Monday, April 6, 2015

Frank and Jesse James in West Kentucky

On a chilly, rain-soaked, foggy morning in the early 1870's, William and Sarah Todd woke up before dawn as usual. They started their morning routine and by first light Sarah and her daughters were preparing breakfast. William started off to the barn before breakfast to feed the stock and milk the cow. When he opened the door, the dim light from his lantern revealed 5 men and their horses in the hallway of the barn. One of the men turned up the flame of their lantern as William stood there frozen with fear. A man spoke up and said, "Sorry mister, we didn't mean to spook you. The weather was so bad last night that when we ran across your barn we took shelter. I hope it's all right, my name is Frank." William knew who they were and that his only option was to be neighborly, so he replied, "You gave me a scare, I wasn't expecting company. The weather is bad and you men are welcome to shelter as long as you need. My name is William Todd." Right then one of the men said that they had already milked his cow and handed him the pail of milk saying how nice and gentle the cow is and that she had one fine calf. By now you could smell the bacon frying aroma coming from the house and Frank said, "That bacon sure smells good. We don't want to put you out, but if you have a few biscuits left over we would be glad to pay for them." William told them that they usually had some left and he would take the milk and see what he could round up. Again they said not to cut his family short.

When William got to the house his wife knew something was wrong and told him he looked like he had seen a ghost. He told her that there were men in the barn, but he didn't want to say who and alarm the children. He told her just some men traveling through and that they were hungry. She kept on and he finally told her, "Frank and Jesse James are in the barn with 3 other men and to be neighborly I'm going to take them some biscuits and coffee." Sarah quickly filled a pail with the biscuits and bacon she had cooked along with some butter and jam while William got the pot of coffee. They were both scared because these men had a reputation that gave them every reason to fear what they might do.

William returned to the barn with the breakfast and coffee and told the men it was not much and also offered for the men to get some of the sweet feed out of the stall for their horses. One of the men who had not said anything before walked up, shook Williams' hand and said, "Mister Todd you have been more than generous to us and I want to pay you. My name is Jesse James, I'm sure you have heard of us and I want you to know that you have nothing to ever fear from us." William said that he did not want any pay and hoped that if he ever got caught out in weather like last night that someone would treat him like a neighbor also. He told the men to stay there as long as they needed, that he had chores at the house. The men thanked him as he left the barn.

William and Sarah worried all day and when the afternoon milking time came he dreaded going back to the barn. Upon return he found the men gone and everything was in order. Relieved, William took the milk pail down from the nail to milk his cow. In the bottom of the pail there was $50.00 in gold coin. He later said that was more money than he would make that year and to be outlaws they were a lot more polite than a whole lot of people that he knew and did business with.

William Jesse Todd  b. 1821 — d. 1879
Sarah Jane Turner  b. 1829 — d. 1881
William and Sarah were married in Weakley County, TN and moved to Graves County, KY sometime after 1850. After 1860 they moved to what is now Carlisle County KY and lived on a farm north of Burkley. They both died of pneumonia. He was 58 and she was 52. They had 11 children.

You never know, if all the stories are true, these men may have hid a little of that K.G.C. money in the area.

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