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Hartington, Neb., photographer E.S. Kibbe shot this photo of Frank and Jesse James (third and fourth from right) with two Nebraskans, Adolph Gerdau and W.H. Harm.
Hartington, Neb., photographer E.S. Kibbe shot this photo of Frank and Jesse James (third and fourth from right) with two Nebraskans, Adolph Gerdau and W.H. Harm.

Jesse James Was Here. We Think.

Aug 5, 2014

Carvel Cooley stopped in our magazine office today. He's a great old fellow from Bon Homme County, a gentleman farmer historian.
He brought a "new" picture of Jesse James.

The James brothers have long been linked with southeast Dakota Territory and northeast Nebraska but there's been little proof and some James historians doubt that the two had much of a connection to this part of the West.

Their most famous sighting is of course at Garretson, north of Sioux Falls, where Jesse supposedly jumped Devil's Gulch on a stolen horse in September of 1876 as he and his brother Frank were fleeing from the Northfield, Minn., bank job. As the story goes, Frank was on the west side of the gulch and Jesse on the east. As the posse closed in on Jesse, he reportedly spurred the old nag and persuaded her to leap an 18-foot chasm.

Family stories in our part of the old territory have kept alive many other sightings. There's hardly a 19th century barn standing that Jesse didn't sleep in; hardly a 19th century farmhouse, for that matter, where he didn't dine. All the stories tell of a kindly young man who caused no harm and sometimes even extended a courtesy or maybe left a horse.

Mr. Cooley says there are records showing that Jesse might have fathered a child at Santee, Neb., south of Yankton, in 1870. The child was supposedly baptized Jesse James Chase in March of 1870. He says Jesse was present at Devil's Nest, an outlaws' hideway about 30 miles west of Yankton on the Nebraska side of the river, in 1869, 1871 and 1876.

Mr. Cooley lives on the Bottom Road west of Springfield, across the river from Devil's Nest. He brought us this undated picture of the James brothers, hanging out with a couple of young men from Nebraska. It is further proof that the James boys were making acquaintances in our part of the country. If you have more evidence, let us know. We've started a file.


01:55 pm - Sat, December 20 2014
Monika Zephier said:
There is more about Jesse James and the Santee Dakota connection:
Genealogy research board:
06:32 pm - Tue, February 20 2018
Rosalie Bayliss said:
The Child born to Jesse James "Chase" was named Joseph Jesse Chase born 1870. He and his brother Frank used the name "Chase" and had indian wives that were Wabasha sisters...daughters of Chief Wabasha. Frank had a daughter Emma in 1870 also. The details are in the book Echoes of the Past Along the Pioneer trail by Esther Kolterman Hansen. Jesse married Maggie and Frank married Mary. The brothers fled after the killing of a french trader and Emma was raised by her aunt Maggie when Mary left for Minnesota. Indian census roles verify these dates and the children are listed as half Sioux.
10:24 am - Fri, August 3 2018
james heimbecker said:
My father told me a story many years ago that my grandmother Lydia Dirks lived in Marion County South Dakota or grew up in that area and one night there was a knock at the door of their house two gentlemen asked if they had food they could be fed but they were hungry my grandparents the dirt fed them the gentleman were very nice very kind people they left the following few days my grandparents are great grandparents for that so are you heard it Frank and Jesse James in their facility and I really believe they would know just a little information for you
08:50 am - Thu, April 4 2019
Gary A Ashley said:
With DNA the Chase family would be able to confirm that they are connected to the James family line. As our family did with Meriwether Lewis. I see Joseph has at least four children Joseph DOB 1905, Hellena DOB 1908, Beateice DOB 1910, Thomas 1912. I would be happy to assist if needed
10:14 pm - Thu, December 26 2019
Theodore Utecht said:
Sorry folks, this is a FAKE. This photograph once belonged to my grandfather (and I now own it) and he added the "Frank and Jesse James" names to the bottom as a "joke" in the 1965 Bloomfield (Nebr.) 75th Diamond Jubilee history book (where this was taken from). Adolph Gerdau married my grandfather's half-sister in 1894 in Bloomfield, NE. This photograph was taken about 1890, before he was married. Adolph Gerdau and William "Bill" Harms both owned adjoining land in the Devil's Nest, running cattle there. Jesse James died in 1882; Hartington was platted in 1883; E. S. Kibbe (photographer) came after 1883. Jesse James was dead at least ten years before this picture was taken. I don't know if I should be amused or ashamed of this.
11:30 pm - Sat, July 3 2021
Jerry said:
I was told by relatives his brother was in Ardmore, South Dakota. I don't know anything more except Ardmore is a Ghost Town.
03:43 pm - Fri, November 24 2023
Richard Tellman said:
This note is to Theodore Utecht, author of one of the messages above. It is seriously debatable,...(the supposed) 1882 death of Jesse Woodson James. I say the 1882 date is no more than a flimsy theory, Let us take into consideration that Jesse and the Confederate Army behind him, was as sly as a fox! The official story of Jesse's passing, just as questionable,...or even more questionable ... than the stories that describe Jesse living on, after the 82 hoax. There is much debate over the validity of any of the true facts concerning the official story, of Jesse's date of death . Fake news ain't nothing knew. In my opinion,...Jesse lived and "died" under many many aliases, both before and after the 20th Century. But your photo is still very nice.

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