FRANK JAMES - AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED 03/12/1884 - HFSID 350450
Sale Price $10,200.00
Extremely rare autograph letter written by Western outlaw Frank James to his wife and son from an Alabama jail (1884), discussing the hardships of imprisonment, his feelings of betrayal by "my pretended friends", and family attendance at his coming trial. Contained in a 9x14½ brown leather folio with a b/w photo of James. Autograph and signed material by James is extremely rare and highly desirable!
Rare autograph letter signed "Frank James". 2 pages, 8½x14, 1 sheet, front and verso, ruled paper. Comes in a 9x14½ (27x28¼ unfolded) brown leather folio with a 5¼x6¼ b/w photo of James and a Charles Hamilton letter of authentication. Dated: Mar. 12, 1884. James wrote this letter to his wife and son after surrendering and awaiting trial for bank robbery. "My Dear Wife and Robert... I am truly in hope I may not be ill any more while in jail at least... the only money I spend is for stamps and tobacco... As I write it rains and the heavy peals of thunder and vivid flashes of lightning very nearly raises me out of my chair... I have scarcely any fire and think I will let it die... I am waiting very impatiently for Mr. Cooper to come from the post office. I am in hopes I will get a letter from some one. No where on earth is letters so much appreciated so highly as when in jail... Edwards is undoubtedly the very best friend I have on earth...I wish all my pretended friends were as true as he... I know he done just what he said he did and that was give them the very devil. How did Rob like the deaf and dumb alphabet I sent him?... I heard the jailor's voice a few moments ago... [he] had letter from you dated March the 7... Should I want you to come to the trial I want you to get Rob a handsome suit and one that fits him perfect... Be sure to be ready (and tell Josie) by the first of April and keep ready to start at moment's notice...". Folio sold “As is". Letter is lightly toned. Folded once vertically and thrice horizontally. Discolored along folds. Otherwise in fine condition. Framed by the Gallery of History, 39½ x 28¼.
Brothers Frank James (1843-1915) and Jesse James (1847-1882) had been Confederate guerrillas under the leadership of William Quantrill during the American Civil War. Frank took part in the Aug. 21, 1863, massacre in Lawrence, Kansas. They joined Cole Younger and others in 1866 and formed a gang of which Jesse was usually regarded as the leader. At first, they specialized in bank robberies, but in 1873 they held up a train. In 1876, they attempted a bank robbery in Northfield, Minnesota. Three gang members were killed and three Younger brothers were shot and captured; only Frank and Jesse escaped. With a new gang, they robbed trains from 1879-1881. Five months after the murder of his brother Jesse by Robert Ford in 1882, James met with Missouri Gov. Crittenden. Placing his holstered pistol in Crittenden's hands, he explained: "I have been hunted for twenty-one years, have literally lived in the saddle, have never known a day of perfect peace. It was one long, anxious, inexorable, eternal vigil". He then ended his statement by saying, "Governor, I haven't let another man touch my gun since 1861". After Frank's surrender, he was jailed in Independence for six months and was treated more like a celebrity guest than an outlaw. He was then transferred to the jail in Gallatin, Missouri. To accommodate the huge crowds curious about his trial, Frank was tried in the Gallatin Opera House from Aug. 20 to Sept. 6, 1883. Frank was tried for only two of the robberies/murders - one in Gallatin, Missouri for the July 15, 1881 robbery of the Rock Island Line train at Winston, Missouri, in which the train engineer and a passenger were killed, and the other in Huntsville, Alabama for the March 11, 1881 robbery of a Corps of Engineers payroll at Muscle Shoals. Civil War sympathies played a major factor during the trial and the jury acquitted him. His later life was in all respects honorable. He died on Feb. 18, 1915, at the age of 72 at his farm in Clay County, Missouri.
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