From The American West
Volume 30 - June 2011
The Bad Guys - Cole Younger (part 1)
Thomas Coleman Younger was born on January 15th, 1844. He was the seventh child of the fourteen born to Henry Washington Younger, a prosperous farmer from Greenwood, MO, and Bersheba Leighton Fristoe, daughter of a prominent farmer in Jackson County, MO.
During the War Between The States, Younger joined the forces of William Clarke Quantrill and fought against the pro-Union Missourians and the ruthless Union troops from Kansas. Younger was involved in the raid on Lawrence, Kansas on August 21, 1863. In that attack, some 200 men and boys were killed and the town looted and burned.
After this, Younger enlisted in the regulars of the Confederate Army, and was sent to California on a recruiting mission. He returned after the South surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse, VA. Upon returning home, he found Missouri under the rule of a militant faction of Unionists. These radicals had taken over the Republican Party in the state and, in the closing days of the War, pushed through a new state constitution. It barred Confederate sympathizers from voting, serving on juries, holding public office, and preaching the Gospel, to list only a few outrages against the predominately Southern state. It also freed the slaves ahead of the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
After the War, most former Confederates returned to peaceful lives. But a small core of them, led by Archie Clement, remained together and robbed banks run by leading radicals and carpetbaggers.
The first mention of Cole Younger’s involvement with the Clement gang was in 1868, when they robbed the Nimrod Long & Co. in Russellville, Kentucky. It was believed that Jesse and Frank James were also in on that robbery. Soon, most of the gang either quit or were killed, and the core consisted of Jessie and Frank James, along with Cole Younger and his brothers, Jim and Bob, who had recently joined the gang.
The Younger brothers were also suspects in hold-ups of stage coaches, banks, and trains in Missouri, Kentucky, Kansas, and West Virginia. Witnesses repeatedly gave identifications that matched Cole Younger in robberies carried out over the next few years.
Like Billy The Kid, Jessie and Frank James, and many others, the Younger brothers began their lives of crime at an early age, proving once again, the passage in the written Word of God that declares that parents should, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Pro. 22:6).
Continued next month.