Gause Surname History

A website dedicated to the research, development and preservation of the historical record of the descendants and ancestors of George Charles Gause (1695-1732).

An Outlaw in the Closet: Jesse James 1847-1882

Jesse James was born on September 5, 1847 in Kearney, Missouri. The son of a Baptist Minister, his father went West to find opportunity with the gold rush camps and was never heard from again. Jesse was raised by his mother and had a relatively quiet childhood working on the family farm.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Jesse wanted to join the Confederate forces, but was too young and was needed on the family farm. During most of the Civil War, the James family was tormented by Union Forces occupying Missouri who suspected the James family as supporting the Confederate cause.

In 1862, Jesse turned 16 and joined a band of pro-Southern guerrillas operating in Missouri under their notorious leader William Quantrill. This is where Jesse James learned the skills to become an outlaw. Jesse was wounded in a raid in 1865. Because the Union solders harassed his mother frequently, Jesse recuperated with his fathers sister, Mary James Mimms in Louisville, Kentucky. There he met Zerelda, his first cousin, who would later become his wife.

Jesse, discontented with the South’s surrender in 1865 and the harsh conditions of reconstruction, turned to robbery for income. Combinations of friends and family were included in various hold-ups, including his brother Frank James and his cousins the Younger brothers. The James Gang, as they became known, began their crime spree with a series of bank robberies starting with the 1866 robbery of the Clay County Savings Association in Liberty, MO.

In 1873, the James Gang tired of robbing banks and turned to trains which carried more money. On July 21, 1873, the James Gang robbed their first train, the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad at Adair, Iowa. Always getting away, the gang lived a charmed life until 1876, when the gang was decimated trying to rob a bank in Northfield, Minn.

Jesse retreated to Nashville, Tennessee where he lived under the alias of John Davis Howard. Jesse lived a normal life with his family until late 1879. Gambling debts caused the formation of a new James gang who robbed the Chicago & Alton Railroad in Glendale, Missouri, late that year. The take was a miserable $6000. Jesse went back to Nashville and worked for the Indiana Lumber Company, but still occasionally took up with Bill Ryan to hold up stagecoaches. In early 1881, Bill Ryan was captured in a saloon outside of Nashville. Upon hearing this news, Jesse left Nashville with his family for fear that Ryan would expose him.

In 1881, Jesse James moved to St. Joseph, Missouri under an assumed name. On Apr. 3, 1882, Jesse was shot and killed by Robert Ford, a fellow gang member, for the reward. Jesse was buried at his childhood farm home near Kearney, MO.

Jesse James is not a direct ancestor of the Gause family. Zee James (Jesse’s wife) had a sister named Nancy-Jane Catherine Mimms. The Mimms family lived in Louisville, Kentucky, just across the river from Indiana. Charles McBride worked for the Indiana Lumber Company and frequently did business in Louisville. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Charles left Indiana and went home to Tennessee and enlisted in the 48th Tennessee Confederate Infantry (Voorhies). After Charles was released in the prisoner exchange in 1862, Charles and Nancy were married shortly afterward. Their granddaughter would marry Albert Q. Gause sixty years later.

After the war Charles and Nancy moved to Indiana, where Charles resumed working for the Indiana lumber Company. In the late 1870’s, Jesse and Frank James both had large bounties on their heads Both moved out of Missouri and worked for the Indiana Lumber Company in Nashville, Tennessee, in jobs that was unquestionably arranged by their brother-in-law Charles.

It is known that when situations got tough, Jesse would disappear and ‘hide-out’. There are accounts of him and Frank going out to California. There are also stories of Jesse in Texas and Mexico. Gause family lore tells of Jesse staying with the family on several occasions in southern Indiana when the heat was turned up by Pinkerton detectives and the bounty posies. This is reasonable for several reasons. Charles was a respected business man, probably knew the local constable (who’s salary would have been paid by local business men), and with a few words could dismiss him from his front door. Charles was Jesse’s brother-in-law, and he commonly would ‘visit’ relation when the heat was on. Southern Indiana was sparsely populated and news traveled slowly at that time, so Jesse could have had a couple of months before word of his exploits hit the area.

Nothing was written of the relationship between the McBride family and the James family other than Zee and Nancy were close as children. That status could have changed with maturity or the nature of Jesse’s exploits. Outlaws do not keep records on their comings and goings. Perhaps if Jesse had lived to old age we would have gotten a better account of his deeds and travels. The one morsel we do have is that while in Nashville, Tennessee, Jesse’s son was given the alias of Charles, "for his uncle."

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