Did any of the James brothers or members with them ever stay in OK, or hide out in Oklahoma? Thanks.
Frank James lived in Fletcher, Comanche County, Oklahoma. The mother of the James boys died in Oklahoma City. Whether or not they actually hide out in Oklahoma during their outlaw careers has been debated for some time. Look at Phillip Steeles' book about Jesse James Family for more information and try the internet as it has several interesting facts on the James Gang.
The book "Treasure and Treasure Tales of Oklahoma" by Steve Wilson includes a couple of chapters about Frank and Jesse James. It tells the story of the stolen loot they buried in the Wichita Mountains of southwest Oklahoma. The area is now a national wildlife refuge. In later years, Frank James lived in Fletcher, not far from the Wichita's. Legend has it that Frank searched the area for the loot buried 30 years before.
The home that Frank James lived in while residing at Fletcher, Oklahoma was moved several years ago to Eagle Park (a defunct amusement park) in Cache, Oklahoma about 15 miles west of Lawton. The owner of the park also owns a little gift shop located next to a gas station just south of US62. He is always more than willing to show it and other historical structures there to the general public. Quanah Parker's "Star House", an original picket barracks from Fort Sill, and the original "Red Store" trading store are also there.
On the Trail
Secretary, Oklahombres Inc.
In the early remembrances of Oklahoma old timers, stories abound that Frank and Jesse James, in the early to mid-1870's, often took positions as drivers for the Oklahoma Freighting Company operating on the road to Fort Sill. Old timer, Nate Harris, says the James may have robbed the Miller and Green store at old Paul's Valley. Harris was working for Grant Kimberlin, a Texan who had intermarried into the Chickasaw and started a ranch northwest of Paul's Valley near White Bead Hill, when Kimberlin was visited by Jesse and two others. Along about sundown of the same evening, Jesse and his companions took their horses from the barn and rode away. Harris recalls the next morning he heard the Miller and Green store in Pauls Valley had been robbed just about dark by three men and that the one with two guns did all the talking. Harris recalls he did not see Jesse's companions again, but that Jesse stopped by the Kimberlin ranch several times after that.
Harris also told interviewers the widow story, even though Robert Barr Smith, historian, stated in an interview to Wild West magazine, page 56, of the June, 2002 issue, such actions on the part of the James boys..."Are about as likely as snow in August." Harris claims he overheard the men telling about a woman known to Kimberlin who had been widowed when her husband came out second best in a gunfight. Harris knew the leader of the trio was Jesse James and he heard Jesse tell Kimberlin that he, and his brother, Frank, had been to the woman's house recently and the lady told the brothers a man was coming to her house on the morrow to collect an $1100 debt. The woman was afraid the man would foreclose on her property, forcing her to move. Jesse told Kimberlin he and Frank gave the woman sufficient funds to pay the debt and instructed her to be sure and get a receipt. Then, according to Harris, Jesse laughed, and said, "The next day, me and Frank had our eleven hundred dollars back."
Another old timer, William Henry Baker, who, in 1879, was working the IB ranch between Mud Creek and Red River, over in present Stephens County, recalls Jesse James was a frequent visitor at the ranch. Baker also spent some time with the Allen Parmer family near Lawton, where he met Jesse, and learned later that Mrs. Parmer was a sister of the James boys. Baker recalls: "Jesse was a very nice fellow in his way."
Has anyone else read "Shadow Of The Sentinel"? It's an interesting take on the James boys and relates the "conspiracy theory" surrounding the Knights of the Golden Circle (a semi-secret society during the Civl War with the goal of financially and militarily resurrecting the Confederacy). It's definitely an interesting book and relates the theory that there was more than one "Jesse James" operating in the Knights of the Golden Circle. This attempts to explain how so many robberies could be attributed to the "James Gang". Who knows if it's true but in any case it's food for thought.
On the Trail
Secretary, Oklahombres Inc.
Jessie James was all over the Indian Territory. One of his least known hiding-out places was Bryan Co., OK of today. I have a newspaper article in my files that I will give you the jest of:
Seems the Choctaw Chief in the late 1890's got wind that Jessie and his gang were riding into his district to rob him of allotment money (gold coins) he held to distribute among the tribal members. The Chief took the box of gold to the local minister to keep safe until the James' had come and gone. One afternoon riders appeared at the minister's home outside of town and asked if they could partake dinner with them. They said they would acomodate them. One of the gang went out into their chicken coop and caught and killed several hens to eat for dinner. Jessie was very friendly and respectful to the minister, his wife and son as his step father was also a minister. After saying Grace, dinner began. One of his gang said, "Have you got any money, reverend?" The minister replied that he was a poorly minister. The minister's little son then said, "What about the money in the chicken yard, daddy?" Jessie's gang member then grabbed the boy up by his shirt to interrogate him further. With that, Jesses interceded and told him, "Leave the boy alone and go outside, We don't take pennies from preachers." Little did Jessie know that there was a fortune in gold coins buried in the same chicken pen the gang members had gone into to get their dinner.
My parents were raised in Bryan Co., OK and, yes, the James Gang were in and out of there a lot. My mother had a cousin that I visited while I was researching some of this James folklore. I sat one day with her cousin and asked him if the James boys ever came into the area. He confirmed this. Not knowing exactly how to approach the subject further, I asked if the people in the area liked or feared them. He said they liked him because he brought money with him. Then I asked, "Where did they stay while they were here?" He said, pointing past me over my shoulder, "In the cave in those mountains" I turned around and looked for any mountains I could see which I didn't. I then said, "I don't see any mountains - do you mean up by Bartlesville" - this was obviously a stupid question. He then said, "Across the road right there". This was not two hundred feet from where we sat on his front porch. Mountains, not; this was a large rock outcropping on the slant of a hill. With this I dropped the subject as he seemed a little upset with all the questioning. I will not give further details of this location to protect the owner's land and privacy. But, it is fact that the James boys hid out in Bryan Co. OK.
Mr. Kimberlin was not from Texas, however, he and his brothers ran cattle there. Mr. K was born near Texas (a town), Kentucky and then moved to Missouri as a youth. He did hunt and vacation there but never lived there. One brother was involved in Red River Crossing on the Texas side of the Chisolm Trail.
Frank first came to Oklahoma during the civil war as a member of Quantrell's Raiders. They would winter near Sherman Texas. From the late 1860's to 1881 Frank and Jesse would come to Oklahoma to hide out. Jesse would often make Buzzards Roost near Cement Oklahoma a winter camp for the gang.
In 1907 Frank built a house just northwest of Fletcher on the Caddo County side of the Comanche/Caddo County Line. He also owned some lots in what is now a ghosttown in northwestern Oklahoma.
My great great grandfather would often visit with Frank as he also lived in Fletcher. It is true that Frank moved to Oklahoma to retrieve money he had cached away decade before. he didn't find it all though.
While reading these posts, I remembered a story I read while doing some research on New Mexico and Billy Bonney that said the two knew each other.
This story talks about the author being a dinner and reconizing Billy the Kid. After the dinner, Billy brought a man that was with him over to the table and introduced him. I do not remember the name, but it was not Mr. Howard. Anyway, the author learned later that the man was Jesse James.
I did not put much stock in this story at the time, but it is an interesting sidebar to history if Billy the Kid knew Jesse James and hung out with him. Certainly, Billy's running mate, Fred Waite, was from Oklahoma and Billy traveled freely in the Texas Panhandle. This would have been in the late 1870s and certainly not later than 1882. I can find it if anyone wants to know the particulars.
The man's name was Hoyt. And the story is from "A Frontier Doctor" by Henry F. Hoyt. The original was published in 1929; my copy is a Lakeside Press reprint copyrighted in 1979. The story is questioned by Kid experts and James experts alike but has never been disproven or dismissed.
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