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    Jim Younger: Autograph Letter Signed "Jim Younger." Eight pages (recto only), 12" x 9", n. p, n. d. (sometime after 1884), to his friend, Cora McNeill, whom he calls "Corona." Cora, who may have been a sweetheart of Jim's before he went to prison, was the wife of Minneapolis judge George M. Bennett who had taken an interest in Jim and Cole and worked for years to have them released and pardoned. In this fascinating letter, Jim is giving a statement of the several crimes he and Cole were accused of committing, one of which occurred while they were incarcerated. He writes, in full:

    "Mr Bennett, thinks, and suggested to Cole to make further statements a bout [sic] the different crimes that have been charged to us.

    "Now I have not talked with Cole upon this subject lately enough, to say what he intends doing, but I have not my self, and have most earnestly objected in my views of his making such statement for publication. For it not only does no good, but it gives our enemies a chance to come back with new charges and abuse. Further more, there is not the evidence of a single soul to substanciate [sic] a single charge that stands aganst [sic] us to day - except northfiend [Northfield], and the fight with detectives. While hundreds of good men, and woman have said we were not guilty; but a few others have sworn we were not.

    "Take Stones Bank for instance. We are accused of robbing that when Stone and all his family have been our friends, from our birth. Stage and gads hill train robbery [Missouri]. Bill Dicenson, and the masonic lodge at Floyd La. know that we were there, and made oath to that effect. Iowa train robbery. Five hundred people knows we were at monagaw [?]. and some good people have made oath to that fact, but the accusation goes on.

    "We are now accused of the blue cut robbery. One man went so far as to say I took fifteen hundred dollars from him alone. Now we came to prison in -76- and the railroad that forms the blue cut, was not built untill [sic] 80-84 and we havent lost a single day at the prison. So there must be a mistake some where. And Cole charged with shooting sixteen men with one gun. Why don't they locate this. They know why.

    "and here comes an other [sic] that Cole first shot, then hit him with a rock, and Cole at the same time 3-thousand miles a way [sic]. Now if this little spree of Coles were true, then I should pronounce Cole to be as sillie [sic] as Thompsons Colt. For why should he carry a gun, or why should he waist [sic] his time casting stones at some one he never knew, why not have straddled a rock pile and killed his enemies. Such nonsense.

    "and last tho not least. There comes an easy lier [sic], and states in a speach [sic] made in the states capital of Minnesota, that we had gone in to a town of three hundred inhabitants, and killed them all. Now where did this town belong. Or what earthly use is it to try to head off such absurd liers [sic]. Are the men who are to sit on the case to listen to such tales as this. For if they are, then the whole thing had just as well stop now as ever. For any man with enough sense to go in when it rains, knows such as the a bove [sic] is false, as nothing like this has ever occurred, and could not take place without - one. Just one soul man or woman having seen and know something a bout [sic] it. But they havent been found. Just think about it.

    "and beging [sic] your pardon for this comparison, I will say what cannot be denied. That if news paper [sic] accounts a lone [sic] were true, or if one half of what is said in the papers are true, there has never been an honest President, Govenor [sic] _ Senator _ or politition [sic] since the world began, but we know there has, but if the papers or reporters will write as they do of public men then why donot [sic] these same public men understand how easy it is for them to write falsehood after falsehood of men helpless in prison."

    Aside from the expected folds, the pages are lightly toned along the edges with minor chipping of the right edge on the first page. The final page has some separation at the intersection of the folds, resulting in some slight paper loss.


    More Information:

    Jim and Cole Younger began their life of crime during the Civil War as members, along with the James Brothers, of the notorious Quantrill's Raiders. After the war, they may have been associated with the gang of Archie Clement, who led the first daylight, peacetime armed bank robbery in U. S. history on February 13, 1866. While the exact date of their association with the gang is uncertain, by 1868, they, as well as the James Brothers, were unquestionably part of the bank-robbing gang. The Jameses and Youngers were able to avoid arrest longer than many outlaws of the day, largely thanks to the sympathy and support of many of their fellow Confederate veterans. But in 1876, with the attempt on the bank in Northfield, the Younger's luck ran out. The Youngers were subsequently captured while attempting to flee and were tried and sentenced to life imprisonment at the Minnesota State Prison in Stillwater (a guilty plea saved them from the hangman's noose). Bob Younger died in prison in 1889; however, Cole and Jim continued to languish in prison, while sympathizers periodically lobbied for their release. In 1899 a bill was before the Minnesota Legislature to secure their freedom. Despite the best efforts of their supporters, the Youngers would not be paroled until July 1901. Jim became engaged to Alix Mueller upon release, but was unable to marry under the terms of his parole. He committed suicide on October 19, 1902.



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