[Spotlight on Narrator.]
The winter of ‘65 was cold with much snow. Late in January I went one day to the field with my older brothers to haul some fodder and get some fish from the pond. We looked up the road and saw a lot of Federals. They had Federal uniforms on but they treated us in a friendly way. They left us guessing as to why they were so different from other Federals. We learned afterwards that it was Quantrill and his band consisting of the James brothers Frank and Jesse, Cole, James and Bob Younger, and 66 others. They went on down through Southeast Missouri and over into Tennessee and stayed there and in Kentucky until the war was over. The band came back to Missouri in the Summer and Fall of 1865. Many local families were visited by the James’ and reported fair and generous treatment at their hands.
Gad’s Hill Train robbery near Piedmont was one well-known deed. The James’ frequented the area many times. Aunt Betsy Howell, the widow of Simeon George Howell, lived alone in a cabin across the river from Welch Cave. Four men rode up to her house late one evening. They rode fine horses compared with most local plugs. They inquired if she would mind preparing them dinner. Aunt Betsy had little to eat in the cabin, so she killed two old hens and cooked their dinner. Two of the men ate while the other two remained outside. Then they exchanged places. When the men left, the leader told her that if anyone came by looking for the Youngers or James’, they would be camped at the spring in Dooley Hollow. When she picked up the dishes, each had a twenty dollar gold piece under it.
(Jefferson Lewis enters from stage right, moves to DCS.) J
Jefferson LewisWhat a fine pistol! (He shoots it a couple of times, [2 GUNSHOTS], and reacts to it’s quality.
Jesse and Frank James enter from stage right; approach him cautiously on Jefferson’s right.)
(In a knowing way.) I see, young man, you have a beautiful pistol with an elegant pearl handle. Is it yours? Jefferson Lewis
Well, yes, Sir, it’s mine and it shoots as straight as I point.
Might I ask when you acquired this excellent weapon?
I have to admit, Sir, I found here on the trail. But I did not steal it, Sir.
I believe you, son, but it is my gun and I’d be much obliged if you’d return it to me.
If it’s yours, Sir.
(As Jeff hands the gun over.) It is mine and it’s of high quality. And I’ll bet I can shoot it better than you. I thank you. (Flips Jeff a coin and exits stage right.)
Jesse James was a man who was known throughout the land; he was bold, he was bad but he was brave;
But that dirty little coward that shot down Mr. Howard has gone and laid poor Jesse in his grave.
Oh, I wonder where my poor old Jesse's gone. (Repeat)
I'm gonna meet him in that land where I’ve never been before.
I wonder where my poor old Jesse's gone.
Jesse James and his brother Frank had a Southern mamma and a daddy to thank
For raisin´ them up in that good old Southern way.
It was out on the Kansas and Missouri line back in those dark and dangerous times
Just before Missouri got bloodied in the Civil War.
CHORUS Jesse James, Jesse James, he robbed banks and he robbed trains.
The Pinkerton men tried to hunt him down.
They followed him around from town to town,
But they never laid a hand on Jesse James
There was lots of bad trouble on the border back then and a lot of the fightin´ had to do with revenge.
There wasn’t much way you could sit back and not take sides.
Frank went off to ride with Quantrill; Jesse threw in with Bloody Bill
And they fought against the Jayhawkers over on the Kansas side.
The war drug on for four long years and the mothers of Missouri shed a river of tears
For all the lootin’ and the burnin’ and the killin’ of a lot of good men.
But the trouble wasn't over when the peace finally came, at least not for people like Jesse James.
There wasn’t any quarter for the men who rode with Quantrill.
So Jesse and Frank and the Youngers and the rest who had fought for their families and had given their best Didn’t have much choice but to turn to a life of crime.
They robbed from the people who was robbin’ their friends, like the fat cat bankers and the railroad men
And lots of people was secretly on their side.
It was on a Wednesday night; the moon was shining bright;
Bob Ford had been hiding in a cave.
Well, he ate of Jesse's bread and he slept in Jesse's bed, and now he's gone and laid poor Jesse in his grave.
Oh, I wonder where my poor old Jesse's gone...
Jesse was alone; he was straightening up his home.
He stood on a chair to dust a picture frame.
When Bob Ford fired the ball that pulled Jesse from the wall,
now he's gone and laid poor Jesse in his grave.
Oh, I wonder where my poor old Jesse's gone...