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    Lawman's Letter Tracking Down the James-Younger Gang, Kansas City, 1874. Lawman's letter, four pages, 8" x 10", folded leaf letter dated Sept. 19th, 1874 from Kansas City, Missouri, to Charles Johnson, acting Governor of Missouri stating his movements in tracking down Jesse & Frank James and the Younger brothers. His letter informs the Governor that progress is slow & time consuming for his undercover work. Portions of this letter are quoted: "Any exhibition of haste in my action would excite suspicion and spoil everything. As I wrote you before I find very few individuals here that are not either in sympathy or afraid of these men - In fact, among the Sheriff's I have found but one that I would trust & that is Brown of Ray County - he manifests a willing disposition to assist me all he can but confesses that there are but a few men in this country that he would trust in this matter, therefore you perceive the obstacles I have overcome. Later I am fully satisfied that all the robberies that have been committed in this section have been done by the parties in question - I have followed them through these counties and find that it is their habit after committing a robbery to keep constantly moving - not remaining longer than a day & night in one place until they are satisfied that no effort is being made to capture them - my method has been to associate carelessly with the people under pretends of buying land and as an ex-rebel expressing a great deal of sympathy for them when ever they are spoken of. I have even been to their house & conversed with their mother making a proposition to her to purchase her property - I might have obtained a posse & followed them at any time since my arrival, had I done so, the chances would have been largely against my capturing them from the fact that they are mounted upon some of the fleetest horses in the country & thoroughly versed in it's geography. They have not remained long enough in one place since I have been here for me to summons a posse & surround them. I propose to pursue the following course - to linger in Ray & Clay counties, mixing with the people in my careless manner until they come to their home in Clay or among their friends in Saline to remain for a time & then take the posse from Ray County that I now have in waiting, and capture or kill them. In my judgment this is the only method of success, in fact I believe that any other course would be a useless waste of time & perhaps life..."

    The letter closes by asking the Governor for permission to approve this plan and signed on the last page by "F. Yancey." Yancy was a member of the St. Louis Police Department trying to catch the James-Younger gang. Information on him is thin, but we do know that two days after writing this letter, he encountered Jesse James and Jim Younger (according to his report) and they exchanged gun fire - Yancy believing he had wounded Jesse. The two men escaped, however and could not be found by posses. An excellent letter by this lawman who tracked one of the West's most dangerous outlaw gangs.

    Condition: Very fine, easy to read.


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    13th Friday
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