hemp weed. I and Cummings were ahead and the others were behind, we having previously separated to meet on Shelby's place. We rode up to the barn and then I went on foot to Gen. Shelby. We were not all together at the time we met Shelby.

Q. Did not Shelby on that occasion state to Jesse James that there were a couple of young men who had been arrested for the Concordia bank robbery, that he didn't believe that those men had anything to do with it, and asked Jesse if he knew anything about it, and didn't Jesse James turn to you and say, "There is that man that hit the Dutchman over the head and knocked him down," to which you made no reply?

A. There was never any such conversation between us.

Witness continuing said "I went to Nashville, part of the way on horseback and partly by rail. I got there first and the others arrived two weeks later. Frank James was still living at his place until the last of January or first of February, 1881, when he moved into Edgefield. I had not seen Ryan for three weeks before his arrest, and have not seen him since. He was arrested for a breach of the peace, in which he drew a pistol, and was put into Nashville Jail. We left as soon as we heard of Ryan's arrest. We left March 26, and went to old man Hite's on the morning of the 27th. We borrowed the horses on which we made this trip. We didn't ask their owners' permission to use them, they being asleep. [Laughter.] Clarence Hite was the first one to tell us about the officers from Tennessee being on our tracks. Mr. Norris told us about seeing a posse of men fixing to go out somewhere. That same day (Sunday) we saw three men coming riding by the house. We thought they were coming after us, and Jesse and Frank and myself fixed ourselves. Frank went and fixed himself a place in the parlor by the window. I was in the hall behind the door, and Jesse on the opposite side of the hall near the door. I decline to answer about any expeditions in 1879 on the ground that I do not desire to commit myself. I decline to answer who went with me. The defendant was not with me. From Hite's, in 1881, we went to Logan County, Ky., where I stopped first at old Dr. Haskin's, and afterward at Bob Hall's, and then started to Missouri. At Bob Hall's we made the arrangement about coming to Missouri. We went to bid Johnny Pence good-bye. By "we" I mean Frank James, Jesse James and myself. We went on horseback from Hall's to Louisville. I decline to answer where I got my horse. Jesse James went with me to Louisville, and I came to Missouri with Jesse James. The arrangement was that we were to come out here to take the express where it crossed the river at Kansas City, the river being high so that trains could not cross. There was no other definite object right at that time. From Mrs. Samuels, on the last of May or 1st of June we learned that the river had fallen, and this project was abandoned. I was in Clay County or Ray in June, and made one trip to Jackson County. The Chillicothe trip was some time in June, and only took four or five days. Here the witness repeated the details of the Chillicothe trip, telling how they went into a church because of the rain, and had no supper or breakfast, and how Wood Hite went after Clarence, who had gone ahead by rail to bring out food, which was eaten in the woods.

More on the cast of characters in The Outlaws

The rest of the cross-examination of Liddell may be accurately described by saying that Mr. Phillips took the witness over every step of ground referred to by him in his testimony in chief without eliciting anything which tended in anyway to contradict that testimony. If anything Liddell's testimony to-day was more full and particular to dates, places, persons, and description than on Saturday. He told how he had since paid a visit to Gallatin, recognized some of the persons referred to in his direct testimony, such as Mr. Hamilton, the saddler; who sold him the fenders for his horse, and Mr. Potts, the blacksmith, who shod his horse. He detailed facts and circumstances without the slightest hesitation or confusion, and freely admitted that he was here now under guard of Marshal Langhorn, of Kansas City, ever since leaving that last-named town. His testimony was given in an easy, fluent, even, matter-of-fact way, and in a conversational tone. He was at no time embarrassed, and probably made but one slip all morning, when he described Woolfenberger's house, where the gang ate shortly before the Winston murder, as being southwest of Gallatin, whereas it is southeast. The State's counsel let the defense ask all the questions they wanted without objection, and witness did not seek to evade telling anything—unless it had a tendency to criminate himself.

A little flash of feeling passed between Mr. Phillips and the witness towards the close of the cross-examination. Witness was asked about eating at a Mrs. Montgomery's, and answered that he knew nothing about Mrs. Montgomery, and was not with any parties who ate there, so far as he knew. He then turned to Mr. Phillips, and asked what time the question was supposed to refer to. The defendant's counsel tartly remarked that it would be time for witness to cross-examine him when the time came, when the Court administered a sharp rebuke to counsel; stating that witness had a right to ask the question of counsel, and that counsel must observe due courtesy towards witness.

Liddell redescribed the train robbery at Winston. He said that he and Clarence Hite were on the engine all the time except the time he went back over the coal to see if the brakes were on, and the time he went into the express car after Jesse James, after the thing was ended. The baggage or express car had solid doors. Jesse came out of the forward door when the train stopped and they all got off, and Frank came through the same door when he came over the tender to shut off steam. Witness heard firing back in the rear cars while he was still on the tender to the number of six or seven shots, and before he did any shooting himself. Witness did not fire a shot till after the engineer and fireman had run out on the pilot, when he and Clarence Hite fired two or three times each to bring them back. Witness did not hear any shooting at all after Frank James came over the tender. The shooting I heard was just after we started and before the first halt. If he heard a shot after the first halt he didn't remember it. After the robbery witness and Wood Hite went to the Fords', getting there the Saturday night following the Friday of the robbery, where they were joined by Jesse and Frank James and Clarence Hite. "I was at Nichols' house right after this, with the other four. We got there at midnight, and only stayed a few minutes to eat all the cold grub they had. Nichols and his wife were present. I don't think we were in the house, but that we sat around the platform of the well. I was also at Joe Hall's. Jesse and I stopped there one night to get some butter milk. I don't remember any one coming down to the fence to see us. Nichols' place is about half a mile from Mrs. Samuels'."

Witness further explicitly denied ever seeing Jim Cummings during the summer of 1881. He denied also that in September, 1881, in company with Jesse James, Wood Hite and Jim Cummings, he met Joe Shelby in a lane near Page City, when Shelby was on horseback and in his shirt sleeves, and declared he had not seen Shelby except the time at his house and last Thursday at Kansas City. He denied that at Page City Shelby had asked where Frank James was, or that Jesse James had answered that Frank's health was such that he had been South for years, or that Shelby then asked witness when he had seen Frank, and that the reply had been that he had not seen him for two years. No such conversation ever occurred.

Witness also emphatically denied telling Joe B. Chiles, at Kansas City, that Frank James was not at the Winston robbery, but stated that he had a conversation with Chiles, in which Chiles said he had a pass from Governor Crittenden, and that be had been riding around on it, but that he had never looked for the James boys; never had tried to find them, and did not want to. Witness admitted that at or about the time of his arrest in Kansas City, be might have told Major McGhee that he (witness) was not at Winston. It was not probable he would go around telling everybody he was there.

Witness also denied in toto telling Frank Tutt, Coal Oil Inspector at Lexington, on the same occasion, that he didn't know where Frank James was, and that he had not been with the party for years, on account of Jesse and Frank having had trouble. Witness denied having heard Jesse James on another occasion tell John Samuels (Frank' James' half brother) that Frank was in Tennessee or Kentucky, and had gone South on account of his health, but he said he heard them asking for Frank, and that Jesse said he would be at Mrs. Samuels' in a few days. Witness also declined to answer the question, so far as inquiry by Mrs. Samuels was concerned, on the ground that it would criminate himself. Liddell declined to tell when or where he last saw Wood Hite, or when he first heard of his death, and declined also to answer whether Wood Hite was dead or not. He was in Ray County when he first heard of it. Was at Mrs. Bolton's at the time, with her brothers Wilbur, Captain, Charley and Bob Ford. From Mrs. Bolton's he went to Kansas City. He remembered Mrs. Bolton's house being raided in January, 1882, and crept out that night through a door. Hid next day in a field, and went to Kansas City about ten days later, but first went to Bill Ford's, uncle of Charley and Bob. There he first met Sheriff Timberlake, about a quarter of a mile from the house, in a pasture. Had been negotiating for a surrender with Governor Crittenden through Mrs. Bolton, who had brought him word to surrender to Sheriff Timberlake, the condition being that he was not to be prosecuted, but was to give evidence and assist in the capture of the James brothers.

Court here took a recess till 1:30 p. m. On the reassembling of the court after recess Dick Liddell again took the stand, and testified that he had been in jail in Alabama for eight months, but had been released on his own recognizance to come to Kansas City, and there bailed by Messrs. Craig and Timberlake to come to Gallatin. I was turned out on April 28, 1883, stayed in Huntsville, Ala., a week, went to Nashville, and came on to Kansas City in June; have since been out West in Kansas and the Indian Territory. "Mr. Wallace and Mr. Craig and those gentlemen paid my expenses; got back to Kansas two weeks last Friday. While last at Kansas City I boarded at the Court House in care of a Deputy Marshal. I had passes to travel on the railroads. Mr. Longhorne has charge of me. He has served a writ on me two weeks ago. I have not been put in jail under it, and have not given any bond. I paid my own way from Alabama, Bob and Charley Ford having sent me $100 when I was there. I had only enough to get to St. Louis, and came the rest of the way on my carpet-sack and pistols. Have been to St. Louis since on a pass furnished by Mr. Wallace. I redeemed my carpet-sack and pistols. Capt. Craig got them for me. I have not been engaged in any business since my return from Alabama."

Re-direct examination by Mr. Wallace: "At Winston we all had two pistols except Wood Hite, who had but one. And leaving the train we all loaded up, Frank and Jesse, Clarence and Wood and myself. The defendant loaded up and said he had fired several shots, he and Jesse both. I saw him loading his pistol. On one of these trips Frank had the little bay mare from Elkhorn, and on the second trip the horse I had shod was the Matthews horse. When I saw Sheriff Timberlake I told him I had sent a party to see the Governor. I don't know that I told Mr. Timberlake full details at that time, but I told him shortly after. I think it was after Clarence Hite was captured, in February, 1882—two or three weeks after I had given myself up. Jesse never had a horse after the Winston robbery. I never was with him when he was on horseback after that. In Kansas City, during the weeks immediately after the Winston robbery, the defendant and his companions when they went anywhere had to walk."

By Mr. Phillips: "At the time of the Winston robbery the defendant wore long Burnside whiskers and a mustache."

William Earthman was recalled, and testified: "At Nashville Frank James wore whiskers long all over his face, the whiskers being a little darker than his hair. I arrested Bill Ryan, not because he was drunk and carried a pistol, but because he said he was a robber and an outlaw against the State and country."

J. Thomas Ford testified as follows: "I live in Ray County; am the father of Bob and Charley Ford. Have lived in Ray County, two and a half miles north of Richmond. In 1881 Mrs. Bolton, my daughter, lived half a mile east of Richmond. I know the defendant. I saw him in 1881. I heard of the Winston robbery. I saw the defendant a short time before that, between the 1st and 10th of July. He was alone. I went down there and ate dinner with him at my sister's. He went by the name of Hall. The defendant is the man I saw on that occasion."

Cross-examined: "My son, Charles, in 1881, lived at the Harbison farm, where Mrs. Bolton kept house for him. Wilbur was there that year till August. Charley and Cap rented the farm in March, 1880, and Mrs. Bolton kept house for them. Cap went to Richmond, Mo., and Wilbur took his place. They had all previously been living at my house. Mrs. Bolton lived with me for five years prior to moving to the Harbison place. Had seen Mr. Hall (the defendant) in the May previous to July, 1881. My son John told me who he really was the Sunday evening in May. I knew at that time that the officers of the law were trying to find Frank James. I told my wife, but never told any of my children that didn't already know it. I have seen Jesse James two or three times. First saw him in 1879 or 1880, when he came to my house. I know Dick Liddell. Think he first passed my house once with Jesse James in 1879 or 1880, when they stopped and got their supper. Afterwards I saw Wood Hite under similar circumstances in the fall of 1879 or 1880. It was in 1879 and not in 1880. I never knew Clarence Hite. Had often seen Jim Cummings in Clay and Ray Counties. He lived five or six miles from me. I remember also seeing Wood Hite and Jesse James at my place in September, 1881. Know James C. Mason, a neighbor of mine. I never told him shortly after Jesse James was killed that Frank was not in the Winston or Blue Cut robbery, or that he had not been in the county for a long time, or that I never knew anything about their being at my son's house. I always tried to keep from saying anything about them, because I thought it policy to do so. I never made any such statement to Wm. D. Rice either."

Re-direct—By Mr. Wallace: "When Frank James told me he hadn't seen his mother for five years it was at my son's, the last time I saw him there. My brother married Jim Cummings' sister. When I saw him the defendant wore 'sideburn' whiskers and a mustache. By Mr. Glover: Frank James said either he hadn't seen his mother for five years, or was trying to see her, or hadn't been in the county for five years. I haven't talked with Liddell since the winter of 1882. He was at my house twice since his surrender. He came there once before with Jesse James, some time in the summer of 1879. The last time I ever saw Wood Hite he was in company with Dick Liddell, in July or August, 1881. 1 never saw him, alive or dead, after that. I heard he was killed at the house where the boys were farming. Elias Ford, otherwise Capt. Ford, testified: I have been staying in Kansas City the last few weeks, but am now staying at Richmond. I know defendant. First saw him about the 1st of May, 1881, at Charley Ford's. When I saw him there were present Frank and Jesse James. I can't say about Liddell or Wood Hite being present or not. I walked with defendant that day. He went by the name of Hall. Jesse introduced him under that name. First saw Jesse in September, 1879, at at my father's, with Ed Miller. I have seen Frank James often since. In June and July; about the 1st of July, 1881, with Jesse, Dick Liddell, Clarence Hite and Wood Hite. Saw him next again about August 1. The same party were there then. They were riding. Frank was there a week or ten days. He had side whiskers and a mustache. I have a brother J. T. Ford. I know of a box shipped to him at Richmond. I couldn't see where it was from. It had a couple of guns in it. I opened it at John Ford's store, in Richmond. The guns were 'a double-barreled shot-gun and a Winchester. Jesse took the rifle off. I don't know who took the shot-gun. I know Jim Cummings. I got acquainted with him in 1871 or 1872; last saw him in the fall of 1881 at Charley Ford's house. I know him well."

The cross-examination of this witness, Elias Ford, afforded no matter of interest till he was asked if he did not help to bury the body of Wood Hite in the brush near the Woods pasture in Ray County, which question the State's counsel objected to, and the Court sustained the objection. Defendant's counsel then asked witness whether Dick Liddell didn't kill Wood Hite, which involved a similar objection and ruling. The Court also ruled that defendant need not answer a question as to whether he did not keep concealed the body of Wood Hite all day till it could be buried. The argument over this point was sharp and bitter. Defendant's counsel gave as their reason for putting the question that they desired to show that Liddell had killed Wood Hite, and then gone and given himself up, and given away the rest of the gang to secure immunity for that crime. The Court adhered to its previous ruling, that the questions asked were improper, and that a witness' conduct could not be shown by proof of special bad or immoral acts. Liddell's credibility might be attacked, but not in that manner.

Witness further stated that he had been working for Captain Craig, of Kansas City in looking after the James boys, and that he quit looking for them in October of last year. Since then he has been staying at his father's.

Re-direct-examination—By Mr. Wallace: "The Winston robbery was in July, 1881. Have not seen Jim Cummings since 1880."

Re-cross-examination: "I heard of Jim Cummings being in the neighborhood about June 18, 1882."

Mrs. Martha Bolton testified: "I live at Richmond, Mo. Am the daughter of Thos. Ford, and a sister of Bob and Charley Ford. I know Frank James. First saw him at my brother's in May, 1881. He came there one night with Jesse James. I first saw Jesse James in 1879 at my father's. Ed Miller was with him. At the May, 1881, visit Jesse stayed all night and Frank stayed a week, reading Shakespeare and other books in his room. I saw Dick Liddell, Wood Hite, and Clarence Hite there. They all went away together with Frank James. At that time Frank wore side whiskers and mustache, and went by the name of Hall. I saw him again two or three weeks after, in company with Dick Liddell. They went away together. He was gone two or three weeks, and come back again and stayed till the 4th, 5th and 6th of July, before the Winston robbery. After that I saw him and Jesse and Clarence Hite come there about the last of July. Wood Hite and Liddell were there already. That time they remained two days, and left together. I next saw Frank James about the 1st of October. He came with Charley Ford and Clarence Hite. Dick Liddell was already there. They all left my house together for Richmond. Never saw Frank James or Clarence Hite after that. I know Jim Cummings. He was once at my house in Richmond; that was in 1879, I believe. I did not see him the summer that I have described seeing the other men I have named. I have heard that Jim Cummings was there in the spring of 1881. Never heard of his being there in the summer or fall of 1881."

Cross-examined: "Liddell was in the house January 6, 1882, at the time of the raid, when he escaped, I didn't ask him how. Wood Hite is dead. He died December 5, 1881. He died about one hour before sunrise that morning."

The question of how Wood Hite came to his death, or what was done with his body, or where he was buried, were all peremptorily ruled out by the Court.

Witness continued: "The raid on my house was made about the 6th of January following the 5th of December on which Hite died. Liddell gave himself up alone the 20th of January, 1882. I went to Jefferson City to see the Governor on business, between January 6 and 20. Bob Ford sent me there on business. I went there to make arrangements for the surrender of Dick Liddell. Dick surrendered on condition of immunity from punishment, said that he would testify against the rest of the band. I know James C. Mason. He lives about three-quarters of a mile from me. I never told him, shortly after Jesse's death, that Wood and Clarence Hite, Jesse James, Dick Liddell and Jim Cummings were in the robberies, or that I thought Frank was trying to lead an honest life, and was different from Jesse, or that Frank would move to different places when Jesse would go to where he was, and when the detectives would come after Jesse, Frank would have to leave, or that Jesse James, Wood Hite, Clarence Hite, Dick Liddell and Jim Cummings were at my house just before and after the Winston robbery, and that Frank James was not. I did testify before the Coroner's inquest over Wood Hite's body, but I did not state at that inquest that I had not seen Frank James for two years, or that he had not been at my house or my brother's in that time."

An attempt by the defense to get witness to talk about the killing of Wood Hite, or of her conduct on the day of his death, was emphatically sat down on by the Court.  


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

Return to the Life and Trial of Frank James, Chapter 2

Go to Chapter 4



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