DescriptionFrank James Autograph Letter Signed "Frank James" with a second letter to his son. Two pages, 8.5" x 14", "Huntsville Jail Ala," February 29, 1884. During his Missouri murder trial five months earlier, Frank James was implicated in the 1881 robbery of a federal paymaster in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, through the testimony of former James-Younger Gang member, Dick Liddil. Frank was residing in the jailhouse in Huntsville when he wrote this letter to his wife and son.
Despite being imprisoned, it is evident that Frank is in high spirits. "The being my lucky day I will write you," he says, "the situation has not changed...since I last wrote you. I am feeling real well to day much better than for some time." His overall well-being may be due to a meeting he recently had with his defense attorney: "I had a long conference with Genl Walker yesterday and you may hear some good news in the next week." General Leroy Pope Walker, a former general in the Confederate army who had also served as Confederate secretary of war (February through September 1861), headed James' defense team at the Alabama trial. What is also obvious is Frank misses his family, especially his son, Robert: "Tell me all about my little man What he does every day and if he is a good boy."
Included with the letter is a second letter, 8.5" x 5.5", in pencil, this time printed with all capitals, to his seven year old son. It reads, in full: "My Dear Little Man, I want you to hurry up and learn to ride so you can get you a new saddle. I want you to learn to write and write me a letter. Your Father, Frank James." The letter is addressed to Robert on the verso. An additional "Robert" found on the verso is written in pencil and appears to be in the hand of a child, most likely Frank's son practicing his penmanship. With the letter to Robert, Frank included what appears to be a 5.5" x 4.5" magazine clipping for the "Deaf and Dumb Alphabet," showing the alphabet using an early form of American Sign Language.
Frank's trial began in April and lasted ten days. He was cleared of the charges and returned to Missouri. With original transmittal envelope addressed to Annie James. Folds are weakened with slight separation at the intersections and the edges, but not affecting the text.
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