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    Frank James Autograph Letter Signed "Ben." Four integral pages, 5" x 8", "St. James Castle [Gallatin, Missouri], August 16, 1883. Just over sixteen months earlier, Frank's brother, Jesse James, was murdered by Bob Ford. Fearful that the same could happen to him, Frank turned himself into the governor of Missouri (October 1882) and waited in jail for nearly a year for his trial to begin. Four days after he wrote this letter, Frank James began his highly publicized trial. He stood accused of murder for his part in the July 1881 Winston, Missouri, robbery of a Chicago, Rock Island, & Pacific Railroad train in which the conductor and one passenger was killed. The prosecution's star witness was one Dick Liddil, a former member of the James-Younger Gang who had taken part in the robbery.

    Writing to his wife, Annie, he expresses his excitement at seeing her in two days, saying, "...we will see just how much you do love me when you come, and one proff [sic] of your sincerity will be to see you...early Saturday morning." But it is clear from what he says a few lines later that there is an underlying reason why her visit is so important. Frank writes: "Let nothing but sickness prevent you coming to morrow night. I think Col M[agoffin] can bring up the forces without a doubt. See Col M. and find out upon what day he will come and get Harry to go see Dock and Bill H and tell them to meet Col M in Independince [sic] at the appointed time ready to come. Do not fail to come I must see you Saturday. It may be of absolute nicicity [sic] for you to be here. I have just this moment telegraphed Johnnie Samuels [most likely his half-brother] to come here at once." Ebenezer Magoffin was the brother of former Kentucky Governor Beriah Magoffin who served as a colonel in the Missouri State Guards during the early years of the Civil War. He was captured at the Battle of Milford [Missouri, December 1861] and was tried for the murder of a Union sergeant. Found guilty and sentenced to die, he was placed in Alton Prison in Illinois, but made his escape on July 1862 with thirty-five fellow prisoners and headed home to Kentucky.

    He continues in the same manner, stressing the importance of her presence for the trial: "I of course can not tell you all I want done. You may understand from my general run of conversation why I am so anxious for you to put in an appearance at this place. If you get this and are coming...telegraph me...let your answer by wire to me, be, O.K. sign Red Cloud instead of your own name. Again let me urge upon you the importance of your being here..."

    Frank James was acquitted of all charges after sixteen days. Interestingly, though he had publically surrendered and everyone knew his true identity, Frank is still signing his letters with his alias, Ben J. Woodson. With the original transmittal envelope addressed to A. F. James. Letter shows usual folds. Scattered spots of light ink bleed-through with one area of spotting on page four.


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    Auction Dates
    June, 2013
    22nd-23rd Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
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