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    [Cole Younger] and [Frank James]. Autograph Letter Regarding Frank James with a Notation Written and Signed by Cole Younger. One page, 8.5" x 11", on "Bower & Lewis, Attorneys at Law" letterhead, Dallas, January 17, 1895. The author of the letter is attorney E. G. Bower, the brother of Captain Bill Bower who served with Cole in the war. Addressed to "Capt Cole Younger," It reads in part: "I suppose you will be much surprised at receiving a letter from me after a silence so long. I have intended writing this letter for years, but have postponed it from time to time without sufficient cause. I once started to Stillwater to see you but at Hannibal was diverted from my course and have never been able to make the trip to Minnesota since." Bower goes on to list people Cole is acquainted with and what they are doing, including Frank James: "Frank James is in Saint Louis. My brother [Cole inserts his notation here, in pencil: "Capt Bill Bower went with me to Mexico in 64. Cole"] is at Bakersfield...Cal. He has been Sheriff for twenty years and is yet unless he was beaten in the last election. I haven't heard from him since that time. I don't recall any other of our mutual acquaintances now that live near enough to me to write you about. A few days ago..." At this point the letter abruptly ends. Folds, else fine.

    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. Upon release, Cole published his memoirs and, in 1903, was fully pardoned and toured throughout the south with The Cole Younger and Frank James Wild West Company. In 1913 he became a born-again Christian and died in 1916.



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    Auction Dates
    April, 2012
    11th-12th Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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