Daviess County, Missouri Genealogy Trails


The Trial of the Notorious Bandit commenced-Opening of the Case by State's Attorney Wallace-Testimony for the Prosecution.-
The Defense-Attempt to Prove an Alibi-Testimony Showing that Frank James was Not at Winston.

- GALLATIN, Mo., Aug. 25 The hearing of testimony in the case of the State vs. Frank James was resumed this morning. A few minutes after eight o'clock Dick Liddell was called to the stand when Mr. Phillips objected to his testifying on the ground that he had been convicted of felony. After a lengthy argument on the various points pro and con, the Court decided that the defense had not sufficiently sustained their objection to Liddell being permitted to testify. Liddell then testified that he was sent to the Penitentiary in 1874 and never again. He was pardoned for that offense but had since torn the pardon up.
He detailed minutely his acquaintance with the James boys and his connection with them, embracing the time from 1870 up to the robbing of the Winston train and the commission of the murder for which Frank James is now on trial. After giving an account of the arrangements for the robbery and the meeting of the members of the gang at an appointed rendezvous, the witness testified: The arrangement was that I and Clarence should capture the engineer and the others do the rest. Clarence and I got back to the tender and went over on top of the engine. We had two pistols. We kept quiet till the train stopped. Then we hollered to go ahead.

We shot to scare those fellows, who both ran onto the pilot. The first run was about 200 yards, then a stop. Then the engineer opened the throttle to the usual level. We couldn't stop it. Frank came on and shut off steam, and as she slackened we jumped off while it was running. Frank and Clarence got off first. I went back after Jesse, who was still in the express car. Jesse Jumped first and I followed. We got $700 or $800 that night in packages. It was all good money.

We all got together then, except Wood, who had been knocked down as Frank pulled the baggageman out to the car, and we never saw him. Frank talked to me about the robbery afterward. He said he thought they had killed two men. Jesse said he shot one he knew, and that Frank killed one. He saw him peep in at the window and thought he killed him. From there we went to our horses, taking our time. We all unhitched, except Clarence, who cut his halter strap. From there we went to Crooked river. The money was divided in a pasture, just before daylight, Jesse divided, giving us about $130 apiece, before we got to Crooked river. Wood and I then went to Ford's

The others went toward their mother's I stayed at Ford's about a week, and then went to Mrs. Samuels', but found no one but he family there. Jesse and Frank came to the Ford's a week later, and then all five of us went to Mrs. Samuel's. We left in a wagon. All the horses had been previously turned loose. We were all armed with pistols at Winston. I went back to Jefferson City with Sheriff Timberlake in 1882, in January or February. I was there shortly after that with Mr. Craig, of Kansas City. I saw Governor Crittenden both times, first at the depot and the other time at his office. I don't remember telling the Governor at either of those times that after the Winston robbery Frank James upbraided Jesse for killing anyone, or reminded him of the agreement before the robbery that no one should be hurt or killed. Governor Crittenden, by consent, testified: Liddell did make such a statement to me as propounded just now.

I think it was the second time he was at Jefferson City. It grew out of my asking him why they killed an innocent man engaged in his duties. He said that it was not the intention to do it; that the understanding was there was to be no killing; that Frank had said there was to be no bloodshed, and that after it was over Frank said, "Jesse, why did you shoot that Man? I thought the understanding was that no one was to be killed, and I would not have gone into it if I had known or thought there was to be anything of that sort done." To which Jesse said, "I thought that the boys were pulling form me, and I wanted to make them a common band of murderers to hold them up to me." Don't remember that there was any place fixed at which the conversation first quoted occurred, but it was after the robbery that the question was asked why Jesse had killed that innocent man engaged in his duties.

By that man, I referred to conductor Westfall, and not to McMillan, whose killing is the basis of this action. The trial of Frank James was resumed this morning at eight o'clock, when Dick Liddell again took the stand was subjected to a rigid cross-examination by Mr. Phillips, of counsel of the defense, which failed to shake the testimony of Liddell. Mr. Phillps took the witness over every step of ground referred to by him in his testimony in chief without eliciting anything with tended in any way to contradict that testimony. If anything Liddell's testimony to-day was more full and particular as to dates, places, persons and description that on Saturday. Defendant's counsel filed a motion to strike out Liddell's testimony, on the ground that he was an accomplice of the defendant, which was overruled. J. Thomas Ford, father of the Ford Boys, testified that he knew the defendant; saw him in 1881; heard of the Winston robbery; saw the defendant a short time before that, between the 1st and 10th of July. He went by the name of Hall. The defendant is the man I saw on that occasion.

Elias Ford testified that he knew defendant; first saw him in May 1881; he went by the name of Hall; Jesse introduced him by that name; have seen defendant often since. Witness testified to his knowledge of a box of guns shipped to his brother, J. T. Ford. W. R. Oliver and Thomas A. Manlove testified to the delivery of express packages to the messenger on the train robbed. Mrs. Martha Bolton, sister of Bob and Charley Ford, testified to her knowledge of Frank James, and also her negotiations for the surrender of Dick Liddell. Dick surrendered on condition of Immunity from punishment, and that he would testify against the rest of the band. An attempt by the defense to get witness to talk about the killing of Wood Hite or of her conduct on the day of his death was emphatically sat down on by the court.

- GALLATIN, Mo., Aug. 28. Mrs. Bolton was recalled and testified to particulars relating to the killing of Wood Hite and the disposition of his body. Elias Ford, recalled, testified to the killing of Wood Hite, stating that Liddell was shot and wounded at the time. Miss Ida Bolton identified Frank James and testified to seeing him several times at her uncle's (Charles Ford's) house, where he was known by the name of Hall and wore sidewhiskers. Witness also testified in regard to the death and burial of Wood Hite. Willie Bolton testified to the same general effect as the foregoing witness. James Hughes, of Richmond, identified James as the man he had seen at the railroad depot a year ago last fall in company with two others who subsequently hired a "bus to take them to the R. & L. junction. Joseph Mallory identified the defendant as a man he had seen having a horse shod in Mr. Pott's blacksmith shop on the Thursday prior to the robbery. Jonas Potts, proprietor of the blacksmith shop, identified James and testified to different visits made by James to his shop, to the parties accompanying him, and to shoeing his horses. James had given the name of Green Cooper and claimed to be a cattle dealer from Ray County.

Witness saw a mare he shod for defendant about a month after the Winston robbery, when he was told she was a kicker and was Jesse James' mare. G. W. Whitman identified James and testified to seeing him at Pott's shop July 14, 1881, when he got a mare shod. Squire Mallory and Mr. Hughes were there at the time. Mrs. Jonas Potts, wife of the blacksmith, identified the defendant as having been at her house the 13th or 14th of July, 1881, and partaken of breakfast in company with another man. General Jamin Matchett, of Caldwell county, testified to seeing Frank James at his residence on July 14, 1881, in company with a Mr. Scott, where they fed their hoses and had dinner.

Defendant gave his name as Willard, and they remarked that they were going to Gallatin. Defendant had side whiskers. Ezra Saule testified to having seen the defendant on the line of the railroad about a quarter of a mile south of the track, nearly two miles from Winston, between four and six o'clock on the day of the robbery. He pretended to be buying fat cows. Before seeing the man I struck on an old road not traveled for twenty years. There I found a horse hitched, saddled and bridled, and twenty yards from that was another. They were both bays, or rather one was a sorrel with white stocking on her hind legs, and then I saw this man. by and by his partner came up and was much more sociable and communicative than the one first men. Next day I went to the trestle work on the railroad, where I discovered four houses hitched, and then I found another, here is a little trophy I found (producing a halter strap.) I also saw a halter strap picked up there by another man, which looked as if it had been cut off or broken through. I recognized the defendant as the man I saw that night. At the opening of court to-day George W. McGraw was the first witness called. He testified to having known Liddell for five years, and to the leaving of a wagon at his house by a strange man some time after the Winson robbery. W. R. McRoberts produced the Richmond express books and testified to the receipt on May 18 of a box weighing forty pounds addressed to J. F. Ford. Miss Elda Kindig testified to a man resembling Liddell taking dinner at her home, four miles from Winston, the day of the robbery.

Mrs. Kindig testified to the same effect. William Bray and his son R. A. Bray testified to defendant and three other men coming to their house two or three weeks before the robbery. The latter witness recognized Liddell as one of the party. Mrs. Bray also identified the defendant. Mrs. James Frank, residing eight miles west of Gallatin, testified to a visit by a man resembling defendant to her home two days before the Winston robber; he had Burnside whiskers. Frank Wolfinbarger, residing eight miles northwest of Gallatin, testified to defendant and three other men being at his house in the latter part of June 1881. they stayed all night. Mrs. Lindsay, sister of the last witness, testified to the same effect and thought she could not be mistaken as to the identity of Frank James as one of the party. P. Matthews testified to the loss on the 19th of June, 1881, of a sorrel horse with blazed face and white hind legs, which he recovered about seven weeks later in Ray County.

William M. Roberts testified to finding above mentioned horse about the last of July or first of August and turning it over to sheriff Timberlake. Sheriff Timberlake corroborated the preceding witness and testified to the subsequent disposition of the animal. The State here rested its case and the Court adjourned. Mr. Rush will make the opening for the defense to-morrow and, as near as can be ascertained the defense will endeavor to show the existence of a conspiracy to fasten the crime on the defendant, and will also show that Frank James was not in the State when the crime was committed.

A few minutes after eight o'clock this morning Mr. Rush commenced the opening statement for the defense. The chief point,h he claimed, would be that Frank James was not at Winston. It would be contended that the testimony of an accomplice was insufficient to convict unless corroborated as to the main facts. The character of Mrs. Boltona and Liddell, as well as other principal witnesses for the State, would be shown to be such as to render them unworthy of belief. There would be testimony to contradict that of such men as Jonas Potts and Ezra Scule, and a witness would be produced who was on the train that was robbed. The latter would swear that Frank James was not in the car. It should be shown, too, that there was a conspiracy to prosecute the defendant with Liddell as the chief plotter and the Fords and Boltons as co-conspirators. The officers of the law from Kansas city were in this trial actuated by revenge, as they failed to get the reward of $20,000 which would have gone to them if the accused had surrendered at Kansas city. As to the man the State's witnesses saw at different places, it would be urged that this was a man who was like Frank James, but who, in fact, was somebody else. The case was one of mistaken identity and it would be proven where Frank James really was.

The defendant's counsel had been unable to follow the maze of Liddell's testimony because their client could not assist them, he being just as ignorant of the details of the Winston robbery as they were. The first witness called was Sam T. Brosius, who was on the train at the time of the Winston robbery. He testified to seeing the conductor shot and to the appearance of the robbers who entered the car where he was, whom he described as having full beards. He was certain the defendant was not one of them. Fletcher W. Horn, a Nashville detective, knew B. J. Woodson in Nashville first in 1877; saw him as often as once a week; he always acted as a gentleman and kept good company; saw him last in March, 1881; he wore sandy whiskers, short on the sides and long on the chin: had seen Dick Liddell occasionally, but never saw him and defendant together; knew Jesse James as J. B. Howard; never knew Woodson and Howard were the James brothers; though he knew Jim Cummings, but did not know the Hites. Raymond B. Sloan, an attorney of Nashville, knew defendant as B. J. Woodson in Nashville first in the winter of 1876-77; he was living in the old Felix Smith house; last saw him March 26, 1881; he had light sandy whiskers all over his face; was engaged as defendant's attorney August 8. Mrs. Elizabeth Montgomery, who resides a mile and a half east of Winston, testified that some strange men ate at her house the evening of the Winston robbery; the clock struck seven before they finished; the younger man was the taller and light-complexioned, with Burnside whiskers and mustache; one of their horses was a bay, the other a shade lighter; thought defendant was not one of them, but not positive.

Miss M. Montgomery, daughter of the preceding witness, corroborated her mother's statement; did not think defendant was one of the men, but wouldn't say positively; neither of them had a large, blaze-faces, sorrel horse. John L. Dean testified to a conversation with Jonas Potts, the blacksmith, in which the latter told him he had been to see Frank James, and that he had never seen him before; on another occasion two men had drove up to his shop whom he said he recognized as the men he had shod horses for before the robbery. Marion Duncan testified to a conversation with Potts in the winter of 1882-83, when he said he had seen Jesse James' picture at Winston, and he had shod a horse for him; Potts was pretty boozy at the time. Gus. A. Chapman testified that Potts told him after visiting Gallatin jail that he did not know if he had ever seen defendant before, he could not tell.

The defense offered in evidence the record of the trial and conviction of Dick Liddell for horse-stealing in Vernon county in 1874, which was read to the jury. Joseph A. Shelby testified to his acquaintance with the James brothers, Dick Liddell, alias Black, Bill Ryan and Jim Cummings, Jesse and the three latter visited his place in 1880, in company with Jesse James, and in a conversation which ensued regarding the Concordia Bank robbery Jesse indicated Liddell as the man who struck the cashier; had not seen Frank since 1872. Mrs. Frank James came to Page City in the Spring of 1881 and sent for witness, who went and saw her; she said Liddell and others were committing depredations and her husband was getting the credit for them; she wanted witness to intercede with the Governor, but witness told her it would be folly to do so; did not know what time the sewing machine arrived and did not know where Mrs. James directed it to be shipped to; was only assisting a woman in distress; the last time witness saw Jesse James was in the Fall of 1881; Frank James was bleeding at the lungs in 1872 and stopped at witness' house sixty or eighty days; did not know he was a fugitive from justice. J. B. Chiles, of Kansas City, testified to a conversation with Liddell in which he told witness that Frank James was not at Winston. Thomas M. Nimms, brother-in-law of defendant, testified to his knowledge of the James brother; was at Mrs. Samuels' in the summer of 1831 twice: saw nothing of Frank James and did not hear of his whereabouts; knew Wood Hite; there was a strong resemblance between him and defendant; had not seen defendant for a number of years till he visited him in Independence jail; saw Wood Hite in the summer of 1881, but not since.

William Nicholson, another brother-in-law of defendant, had never known defendant until he met him last Thursday. Liddell, the Hites, and Jesse James were at witness' house all through the summer of 1881; never saw Frank with any of them; there was a strong family resemblance between Wood Hite and Frank James. Robert J. Williams testified that Mrs. Bolton's and Captain Ford's reputation for truth and veracity was bad. M. D. Duval, John T. Norval, George W. Trigg, James L. Ferris, A. B. Elliott, John Millstadt and James B. Duval testified to the same effect, particularly with regard to Ford. D. D. Woodson said Ford's reputation was bad, which grew out of the fact that the James gang were rendezvousing at the Ford house.

-- GALLATIN, MO., Aug. 31.
Shortly after the opening of the court this morning General Shelby appeared and proceeded to make an apology for certain irregularities in his conduct the day previous while on the witness stand, and after listening to a rebuke from the Court and settling a fine of ten dollars which had been entered up against him, withdrew. The testimony for the defense then proceeded. James S. Demasters, Justice of the Peace of Richmond, testified that he officiated at the inquest on Wood Hite and that Mrs. Bolton then testified that she had not seen Frank James for two years. James C. Mason, a neighbor of the Fords, testified that Captain Ford told him that he did not think Frank James was in the Blue Cut or Winston robberies, as Frank had left the balance of the boys and settled down; had had conversations with Mrs. Ford and old man Ford to the same effect, the latter stating that Frank James was not in the State at the time of the Winston Affair. Ananias Duval testified that old man Ford told him just after Jesse James was killed that he had never seen Frank and did not know when he was in the State. W. D. Rice, living near Richmond, testified that Willie Bolton was working for him just after the Wood Hite inquest and that Willie of his own motion told him that he had told a story at the Coroner's inquest and that his mother made him do it. John T. Samuels, half-brother of Frank James, testified that he last saw Frank before the Winston robbery in the year 1876, when he was at home in Clay county; next saw him at Independence after his surrender; was home all through the summer of 1881; saw Jesse in May, 1881, at home in company with Dick Liddell. He stated that they had come from Kentucky; they arrived at night.

After they got there mother asked Jesse where Frank was. He replied he had left Frank in Kentucky, and that Frank was in bad health and was talking of going South. Mother then spoke to Dick Liddell about Frank, and he made about the same response. Jesse remained at home for two or three months off and on; last saw him there about the last of July or the first of August. During these three months, I saw Dick Liddell, Clarence and Wood Hite and Charley Ford about the place. There was a striking family resemblance between Wood Hite and Frank James; saw nothing of Frank all that summer. Mrs. Zerelda Samuels, mother of Frank James, testified that Jesse came home in May 1881. Dick Liddell with him. "They said they came from Kentucky, I asked where "buck" was, that being the name I call Frank." He replied that he had left Frank in Kentucky in bad health. I said "Son, you know he's dead. You may as well tell me first as last," "I then turned to Liddell and asked him, and he said Frank was alive, but was in Kentucky and was in bad health.

 During that summer Clarence and Wood Hite and Dick Liddell and Charley Ford were at the house freuently. Frank was not there during that summer, and I did not see him from the time, seven years ago, when Sheriff Broome and others came and shot him, till I saw him after his surrender. Jim Cummings was at the house some time in June of 1881. I did not at that time know where Frank was but thought he was dead. I am fifty-nine years old and have six children. I was in my fiftieth year when my arm was shot off and my little boy was killed." Being asked whether, when the men left the house after the Wilston robbery, they did not take some strange apparel with them, she said: "Yes; I gave them a dress and apron and a bonnet, so that one of the gentlemen could pass off as a lady and you all couldn't catch'em." Allen Palmer, a brother-in-law of Frank James, testified to returning to his home in Wichita Falls, Texas, about the 1st of August, 1881, and found Frank James there with his family; he wore nothing but a mustache on his face; at that time there was no railroad nearer that Fort Worth, one hundred miles from where he lived; Frank seemed to be kind of ill; said his lungs were affected. Mrs. S. Palmer, wife of above witness, testified that Frank James was at her home at Witchita Falls, tex., from June 1881, to July 1st. and after an absence of about four weeks returned the latter part of July and left finally in September.

He talked about surrendering, saying he would like to have some of his friends negotiate with the Governor of Missouri. Frank James was placed on the stand to testify in his own behalf and gave a detailed account on his own behalf and gave a detailed account of his movements from the winter of 1876 till his surrender, stating among other things that he was in Texas during the summer of 1881 at the residence of his sister, and heard of the Winston and Blue Cut robberies while on a trip into the Indian Nation and immediately returned to his sister's feeling sure his name would be connected with it and it behooved him to be among friends. He positively denied the statement made by Dick Liddell connecting him with the Winston robbery.
Source: The Abilene Reflector, Abilene, Dickinson, KS, Sept. 6, 1883


On Dec. 7, 1869, between twelve and one o'clock, two men entered the office of the Daviess County Savings Association. One of them asked the cashier, Captain John W. Sheets, to change a hundred dollar bill. Cashier Sheets went into the back room to get the money, when he was shot. Hearing the shot, Mr. McDowell, the only other person in the bank, turned quickly and was immediately covered. He managed however to get out of the door and gave the alarm, although pursued by one of the bandits who shot at him several times. Hastily gathering up what funds they could get quickly, they mounted their horses and rode away, closely pursued by citizens who had heard the alarm. They managed to escape. One of the horses escaped and it was afterwards proved that it had at one time been the property of Jesse James. In a letter to Governor McClurg, dated June, 1870, Jesse James stoutly denied that he had anything to do with the robbery and murder, and said that while the horse captured had belonged to him, he had sold it prior to this time. A number of people testified that they had seen him at other places during the time of the robbery .
On the night of July 15, 1881, the Rock Island train was robbed by seven men, who boarded the train at Winston, and began work as soon as they were out of town. When the order of "Everybody down" was not obeyed by Conductor Westfall, he was promptly shot down. Other shots were fired, Frank McMillan also being killed. Two of the men took charge of the engine, while others entered the baggage car and forced the messenger to open the safe. The amount secured was estimated from $3,000 to $15,000. Again the James gang was suspected of the robbery and murder, but again nothing could be proved.
In 1882, Frank James gave himself up upon the promise of the Governor that he would be given a fair trial. He was brought to Gallatin in December, and was confined in the stone jail which was on the northwest corner of the public square. The trial was begun Aug. 20, 1883, Judge Goodman, of Albany, presiding. Dr. A. F. McFarland was Circuit Clerk, and his deputy was William Sheets. George T. Crozier was sheriff and his deputy was Gabe W. Cox. Major S. P. Cox, A. P. Shour, John Bowen and William Hamilton were also deputies and jury attendants.
The attorneys for the State were William H. Wallace, of Kansas City, John H. Shanklin, of Trenton, William D. Hamilton, Prosecuting Attorney of Daviess County, and J. F. Hicklin, Gallatin, Frank James had as his attorneys, Charles P. Johnson, John M. Glover, of St. Louis, John M. Slover, of Independence, Mo., J. W. Alexander and Wm. Rush, Jr., of Gallatin, and Judge John F. Phillips, of Kansas City.
The jurors were J. B. Smith, age 26; Charles R. Nance, 45 ; Jason Winburn, 39; Richard E. Hale, 24; James Snider, 37; Benjamin Feurt, 37; Lorenzo Gilbreath, 46 ; W. F. Richardson, 53 ; William Merritt, 33 ; Oscar Chamberlain, 31 ; A. B. Shellman, 37 ; James Boggs, 57.
The selection of this jury required four days. Over 200 witnesses were subpoenaed. Among them were Mrs. Sarah Hite, Dick Liddell, General Joe Shelby, Mrs. Zerelda Samuels, John D. Samuels and Mrs. Allen Palmer.
The crowds which a trial of this sort would attract can be imagined. All the leading newspapers in the country sent special representatives.
The jury stood 11 to 1 in favor of acquittal on the first ballot. Lorenzo Gilbreath being the only one favoring conviction. He soon gave in and James was acquitted.
[History of Daviess and Gentry Counties Missouri (Daviess County portion by John C. Leonard and Buel Leonard Printed by Historical Publishing Company, 1922 Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


What is usually styled the "Heatherly War" is important chiefly because of the excitement it created in the northwestern counties. A family by the name of Heatherly lived in what is now Grundy County on Medicine river. With them were four men, Thomas, Watkins, Hawkins and a colored man. All were regarded as rather desperate characters. In 1836 they were organized into a regular horse-stealing band, and made raids wherever there was any chance of meeting with success. In the fall of that year they took horses from a man by the name of Dunbar and his companion. Both men were killed trying to defend their property. The character of the Heatherly gang being pretty well known, they were under the necessity of doing something to divert suspicion. They therefore invented the story that the Indians, the Iowas and the Sacs, were on the warpath, scalping and killing and burning the homes of the settlers. Any mention of an attack by the Indians was terrifying to the settlers and they had visions of whole armies of savages pouring in upon them. The inhabitants at Moore's and Thompson's settlements assembled. Those at Moore's hastily built a block house. The militia was ordered out by General Thompson, two companies were ordered out from Ray, and two from Clay, a number joining from Daviess and Livingston. It was soon learned that it was a false alarm and the settlers determined to find out the cause. It was soon traced to the Heatherly gang, who had stated that Indians had been murdering. The bodies of the two men were found in the river. Detection being practically certain, Hawkins, one of the gang, turned state's evidence. The gang was sent to the penitentiary.
[History of Daviess and Gentry Counties Missouri (Daviess County portion by John C. Leonard and Buel Leonard Printed by Historical Publishing Company, 1922 Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

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