Bonhams : JAMES, JESSE. 1847-1882. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations of James being a horse thief,
JAMES, JESSE. 1847-1882. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations of James being a horse thief,

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Lot 82
JAMES, JESSE. 1847-1882.
Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James") denying accusations of being a horse thief,

US$ 200,000 - 300,000
£ 160,000 - 230,000
JAMES, JESSE. 1847-1882.
Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations of James being a horse thief, specifically "go to my Mother & explain why you sed what you did," with additional autograph note from James to Dr. Yates (whose horse was stolen) asking him to deliver the letter to Mr. Flood, 3 pp, with: in pencil, 202 x 126 mm, June 5, 1875, small chip in upper corner, light crease, old folds, archivally double-sided window framed.
Provenance: Sold Charles Hamilton, Apr 30, 1981, lot 132.

"...Do you suppose if we were thieves we would Steal a horse from one that has been so kind to Mother as Dr Yates has no far from it ... and they are no men in Mo. who scurn horse thieves more than we do & if we were free men we would do all in our power to put it down Clint Allen of Liberty made Similar remarks about us to Sam Wardin a few days ago but he will probily regret it ... if you value your life you had better retrace your Slander. Jesse W. James."


On January 25th, 1875, the James's farm in Kearney, Missouri, was raided, and James's 9-year old half-brother Archie was killed, uttering his final words, "Tell my mama I'm better." His mother Zerelda Samuel lost her right arm. One of the first doctors to arrive was William G. Yates, who along with Dr. Scruggs tended to the family. The shocking tragedy, and the fact that it was carried out by Pinkerton's detectives, did more to ensure sympathy for James and his brother than any other event, as former Sheriff George Patton noted, "The grand move has made hundreds of friends for the James boys when they had but few" (Stiles, p 285). James's debt to Dr. Yates is on display here, and it is significant that he employs Yates, whose stolen horse is in question, to deliver the letter to Flood.

Extremely rare, documented letter of outlaw Jesse James, one of only two to be sold at auction in the last 40 years, and one of only three known to exist outside the family. See Stiles, Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War, New York, 2002. Hamilton The Signature of America, pp 88-89 (published).
Contacts
JAMES, JESSE. 1847-1882. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations of James being a horse thief,
JAMES, JESSE. 1847-1882. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations of James being a horse thief,
JAMES, JESSE. 1847-1882. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations of James being a horse thief,
JAMES, JESSE. 1847-1882. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations of James being a horse thief,
JAMES, JESSE. 1847-1882. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations of James being a horse thief,
Auction information

Bonhams annual Americana and Travel sale on October 23rd features over 300 lots of important manuscripts, books and maps, including a wonderful autograph collection from the Dodge family, one of the most prominent families of American industry. The Dodge Family Autograph Collection features letters from Jane Austen and John Adams and covers 200 years of American and world history and literature. The sale also spotlights a collection of Texas and American maps from the collection of F. Carrington Weems, a very rare letter from Jesse James, and a beautiful collection of colorplate books on Greece and Natural History.

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