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    Frank James Autograph Letter Signed "Frank James." Two pages, 8.5" x 13.75", "Huntsville Jail Ala," February 26, 1884. Having been cleared of murder charges in Missouri five months earlier, Frank James, the elder brother of notorious outlaw Jesse James, found he was again facing trial, this time in Alabama. Implicated in the 1881 robbery of a federal paymaster in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Frank was residing in the jailhouse in Huntsville when he wrote this letter to his wife and son.

    After giving a description of his jail schedule, he talks about the upcoming trial: "I had a letter from Gov [Charles P.] Johnson last night, he informs me he will be with me." One of the most successful lawyers in Missouri, Charles P. Johnson, a Unionist during the Civil War, was part of the Frank James' defense team during his Missouri murder trial in 1883. Between 1873 and 1875 he served as lieutenant governor of Missouri. "I am satisfied I am not going to get out on bond," he continues, "so I am going to get ready for trial in April. Write Josie to be ready to start at any time from the first of April. I belive [sic] I informed you court commences the 7th of April. I will...be taken out to answer to the indictment in three or four days after court commences and at that time a day fixed to try the case. The court will allow us a reasonable time to get our witnesses, say 4 or 5 days. I don't know but what you will have to go see my other witnesses and make arrangements to get them here in time for the trial."

    "I am tired of jail and will press the matter for a trial," he writes. James had spent the last year and a half in jail, first in Gallatin, Missouri, awaiting trial and now in Alabama doing the same. "I have to remain here at least six weeks longer. The time will appear long I can assure you. I usually pass the time in reading the daily newspapers chewing and smoking of course."

    Since he arrived in Huntsville, he has heard no news from home: "I have heard from no one from MO since I left except Rush and Glover." William M. Rush and John M. Glover were two of his defense attorneys during his murder trial in Missouri the year before. "I wrote Mrs H Col Magoffin and Joe Bagly and Mr Powel but not one line have I had from any of them." Ebenezer Magoffin was the brother of former Kentucky Governor Beriah Magoffin and a colonel in the Missouri State Guards. During the war, he participated in the Battle of Lone Jack and was captured three months later at the Battle of Milford [Missouri, December 1861].

    Frank James remained in the Huntsville jail for a little over two months before his trial began. The trial lasted ten days and he was found not guilty. With original transmittal envelope addressed to Annie James. Folds are weakened with slight separation at the intersections and the edges.


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    Auction Dates
    June, 2013
    22nd-23rd Saturday-Sunday
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