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The Story of Frank James' Courtship
Posted by: Gay Mathis (ID *****5735) Date: March 04, 2007 at 19:56:52
  of 15140

From the Missouri in the Civil War Message Board posted by Cassie Hill--9/2004:;read=2613

I found this in an old newspaper:


From the Kansas City Times

The James brothers, who are, with the Younger boys, creating so much stir just now, have had a love scrape, or at least one of them has. But this love affair is different from all other love affairs. It would not be the work of Frank James if it was not, for their work is so wild, reckless and bold that people seem to recognize it only by its startling accompaniments and strange surroundings. No one who knows anything of the career of the James brothers would expect them to woo, win and marry like other people. But up to this time no public mention has been made of any love scrape at all on their part. The marriage of Frank James might have remained enshrouded in the private obscurity of every day country life had it not been for the recent startling raid of the St. Louis and Cincinnati detectives into this vicinity. The visit of the detectives to the house of Mr. Samuel Ralston, about seven miles east of this city, a few nights ago, brought to light the following facts, which throw another light upon the life and characteristics of one of these notable knights of the road.

When and how Frank James became acquainted with Miss Annie Ralston is among the other mysteries of the wild young man's life. She lived with her father, a well known and very respectable farmer, about seven miles from Independence. Frank James had not been a frequent visitor to the house, and had not been on intimate terms with the family. But it appears that a loving courtship had been going on for some time between Miss Annie Ralston and the dashing and daring young Frank James. The parents had not the least idea that their daughter loved and had been won by the bold train robber, and it was not until several months after elopement that they realized the true facts in the case.

Early in the month of July, 1875, Annie Ralston proposed to her parents a visit to her brother-in-law, Mr. Ezra Hickman, residing in Kansas City. Her parents, suspecting nothing wrong, consented, and on the following day she started, with her little trunk and valise well packed, on the train for Kansas City. It transpired afterwards that Frank James was on the train to receive her and that the elopement had been pre-arranged. She was met at the Kansas City depot by her brother-in-law, Ezra Hickman, who offered to assist her from the train. She laughingly refused assistance, saying she desired to see a friend inside the car, and would follow him up to the house, in a hack. She was seen only one time afterward by her friends, on the train, on the way over to Wyndotte. A Mr. Connelly, son of the ex-Governor Connelly, of New Mexico, and brother of the young man taken from Ralston's house by the St. Louis detective, saw Miss Ralston on the train and spoke to her. That was the last seen of the romantic girl. She went on westward, and is supposed to have gone direct to the rendevous of the James brothers, in Kansas, and with them proceeded to Omaha, at least this is the statement of Frank James himself.

Of course the parents had no idea that Annie had left her home for all time to come. Their surprise may easily be imagined when they received a brief note from her a day or two after her departure for Kansas City saying:

Dear Mother: I am married and going West. Annie Reynolds

They knew of no person named Reynolds and were puzzled to imagine where their girl had met with a person of that name. Mrs. Ralston, while in Kansas City, soon afterwards heard of a gambler of that name and received such news as led her to believe her girl had gone off with a gambler. Mr. Ralston wrote to his son, who at once made search in St. Louis without success. The other sons were put on the trail. They inquired diligently for their lost sister and had given up the search when one of the boys made a startling discovery by accident. He was in Kansas City when he was accosted by one of the uncles of the James boys, who inquired whether he was not "a Ralston". He replied that he was. "Well," said the uncle, "I am glad to meet you. My nephew, Frank James, has married your sister." Then the old man recited to the astounded young man the story of the elopement.

Young Ralston went home and broke the startling news to his father, and advised him to treat the matter philosophically. He said it could not be helped and the least said about it would be the best. The affair was kept still and no one outside of a few family friends would have known about it had not the recent train robbery led the detectives to Ralston's house in the hope of finding Frank James there. No word or information concerning the lost girl was heard for nine months or more. About three months ago Mr. Ralston was seated in his yard, reading in the twilight of the sunset, when a horseman rode to the gate, and dismounting from a handsome chesnut colored horse, came to the house. It was Frank James, and this was the first and last visit made to the house since the elopement of Miss Annie. The interview was brief, and on the part of the father angry and the mother tearful. The father demanded the whereabouts of his daughter. James replied carelessly that Annie was all right. Colonel Ralston demanded to see her. To which James answered, "You cannot see her, she is far away." In reply to a question as to where hey had been married, he said, "We were married in Omaha, and Annie has got the certificate." The conversation closed in anger, and Frank James mounted his horse and galloped away, and was seen no more in Ralston's house, afterwards.

This is the simple story of Frank James' marriage and why the detectives went and verified things in the Ralston farm house. Mr. Ralston has had no connection or communication with the train robbers whatever. His daughter he has not seen since she left home, a year and one month ago. If she is alive she will not write home, lest her letters should guide the officers to her husband's retreat. If she was dead Frank James would have notified her parents. So they can only rest patiently in the uncertainty of perhaps seeing their daughter again.



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