The James-Younger gang in their own words.

Most of these quotes attributed to various members of the gang, friends, family, and associates, are probably accurately reported, however media hype was as much a factor then as now and some of these may have been revised by the various authors or in some case outright manufactured fiction passed off as fact.


"Bob Ford I don't trust; I think he is a sneak; but Charlie Ford is as true as steel." --Jesse James as quoted by Frank Triplett (book from 1882 had some input by Jesse's widow)

"He wanted to quit the business, but he said he had to make a living, and as the whole world seemed to be pitted against him, and he couldn't do anything else, he kept on with it." --quote of George T. Hite about Jesse James, Hite was a cousin of Jesse James, quoted by Frank Triplett, 1882




"I was tired of an outlaw's life. I have been hunted for twenty-one years. I have literally lived in the saddle. I have never known a day of perfect peace. It was one long, anxious, inexorable, eternal vigil. When I slept it was literally in the midst of an arsenal. If I heard dogs bark more fiercely than usual, or the feet of horses in a greater volume of sound than usual, I stood to arms. Have you any idea of what a man must endure who leads such a life? No, you cannot. No one can unless he lives it for himself."

Frank James, regarding his reason for surrendering --quoted from an October 5, 1882 newspaper article by Horan in Desperate Men



"I think Frank is the head and brains of the whole gang." --quote of Bowling Browder (married to Jesse's wife's sister) from Frank Triplett, 1882


"I never, in all my life, had anything whatever to do with robbing any bank in the state of Missouri." --quote from Cole Younger


"They were brave fellows. They were true men. There was not a coward nor a liar among them... They might not have been angels... They were charged with many crimes of which they were innocent." --quote from Frank James about the Younger brothers, 1901 newspaper article in the Minneapolis Tribune


George Sheperd


"Speaking of Cole Younger, I have no hesitancy in saying that, outside of the affair at Northfield, I don't believe he was ever connected with the James Boys, or that he ever participated in any robberies. This much, I know; I have heard the James Brothers propose raids of that kind to him, asking him to join them, and every time, in my presence, he not only refused absolutely, but manifested a feeling of insult and pronounced the schemes outrageous..." George Shepherd quoted by J. W. Buel in "The Border Outlaws", 1882


"We sometime didn't get enough to buy oats for our horses. Most banks had very little money in them." Frank James as quoted in Jesse James Ate Here by John Koblas


"The one time Bob listened to outside influences, firmly insisting that he was a man and could lead his own life, resulted in the Northfield affair. He was led to believe the subtly drawn picture by that master artist the crafty Mephistopheles, Jesse James..." Jim Younger as quoted in Jesse James Ate Here by John Koblas


"While I was guilty of quite a number of bank robberies as well as several holdups of trains and stage coaches, there have been dozens of affairs which the authorities say they traced directly to me and which I not only took no part in but knew nothing of them until after the affair was over." Frank James quoted from a 1904 newspaper by Ted Yeatman in Frank and Jesse James: The Story Behind the Legend


"It was the earliest desire of my parents to prepare me for the ministry, but the horrors of war, the murder of my father, and the outrages perpetrated upon my poor old mother, my sisters and brothers, destroyed our hopes so effectually that none of us could be prepared for any duty in life except revenge." Cole Younger quoted from an interview with the author in "The Border Outlaws", 1882, by J. W. Buel


"I am aware that my name has been connected with all the bank robberies in the country; but positively I had nothing to do with any one of them. I look upon my life since the war as a blank, and will never say anything to make it appear otherwise. The world may believe as it pleases." Cole Younger in an October 20, 1880 letter to J. W. Buel, printed in "The Border Outlaws."




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