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 - After 1876 Bonk Robbery In Northfieid How The...
After 1876 Bonk Robbery In Northfieid How The James Brothers Fled Thru Kossuth County By Esther Charlotte Smith • RESPECTABLE FAMILY Late summer, 1876. United States has lust celebrated its 100th birthday with the great Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. A new star—the 38th--in the flag represents Colorado, the most recently added state. Somebody named Alexander Graham Bell is trying to market a novelty he calls the'telephone'; but only a few eastern business offices have installed one. The nation is still aghast at the wiping out of five entire companies of the army's Company J, under Gen. George A. Custer, in a June attack on an Indian camp away out in Montana Territory at a stream called the Little Big Horn. And in a quiet little Minnesota town to the north and east of Kossuth county, an outlaw gang that has terrorized the midwes- tern states for ten years has Just hit its 'farthest north' target, and, like Lee's men at Gettysburg only 13 years before, that 'farthest north' raid proves to be its undoing. The story of the Jesse James gang's attack on the Northfleld bank is fairly well known thru books and movies, not all of them too accurate. But it has NOT been widely publicized that the gang's two leaders, the brothers Frank and Jesse James, escaped that raid in a daring move that led them thru Kossuth and three adjoining counties. Not only that; they obtained shelter and means of escape during a stay of several days in a Kossuth county home. A 1970 reprint of an 1882 book, 'The Life, Times and Treacherous Death of Jesse James 1 , by Frank Trlplett, gives the account. Insofar as any statement by convicted criminals can be accepted as truth, this account may be considered truthful. to affidavits in the preface, both the mother and the wife of Jesse affirm that this book, and only this one, gives the accurate story of the brothers and their deeds. Sons of a fairly respectable Missouri family, the James brothers had become outlaws during the Civil War when Frank, 18, and Jesse, 14, had joined Quan- trill's guerilla band. After the close of the war the brothers joined forces with Cole and Bob Younger and others and began a career of robbing banks, trains and travelers in the southern midwest. A train robbery by the James gang at Adair, Iowa, is said to have been the first train robbery ever planned and executed by anyone, anywhere. In 1876 the gang, consisting of the Jameses, the Youngers, Charlie Pitts, Clell Miller, Hobbs Kerry, a third Younger (Jim) and a newcomer, Bill Chadwell, had robbed a Missouri Pacific train near Otterville, Mo. Kerry was captured and put in the Missouri state penitentiary. The others escaped, and it was former Minnesota". Bill Chadwell who talked the gang into venturing farther north on their next foray. Chadwell had once lived at Mankato and claimed to know the byroads and woods of southern Minnesota so well that he could guide the gang in its flight south after some prosperous little bank, full of the money from a bumper wheat crop, had been •hit'. Cole Younger favored raiding a bank in some rich Canadian town, then retiring with the loot to some foreign country and 'going straight'. He argued—rightly, as later events proved—that southern Minnesota had too many railroads and telegraph lines, and that its citizens, only a few years removed from frontier conditions, were too handy with guns. But he was over-ruled, and the gang began a slow, scattered ride from Missouri to Minnesota. Careful to avoid attracting notice, the only unusual feature of any of the eight was the fine horse ridden by each, and the meticulous care the horses rate, the gang had several brushes with citizens while in flight, and more of their horses were killed. They got through LeSueur county that night, by superhuman efforts entailing sheer agony to the wounded men, and, traveling nights, they gradually worked their way to the heavy timber along the Blue Earth river near Mankato. A little stolen food, obtained at night, was all they could get. During the night of September 13, A WEEK AFTER THE ROBBERY, they passed through Mankato. (NOTE: To the present-day reader, it is continually astonishing to read the time lapses in this escape journey. The only explanation lies in the sparsely settled country, the absence of any quick, communications med- dia outside of the railroad towns, and the presence of much wooded and difficult country. Today's bank robbers often are captured within hours after the crime. But radar, radio, automobiles and airplanes were aids still unknown in 1876.) By this time the bandits were in wretched condition. They had had little sleep, little food, their shoes and clothing were nearly in shreds, and their wounded were suffering Intensely. A conference was held, and the decision was made to separate. The James brothers would head south, the three Youngers and Pitts west. Accordingly, the group crossed the Blue Earth river and parted. For the Youngers and Pitts, time was running out; on September 21, they were surrounded in a swamp near Madelia and Pitts was killed in the hail of gunfire that again wounded Jim, Bob and Cole Younger—Cole for the seventh time. Cole was to spend years in the Minnesota penitentiary at Stillwater, as did his brother Jim. Important that the In top condition.) animals be received. (They would rely on tojjjfil-th^s«rnw^s':ta,J^e^b«n,;to •H^-WWV: •*rjv,.»ps»y ;y^-«p»p.p- — AV* I**"? t r, • • • . ^.- •- v '>.«» T -,'- ' »J T -A ----- - er gang-partner Bob Ford, ledto f* fet L!? e ?, ** al * the publication of the book the month following Jesse's murder. Of 4500 copies known to have been sold, only nine remain. It Is alleged that efforts were made to suppress the book'and the scarcity of existing copies would tend to confirm this. That fact may account for the absence of any mention of the James brothers' Kossuth county sojourn by B. F. Reed in his 1912'History of Kossuth County* or by other writers in the field of Iowa history. Joseph Snell, writer and historian at the Kansas State Historical Society, secured one of the remaining copies of the long out- of-print book and edited it for republication, only last year.) 8 From Area On I.S.U. List Eight area students at the University of Iowa have been named to the Dean's List of the College of Liberal Arts for the second semester of the 1970-71 school year. They are: Bancroft - Richard Underkofler, Jr. Burt - Janet Mitchell Boyd. Corwith - Douglas DeGroote. Cylinder - David Goddard. Fenton - Candace Vaudt. Swea City - Marilyn Haag and Donald Montgomery. Woden - Valorie Doden. N«w Wesley Books WESLEY - Some new books have been added at the Wesley public library. Three that should be of interest are "Going Camp- Ing*' by Schwartz, a book of family camping; the new Rand McNally Road Atlas; and a Tour America Guide. This last book Is a big help in finding places to visit in the different areas of the United States and Canada. BIG FAMILY Brandy, a St. Bernard owned by the Leonard Spencer family of rural Iowa Falls, recently gave birth to a Utter of 15 pups of which 13 are still living. Brandy weighs 120 pounds and toe father weighs 175 pounds. HAY A bale of hay fell on Roger Molting of Dubuque recently and It suffered a broken neck. He Is in the hospital and was placed In cervical traction to hold the vertebrae in proper position. - CHOOSE TARGET Arriving at Mankato late in August, the gang hid out with a friend of Chadwell's. Debate as to whether the bank at Mankato, St. Peter or Northfleld should be the target took place. Northfleld was the choice. Again the gang rode out, this time to a spot in the woods not far from where Interstate 35 passes to the west of Northfleld. There they camped for three days, while several of their number looked over the terrain and planned the strategy. On September 6, the group divided into two or three smaller parties and, passing themselves off as cattle buyers when questioned, they entered Northfield from the west. Stationing themselves at agreed points around the public square, the gang began the raid on the bank. Three of the group entered the bank as the others began shooting. One bank clerk fled, receiving a shoulder wound. A second clerk, was ignored, but Cashier J. L. Heywood was seized and ordered to open the vault. This he refused to do. By now, there was trouble outside, for townsmen, hearing the shooting, had armed themselves and were attacking. Those inside the bank, realizing the raid was a failure, turned and ran out, but one of them, seeing Heywood reach for a drawer in which he kept a revolver, fired and killed the brave cashier. - GUIDE KILLED Outside, disaster confronted the bandits. Chadwell, relied on to guide them out of danger, was the first man killed. Clell Miller fell next. The citizens of Northfleld, protected by buildings from behind which they shot with deadly effect, suffered only one death, that of a Norwegian who did not hear or perhaps did not understand warnings to take cover. Several of the reamining bandits were badly wounded and a number of their horses killed. The wounded were seized by their comrades and pulled aboard the fleeing horses, whose double burden would greatly hinder the mad dash south. On they galloped, through Dundas and Sbieldsvilie, southwest. Somehow, perhaps by telegraph, citizens had been alerted, or perhaps needed no alert to realize that a gang with foaming horses carrying badly wounoV eo men was up to no good. At any - ESCAPE ON FOOT Meanwhile, Frank and Jesse James, on foot, dodged through the woods, steadily heading southwest. Several times they evaded search parties, out to get the 1 rewards posted by'the bank, the railroad, and others. Late in September they found themselves on the banks of Elm creek in the northern part of Martin county, Minnesota, midway between the now long-abandoned country postofflces of Horicon and Westford. In efforts to wade the creek, they were seen and shot at. Doubling back, they headed due east, stealing chickens for food and hiding in the timber. Despite their efforts, they met travelers occasionally. However, Frank could, and did, assume a convincing German brogue when questioned, and they were allowed to proceed. Their wounds, now at least three weeks old, were painful and troublesome. Still traveling east, they finally met a woman in a dogcart, who told them they were five or six miles from Blue Earth City (as Blue Earth was called in 1876). Fearing that this might be a large town where law officers would immediately spot them, the brothers left the road and bore to the left between the town and Walnut Lake. (Query: where is, or was, Walnut Lake?) With Frank assuming his role of a simple, friendy German, they were able to approach an isolated farm home or two where they could spend the night, though they slept in their clothes lest blood from their wounds be left on the bedclothes and arouse suspicion. At one of these places they were able to buy some second-hand work clothing, and at a little story at Clayton (Query: was this another little country village, now vanished?) they bought rough hats and work shoes.'Now their appearance was inconspicuous and they felt safer, and were lucky enough to be able to buy two old saddles and a team of horses from a farmer. Evidently they veered southeast at this stage of the flight, for they got into Winnebago county, Iowa. They then must have turned west again, for the book recounts that in either Kossuth or Winnebago counties they had what was perhaps their nearest brush with a party of armed men. In fact, there were two of these parties, one consisting of eight men riding four abreast. It was the second of these which stopped the Jameses and asked if they had seen any men on foot. Frank, reverting to his German role, gave them a stupid, vague answer. When the searchers had proceeded several yards they halted and looked back and seemed to confer. Frank muttered to Jesse, "If we can't run, we can fight!" The members of the posse probably never knew how near they came to death that day, says the author.. - INTO KOSSUTH By now they were in Kossuth county, following what the book calls 'one of the branches of the Des Moines river'. This phrase COULD be interpreted to mean that they had gone west, well- nigh halfway across the county and struck the east branch of the river in (perhaps) Greenwood township. Or—this may be more probable—they may have thought Buffalo creek, which they could have encountered in a southwest course across Winnebago and the northwest tip of Hancock county, to be a fork of the Des Moines. Old maps often referred to it as Buffalo Fork.) We now quote from the book: "The day after passing into Kossuth county they stopped at a neat little roadside cottage for supper and a night's lodging. There was an air of refinement about the place not ordi- nardlly met with in so wild a country." (Note: This WAS a wild country in 1876. The only railroad towns were six-year- old Wesley and 22 year old Algona. The railroad—the Milwaukee Road- had been built only six years earlier and Algona was end-of-track. South of Algona, aside from the decaying early village of Irvington and a tiny .settlement at St. Joe, there were no towns. To the north, aside from a handful of little country postoffices, was nothing but prairie and swamp, with scattered farm homes, often of sod. The stage route to Estherville, a similar one to Blue Earth, and the old military road to where the fort once stood at Iowa Lake, were about the only routes of travel.) Resuming the book's account, 'Pictures . . . books ... exquisite neatness. ... all spoke of people who had moved in higher society. Taking up one df the bpoks; Lord Byrbn's po^ ems, Frank turned to the flyleaf. The name and former residence struck him at once: «j . . . j. - - - L - N ----,----" Could it be, he asked Jesse, that any of the L- - - - 1 of N lived here? 1 To condense the narrative, it is enough to say that a quick look in the family record pages of the prominently displayed Bible gave the Jameses proof that the family was closely related to a man Frank knew I When the man came in, Frank dropped his assumed German brogue and explained that he had used it to avoid suspcion, since the country seemed excited about some horse thieves and it was thus hard to find lodging, they told their host that they had bought some wild land in Winnebago county, and despite his hospitable offers after he learned that they knew his brother in another state (Missouri?) they proposed leaving next morning. On the third day alter their arrival, they prepared to depart and insisted that their host, who was accompanying them to Fort Dodge on some business, hitch THEIR team to his wagon. They were going east out of Fort Dodge by rail, they said, and preferred to leave their team with him rather than in a livery stable. They would return after closing up their Eastern affairs, they said, and would give their host the use of the team for its board. - TO FORT DODGE They jolted to Fort Dodge in a lumber wagon, and there, after buying new clothing, they took an Illinois Central train for Chicago. After boarding the train Jesse remembered that he had left two twenty-dollar gold pieces in the fob pocket of the overalls he had discarded at the clothing store, but it was too late for regrets. They were on their way to freedom. In Chicago they located a surgeon of the type who treated gunshot wounds with no questions asked, and in a few days they were able to leave Chicago. Paying him liberally, they went to Cairo, then by an Ohio river steamer to Louisville, Kentucky. En route, they got into a poker game with some riverboat gamblers. The 'sharpers' got out of the ordeal with the loss of over a thousand dollars to the bank-robbing brothers.) After some days in Louisville, they separated, Frank going to Baltimore and Jesse to Nashville. 'Thus ended the Northfield raid and retreat*, says the book, 'of the eight who had entered the town well-armed, splendidly mounted, and full of health- two had fallen dead on its streets. The six. ... who, des- parately wounded, had ridden out of town. ... all received additional wounds and one was killed outright. Three of them were captured with revolvers empty, unable to drag themselves further. Only two (the James brothers) escaped, and that only by a boldness no others would have dreamed of ... ft was only by baffling the hunters at Horicon (Martin county, Minnesota) that they succeeded. The searchers camped at the creek where they crossed were most confident they would capture them their striking eastward alone prevented their being captured the very next day, for in going south, or west, they would have come to open country where they would have been surrounded, captured or killed. They were heard of everywhere towards the west, south and ' southwest, but not a soul had seen them from the time they 1 burst through the cordon of pursuers (at Horicon) and sought the covert beyond them. After this, with the exception of the night they crossed the river and were fired on, they were never seen; it was an escape without parallel in all the history of flight and pursuit of which the records anywhere make mention.' Persons interested in Kossuth county history, or in the story of the James gang in general, would no doubt give much to know who the hospitable J - J- ----L of Kossuth county was. Far from 'entertaining angels unawares*, he unknowingly offered food, shelter and the means of escape for the nation's two 'most wanted men' of 1876! •PUBLIC NOTICES QUARTERLY FINANCIAL STATEMENT AND SUMMARY OF PROCEEDINGS School District - Algona Community; Township - Cresco; County - Kossuth I do hereby certify that this report is a true and correct statement of the proceedings pertaining to the financial matters of the boara 01 said district for the quarter ending June 30, 1971. Vaughn K. Rising. Secretary FINANCIAL STATEMENT SCHOOLHOUSB FUND Balance from Previous Quarter $155,663.22 Total Receipts for Quarter 128,818.46 Total to Account Total Warrants Drawn During Quarter 32,203.15 Transfer-Bond Account - - 27,036.78 119,239.90 Balance at End of Quarter - IUMIM 693,531.39 GENERAL FUND Balance from Previous Quarter - -26,497.63 Total Receipts for Quarter 720,029.02 Total to Account lor - - -- EXPENDITURES Regular Salaries Paid for Quarter 514,395.96 (Teachers, Janitors, Officers, etc., grouped) ^ Other Warrants Issued - amount 110,375.02 Total Expenditures Balance at End of Quarter -— - 68.760.41 624,770.98 LIST OF WARRANTS (txcepi salarlM) SCHOOLHOUSE FUND Person, Firm or Corp. To Whom Paid Amount Algona Comm. School ,„.. District Bond Account ~l 27,249.00 Beco, Inc 1.81T.W C. Ben Bjornstad „„„„« Co., Inc. S^ISS Esslnger Electric Co 9 -25-?J Fandrel ft'Mulvey. Inc. - 1,387.10 Nebraska Testing .mm. Laboratories " JW.oo Pigott. Inc. - 8.410.00 Spencer Construction Company 11,866.17 Transfer — Bond Account 87,036.78 TOTAL »1I9.239.90 GENERAL FUND Amount Person, Firm or Corp, To Whom Paid Jean Abbott » 9.00 Academic Paperbacks ... 3-39 Advanced Systems, Inc. - 342.44 Frances Agard - 88.10 Agricultural Education - 10.90 Algona Comm. School District Clearing Account 1,132.88

Clipped from
  1. The Algona Upper Des Moines,
  2. 15 Jul 1971, Thu,
  3. Page 20

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