Jim Hardin Younger was
born January 15, 1848 in Jackson County, Missouri as the son of Henry
Washington Younger, a prosperous landowner and businessman, and Bursheba
Fristoe Younger. He as well as Cole Younger rode with Quantrill's guerrillas
during the Civil War but did not join until 1864. Jim's involvement with
the war was brief as he was captured in Louisville, Kentucky in May of
1865 during the same ambush in which Quantrill was fatally wounded. Until
the end of the war he was a prisoner of war in Alton, Illinois.
After his mother's death in 1870, Jim divided his time between family
in Texas and the west central Missouri county of St. Clair (near present
day Truman Lake). Later he spent time with relatives in California and
made unsuccessful plans to start a horse ranch in Texas with his brothers.
As with the Civil War, his involvement with the Jesse James gang started
late: probably the first robbery Jim was involved with was the Adair train
robbery in July of 1873.
His involvement with the gang seems to be an on-and- off affair, but Jim
was present when his brother John was killed in a shootout with Pinkerton
detectives in March of 1874 in Roscoe, Missouri. After this incident he
returned to California to stay with his uncle, Coleman Younger, and worked
in San Luis Obispo on a ranch owned by an uncle of the James boys. He
returned to Missouri in 1876, when the ill-fated robbery in Northfield,
Minnesota was being planned. Jim was critically wounded when the Youngers
were captured by a posse two weeks following the Northfield robbery. He
lost part of his jaw and was never able to eat solid food again. The Youngers
were all given life sentences at the Minnesota State prison in Stillwater,
near Minneapolis-St Paul. After working at the prison's factories for
the first few years, Jim was made postal clerk and later librarian. He
tried to forget his situation in books and study and at some time became
interested in the radical social movements of the day, including socialism.
Whether his interest was influenced most by his reading or his exposure
to the living conditions of the civilian factory workers at the prision
is unknown. During this time he met and fell in love with a St. Paul freelance
writer, Alix Muller.
Following his and Cole's parole from Prison in 1901, Jim found himself
unable to adjust to the outside world after being in prison for 25 years.
He drifted from job to job and, although he and Alix became engaged, he
was legally unable to marry because of his legal status as a parolee.
He committed suicide on October 19, 1902 and his body was taken to Lee's
Summit, Missouri for burial. Shortly before his death he allegedly told
"I am a mere nothing in the world's affairs from now on. The fact
is that I believe there is nothing left of me but the sould I started
with... Quantrill and the old game of fight and war, are just as remote
as if they had been another man's experiences."
By Marcia Smith