Thursday, March 19, 2015

JAMES–YOUNGER GANG — If We Cain't Have It They Cain't Either!

In March of 1869 the James–Younger gang made a journey across Missouri to recover some of the plunder left behind during Frank James and Cole Younger's association with William Clarke Quantrill and Archie Clement. They made their way to Island Number Five, also know as Wolf Island, in the Mississippi River just south of Belmont Missouri and Columbus Kentucky. Wolf Island was a hideout for outlaws, river pirates and other unsavory bandits as far back as Jean LaFitte. After holding up for some time the outlaws did not want to travel back across Missouri as they had stirred up some attention. They crossed over into Kentucky and headed north along the river. At one of the steamboat landings they received word that a small posse from Missouri had acquired some deputies from Blandville Kentucky and were waiting for them at Fort Jefferson. Having friends in the area, the bandits had a man go to Fort Jefferson and tell the law men that he had seen the James–Younger gang headed towards Elliott's Mill to cross Mayfield Creek. This crossing was near Blandville and the only other place to cross, especially with the gold and silver that had them loaded down. With the plan in place the outlaws waited until they believed the posse was well on their way to Elliott's Mill and crossed the railroad bridge at Fort Jefferson. The law man in charge was a pretty seasoned old soldier and left a few men on the bluff above to alert the posse just in case. When the gang appeared the deputies fired their rifles to alert the posse and spook the outlaws. Not knowing it was only a few deputies, the gang took off riding hard toward Holloway Landing across from Mound City Illinois, with the deputies in pursuit and the posse not far behind. Holloway was their only choice and the Ohio River was a little high and very swift toward the Illinois side. To cross with any extra weight would be suicide. As they raced through East Cairo they began to unload their loot throwing it in the river and yelling at any bystanders, "If we cain't have it, they cain't either! All the way to Holloway they tossed anything of weight and crossed. They took defense at the mouth of the Cache River on the other side of the Ohio and fired across at the deputies waiting on the posse. The deputies retreated and the pursuit was over.

I knew some older hunters who had quite a few silver dollars they said came from there and during low water I have seen two nice silver dollars found by a friend, one 1856 and one 1859. I found an 1844 seated liberty dime and a gold ring and a few .45 cal balls. My friend found a whole pile of .45's near one of the silver dollars like they had been in a pouch. You never know, next time the water is low might be the best time.

From a journal of Wm H (Bill) Wilson b.1842–d.1924 Quantrill Raider and believed to be a KGC sentinel.



May all your trails be smooth and your treasure site many.
Best Wishes and Good Hunting


Jesse and Frank James, 1872


John Younger killed March 17, 1874 by Pinkerton agent Louis J Lull
Bob, Jim, and Cole Younger with sister Henrietta