Jesse James was one of the most notorious outlaws in the American West, robbing trains and leading the James-Younger Gang.
Jesse Woodson James was born September 5th, 1847 in Kearney, Clay, Missouri, United States to Rev. Robert Sallee James, a Baptist minister, and Zerelda Cole.
 Jesse was only three when his father died while on a trip to gold fields in California. Jesse's mother remarried twice. As a young man, Jesse was known to be a kind, religious fellow.
Jesse served in Captain William Quantrill's Partisan Rangers under Lieutenant "Bloody Bill" Anderson and Lieutenant Archie Clement after the Centralia Massacre, from 1864-5. He was wounded during the surrender at end of the US Civil War. He and his brother Frank were part of a group called "bushwhackers", Confederate guerillas in the states of Missouri and Kansas during the US Civil War. Jesse was known as being the "keenest and cleanest" fighter in Anderson's group.
Following the war, the James brothers started their spree of robberies, hitting up banks, stagecoaches, and trains across the Midwestern states. Their crimes were especially brutal and gained them notoriety across the country. Despite a large portion of their gang being captured during a robbery in Minnesota, the James brothers continued to find new members. They experienced increased trouble, though, as law enforcement cranked up their efforts to capture the group. The brothers moved their families to Tennessee for a time, Frank James living under the name Woodson and Jesse under the name of Howard.
A collection of his known exploits:
14 Feb1866 Clay Co Savings Bank: $60,000.00
Oct 1866 Alexander Mitchell Bank
March 1867 McLain Banking House
4 Mar 1867 Richmond, MO: $4,000.00
1868 Southern Banking Co, Russellville, Logan Co KY (his father's home) $14,000.00
1868 Daviess Co Savings Bank: $7,000.00
1868 Missouri State General Bank
3 June 1871 Corydon, Wayne Co Iowa
21 July 1873 Pacific Express train: $2,000.00
31 Jan 1874 Iron Mountain Express train: $10,000.00 from passengers.
1874 Texas stage coach
1874 Kansas Bank
1874 Tishimingo Brothers Bank, Corinth MS
6 Sep 1876 Northfiled, Minnesota: 1st National Bank. Almost died, the Younger brothers caught and prisoned.
Oct 1879 Chicago and Alton Train: $40,000.00
Sept 1880 Wells Fargo Stage in Mammoth Cave, KY: $11,400.00
1881 Chicago Rock Island and Pacific Railroad: $500.00
1881 Chicago and Alton Rail Road: $1,500.00
Jesse James was killed by Robert Ford April 3rd, 1882 at 1318 Lafayette in St Joseph, Buchanan, Missouri. Ford and his brother Charley were new recruits to the gang who arranged to use their status within the gang to apprehend Jesse and gather the reward money, as part of an agreement with the local sheriff. Governor Thomas Crittenden had offered $10,000 for the capture of Jesse, dead or alive. Jesse was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Kearney, Clay, Missouri. The epitaph on Jesse's headstone in the family cemetery reads that Jesse was "Murdered by a traitor and a coward whose name is not worthy to appear here."
Some people believe Jesse James faked his death. Jesse's fame in life became only larger once he died, making him a legendary Wild West figure who was portrayed in stories and entertainment the world round.
↑ "United States Census, 1850," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MDZ7-1JK : 12 April 2016), Jesse R James in household of Robert James, Platte, Clay, Missouri, United States; citing family 732, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). Year: 1850; Census Place: Platte, Clay, Missouri; Roll: M432_396; Page: 351B
↑ "United States Census, 1860", database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MH8S-K3G : 14 December 2017), Jesse W James in entry for Reuben Samuel, 1860. Year: 1860; Census Place: Washington, Clay, Missouri; Roll: ; Page: 969; Image: 425. Note: Note: Data: Text: Birth date: abt 1848 Birth place: Missouri Residence date: 1860 Residence place: Washington, Clay, Missouri, United States
↑ Daily Miner, The (Butte, Montana) Author: Ancestry.com Publication: Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006. Note: First ArticleNote: APID: 1,6661::463240193; Second ArticleNote: APID: 1,6661::462562308
↑ 7.07.1 National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000. The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Record Group Title: Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, 1773 - 2007; Record Group Number: 15; Series Title: U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934; Series Number: T288 Ancestry Record 4654 #1027825
↑ Dalby, John. Minnesota Newspaper Headline Index [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 1999. Ancestry Record 3786 #19193
↑ American Civil War Soldiers Author: Historical Data Systems, comp. Publication: Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 1999.
↑ Historical Data Systems, comp. U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009. Ancestry Record 1555 #2435842
↑ National Park Service. U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Ancestry Record 1138 #1056583
↑ "Utah, Obituaries from Utah Newspapers, 1850-2005," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVSF-Y9CV : 17 March 2018), Jesse James in entry for Mrs Zeralda Mimms James, 14 Nov 1900; citing Salt Lake Herald 7, The University of Utah. J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City.
↑"Frank James", Butler weekly times Wednesday, Aug 29, 1883 Butler, MO Vol: 5 Page: 5
↑ 19.019.1 Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 01 April 2019), memorial page for Jesse James (5 Sep 1847–3 Apr 1882), Find A Grave: Memorial #539, citing Mount Olivet Cemetery, Kearney, Clay County, Missouri, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .
↑1930 United States Federal Census Author: Ancestry.com Publication: Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2002.Original data - United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. Page: Year: 1930; Census Place: Liberty, Clay, Missouri; Roll: 1183; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 20; Image: 467.0. Note: Note: Data: Text: Birth date: abt 1844 Birth place: Missouri Residence date: 1930 Residence place: Liberty, Clay, Missouri APID: 1,6224::6432270
↑1920 United States Federal Census Author: Ancestry.com Publication: Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.Original data - Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. (NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census Page: Year: 1920; Census Place: Higginsville, Lafayette, Missouri; Roll: T625_931; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 107; Image: . Note: Note: Data: Text: Birth date: abt 1856 Birth place: Missouri Residence date: 1920 Residence place: Higginsville, Lafayette, Missouri APID: 1,6061::65811148
It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Jesse by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA.
Y-chromosome DNA test-takers in his direct paternal line on WikiTree: