How did Bob Ford, the killer of Jesse James die?

Bob Ford

Soon after Bob Ford shot Jesse James at Jesse’s home In St. Joseph, Missouri public opinion turned against Bob and Charlie Ford. Bob was seen as a coward and a traitor. This sentiment clashed with the general public opinion that Jesse James must be taken by any means. For a time Bob capitalized on his new-found fame by earning money posing for photographs as “the man who killed Jesse James” in dime museums. He and Charlie also appeared on stage reenacting the murder in a touring show.

Charlie was terminally ill with tuberculosis and addicted to morphine. He committed suicide on May 4th, 1884. Bob and Dick Liddil, another gang member, headed for Las Vegas, New Mexico, where they opened a saloon. Legend has it Bob lost a shooting contest with Jose Chavez y Chavez, one of Billy the Kid’s cronies and left town.

On December 26th, 1889, an assailant in Kansas City, Kansas tried to slit his throat and failed. Next, Ford headed for Colorado opening a saloon and gambling house in Walsenburg. When silver was discovered in Creede, he closed his saloon and opened one there. When a fire destroyed a large part of the town, including his, Bob opened a tent saloon to operate until he could rebuild.

Three days after the fire, on June 8th,1892 Ed O’Kelley entered Ford’s tent saloon carrying a shotgun. Witnesses said Ford’s back was turned. “Hello Bob.” O’Kelley said. As Ford turned around, O’Kelley cut loose with both barrels. Ford died instantly. Thus, Ed O’Kelley became the “man who killed the man who killed Jesse James.” He never explained his reason for gunning down Bob Ford.

After 7,000 people signed a petition in favor of his release, O’Kelley’s sentence was commuted, and he was released on October 3rd, 1902. He was shot and killed two years later while trying to shoot a lawman.

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