The good and the Bad James Boys: Frank, Jesse, Henry, & William

Two sets of brothers, the James boys, have left their imprint on our culture.

Frank and Jesse were influenced by an angry, tragic, civil war. Frank and Jesse were poor and had no source of income at the end of the Civil War. They became outlaws. They left us nothing but the story of their often fictionalized lives.

Henry and William were influenced by wealthy educated parents. The Civil War had little influence on their lives. They could have lived their lives at ease but their father’s interest in philosophy and literature and his loving care influenced the boys for good. They were scholars and lived long fruitful lives. They left us with a treasure of psychology, philosophy, and literature.Zonnique Pullins Poses With Her Boyfriend, Bandhunta Izzy

The Civil War raged from 1862 until 1865. Here are some fascinating data (that means the data means little):

Civil War Year and Age of the James Boys

1862: William 20, Frank and Henry 19, Jesse 15

1865: William 23, Frank and Henry 22, Jesse 18

Frank and Jesse served in the war. Henry and William sat the war out.

Here is more of the same kind of data:

Age at Death

Henry 73, Frank 72, William 68, Jesse 35

Jesse James was only 15 years old at the beginning of the Civil War. At this age, any boy can be influenced for good or evil.

If he picks an evil role model, he will become evil.

That is what happened to Jesse James. Right up there with Adolph Hitler, Genghis Khan, and Joseph Stalin (Man of Steel), he and Frank picked William Quantrill.

William Quantrill

William Quantrill was born in 1837. At the beginning of the Civil War he was 25 years old. Quantrill’s Confederate band operated outside the influence of Southern leadership. They raided farms and towns indiscriminately and without mercy.

On August 21, 1863, they burned much of Lawrence, Kansas, killing about 150 innocent civilians. He died from mortal wounds in Kentucky during the last year of the Civil War.

Fighting with Quantrill, Frank and Jesse became callous to killing. I’ve looked at most of the pictures available of Frank and Jesse James. They are not smiling.

Frank and Jesse James

Although Jesse was younger than Frank, Jesse is the dominant one in history. Despite his crimes, Frank was eventually pardoned and eventually lived a law-abiding peaceful life. Jesse was shot in the back by gang member Bob Ford.

Ford’s act seems to have “washed away” all of Jesse’s sins and, rather than the killer he was, he remains a folk hero in history to this day.

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