YOUNGER GANG HISTORY
|Cole Younger of the Younger Gang
|Photo of Cole Younger Headstone
YOUNGER GANG HISTORY
Bob Younger, wounded and captured by a posse in 1876, accurately described
the outlaw Younger brothers when he said, "We are rough men and used to rough ways." Fourteen Younger children were reared
on the family farm near Lee's Summit, Missouri. Four of the boys drifted into lives
of violence and crime. Cole (1844-1916), Jim (1848-1902), John (1851-74), and Bob (1853-89) were influenced as youngsters
by the Kansas-Missouri border troubles. Jayhawkers raided the family farm, and their father was murdered in 1862. Cole and Jim rode with Quantrill's Raiders, and Cole was credited with killing a Union soldier with a pistol shot measured at seventy-one yards. During the American
Civil War, Cole consorted with Myra Belle Shirley (the future Belle Starr), who later claimed that he was the father of her
daughter, who was known as Pearl Younger.
Following the Civil War, the Youngers began robbing banks, often in
league with Frank and Jesse James (forming the James-Younger Gang). In 1874, John Younger was
slain during a wild shootout with lawmen. The gang is not known to have operated in Oklahoma. In 1876 the James-Younger Gang were wounded
or killed during a bank robbery attempt at Northfield, Minnesota.
Jesse and Frank James escaped, three gang members were killed, and the Youngers were captured after a two-week pursuit. Cole
had been wounded eleven times, Jim five, and Bob four. Bob died in prison, and Jim committed suicide after his release. The
hardy Cole Younger, who survived his wounds and twenty-five years in prison, lectured widely on the evils of crime; his circuit
included Oklahoma. He retired to the Younger farm at Lee's Summit. There is no evidence that the Younger Gang operated in
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Marley Brant, Outlaws: The Illustrated History of the
James-Younger Gang (Montgomery, Ala.: Elliot and Clark Publishers, 1997). Marley Brant, The Outlaw Youngers: A Confederate
Brotherhood: A Biography (Lanham, Md.: Madison Books, 1992). Homer Croy, Cole Younger: Last of the Great Outlaws
(Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999). Coleman Younger, The Story of Cole Younger, by Himself (1903; reprint,
Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2000). "Cole Younger,"
Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Bill O'Neal, © Oklahoma Historical
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