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    [James-Younger Gang]. Delos Thurman "Yankee" Bligh Autograph Letter Signed "D. T. Bligh." Three pages, 8" x 10.5", on Office Chief of Police letterhead, Louisville [Kentucky], March 3, 1875. Following the January 25, 1875, Pinkerton raid on the house of Zerelda Samuel, mother of the outlaws Frank and Jesse James, in which an explosive was thrown into the house, killing their younger half-brother and maiming their mother, the Missouri state legislature nearly voted in a bill that would give the brothers, and other gang members, amnesty. Incensed by what he has read in the Chicago Times regarding "...a growing belief in the innocence of the Jameses & Youngers, & efforts for their amnesty by [the] MO. Legislature...," Delos Thurman Bligh, chief of detectives in Louisville, Kentucky, known as "Yankee" Bligh, wrote this letter to the governor of Missouri relating the details of several Kentucky robberies committed by the gang.

    Bligh writes, in part: "Now I have only a few words to say...I will only say what I think I can prove...the Robbery of the Russellsville Bank, Logan Co Ky, was robbed by 5 men mch 20th 1868, in day light. this was by Cole Younger, John Jarret his Brother in law, John W. Sheperd (who I caught), Oliver Sheperd (who was killed in an attempt to capture him in Jackson Co Mo...[)], and another small man who we never knew...but believed him to [be] one McCoy [most likely Arthur McCoy], from MOs. these 5 men were present at the Robbery, & Jesse & Frank James were at Chaplin...Ky at the time unable to participate in the affair any further than they could do by this counsil...The Robbery was planed [sic] at Chaplin & the...left there together, & were in company with the Jameses...& returned there imediately [sic] after the Robbery, where I and my partner Mr Gallaher arrested John Shepord [sic]...that these James Boys were interested in this robbery there is no doubt..." The Nimrod Long bank robbery in Russellville was one of the earliest perpetrated by members of what became the James-Younger Gang.

    Bligh goes on to say that the next time they catch word of the gang " at the Robbery of Columbia Bank Adair Co. by 5 men, Cole Younger...identified by Parties who Saw him there...Jesse & Frank James were with him...after the Robbery they came to Nelson Co. & survived some 10 days in the Hills by Parties who know the James Boys....they were missed [?] & never seen here in Ky since." Previous to the Columbia Bank job, it is believed that "...the James Boys Robbed a stage...from the description of the two men..." "The next I hear of any of the Party," he writes, "...a Bank was Robbed by 4 or 5 men in daylight, this Party I am certain...was headed by Cole Younger...who the others were I am not able to say, & the discription [sic] of the balance of the Party I will say does not suit the James boys. Nor do I believe they were there."

    The Chicago Times article apparently mentions a grudge that Bligh held against the men for their activities during the war, which he flatly denies: "I never knew there were such Persons as the James boys until the Robbery of the Russellsville Bank. I have no more feeling against them than against any other thieves or Robbers...but I make war on all such to the bitter end, & I shall never give up the chase after them as long as they are at large until they have been brought to Justice..."

    Yankee Bligh (1823-1890) was the first detective to pursue the group and was widely regarded as "the nemesis of the gang." Lightly toned; folds. Several small spots of ink scattered throughout. Small staple holes at upper left corner.

    Auction Info

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    June, 2013
    22nd-23rd Saturday-Sunday
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