Submitted by Debbie Quinn

Information was taken from: Jesse James My Father by Jesse James Jr. 1899
The Life, Times & treacherous Death of Jesse James - Frank Triplett - Reprint from 1882

Robert Sallee James was a Baptist preacher in Western Missouri. He was born July 17, 1818 in Logan County Kentucky, a place called Lickskillet on the Whippoorwill Creek. . His family was one of the old families of Logan County Kentucky.

He was the son of John and Mary Poore James, both natives of Virginia, but very early settlers of Logan County, Kentucky. Robert was one of nine children, five sons and four daughters. The five sons were as follows: Wm. James (1811), John James (1815), Robert S. James (1818), Thomas M. James (1823), Drury Woodson James (1825); Mary James (1809) m John Mimms, Elizabeth James (1816) m Tillman West, Nancy James (1830) m George Hite, Mary Elizabeth James (1827) m John R. (Hugh) Cohorn. Mary Elizabeth mother, Mary (Poore) James died the following day after she was born. A neighbor, Mary Elizabeth Hendricks (who had lost her child one week before), breast fed the new infant girl a few weeks until she became very healthy and continued to raise her as her own until she was married. The name “Mary Elizabeth” came from three sources, the names of her two older sisters, so she may always remember them, her mother, Mary and her godmother's name, Mary Elizabeth Hendricks who raised her to adulthood. (Facts obtained from the old Hendrick-Newton bible, on record at the James Museum, Kearney, MO.)

Was a graduate of Georgetown, Kentucky College having completed all requirements of the four-year classical course, on June 29, 1843. His degree was the Bachelor of Arts. According to faculty records, final examination for the senior class was taken on May 24, 1843. Robert is listed as having tied for third place honors in the class. For his accomplishment, he was awarded the opportunity to present an oration at the commencement exercises. All associates who knew him spoke of him as a kindly man of God. So convincing as a Minister one would remember his sermons the rest of their life. He was an educator, gifted orator, and a successful farmer.

He married Miss Zerelda Cole, one year before he graduated from college. . They met at a religious gathering. Her family was from Lexington, Kentucky and she was educated in a Catholic convent (St. Catherine's Female School )in that city. The Cole family was of Revolutionary stock and her grandfather was a soldier in the Revolutionary War.

She was born January 29, 1825 in Woodford County Kentucky at her Grandfather's (Richard Cole Jr.) Black Horse Inn. The brick portion was attached to the Inn in 1799. It was the living quarters of her father James Cole, born September 8, 1804 to February 27, 1827 and her mother Sarah (Sallie) Lindsay (4-15-1803 to 10-12-1851). She was the daughter of Anthony and Alsey (Cole) Lindsay. Alsey was the daughter of Richard Cole Sr. being James Cole's Aunt.

The Cole family had come from Pennsylvania through Virginia to Kentucky. Richard Cole Sr. helped to survey with Humphrey Marshall “The Vacant Lands”, where Frankfort is now located in June and July of 1785. He later settled in Woodford County near what is now the town of Midway and Leestown Pike. He bought a large track of land from Hancock Lee. Hancock's son, Maj. John Lee helped in the settlement of Versailles, KY. Richard Cole Sr. operated a Tavern by the name, “Cole's Inn,” located on Cole's Road.

Richard Cole Jr. (4-23-1763 to 7-9-1839) married Sally Yates. He was a wealthy farmer; operated the Black Horse Inn; he was one of the first constables of Woodford County and was commissioned Lieutenant in the Woodford Light Infantry Company, November 10, 1796.

There were striking similarity in the personalities of Richard and his granddaughter Zerelda, they had strong personalities, blunt acceptance of facts pleasant or unpleasant, high courage and almost fanatical loyalty to their families. They were friends to be desired and enemies to be feared and avoided. Richard Cole Junior's latter days were marred by violent and tragic events, which did not cease with his death but continued to plague his family unto “the third and forth generation.”

Richard and Sallie's children were:

William Cole, Mary Cole, Elizabeth Cole, Sally Cole, Jesse Cole, and Amos Cole who were killed in a fight at Black Horse Inn 1827. James Cole (2-8-1804 to 9-27-1833) was married to his first cousin Sally Lindsay. She had only two children before his death. It is said he died after being thrown from a horse. Zerelda was then only two years old, she continued to live at the Black Horse Inn with her grandfather as guardian. After James death her mother married again to Robert Thomason whom Zerelda did not favor. According to members of the family Zerelda “hated” Robert Thomason and became a favorite to her Grandfather, Richard Cole Jr. who gave her the proper education and training to become a lady of prominence. When Sally and Robert moved to Clay County Mo. Zerelda did not accompany them, instead she went to live with her Uncle James M. Lindsay, at Stamping Ground, Scott Co. Ky

By the time school ended in the spring of 1841 Robert James and Zerelda were not speaking. Most young men in those days had strong beliefs that a woman should be silent and not express their political thoughts. Zerelda was of the Cole and Lindsay Families, who had been famous for their courageous deeds during the Revolutionary War. She inherited these same traits, and with her education it made her unwilling to comply with his wishes. But three days later before fall 1841, the desire and love for Zerelda was too strong, Robert proposed to her and they were married December 28, 1841 at the home of Uncle Judge James Madison Lindsay, in Stamping Ground, Kentucky. He was 23 and she was 17 years old. The house is still standing and presently owned by Marguerite Sprague on Locust Fork Pike, Scott County.

The following August they left for Clay County, Missouri, to visit her mother Sarah, and her step-dad Robert Thomason. He returned to Georgetown leaving alone his pregnant wife with her mother. His desire was to finish his final year of theological training and return home by next Christmas, but the Missouri River was frozen the poor roads were treacherous, so it was spring after he had graduated before he arrived at Kearney, to reunite with his wife and a new son born January 10, 1843, Alexander Franklin James. He later returned to Georgetown College in 1848 where he received his Masters Degree. He then decided to settle in Clay County where he purchased a farm from Asa W. Thomason, near Centerville, a town which later changed it's name to Kearney. The farm had no house and they built a cabin during the next spring. Robert bought two slaves. He combined farming and preaching to make a living. He founded the Baptist churches at New Hope and Providence.

In 1851, he went to California. Jesse was only 4 years old at this time. He went in order to get money to educate his children. The trip lasted from April 21 to August 1, 3 months. Robert died 18 days after arriving in California. and is buried there. He died August 18, 1850 near Placerville El Dorado California.

Their children were:

Alexander Franklin James (Frank) - born Jan. 10, 1844
Robert James - born July 19, 1845 - he died in infancy
Jesse Woodson James - born Sept. 5, 1847 - died April 3, 1882
Susan L. James - born Nov. 25, 1849. She married on Nov. 11, 1870 to Allen H. Palmer. She died in 1889.

Zerelda James remained a widow for four (4) years, and then she was married to a Mr. Sims, who died. She then married Dr. Reuben Samuels in 1855.

Their children were:

Sarah L. Samuels - born Dec. 26, 1858. She was married on Nov. 28, 1878 to William Nicholson.
John T. Samuels - born May 25, 1861. He married on July 22, 1885 to Norma L. Maret.
Fannie Quantrell Samuels - born Oct. 18, 1863. She married on Dec. 30, 1880 to Joseph Hall.
Archie Payton Samuels - born July 26, 1866. He was murdered by Pinkerton detectives on Jan. 26, 1875.

Dr. Samuels and Zerelda lived in a neighborhood of Northern sympathizers, of course Dr. Samuels and Zerelda were Southern sympathizers, which lead to cruelty towards their family. Dr. Samuels was hung up three times because he did not know the whereabout of Quantrell's band. Jesse was in the fields working at this time. The Militia went to the fields and whipped Jesse up and down the rows of corn and then took him to the barn where they were torturing his step-father. The Militia then went to the house and confronted Mrs. Samuels (Mrs. Robert James) at gun point. They then took Mrs. Samuels and her daughter to jail at St. Joseph and imprisoned them for 25 days. Jesse James decided after this incident that he would not allow the militia, lawmen, or anyone else to treat him that way again. It is no wonder that Jesse joined the Quantrell's gang after his family was beaten, imprisoned, tortured, persecuted at every turn and driven from home.

Legend said that the two brothers were brutal murders and came from an illiterate family. The brothers robbed banks and stole from the railroads because those institutions were forcing people into poverty, raised grain prices which forced farmers to sell their farms. Jesse came to their aid. As far as being illiterate, there are alot of letters written by Frank and Jesse that were well written.

BACK to Outlaws


Copyright © Genealogy Trails