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Lot 446    

Unusual Souvenir Check Referencing Jesse & Frank James
9/23/2013 - American History-TIMED
3.75 x 8.5 in., with "Office of Frank Millard & Co." across top, preprinted for Burlington, Iowa. Vignette of Liberty leaning on anchor on left. Written as a bank check, with date of 31 Aug. 1882, At Sight Pay to the order of William Hudson Seven Hundred Dollars.... Then in notation at bottom, To Jesse James / Frank James / Lawrence Kan. / Per Gov. Crittenden.

All of these are references to significant events in the "career" of the James brothers, but none occurred together. (Presumably the payee was the purchaser of the souvenir.)  The reference to Lawrence, Kansas refers to the brothers' activity in the Civil War, after they joined William Clarke Quantrill's band of "irregular" Confederates (most Union and even some Confederates just considered them terrorists), and (among other actions) massacred some 200 men and boys in the town of Lawrence.

Thomas Crittenden was the governor of Missouri 1881-1885. After the James-Younger gang was broken up, and most of the Youngers arrested, Jesse and Frank formed a new gang that included the Ford brothers, Charley and Bob. In 1881 they returned to Missouri, the James' home state in which they felt relatively safe. Frank shortly after decided to separate and moved to Virginia - far away from the areas where they had been active criminals.

With Jesse left alone, he only trusted the Ford brothers. However, hoping to collect the $5000 reward that had been contributed by various railroad and express companies for the capture of the James gang, it is believed Bob Ford entered into negotiations with Thomas Crittenden. On 3 April 1882, Bob saw his opportunity when Jesse removed his gun rig and jacket in the spring heat, and turned his back to straighten or clean a picture on the wall. Bob Ford shot Jesse in the back of the head. The Fords were arrested, indicted, pleaded guilty, sentenced to death and, within two hours, pardoned by Governor Crittenden, suggesting he knew about the plan to kill rather than capture James. (unfortunately, two lawmen, a sheriff and a marshal took most of the reward money, giving the Fords only a small portion.) Bob Ford himself was shot just a decade later while operating a tent saloon in Creede, Colorado.


Condition:  
Overall light toning, with a few darker areas of foxing. Some insect damage, especially to the upper right. Minor edge scuffing.
Sold: $82.25
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