Baptists and the American Civil War: July 26, 1865

Jesse, a Famous Baptist

Jesse, a Famous Baptist

Missourian Franklin (“Frank”) James (brother to Jesse James) is the son of a now-deceased Baptist minister (Robert James, who assisted in the formation of William Jewel College) and a Sunday School teacher in his Baptist church.

Enrolling in the Confederate Army early in the war, Frank soon returned home. When Union soldiers raided the family farm in hotly-contested Missouri, both brothers sought revenge by joining a Confederate guerrilla group, Quantrill’s guerrillas.

Jesse left the group by late 1864 but continued his guerrilla activies. Frank remained. Quantrill’s guerrillas continued operations after the war ended. And although Quantrill himself was killed in May, Frank stayed the course.

Until today, that is.

Like many other Confederate soldiers before him, Frank James finally surrenders and today is paroled.

The James brothers are not yet notorious. Following the war, the two join the Younger brothers’ outlaw gang, and Jesse, as well as Frank to a lesser degree, quickly become legendary for daring bank robberies.

For over fifteen years, Jesse and Frank (with the Younger brothers early on) rob banks and trains throughout the Midwest and beyond, allegedly killing dozens (it not hundreds) and making headlines nationwide. The brothers marry during this time, and eventually decide to settle down. But they are wanted men with bounties on their heads, and Jesse is killed April 3, 1882.

Frank is never convicted or jailed. He settles down to a more normal life, eventually returning to the family farm, living for more than thirty years following his brother’s death.

Sources: “Alexander Franklin James and Jesse Woodson James,” Missouri Civil War Sesquicentennial (link); Frank James (link)