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Liberty, Missouri Bank Robbery

February 13, 1866---Jesse and Frank James, along with Cole Younger, had been planning for this day for weeks. They had been planning to rob the Clay County Savings Bank in Liberty, Missouri, of all of it's "Yankee" money. They had a good plan, but all they needed was a gang. Those that were recruited to be founding members of the James-Younger Gang were all former Confederate guerrillas. Besides Jesse, Frank, and Cole, ten or so other former guerrillas were recruited. The one problem was that Jesse was not able to ride on a horse because of a nearly fatal chest wound he received shortly after the close of the Civil War. Therefore, Jesse would not be able to actively participate in the robbery and would have to remain at his family's home in Kearney. On the day of the robbery, the thirteen or so men rode into Liberty. It was a cold winter day. The gang rode their horses to the front of the bank. Frank and Cole dismounted and entered the bank. The others all stayed outside. Inside the bank, Cole went and warmed himself by the stove in the middle of the bank, while Frank went up to the counter. Cashier Greenup Bird went to help Frank at the counter. Frank gave Bird a large bill and asked it to be changed. Suddenly, Frank yanked out his pistol and shoved it in Bird's face. Cole then pulled his pistol and jumped over the counter. Cole grabbed Bird's son, William Bird, who was the only other person in the bank. The Birds were handed a large grain sack and ordered to put all the money in the bank into the sack. The two Birds quickly put money into the sack, including a tin box of government bonds. When all the money was stolen, Frank and Cole forced the Birds to enter the vault. When they were inside, Frank and Cole slammed the vault door. The two bandits then ran outside. What they didn't know was that the vault wasn't locked, so the two Birds just pushed it open after Frank and Cole left. The Birds ran to a window and began yelling "Robbery!" Two young men were walking down the street when this happened, George Wymore and S. H. Holmes. When they stopped to see the robbers, who were now all outside and mounted, the robbers all drew their pistols and began firing into the air to scare Wymore and Holmes away. The method of firing into the air was an old guerrilla tactic which the gang would use again and again. Compulsive killer Arch Clements fired one shot at Homles, but the bullet went through his coat. Then, after the two began running, Arch shot Wymore dead for no reason. The original plan was to have no one killed. It was foolish to bring Arch along since he was well known for killing just for fun. The thirteen bandits then rode out of town.

After the robbery, around two dozen men were listed as suspects. Below is a list of those that definetly were in the robbery, and those that were suspected and possibly could have been involved. In addition to these twenty-four men, three other men were suspected, namely Red Monkers, Frank Gregg, and James Wilkerson, but these three all were able to prove their innocence. Also, a few days after the robbery the family of George Wymore received a letter from Jesse James, or someone claiming to be him, apologizing for the murder of Wymore. The letter went on to state that it was not the robbers' intention to kill anyone. Since Jesse was not famous as a robber by this time (afterall, this was the first bank robbery in America during peacetime), it is doubtful that anyone would impersonate him by signing this letter with his name. Therefore, the letter is probably authentic, and since it would have been nearly impossible for Jesse to actually participate in the robbery, the letter seems to prove that Jesse did help plan the robbery at least.


Amount of Money Stolen

Citizens Killed/Wounded