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    Cole Younger Autograph Letter Signed "Cole Younger." Two pages, 7.75"x 12.5", Stillwater [Minnesota State Prison], August 14, 1898, Cora McNeill Deming regarding life behind bars, including that of an intimate nature. After expressing his happiness at her recovering from an illness, Cole talks of people he's been in contact with. He goes on to talk about prison life, in part:

    "I suppose you have learned that Bronaugh got left I never thought he would win for he has no ability to combind [sic] influence and oftimes uses too much flatery [sic] many people are like Old Richlou. They become suspishious [sic] you remember on one occasion after an officer had called Old Richlou said Ha. Ha. Watch him wathch [sic] him he bumps too low. It is not natural. Now I dont say that is the case with Bronaugh. Still it always imburest [sic] me to have a man make love to me. And if I can pick up courage to talk...lovingly to a woman that is as fare [sic] as I can go. My mail [sic] friends must take it...that I respect them and would at any and all times be glad to help them in any way that would promote their happiness But I cannot court or make love to a man to gain his friendship. I guess you have done said well you can make love to a woman or girl. I will say yes for I love and honor all good wimen [sic] and those I count my personal friends I have a tender and kind feeling than I could posably [sic] have for any man."

    Cole then switches topics to a trip home "if we should ever have that pleasure." He requests the presence of "Mr. B...he could talk to Jim while I intertained [sic] the Femail [sic] members of the party." He concludes the letter by asking Cora to remember them to their friends and family and adds: "I am a fraid [sic] if I were with a little woman I know, I would quarrel twenty times a day so we could kiss & make up. I will now say good night...Hope you are happy and well tonight." Slight separation along the folds at the bottom edge, no loss of paper or text; also at the intersection of folds causing slight paper loss, not affecting the text. Minor chip at the right edge near the bottom.

    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.


    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.



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    Auction Dates
    April, 2012
    11th-12th Wednesday-Thursday
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