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    [James-Younger Gang]. J. W. Ragsdale Autograph Letter Signed. Four integral pages, 5" x 8", Moberly [Missouri], July 1, 1884. Shortly after the deaths of two Pinkerton agents, Joseph Whicher and Louis J. Lull, in March-April 1874, Missouri Governor Silas Woodson hired his first agent for the new Missouri secret service, J. W. Ragsdale, to track down the members of the James-Younger Gang. Three months after being hired, Ragsdale wrote this letter to Woodson about his progress.

    Ragsdale has been scouring the countryside looking for any sign of the gang and believes he has found them at Lee's Summit. "I there asertained [sic] that 2 men of suspicious looks had gone north," he writes. "I hired a Horse & followed & found out that they crossed the MO River at a place called Cogsville...they went north to Elk Horn...& was there joined by Two other men answering the discription [sic] of the James Boys..." Ragsdale continued his pursuit northeast into Grundy County near the town of Trenton where he "...lost track & returned via of Galaton Hamilton & Carnney [Kearney]."

    In Kearney, Ragsdale hired a trustworthy man to hire himself out to "...Rose James Boys Brotherinlaw who lives on the old James farm & to keep a close wach [sic] for them Should they return & to Inform me amediately [sic] by Telegraph." He seems very confident that he is on the right trail, though he remains cautious: "I am Satisfyed [sic] the parties I was following were bad caracters [sic] but as nearly all the parties who I made enquiries of Seem to be friends of the James & Youngers it is hard to get any Information that I can rely apon [sic] as I dare not let my buisness [sic] be known."

    At the end of the letter, Ragsdale requests more money for travelling expenses. Countersigned by Governor Silas Woodson at the bottom of the final page. Woodson orders $185 drawn on the First National Bank of St. Louis for Ragsdale's use. Smoothed folds; few spots of ink on the first page, but not affecting the text.

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