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Encounter With Jesse James

Thomas Hrold Mead


My mother's father, Thomas H. Jones, lived with us for a number of years before he died, in 1920, when I was twelve years old.

He told me many stories of the early days in Hamilton County, Illinois. The following was one of my favorites.

One dark night, Grandfather was awakened by a sharp rap on the door. He opened the door to see three men standing there. One of the men said, "Old man, we want some horses." Of course Grandfather gave him a quick, negative answer. The man grabbed Grandfather's arm, then quickly jumped back and said, "If you wasn't a cripple, I might have blowed your brains out."

Grandfather had been a Cavalry officer in the Civil War, and when his horse was shot out from under him, his right arm was so badly damaged that the doctors removed the shattered bones and left the useless arm hanging limp.

Now, Grandfather's house was on one side of the road and the barn on the other side. The outlaws could see three horses in the barn lot across the road. They proceeded to ride over, switched their saddles to Grandfather's horses and galloped off, leaving their three horses behind. Before they left, the man who did the talking warned Grandfather that, cripple or not, if he told anyone he had seen them, he might really get his brains blown out.

About daylight, Grandfather was awakened by another sharp rap on the door. He opened it and there stood the sheriff and a posse of men. The sheriff asked if he had seen Jesse James or any of his boys. Grandfather tried to deny that he had seen the three, but the sheriff said, "Now, Tom, we see them three wore out horses in your barn lot, with their sweaty saddle marks." So Grandfather told them all he knew. The sheriff and his posse then left, heading toward Carmi.





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