Description[Cole and Jim Younger] An Extensive Archive of Approximately Thirty Letters and Ten Manuscripts by Edwynne N. Deane, all written to and for the benefit of Wilbur A. Zink. The letters and manuscripts are all handwritten and span the years 1967 through 1976. The letters range in length from a single page to upwards of 6 pages. The manuscripts are sometimes brief sketches, but there are several lengthy tomes including a 173 page article titled "The John Younger Affair". All pages are in the hand of Edwynne Deane, daughter of Cora Lee McNeil.
Deane was born in 1889, the daughter of Cora Lee McNeil. McNeil had worked tirelessly to free Jim and Cole Younger from Stillwater prison, and was the author of Mizzoura. It was rumored that Cora Lee and Jim were sweethearts, and there are references to this romance in many western writings. Edwynne's letters and stories seem to support such a scenario; however, it is not always clear the sources she is using to substantiate her narrative are reliable. It is worthy to note that Edwynne although a child, did have direct contact with both Cole and Jim Younger, and had access to all of Cora Lee's personal correspondences and working manuscripts.
The archive includes several hundred handwritten pages by Edwynne, and should be reviewed for content as it is replete with information. Below is a listing of highlights contained:
1) Two Part Autograph Manuscript titled "Jim Younger at Northfield, Minn, ". 15 pages and 31 pages respectively. The manuscripts are written in the first person, with Jim Younger serving as the narrator. The manuscripts are accompanied by a two page letter from Edwynne explaining, "I have followed as clearly as possible Jim Younger's manner of expression in his writings, some phrases may sound stilted... The story will continue from the time the farmer walked into their rest stop after the James' departure, their wanderings until their surrender, trial, etc... Jim did not make day by day accounts only the highlights of their struggle to live..."
The manuscript gives a detailed account of the Northfield robbery beginning with the purchasing of horses to the escape of the gang. In small part: "On reaching the door to the bank Frank seemed to open it and entered, followed by Pitts, Bob being last, turned and looked down the street toward Cole and Miller, still on their leisurely way seemingly totally oblivious to the three men entering the bank. Bob paused only an instant, then he too entered, but he did not close the door. As Cole and Miller reached their planned positions, Miller riding on Cole's left, rode ahead a few paces, I judged almost opposite the open door Reining in he turned, looking back at Cole, as though waiting Cole had dismounted standing beside his horse when he was fired upon. Dropping the reins he ran to the door, paused, waving his arms, then ran back to his mount..." The manuscript continues in this vein for a total of 30 pages. The shorter 15 page manuscript focuses on the preparation for Northfield.
2) Autograph Manuscript titled "'The John Younger Affair' As told by his brother James H. Younger," entirely in the hand of Edwynne Deane, 174 numbered pages written on the recto only. The manuscript begins as a first person narrative as told by Jim Younger. Jim gives the background story leading to a trip to the Black Hills accompanied by John. A note by Deane at page 54 explains that the narration will be taken over by another character, Charley Reynolds; it is unclear if the manuscript is a work of fiction or if it is possible that she is incorporating things overheard as a child or notes read in her mother's papers. The manuscript is explained in a 5 page letter by Deane to Zink dated July 7, 1971. She writes: "So now herewith is more 'Black Hills' material. The Boys are only at 'Camp Comfort' Wyo. Terr - page 174 - no less. I have not been able to copy further which follows the end of 'Jose Narrative.' The material consists of the personal opinions as to the Custer Caper, narrated. In 1938 or '39 I copied them all and have managed to keep them with me... Also the rest of Jim's story relates to their trip thru the Paha Sapas south to what is now about where Ardmore is..."
3) Typed Manuscript titled "Quantrell's Lieutenant" as told by Cole Younger; 6 pages, Sept. 20, 1899. Although the paper and type are circa late 1960s, this typescript is possibly copied from Deane's mother Cora Lee McNeil's notes. Please see lot XXXXX which includes a similar typescript paired with partial notes of the contents in Cora McNeil's hand. In part: "... To illustrate the discrepancies between the truth and the way the history of the Lawrence affair has been preserved, Cole recalls what happened as the raiders crossed the Kansas line near Aubrey. 'In the war records published by the Government is the official report of the Federal Officer, who was stationed with two hundred soldiers at Aubrey. In that report the officer states that he heard a command had crossed the line going from Missouri into Kansas, somewhere near his post. Now the fact is that officer saw us enter Kansas on our way to Lawrence. He got out his two hundred men and formed them on the prairie as if to give battle. We marched by them in full view not over half a mile away. Quantrell's order was: 'Make no attack unless fired upon.'"
4) Draft handwritten affidavit in the hand of Edwynne Deane presenting a violin to Wilbur Zink. One page, undated; in part: "This is to certify that I [Mrs.] Edwynne Neil Deane being of sound mind do declare and affirm that the violin now the property of Wilbur A. Zink... was the property of James Younger..."
5) Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pages, Banning California; June 20, 1968. Content regarding her intent to pass on all information and recollections regarding the Youngers' activities to Zink for his use. The letter serves as an explanation for why Zink comes to have all of Edwynne's manuscripts.
6) Autograph Manuscript titled "Miss Alix Muller", 22 pages, circa May 1968. Manuscript recounts how Cora McNeil is introduced to Alix Muller during one of Cora's visits to Stillwater. Muller was an established columnist and volunteered to aid Cora in her efforts to secure the release of the Younger brothers. After a failed attempt, Muller is able to gain entry to visit the Youngers and eventually published several articles. Deane recounts: "Jim further commented to Cora Lee 'Her articles as she mistakingly calls them, do us more harm than good. Like all the other dime novel fiction about the Youngers the fantastic tales she falsely attributes to us are but figments of her own weak mind.'" Muller is depicted as an imbalanced woman whose obsession with Jim leads her to stalk him from hotel to hotel. However, other sources state that Jim and Muller were romantically involved and planned to marry if not for the terms of his parole which forbade him to marry. Deane's account Muller may be one-sided, however it cannot be a mere coincidence that Jim commits suicide on the first anniversary or "Late in Sept. 1901 Cora Lee revealed her plans to marry Judge Bennett and make their homes in the Black Hills."
The manuscript is accompanied by a two page letter dated May 24, 1968 transmitting the manuscript to Zink. Also, a two page manuscript titled, "Explanation, after reading Muller Ms." Deane writes: "To Jim Younger my mother was also Corona, as well as 'Cora Lee', 'Corona' was his crown and 'M.S.R.' My Souls Reward..."
7) Autograph Manuscript titled "Jim Younger's Last Letter to M.S.R. Corona (Cora Lee)". Seven handwritten pages with a two page Epilogue. Deane writes that she helped her mother organize all of her papers and photographs in the three years prior to Cora Lee's death in 1942. She writes about coming upon a packet of letters bound in cardboard with a note from her mother: "From a Valiant Soul who has passed Beyond, please burn after I am gone." Dean writes: "As I read those words the one envelope slipped from the packet... As I picked it up I was startled to see the envelope was addressed to my mother... in Jim Younger's heavy writing. The postmark, 'mailed on train at St. Paul Minn 8:00PM 'Special Delivery.' Oct. 18 1902." Edwynne explains that in their home it was forbidden to read another's mail, but she felt compelled to read this particular letter before burning it as had been her mother's request. She also notes that she copied portions of the letter, which she quotes in this manuscript: "Corona, My Souls Reward: A long lonely year has passed for me since you took the momentous step we both felt best for you and your three children... The promise made to you as to the fatherly care, responsibility an education of your children was far beyond anything I could offer at the time..." Deane finishes the manuscript citing: "Sunday, Oct. 19th 1902, James Younger's body was found in his hotel room in St. Paul, Minn. The coroner's verdict, 'Death by suicide, sometime before midnight of Oct. 18th 1902." Deane concludes: "Cora Lee McNeill (Dening) and George Morris Bennett, married in Lead, So. Dak. 8:30P.M. Oct. 18th 1901 - her birthday anniversary."
Many of the manuscripts and letters are accompanied by their original transmittals envelopes. There are many single page writings that record Edwynne's conversations and interviews with Cole. The final packet of writings is sent by a relative of Deane's. These writings are largely incomplete sketches of Indians. They are accompanied by a note from A.E. Partain explaining that Deane had passed away on February 20, 1976 and wanted to send the last of her writings to Zink for his use. These sketches are largely incomplete and appear to be dictated in some instances. Overall condition is excellent. Deane's script is highly legible, and the archive has been well organized and preserved.
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