It is not surprising that a Missouri newspaper (April 13, 1882) would care more about the death of Jesse James than newspapers from other states. He was killed in St. Joseph. And this being his home state, there were grumblings by many who were critical of how he was killed.
This editor pulls no punches in acknowledging the state should be glad to get rid of Jesse James, and the ‘bleeding hearts’ who bemoan his death are not accepting the reality of his terror-ridden career.
Two articles have very interesting content, one including: “…True, a pistol was not placed in his hands and he told to ‘defend himself’…” and: “…Missourians who think more of Missouri and its prosperity than they do of outlaws, thieves, murderers, need not be disturbed by the silly twaddle of certain sentimental fools in other states over the killing of Jesse James…” with more (see below).
The other article has a similar theme, including: “…The bank official of Missouri, who have been the favored prey of the dead bandit for 15 years and whose cashiers have been gagged & shot down like dogs, will not easily forget that portion of our state press which has been so ready to throw a glamour of heroism over a murderous & thieving outlaw and so quick to censure our executive for the means used in his extermination…” (see below).
It was a surprise when I opened an 1884 issue of the “St. Louis Globe-Democrat“ to find a print of Pat Garrett, the noted sheriff of Lincoln County, New Mexico, who: “…did the world a great service in ridding it of Billy the Kid, the most cold-blooded and cruel desperado of modern times…” as the article notes. Never before have I seen a print of Garrett in any periodical. Is anyone aware of an earlier print, or any print of him from any date?
This issue is from over 3 years after he killed Billy the Kid, his likeness appearing in the newspaper because he attended a convention of cattlemen held in St. Louis at this time.
The April 8, 1882 issue of the “Garfield Banner” from Tin Cup, Colorado, has an interesting article on the front page reading: “Jesse James has been killed again. This time a member of the gang named Bob Ford, a cousin of Jesse, is the man who killed him. Ford had been with Jesse about a week seeking an opportunity to kill him,and finally shot him in the back of the head, the ball coming out over his left eye.”
They should have published why the first time he was killed it didn’t work.
Collector interest in the personal effects of the famous and infamous is certainly strong, with news noting auctions of noted personalities reporting surprising high bids.
This is not a recent phenomena. The “St. Louis Globe-Democrat” of April 11, 1882, contains a front page report headed: “Jesse James Relics” which reports on an auction of household goods at the home of the infamous bandit who was killed just 8 days prior. Interest in his personal effects was high, with the report noting in part: “…The crowd began assembling at noon…several thousand people had gathered about the house. The goods sold were of little or not value, yet a large sum of money was realized. Six plain cane-bottom chairs sold for $2 each, and the one on which the outlaw was standing when he received the fatal bullet sold for $5…an old revolver, $17; washstand, $11…The entire lot would not, only for the name, be worth $10, but nearly $200 was realized…”.
Can you image what these Jesse James belongings would sell for today? A revolver (the one noted above?) owned by Jesse James was in a Heritage auction in 2013 & was expected to bring $1.6 million. It did not sell.
The April 27, 1881 issue of the rare “Elk Mountain Pilot” from the ghost town of Irwin, Colorado, has 3 interesting and unusual tidbits concerning the recent death of the noted outlaw, Jesse James: “Jesse James has climbed the golden stairs, (?) to interview those he has sent before.” and: “The papers throughout the country are publishing the picture of Jesse James and no two of them are alike.” as well as: “We have not heard of any one taking up a subscription to erect a monument to the memory of Jesse James.” Yet another tidbit mentions the death of Charles Darwin – making these mentions an interesting tandem.
This was a difficult century for selecting the top ten significant events or newspapers. Certainly an argument could be made that some specific newspapers–particularly from the Civil War era–could achieve retail values far in excess of those noted on the list, but their rarity as unique items pretty much removes them from the “accessible” list of collectibles.
My focus is more on including newspapers which have a certain degree to attainability and at the same time representing the broad range of events which helped to define the United States during the 19th century. I think I’ve achieved a happy compromise among desirability, rarity, and historical significance. Fully half of my choices are specific issues. I would be curious to hear of your comments:
10) Vicksburg Daily Citizen, July 2/4, 1863 This wallpaper edition from when the town was captured by the Yankees turns up very frequently as a reprint, adding enhanced appeal to a genuine issue.
9) Battle of the Alamo, 1836 In a Texas newspaper. Any Texas newspaper from this notable year in the war for Texas independence would be great, and one with one of the more famous battles of the century would be better yet.
8.) Leslie’s Illustrated, April 22, 1882 The full front page is a terrific print of Jesse James, recently murdered. A very rare print of one of the more infamous characters of the century.
7) Lincoln’s assassination, 1865 Arguably the most noted death of the century, and great to have in a Washington, D.C. title. Very historic & desirable, but not terribly difficult to find so it doesn’t rank higher on my list.
6) Tombstone Epitaph, gunfight at the O.K. Corral, 1881 I know of at least one genuine issue. Certainly a very romanticized event in a equally romanticized title and incredibly rare but not high on my historic list.
5) Baltimore Patriot, Sept. 20, 1814 First newspaper appearance of the Star Spangled Banner, and great to have in a Baltimore newspaper.
4) Gettysburg Address, November, 1863 This remains the most requested speech by our collectors–regardless of century–and is likely the most known by school children across the country. A front page account is best, such as the New York Times.
3) Louisiana Purchase, 1803 Who could argue with an event which doubled the size of the country.
2) Charleston Mercury–Extra, Dec. 20, 1860 It’s a broadside so perhaps some will argue not a bona fide newspaper, but we collect Extras as well so I include this notable issue. This newspaper’s “The Union is Dissolved” broadside was the first Confederate publication as South Carolina was the first state to secede. It went to press 15 minutes after the secession ordinance was passed.
1) The California Gold Rush in a California newspaper, 1849. Three California newspapers existed at the time so issues do exist yet extremely rare. Combining the great rarity with a event which did so much to spawn migration of the people across the country, and another very romanticized event in American history, and you get my top pick.