Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Frank James: An Important 1884 Letter to His Wife and Son. On March 18th Frank was sitting in jail in Huntsville, awaiting trial for robbery and murder for his alleged involvement in the notorious theft of the Army Corps of Engineers payroll in the famous Muscle Shoals, Alabama robbery. Having already "beaten the rap" in Missouri trials, largely as a result of public sympathy, James was anxious to repeat the successful strategy in the Alabama case. He writes to the pair:

    Mr Slocum and Genl Walker says I have succeeded in winning the sympathy of every one that has come to see me, I am very proud of the compliment I assure you I gave you full instructions in my letter of yesterday what I wanted you to do et[c] might be you did not get it so I will refer to it again Genl Walker says he would rather have you and Rob in that court when he makes his speech than to have two of the best lawyers in the State to make speeches without you, I want you to start by the 1st or 5th at latest come to the 'Stigall House['] here.

    One newspaper account described the trial: (James was) "...neatly dressed in a suit of broadcloth, and sat near his wife and child. Mrs. James of comely appearance." There is little doubt that James' presentation as a respectable family man contributed to is winning yet another acquittal. There would be other warrants and extradition requests, but Frank James was never again brought to trial, and he was never sentenced to a prison term.

    This two-page letter in crisp, fine pencil is in beautiful condition, and is signed in full "Frank James" (rarely encountered in letters to his wife). 8.5" x 13.5" on lined paper. An outstanding letter from one of the Old West's most notorious outlaws.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2016
    11th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 691

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $200,000 (minimum $19), plus 20% of any amount between $200,000 and $2,000,000, plus 12% of any amount over $2,000,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 1 day left to consign to the 2020 July 24 Vintage Guitars & Musical Instruments Musical Instruments Signature Auction - Dallas!

    Learn about consigning with us

    I don’t often do testimonials but in this case I felt truly obligated to thank Heritage Auctions for the extremely professional job your organization did for me.
    Charlie K.,
    Pittsburgh, PA
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search