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    Cole Younger Autograph Letter Signed "Cole Younger." Two pages, 7.5" x 12.5", Stillwater [Minnesota State Prison], February 6, 1898, to Cora McNeil Deming regarding his time in the war. He relates his war record, in part: "...I reported to Gen. H. E. McCulough [Henry Eustace McCulloch] and knew of my command being their [sic] and my going from their [sic] to Shreveport, La under orders to report the command to Gen. Cirby [Kirby] Smith who was in command of all the forces west of the Missipi [sic] river and of my return in the spring of 64 to Bonham [Texas] to report to Col. Jackson for the western trip the time we left Dallas in May 64. During the winter we were in La...Capt Will Gregg...served in Shilbys [Shelby's] Brigade with me and in the reorganizing the command he mustered us in and knows I was an officer in the brigade so does Capt M M Langham...The judge was a soldier and knew me as a Lieutenant in Shilbies...after the war. He went to Dallas and studied law under Col Record who was quarter master of north Texas during the war and was stationed at Bonham from when I drew all the supplies for 300 men and it was him that the confederate Government ordered to furnish us mules and supplies to cross the plains."

    Apparently a man was claiming that he was shot during the war by Cole, much to his chagrin. He instructs Cora how to "prove him a fraud...find out if he is drawing a penchion [sic] if so it would tell where he got his wound. If he is not getting [sic] a penchion [sic] that is proof he was not wounded in the arm." He ends his letter with good wishes for Cora and all of his family. Smoothed folds are weakened and beginning to separate at the edges. Cole has used every bit of space on the paper, making it difficult to read at times, but the text is bold and bright.

    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
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