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Word Count: 728
When we think of the American West we often envision a cowboy saving the day and riding off into the sunset Nostalgia often sets in and we begin to wish for simpler times when the good guys and the bad guys were distinguishable when everything was so simple Unfortunately those times never existed what remains in our minds is the romanticized version of the American West synthesized by Hollywood John Henry Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill are a few examples of these manufactured myths however not all of them were tall tales One of the true legends of the American West was Jesse James Jesse Woodson James was born in Kearney Missouri on September 5 1847 He was very skilled with horses and a natural leader but he was never a great marksman Jesse joined a group of proConfederate guerrillas under the notorious William Quantrill during the Civil War Some people say it was the cruel treatment from Union soldiers that turned Jesse and his brother Frank to a life of crime Certainly during the war years they learned to kill while riding with Quantrill and Bloody Bill Anderson Within a year Frank and Jesse are believed to have pulled off the first daylight bank robbery in peacetime They made off with 60000 from the Liberty Missouri Bank not far from their home one man was killed For the next 15 years the James boys roamed throughout the US robbing trains and banks of their gold building a legend that was to live more than a century after Jesses death A disastrous robbery attempt at Northfield Minnesota in 1876 resulted in many of those in the James gang losing their lives Unlike many of their previous escapades this time the citizens fought back As they approached the bank several citizens thought they looked suspicious and alarmed the sheriff The outlaws rode up and down the street firing randomly to try to get people to stay
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