The Myth surrounding Jesse James’ Death: Author Justin Klock
Many of the famous outlaws of the west are surrounded with all kinds of questions of whether the stories that are told about them are true or not. One of these famous outlaws that is surrounded with mysteries regarding both his true identity and the details of how and when he died is Jesse James. The most attention grabbing of the two, is the myth is of his death. Some people claim that he did not die on the day the Ford brothers shot him in the back of the head, however, the majority believes that he was the man killed on that day. So, was it really Jesse James killed on that day in St. Joseph, Missouri?
Some people do not believe that Jesse James was killed on April 3, 1882; these people claim his death was faked and that he actually died of old age many years later. This hypothesis is based on many different events that occurred after Jesse James’ supposed death. It is also based on the bizarre sequence of events that led up to the moment that Jesse James was reportedly shot and killed. One of the reasons that this myth came up is due to the fact that historians cannot agree on where Jesse James was shot. According to one historian, “Bob [Ford] shot Jesse right below the right ear and Jesse toppled to the floor dead” (Weiser, 2015). Where as an article on Histoy.cosays, “Bob Ford shot him several times in the back” (staff, 2009). These are just two examples of the many different accounts of where Jesse James was actually shot when he was killed in his house in Missouri.
Another reason people believe this other scenario is due to the fact that different accounts give completely different stories of how and where he was standing when he was killed. An account published by the city of St. Joseph, Missouri that says “Jesse was shot from behind while he stood on a chair to straighten a picture in his own home” (St. Joseph, 3). Contradicting this account, another article, by states he just “turned his back to adjust a picture on the wall” (staff, 2009). One might be inclined to think that if he was actually killed that day, all the historical accounts would report the same story of how he was killed and not have vastly different stories about what happened when Jesse was shot. In addition to the historical accounts about how he died that contradict each other, there are also other reasons why people believe he was not actually killed on the day that he supposedly was. According to an article that was written by Robert Ruark, an acknowledged expert on Jesse James, “Reportedly when, James’ mother was first shown the body of the man that Ford had shot she blurted out, ‘no gentlemen that is not my son.’” (staff4, 2009). If this is the case, it would show that Jesse was not actually killed on the day of his supposed death. Another reason why people believe he was not actually killed on the reported day, is the fact that people are actually coming forward to experts and being able to convince them that they are actually the real Jesse James. The point that people use this most for is that the people have actually convinced experts. This shows that there is a lot of speculation that surrounds James’ supposed death. Thanks to this, the people who believe this theory feel that they are actually right and have a reason to stick to this theory, no matter how much evidence there is that he is actually dead. The people that believe he was not actually killed in Missouri on April 3, 1882 use all these reasons in attempt to prove that their version of the story is the truth.
The majority of people believe that it was actually Jesse James killed on that day in April. This side uses many articles written by historians as well as scientific evidence which proves he was actually killed the day that he is reported to have been killed. It is understandable why some are skeptical of the situation due to the differences in accounts that are written. However, those skeptics fail to recognize that all the accounts are very similar and only have a few details that are different. Every account reports Jesse James was shot while he had his back turned to Bob Ford. Since this is the important part, the minor details of whether he was standing on the ground or a chair, among other claims of his positioning. When people are trying to support a claim that the vast majority believe is wrong, they will use any anomaly, in any report, no matter who wrote it. These people are just trying to find anything that can prove that they are right regardless of how far stretched or how small the detail is. Small anomalies do not mean that the majority is not correct, they simply mean the story just needs some work. While the conspirators make a few good points, they have ignored all the information that could be used to prove them wrong. For starters, all the claims that came from people claiming that he or she was the real Jesse James were proved wrong. The biggest piece of evidence that they ignore is the most crucial for proving who is right and who is wrong. This evidence comes from the public medical records of the government who used teeth from Jesse James exhumed body and hair from the original burial site. The government ran DNA tests on these objects and the results reported by the department of say that the “mtDNA sequences from the teeth and hairs were all identical” (Stone, 2001). This shows that it was without a doubt, Jesse James who was killed.
Everyone is subject to their own opinion, however, the evidence shows that Jesse James was killed by Bob Ford in his home in St. Joseph Missouri on April 3, 1882 while he had his back turned. This is backed up by DNA evidence which is the strongest kind of evidence that one can get to support his or her side. All the strongest evidence proves the side of the vast majority of people that James was the man killed that day.
- “Jesse James – Folklore Hero or Cold Blooded Killer? – Page 3.” Jesse James – Folklore Hero or Cold Blooded Killer? – Page 3. Accessed November 13, 2015. http://www.legendsofamerica.com/we-jessejames3.html.
- “Jesse James Is Murdered.” History.com. Accessed November 13, 2015. http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/jesse-james-is-murdered.
- “Welcome to an Engaged Community.” St. Joseph, MO. Accessed November 13, 2015. http://www.stjoemo.info/index.aspx?nid=362
- “Top 10 People Rumored To Be Alive After Death – Listverse.” Listverse. April 2, 2009. Accessed November 13, 2015. http://listverse.com/2009/04/02/top-10-people-rumored-to-be-alive-after-death/.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information. Accessed November 13, 2015. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11210907.