Lot 261: ALS signed with his true first name, "Alexander," one page, 8 x 10.5, March 3, 1883. Letter written to his wife while jailed in Gallatin, Missouri, a month after his first legal victory as he awaited further charges. In part: "You just 'bet your boots' I was glad to hear from you. I am a little bit mad at you for asking me if 'that was right.' Don't you know any thing you do is right with your 'hubbie.' I hope you will enjoy your visit I know you will I wish I was with you…The people still comes. I think I am making some friends. Be of good cheer I hope to be with one of these days. I wrote you yesterday and mailed the letter this morning so I expect you will get both at the same time. If you do I will expect to get a long letter in reply. Ask my little man if he ever thinks of his papa. Tell him I think of my baby 40 hundred times a day. I had a nice Oyster supper sent me last night by a Mr. Williams of Texas who is now visiting here and a friend of 'Old Dave Pools.' I have just this moment had my attention called to the door, to receive some eggs sent by some kind lady from the country, and last but not least I am now wearing a beautiful button hole boquet [sic] sent by the belle of Gallatin I am dressed up and you 'bet' I am looking mighty fine, so the gals say. Of course they do not tell me so but I hear it all the 'samie.' Well now my dear 'old flitter' I must kiss you good bye." In fine condition, with intersecting folds.
In September of 1882—five months after his brother Jesse was gunned down by fellow gang member Robert Ford—James turned himself in to Missouri governor Thomas Crittenden in Jefferson City, tired of running and hoping to avoid the same gruesome fate. He was held and put on trial in Gallatin, Missouri, for participating in two murders during a train robbery. Despite his criminal past, James became a local celebrity and enjoyed frequent visits from well-wishers nearby; his folk-hero status eventually helped him in the courtroom, leading the jury to acquit him after his trial. A fantastic letter telling of the unlikely perks—oyster dinners, fresh eggs, and flowers from the "belle of Gallatin"—of life behind bars.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 458
Wednesday, 12th August 2015
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