The Life and



Frank James


Chapter 4

The fourth day of the trial:

Here the jury entered the court-room, and Mrs. Bolton, taking the stand, was informed by the Court that she need not answer any self criminating questions. In answer to questions by Mr. Glover, the wit ness said: "On Sunday, December 5, 1881, Bud Harbison and William Jacobs were at my house. They reached it in the afternoon. We had dinner that day between 12 and 1 o'clock."

Q. In what room of your house was Wood Hite killed?

Objected to as being; a collateral matter, and that if it were to be gone into Dick Liddell would enter his appearance to the charge within thirty minutes. The Court overruled the objection.

A. He was killed in the dining-room. I don't know how long after that his body was taken up-stairs. I refuse to answer whether his body was taken up-stairs. I had nothing to do with his killing. [Counsel for defendant here admitted this to be a fact.] I do not know who took the body up-stairs or how long it remained there. 1 didn't go up stairs to see it, was not in the room afterwards, and haven't been in it since. I don't know when the body was taken down-stairs. I was there that night. I didn't see any one that evening but my own children. I don't know who took Wood Hite's body down-stairs. I saw no coffin there that day. I did not see the body carried out. I don't know when the body was taken out. I didn't tell William Jacobs nor Bud Harbison nor any one that Wood Hite's body was up-stairs. He was buried about two hundred yards from the house. His body was covered with a sheet when I saw it after it had been exhumed. Hite's body had been out there about five months before I saw it at the time of the inquest. In the winter time my dining-room and kitchen are all in one.

Here the Court ruled again that Liddell's connection with the killing of Wood Hite, or his whereabouts on the day of Hite's death, were not to be inquired of by this witness.

Witness further testified: Wood Hite was killed in December, and I left that house in February, as I understood Wood Hite and Jesse James were cousins.

At the close of this testimony Mr. Wallace vigorously protested against the manner in which the examination of Mrs. Bolton had been conducted by the defense, end flung down the challenge that if Liddell's connection with the Wood Hite killing was to be inquired into, he (Wallace) would enter Liddell's appearance to answer that charge, and it might be inquired of before the jury now trying Frank James.

Elias Ford, otherwise Captain Ford, being recalled, the Court notified defendant's counsel that while they might show this witness' connection with the Hite killing, they could not show the connection of any other witness with that matter.

Witness then testified: I was at Mrs. Bolton's on December 5, 1881. Wood Hite was killed in the dining-room of that house about 9 o'clock. I got there about ten minutes after the shooting. I didn't see the body taken up-stairs. The body stayed up-stairs till about 9 o'clock; in the evening. I refuse to answer who took the body out and buried it, on the ground that it would criminate myself. I saw the body taken out that night. Four persons carried the body out. I know where the body was buried—about one-quarter of a mile east of the house in the brush. There was no coffin. He was wrapped in a blanket and placed in a trench three feet deep, and covered with earth and some stones and brush. He was only partially clad in his clothes. He wore a gray suit when he was killed.

Re-direct—By Mr. Wallace; Dick Liddell was shot and wounded this time and was a long time, recovering from his wounds. This admission was jerked out suddenly, and was in before the jury before any one could prevent it. The prosecution kicked about it most vigorously.

Miss Ida Bolton, a thirteen-year-old girl, in a blue dress and straw hat, testified: I know Frank James. I see him now. I knew him well I saw him at Uncle Charley Ford's, a mile and a half east of Richmond, Mo. I lived there with him (Charley Ford) two years. During the second year I saw Mr. James, who went there by the name of Hall. I saw him five or six times. The first time I saw him was in May. Jesse James was there, too, going by the name of Johnson. That summer I also saw Dick Liddell, Clarence and Wood Hite. Liddell went by the name of Anderson, Clarence Hite by the name of Charley. Jackson and Wood Hite by the name of Grimes. After the first visit I saw defendant there two or three weeks later, and again saw Frank James there later in the summer. He wore side whiskers. I last saw him there in October, 1881. Clarence Hite and Dick Liddell were there. When defendant left that time, Clarence Hite and Uncle Charley went with him. I know Jim Cummings. I saw him in 1880, in the fall. That is the last time I saw him.

Cross-examined—By Mr. Glover: I came here Friday. Mr. Ballinger brought, me and paid my expenses. Have talked to Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Wallace about what my testimony would be. I have not talk ed it over with my mother, Mrs. Bolton. The last day I saw Frank James was the 9th or 10th of October, 1881. He was dressed in black coat, vest and pants. Saw Clarence Hite the same day. He wore dark clothes and a drummer's hat. I saw Dick Liddell that day, too. They left that day at 6 o'clock on foot, all. walking together. Uncle Charley Ford went with them. Cummings had not been there that year. In the summer of 1881 Jesse James came there. He was there the first day of May. He was there between May and October of 1881, but I don't remember the time. He came in the night. The first time Dick Liddell came, in the summer of 1881, Jesse James was with him. Dick wore a gray and Jesse a black suit. Dick had a mustache, but no whiskers, and Jesse had whiskers about an inch long. Dick had whiskers in the winter. Frank James was there from May 1 to May 6, 1881. Dick Liddell was there the first part of June. Clarence Hite was there some time in July. Wood Hite was there off and on all through the summer. I remember he was there in September, about the 16th or 17th of the month. I don't remember the day of Wood Hite's death, but remember the place. It was in 1881. He was killed in the morning about 7 or 8 o'clock. Uncle Bob Ford and ma and Dick Liddell were present when he died. I didn't see him taken up stairs. He was buried in the night. I don't know who took him out or who buried him, or how he was buried, or where.

I left the house in January, 1881, after the time an armed posse raided the house. Mother and I moved away from the house in March. I remember mother going to Jefferson City to see Governor Crittenden and her return. Dick Liddell left about a week after her return. The last time Jesse James left there was during the Christmas holidays of 1881. I saw Cummings there in the fall of 1880. I first saw him in 1878. Never saw him but twice. I have never heard of his being in that country in 1881.
Willie Bolton, a light-haired boy of 15, and brother of the last wit ness, testified: I know the defendant. I first saw him in May, 1881, about a mile east of Richmond, at the Harbison place, when Cap and Charley Ford were living there. Saw Frank James four or five times that summer. He had side whiskers at that time.

Cross-examined: I remember Wood Hite's death. He was killed about 8 or 9 o'clock on the morning of December 2, 1881. I saw the body that night. I heard the shooting at the time, went to the house from the barn, where I had been milking. I did not go into the room where the shooting occurred. I don't know when or by whom the dead body was taken up-stairs. His coat, vest and pants were removed and a horse blanket put on him. He was then taken down and buried in the Wood's pasture. In a conversation with A. Duval, in the presence of W. D. Rice, near the Ford residence, in Ray County, on August 17, 1883, I did not say I knew Frank James at our house as Mr. Hall, but did not know him to be Frank James, but that I intended to swear it was he anyway. I testified before the Coroner on the occasion of the inquest over Wood Hite. Don't remember any conversation with W. D. Rice shortly after that inquest. I did. not tell him my mother had made me swear the way I did at the inquest.

Brief proof was here made by the State that the different members of the Ford family had been brought into court on attachment.

James Hughes testified: I live at Richmond, Mo.; have been living in Ray County since 1830. I have seen the defendant since I have been here. I saw a gentleman that resembled him very much last fall a year ago at the depot in Richmond. I conversed with him. I think the defendant is the man. I saw him at the depot in September or October, 1881. I went to the train. There were three gentlemen wanting to get off on a freight train to the R. and L. Junction. The train didn't come, and the party I refer to asked if there was any other way of getting to the junction. I looked at my watch, and said it could be made by taking a hack. The prisoner and the two gentlemen who were with him got a 'bus at Mr. Swash's livery stable and went in the direction of the junction.

Cross-examined: I cannot remember how the party I speak of was dressed, or how he wore his whiskers.

Thomas Ford, or "Old Man Ford," was recalled to show that he was brought into court by attachment. He last saw Jim Cummings in the fall of 1881. Have never seen him since.

Cross-examined: I saw Cummings during 1878 and 1879, when I lived in Clay County. I don't remember the precise time at which I saw him. I don't think I saw him in 1879, but I am satisfied I saw him in 1880. I saw him five years ago last winter at my house in Ray County, and then again in 1880 at my house in Clay County.

The court here took a recess till 1:30 p. m. Joseph Mallory was the first witness called after recess, and testified: I have lived in this county about forty-three years. I remember hearing of the Winston robbery. I then lived eight miles west of Gallatin and four miles north east of Winston. I think I have seen the defendant before at Mr. Potts' shop getting his horse shod. It was Thursday morning prior to the robbery at Winston. He and another gentleman were there together. The other was a slender man of ordinary height, a little bumped in the back. They were getting a horse shod—a small bay nag. The defendant was holding the horse. I and he conversed there about most everything relative to Garfield's assassination, and so on, and defendant said he was going up to Nodaway to run a race there at the fair. Mr. Potts said they came from Caldwell, and they themselves said they came from Ray County.

Cross-examined—By Mr. Rush: Never saw any other strangers get horses shod at that shop. The other man present when the horse was shod was clad in a dark suit, but not of a solid color. Mr. Whitman and a Mr. Wm. Hughes were also there. I remember when the horse was shod the man went to pay Mr. Potts and said, "This is all the change I have got," pulling out some silver. The man that held the horse had whiskers on his face and chin about three or four inches long, of rather a light color. After I left the blacksmith shop I saw the two men going west. I did not see the defendant after that till I saw him in jail here. At that time I could not identify him on account of the dim light. I believe now that he is the man I saw at Mr. Potts' shop.

Jonas Potts testified: I live in Davies County, about four miles northeast of Winston. I have seen the defendant, Frank James. I saw him once at Independence, and before that at my shop some time in the latter part of June, 1881. He was at my house twice on or about the last of June, and again on either the 13th or 14th of July. I shod a horse for him. There was another man with him with full mustache and whiskers, which I think were colored. I met this other man here the other day. I knew him the moment I saw him. On the first time the horse shod was a sorrel horse of good size, with a blaze on his face. On that occasion my dog ran against the shoe-box and scared the horse, and he ran out of doors. This was shortly before noon. We had some little conversation when it came to paying. There was fifty cents short, and the other man (James) said he would play me a game of seven-up whether it was $1 or nothing. I told him I had no time, or he couldn't say that twice. As it was I had to send out and get change. On the other visit there came a slender fellow with the defendant. A slender man, tall, light-complexioned, with light whiskers and mustache, and a couple of black teeth. The other man called him Clarence. They came a little after sun-up and had us get them breakfast, and I shod a little bay mare for the defendant. I had considerable talk with the parties when they called the first time. Mr. James did most of the talking both times.

Cross-examined: Mr. James came both times with a different companion each time. At the first visit Liddell wore a heavy mustache and short whiskers all round his face. James had side whiskers that were darker than his mustache. Liddell wore a light plaid suit, rather worn, and a black hat. He had on boots, and the other man also. Mr. James' companion on the second visit wore light, grayish clothes. I would judge him to be 5 feet 10 inches, slim, with light complexion, blue eyes, light mustache, Burnside whiskers about an inch long. Frank James was dressed on this second occasion in a dark suit with a gold speck in it, and had his whiskers like they were on the previous visit. On this second visit Frank James talked a long time with Squire Mallory. This was about the 13th and 14th of July, 1881. The Winston robbery was on the 15th. I had never seen Liddell before, but was under the impression I had seen Mr. James, at the Kansas City Fair, when Goldsmith Maid trotted there, and at the Hamilton Fair. First saw Mr. James after his arrest at Independence. Went down there with Loss Ewing, of the Rock Island Road. He furnished the money, except what little I spent in a saloon. At that time I didn't come to any conclusion at all, but it was such a dark place that I didn't have a good chance to see him. When I got a good look at him, I was perfectly satisfied he was the man. Loss Ewing introduced me to him. I shook hands with him and don't think I did any talking. I didn't tell the defendant on that occasion that I had shod a horse for him once. Subsequently saw the defendant in the Gallatin Jail. Did not then fully make up my mind that he was the man. In June, I saw him in the court-room and in the Court House yard, and made up my mind that he was the man. I don't remember telling Marion Duncan, about a month after Jesse James' death, that I had seen Jesse James' picture, and that he was one of the men for whom I had shod a horse. I remember being slightly in liquor on that occasion, and that he was trying to pump me.

Q. Where did you get your liquor?

A. At Winston, I suppose, where you got yours. (Laughter.)

Witness added: I know John Dean. If I ever told him anything I don't. know it. I never told told Dean after I had been to Independence that I had never seen Frank James before. I don't remember telling G. H. Chapman after I had been to Gallatin that I had no way of telling whether Frank James was the man whose horse I had shod. I never made a similar denial to Robert Simpson, turnkey of the Independence Jail. I will explain my wife's shaking her head when Mrs. Annie Winburn asked her if Frank James was the man who ate at our place, by saying that she shook her head because she didn't want to tell; because there were too many sneaking round and listening. I never said on Saturday last in the Court House yard in the presence of F. W. Comstock that from what I had heard of Liddell's testimony, he might have had a horse shod at my place, but that I had no recollection of the transaction. I never said any such thing.

By Mr. Hamilton: I don't know any man by the name of Comstock, unless it be a man who was introduced to me who owns a sorrel horse. At the shop, when I shod his horse, the defendant gave me his name as Green Cooper, and said that he lived in Ray County and was a cattle dealer. I believe I have seen the little bay mare I shod on the trip in a livery stable at Liberty. She had on a pair of shoes in front that I thought I fitted up. I think I can recognize my work when I see it. I saw this mare about a month or six weeks after the Winston robbery. I was going through the stable, when a boy showed me the mare, telling me not to go too near her, as she was a kicker and was Jesse James' mare.

Re-cross-examined: I believe those were the shoes I fitted up for the mare. I heard from some source such a mare was reported to be there, and I went there to see her. The defendant gave his name as Green Cooper on the first visit. I may have told Squire Mallory of this name. Don't think I ever told Mr. Hughes.  

G. W. Whitman testified: I live in Davies' County, four miles north east of Winston. Have seen the defendant. I saw him at Mr. Ports' shop on the 14th of July, 1881. He got a mare shod there on Thursday morning. There was a man with him with light whiskers and just a patch on his chin. He had a small-sized mare. It was a bay mare, about 15 1-2 hands high. The defendant was getting her shod. I was there about an hour and a half. Mr. Mallory and Mr. Hughes were there, too. Squire Mallory and defendant did all the talking, except that as the two strangers left, the defendant, in reply to a remark of mine, said he thought Mr. Potts had done a good job. I have since seen the defendant at the June term of court and recognized him as the man I saw the morning in July, 1881.

Cross-examined: When the horse was shod defendant wore lightish whiskers, rather short all around his face except the chin.

Re-direct: He had a mustache, too. I am positive he is the man.

More on the cast of characters in The Outlaws

Frank R. O'Neill testified: I live in St. Louis, and have been connected with the St. Louis Republican as reporter for nearly the last ten years. I know the defendant. First saw him in October, 1882, before he gave himself up. Had an interview with him and published the same by consent. Stated in that interview that he went to Nashville in the fall of 1877, being then in ill-health; that he farmed and drove for the Indiana Lumber Company, and lived a hard, laborious life for four years; that he was well known in Nashville as B. J. Woodson; that there he met Jesse, whom he had not seen for two years; that he left Nashville. He also talked about Cummings and described him as a man easily frightened. Cummings went away and they were afraid he had gone to give the boys away. Ryan was arrested shortly after. What the defendant had done since that time was passed in the inter view by mutual consent. He spoke of Cummings as a lazy man who drawled in his speech. He said, too, that Jesse, Jim Cummings and Dick Liddell were all at Nashville at the time he was; that after Ryan was arrested he and Jesse left. He said he went unarmed while in Nashville, and that he never had any trouble there except on one trifling occasion, and that he numbered several of the officials among his friends. When armed he carried a Winchester and a pair of Remingtons. Defendant had read the interview as printed. He noticed no error.

Witness was here asked where the interview took place, but begged to be relieved from stating further than that it occurred in Missouri. The defendant's wife was present. Witness declined to state who were present besides those named, and was given till morning to decide whether he would answer touching the place and time of the interview and the names of the parties present thereat.

Mrs. Jonas Potts testified: I live eight miles from here. I have seen the defendant at my house the 13th or 14th of July, 1881. The Winston robbery was the 15th of July. The man who came with him had light whiskers and blue eyes, and had a stoop in his walk. I think we talked, amongst other thing, about the Talbott case. He re marked that a mother never forsook her children. When they left the breakfast table the taller one, or defendant, said, "Clarence, make out your breakfast."

Gen. Jamin Matchett testified: I reside in Caldwell County, Mo. I remember the Winston robbery. Was living three miles from Winston at the time. Believe I saw Frank James at my residence on July 14, 1881. A Mr. Scott was with him. Scott was five feet eight or nine inches high, brown hair, a few freckles and a very ill-formed mouth, with irregular teeth; somewhat slim. They came to my house about 11 o'clock. One of the party rode a bay, the other a sorrel, with two white hind legs. They first inquired for some one on the premises. I came down-stairs to the front door. They wanted to know if they could get dinner. I said I would see my wife, who objected somewhat as she was washing, to which they remarked they were in no hurry, and I then told them that they could be accommodated. We watered the horses, which they tied to my shade trees in the orchard and then inquired for feed. I stepped into the field and brought bundles of oats. One of them inquired if they were fresh cut, and being told they were, said they didn't want to feed any green food, and I gave them a blunt ax and they cut off the green part. When they rode up I noticed they were wearing heavy goods for that time of the year, and had gum coats or blankets strapped to their saddles. One gave his name as Scott from Plattsburg, Clinton County, and the other, the defendant, said his name was Willard, and had been in Clinton County about eight years, and came from the Shenandoah Valley. We talked some about the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia.

I inquired of Willard where he had been between the Shenandoah Valley and this section, and he never answered me, but said, "What do you think of Bob Ingersoll?" We discussed Bob for some time till we differed so that I went to my library for a volume of his lectures, which I gave Willard, and he read some till he fell asleep. At dinner we talked about Clinton County. I asked some questions about Lawson, which Willard answered, and then later I asked about Greenville, Clay County, once called Clintonville, which Willard did not answer, but said, "What is your judgment of the Talbott boys?" We then discussed the Talbott boys, and Willard expressed himself with indignation at boys doing crimes of that kind. Willard wanted to pay for the dinner, and I declined at first, but finally took fifty cents. In conversation with Scott he observed he would take me for a minister of the Christian Church, and I answered that I was. He said he thought if he ever united with the church he would join the Christian Church, and referred to his wife as a Presbyterian. Willard acquiesced in that, but said there was no man ever lived like Shakespeare, and declaimed a piece and remarked, "That's grand!" which observation I indorsed. Finally Scott said something about going, and I invited them, if they ever came that way, to call again, which they said they would be pleased to do, that they were going to Gallatin, where Willard said he had not been for ten years. I recognize the defendant. When he stopped at my house be had whiskers on the side of his face. I am not certain about the chin. He had a tolerably fair mustache, and his whiskers were darker outside than near the skin.

Cross-examined: I am this confident the defendant is the man who stopped at my house that if he hadn't paid for the dinner I would say, "Mr. Willard, I would be pleased to have the amount of that board bill." [Laughter.]

Ezra Saule testified: I live two miles northeast of Winston. I have seen the defendant here. I saw him on the line of the railroad, about one-fourth of a mile south of the track in the country, nearly two miles from Winston, between 4 and 6 o'clock an the day of the robbery. I live abut forty or fifty rods north of the road. The meeting was half a mile from my house in a secluded place in the woods. I had started out for berries and to fetch my cows. It was a low place, heavily wooded on three sides and scattering on the other. I saw him under suspicious circumstances, and talked to him about an hour. We talked about the weather and Kansas. He pretended to be buying fat cows for that market; said he had lost a cow, and had been looking for her. He said he had a partner. I saw no partner, and on the saddles were packages like blankets or gum-coats. He said his partner was thirsty and had gone to D. C. Ford's for a drink. In about three-quarters of an hour a man came up from the opposite direction, whom I took for the partner.

This partner appeared to be 22 years old, as I described him next day to Squire Jeffries, 5 feet 8 or 9 inches high, slender, hollow stomached, with shoulders that issued forward: and a general kind of consumptive mien. His beard was a little yellow fuzz, and he looked as if he was trying to raise a mustache. Before seeing the man I struck on an old road not traveled for twenty years. There I found a horse hitched, saddled and bridled, and twenty yards from that was another. They were both bays, or rather one was a sorrel with white stockings on her hind legs, and then I saw this man. By and by his partner came up, and was much more sociable and communicative than the one first met. Next day I went to the trestle work on the railroad, where I discovered four horses had been hitched, and then I found a other, and here is a little trophy I found [producing a halter-strap.] I also saw a halter-strap picked up .there by another man, which looked. as if it had been cut off or broken through. I recognize the defendant as the man I saw that night.

Cross-examined: I thought I had found a horse-thief, and that he had a partner. The next time I saw this man was in the Court House here in February, 1883. I was here in response to a subpoena. I do not take more interest in this case than any citizen should. I shall not be disappointed if he is acquitted. I don't know that he was armed, but from the way in which he handled a coat on the ground, it seemed as if there was something heavy in the pockets, and I kind of imagined there might be some bull-dogs there, but I didn't see them. I noticed that the whiskers of this man were darker on the outside than near the skin. I mistrusted they were dyed.


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

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

Return to the Life and Trial of Frank James, Chapter 3

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