I'm taking your horse Jesse James
April 28, 2008 8:44 AM   Subscribe

In the Matter of Daniel Smoote v. Frank & Jesse James As bank robberies go, the 1869 heist pulled off by legendary outlaws Jesse and Frank James in Daviess County, Mo., wasn’t much of a success: They may have left with no money, they probably shot the wrong man, and Jesse James lost his horse. Perhaps even more frustrating for the outlaw duo, they ended up getting sued by a local farmer and his ambitious young lawyer—the first and only successful civil action against the former Confederate guerrillas-turned-outlaws.

The court awarded Smoote $223, which amounted to the value of the property the James brothers had taken. To collect the judgment Smoote took possession of the horse James left behind at the robbery.

The judgment made Smoote whole, and then some. The horse was believed to be from Kentucky racing stock, and was valued at $500....

In the end, things went better for Frank.

Frank James turned himself in shortly after his brother’s death, stating that he was tired of running from the law. He was tried, and ultimately acquitted, for robberies and murders in Missouri and Alabama.... Seven of the country’s best lawyers, some of whom were former Union soldiers, defended him on a pro bono basis. Many say they packed the jury with former Confederates. ... After his acquittal, frank James led a quiet life on the fam­ily farm, occasionally selling tours of the property.
posted by caddis (8 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As I really know very little about the period, could someone explain to my why Jesse James is super-famous today but his brothers aren't?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:56 AM on April 28, 2008

Smoote? Any relation?
posted by mkb at 9:01 AM on April 28, 2008

Alliteration. Also, he has (or had) his own TV show, where he looked superior and acted tough in a mechanic shop.
posted by DU at 9:03 AM on April 28, 2008

Smoote? Any relation?

Or to Oliver Smoot? ; )
posted by ericb at 9:29 AM on April 28, 2008

Allow me to plug T.J. Stiles' book Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War, one of the finest historical biographies I know. And Stiles has a website with more cool stuff.
posted by LarryC at 9:44 AM on April 28, 2008

shakespherian, I co-recommend LarryC's recommendation for T J Stiles' book. Explains a lot about the mystique around Jesse James, who comes across more like Arkan than anyone else.

(tinyJamesLinkFilter: the missus used to work on the James Farm, and lived along the road from the site of the first daylight bank robbery west of the Mississippi in Liberty, MO - in the house built by James's prosecutor, Sandusky.)
posted by scruss at 10:15 AM on April 28, 2008

Thanks, scruss. I'll pick it up.

(When did AskMe turn blue?)
posted by shakespeherian at 10:23 AM on April 28, 2008

Thanks LarryC. However, I think you meant to link to this or this. Interesting stuff, and Stiles also appears to have been one of the first to correlate the conditions of the South under Reconstruction with the conditions in Iraq after "Mission Accomplished."
posted by caddis at 10:47 AM on April 28, 2008

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