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    [James-Younger Gang]. Detective Flourney Yancey Autograph Letter Signed "F. Yancey." Two pages, 8" x 10", Lexington [Missouri], September 14, 1874. Just eleven days after being hired as an agent for the Missouri secret service to track down the James-Younger Gang after their holdup of a stage outside of Lexington, Missouri, St. Louis detective Flourney Yancey wrote this letter to Acting Governor Charles P. Johnson regarding his findings.

    Having reached Lexington, Yancey writes that he has received "...positive information that the 'Eagles' were about thirty miles south of this place stoping [sic] in the vicinity of...Greenwood, and it being the opinion of every one that they were sheltered and fed in that vicinity." Unfortunately for Yancey, the group left that area the same day he left Lexington "...going in the direction of Marshall...intending doubtless to rob the Lexington band on its return...but passed them on the road without molesting them." The group then headed for Clay County, "...their home - where they remained one night." The following day, they split up, "...two of them left going in the direction of Greenwood's and one (Frank) -in my opinion - took the cars for Kansas City." Yancey lost the trail, but three days later he picked it up again "...going in the direction of Greenwood..." where they then "...crossed the river by swimming their horses...and went in the direction of Clay County. I leave immediately for Richmond [in neighboring Ray County] and will make every effort to capture them before they leave that County."

    He is hopeful that his employer does not believe he is being "...unreasonably slow in this matter from the fact of one half of the people in this country being in sympathy with these men, and the other half afraid of them...it is absolutely necessary in order to accomplish any thing, that I should move with the utmost caution." He continues: "I am fully satisfied that it is the Jameses and Youngers who have perpetrated all the recent robberies...I might have followed them with a posse but from the fact of their having friends in every section of this country and being mounted on superior horses...My plan is...to get them in a position, that I can surround them and make it impossible for them to escape."

    Exactly one week after writing this letter, Yancey stumbled upon Jesse James and Jim Younger purely by accident. The three men exchanged gunfire and, according to Yancey, he wounded James, but the two men fled and again managed to elude capture. Folds; some separation of the vertical folds at the right edge of both pages which have been repaired on the verso, but not affecting the text. Light ink bleed-through and ghosting on all pages.


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    June, 2013
    22nd-23rd Saturday-Sunday
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