Were members of the James-Younger Gang drunk when they robbed the bank in Northfield, Minnesota?
None of the outlaws was known for heavy drinking. The military discipline demanded by Frank and Jesse James, and Cole Younger normally wouldn’t have tolerated drinking before a robbery. Yet bank bookkeeper Frank Wilcox did state he noticed the “smell of liquor” on the bandits during the 1876 robbery.
Years later, Younger claimed a jug of whiskey had been consumed by some members of the gang prior to the job. If that was the case, it may explain why things went so wrong. Perhaps the robbers didn’t expect any trouble from a bunch of sod-busting farmers.
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone.
If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at email@example.com