The Fruits of their Labors The Ford brothers didn’t get what they expected for killing Jesse James.

robert ford true west magazine
Robert Ford.

Robert Ford hoped that killing Jesse James would bring fame and fortune. But Ford and
brother Charlie were convicted of murder; Missouri Governor Thomas Crittenden
pardoned them minutes later. Robert was then tried for the killing of Jesse’s cousin
Wood Hite; that trial ended in acquittal.

Jesse had a $10,000 reward on his head, but the Ford’s had to fight for the money—and
when it came, they got only a fraction of that total. And their traveling show, reenacting
and talking about the assassination, lost money and made more enemies. The fruits of
their labors were bitter.

Mark Boardman is the features editor at True West and editor of The Tombstone Epitaph.