Description

    [Cole Younger]. Emory S. Foster Autograph Letter Signed. One page, 8.25" x 10.75", on "Office of the President of the Board of Public Improvements" letterhead, St. Louis, July 27, 1901, to Cole Younger offering congratulations on his release. In part:

    "I did not telegraph or write you my congratulations because I saw Capt Bronaugh at my house the evening before he left for Minnesota and requested him, as he said he should be the first to see you, to give you my kindest regards and congratulations. You have a splendid friend in that indomitable man. It was through his initiative that I wrote the letter that I hope & believe helped you. However don't waste any time in expressing gratitude to me. How would it have ended with me at Lone Jack [Civil War battle, August, 1862] if you had not been there. I only regret that the parole was not a full pardon. I am entirely disable for the wound I received at Lone Jack which reopened last September. I trust that you and your brother may succeed and be happy as long as you live."

    Foster was a Union major in the 7th Missouri State Militia Cavalry when he was ordered, in August, 1862, to march 20 miles to Lone Jack, Missouri with 800 men to force out the Confederates who were attempting to capture Jackson County. Foster and his brother were wounded and taken to a nearby cabin. The cabin was captured by guerillas under William Quantrill and Foster was about to be executed when 18 year old Cole, himself a Confederate guerilla, physically assaulted the gunman and threw him out, saving Foster's life. Foster would argue unsuccessfully for the pardon of Cole and Jim during the 1890s. Light to moderate toning; letter is ripped at the bottom through the text, which is still entirely legible. With the original transmittal envelope addressed to Cole.


    More Information:

    Cora McNeill was born in St. Clair, Missouri, in 1862. She was an admirer of Cole and Jim Younger, and it is believed that she was a sweetheart of Jim's before he went to prison. She continued her correspondence to both Jim and Cole while they were incarcerated in Minnesota following the botched Northfield bank robbery. She was married to Minneapolis judge George M. Bennett who attempted to secure a pardon for the Younger brothers.

    Cole and Jim Younger began their life of crime during the Civil War as members, along with the James Brothers, of the notorious Quantrill's Raiders. After the war, they may have been associated with the gang of Archie Clement, who led the first daylight, peacetime armed bank robbery in U. S. history on February 13, 1866. While the exact date of their association with the gang is uncertain, by 1868, they, as well as the James Brothers, were unquestionably part of the bank-robbing gang. The Jameses and Youngers were able to avoid arrest longer than many outlaws of the day, largely thanks to the sympathy and support of many of their fellow Confederate veterans. But in 1876 the Younger's luck ran out. Their attempted robbery of the bank at Northfield, Minnesota went famously awry when armed townsfolk interrupted the robbery and chased them off. In the melee two townspeople were killed, and when the Youngers were subsequently captured, they were tried and sentenced to life imprisonment at the Minnesota State Prison in Stillwater (a guilty plea saved them from the hangman's noose). Bob Younger died in prison in 1889; however, Cole and Jim continued to languish in prison, while sympathizers periodically lobbied for their release. In 1899 a bill was before the Minnesota Legislature to secure their freedom. Despite the best efforts of their supporters, the Youngers would not be paroled until July 1901. Jim became engaged to Alix Mueller upon release, but was unable to marry under the terms of his parole. He committed suicide on October 19, 1902.



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    April, 2012
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