Zerelda James at Jesse James' Grave

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Description: Postcard of the Grave of Jesse James at Excelsior Springs, Missouri, with his mother standing beside the tombstone.
Location: SC58
Collection: Mrs. Sam Ray Postcard Collection (SC58)See finding aid: http://localhistory.kclibrary.org/u?/Local,36981
Historical Article: Zerelda James Samuels, stern-faced mother, adviser and confidante of the notorious brothers, Jesse and Frank James, stands beside the grave and tombstone of her son Jesse, in the back yard of the old James farm home near Kearney, Missouri.The long, black sleeve of her dress covers the stump of her right arm; she lost her and when a Pinkerton detective threw a flare through a window of the James home. The canister-type flare of turpentine had rolled into the fireplace and exploded, killing little Archie Samuels (half-brother of the outlaws) and injuring Mr. Samuel's band.Jesse and Frank must have been in the vicinity, for next day they rode into Liberty, returning with Dr. Allen, who amputated the hand just above the wrist.The funeral of Jesse James was held in this same yard in Kearney, in April 1882, after Jesse's body had been brought from St. Joseph, Missouri, where he had been killed.The body was to lie in this peaceful rail-fenced spot for 20 years, when the remains were removed to Mount Olivet cemetery in Kearney. Most of that time Mrs. Samuels worried that the grave might be robbed and Jesse's remains be exhibited at fairs or circuses, as was the case with other notorious outlaws of day.Two Kearney men wth spades and a wagon helped Jesse, jr., make the 1902 move from the farm to the cemetery, and the St. Louis Dispatch sent Robertus Love to cover the story and witness the reburial.Love reported that Jesse, jr., examined the teeth and dental work of the skeleton, at his grandmother's insistence, and then went into the house to report to her the positive identificaiton of the body.Love later wrote a book of James lore, highly regaded for its authencity. Jack Wymore has a copy in his Jesse James Museum in the old bank building at Liberty.This postcard is one of a set showing the James home and family put out about 1907.Kansas City StarAugust 30, 1969
Barcode: 20000080
Item Type: Postcard


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