I’ve concluded that the James-Younger Gang got more than $52,000 in about 12 years. What do you suppose they did with it? I was also wondering why Frank James, who lived until 1915, didn’t share more about the gang’s doings.

Jerry Stoker

Via the Internet

I called experts who know everything worth knowing about the James-Younger Gang: Missouri author Wilbur Zink and Donna Rose, president of the James-Younger Gang Association.

Wilbur says, “Frank James didn’t give information for the same reason that Cole Younger did not tell all. They were of the Confederate brotherhood, and that was an honorable title to them. You just did not squeal on your comrades. If Frank had any money, it never showed. Cole made some money on his book and sideshow activities, but lived with a niece.”

Donna adds, “The James-Younger Gang liked to live well. They wore the most in-style clothes, had the best guns, rode fine horses, stayed in hotels and gambled.” They also liked to travel in luxury. “The James brothers traveled from coast to coast by train during their outlaw years.”

“They liked to live well,” Donna says, “and the money ran out quickly.” After Jesse was killed, his wife Zee was left destitute and had to sell the family belongings.

About the only payoff for a life in outlawry was notoriety, and many gang members never lived to enjoy that.

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