Description

    Frank James Autograph Letter Signed "Frank James." Two pages, 8.5" x 13.75", "Huntsville Jail Ala," March 11, 1884. Just five months after being acquitted of murder charges in Missouri, Frank James, the elder brother of the noted outlaw Jesse James, found himself in court again. Based on the testimony of former James-Younger Gang member Dick Liddil during his Missouri murder trial, James found himself accused in the March 1881 robbery of Alexander Smith, federal paymaster in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. He was in the Huntsville jail awaiting trial when he penned this letter to his wife and son, Robert.

    "Jonas Taylors statement I sent you has created quite a stir here. Mr Coleman an Aty [sic] of this place said to day that such evidince [sic] as that of Taylors would be very hard to over come. Every one seem to anticipate an acquittal." Jonas Taylor was a Tennessee blacksmith who testified on behalf of Frank, stating that at the time of the Smith robbery, James was in Tennessee having his horse shod by Taylor. Taylor's record book corroborated the story as the name B. J. Woodson, Frank James' alias during his time in Tennessee, indeed appears at the time of the robbery.

    He writes that he does not trust putting too much information to paper, "...although none of my mail is opened. Gen Walker says that I have captured the Jailor." General Leroy Pope Walker, a former general in the Confederate army who had also served for a time as Confederate secretary of war (February through September 1861), headed James' defense team at the Alabama trial. He also says that a Mr. Powell "...had wrote to the Hon Thomas H Watts...asking him to defend me." Thomas Watts had served as Confederate attorney general from March 1862 until October 1863 before being elected governor of Alabama, an office he held until the end of the war.

    Frank's trial began on April 17, 1884, and lasted ten days. He was found not guilty. With original transmittal envelope addressed to "Mrs. Frank James." Folds are weakened and separating at the intersections and in places along the edges, but not affecting the text. Light, uneven toning. Upper edge chipped.


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