jesse james family tree

Jesse James Family Tree

In my experience, delving into the Jesse James Family Tree has been like unraveling a captivating historical tapestry. My expertise in genealogy allowed me to appreciate the intricate connections within this notorious lineage.

I believe each name, from his brother Frank to his descendants, weaves a rich narrative that extends far beyond his famed outlaw persona. Tracing Jesse's roots, I found myself immersed in stories of loyalty, love, and legacy, revealing the human depth behind the legend.

The James family's saga, intertwined with my own passion for history, has left a profound impression on my understanding of America's past.

Key Takeaways

  • Jesse James' ancestors were predominantly of Welsh and Scottish descent, with roots planted in American soil by the mid-18th century.
  • Jesse had six siblings, including his brother Frank James, who was his partner in crime during a spree of robberies across the Midwest.
  • Jesse James married his cousin Zerelda Mimms and they had four children together, who grew up under the shadow of their father's infamy and witnessed his assassination.
  • The James family had notable relatives such as Elizabeth Cole, Sallee James, and Woodson James, who contributed to the family legacy and added depth to the understanding of the family.

Early Ancestry

You'll often find that Jesse James' early ancestors were predominantly of Welsh and Scottish descent, firmly planting their roots in American soil by the mid-18th century. Tracing the James Family Tree, you'd discover that these tenacious forebears settled near Lickinghole Creek, in what's now Goochland County, Virginia.

Jesse's paternal grandfather, John James, was born in Pembrokeshire, Wales, and emigrated to America, eventually making his way to Clay County, Kentucky, where Jesse's father, Robert, was born.

On his mother's side, the Cole family was already well-established, with Zerelda Cole's kin hailing from Pennsylvania before migrating through Virginia to Kentucky.

Each branch of Jesse James' ancestry contributed to his notorious legacy, with deep familial ties and a history of resilience and survival.

Jesse's Immediate Family

Delving into Jesse James' immediate family, you'll encounter a group of six siblings, including himself, born to Zerelda Cole and her husbands. Jesse, whose full name was Jesse Woodson James, and his brother Frank James—formally Alexander Franklin James—became infamous outlaws. Their mother, Zerelda Cole, was a woman of formidable character, who instilled a profound sense of family loyalty. Jesse's father, Robert James, passed away, leaving Zerelda a widow with young children.

Zerelda's second union with Reuben Samuel brought additional members to the family. Together, they had three children, blending the family dynamic.

Jesse's own nuclear family included his wife Zerelda, named after his mother, and their children. Tragically, two witnessed their father's assassination, an event echoing the violent legacy of the James family.

Frank James: Brother in Arms

Amidst the turbulent years following the Civil War, you encounter Frank James, Jesse's older brother, who shared not only bloodlines but also a life of crime as his partner in their notorious escapades.

Born Alexander Franklin James, Frank rode alongside Jesse as a brother in arms, embarking on a legendary spree of bank, stagecoach, and train robberies across the Midwest. Their kinship was forged in adversity; the James family suffered greatly for their Southern loyalties, with kin tortured and Jesse himself whipped by Union militia.

Yet, the brothers' legacy is inseparable from violence and rebellion. As Jesse met his end at the hands of Robert Ford, Frank faced a future without his lifelong partner in crime, marking the end of the James brothers' reign.

Marriage and Children

Transitioning from his life of notorious crime, Jesse James found semblance of normalcy in marriage to his cousin Zerelda Mimms, with whom he fathered four children. Zerelda, named after Jesse's own mother, provided a stable home life that contrasted sharply with the chaos of his criminal escapades. Together, they continued the family legacy, though their children would grow under the shadow of their father's infamy.

Here's a glance at Jesse James's immediate family, a blend of love, tragedy, and endurance:

Family MemberRelation
Zerelda Mimms JamesWife
Jesse E. JamesSon
Mary Susan JamesDaughter
Gould JamesSon (died in infancy)
Montgomery JamesSon

Notable Relatives

Beyond the immediate family, you'll find Jesse James's relatives have their own tales woven into American history. Not just outlaws, the James family tree branches out to members who made their marks in various ways.

  • Elizabeth Cole: Your ancestor, she married Robert S. James and gave birth to Frank and Jesse James. A strong matriarch, she shaped their early years.
  • Sallee James: A name you mightn't know, Sallee was kin through the James lineage and contributed to the family legacy in her own right.
  • Woodson James: A relative whose life branched away from the notorious path of Jesse and Frank, Woodson represents the diverse destinies of the James family members.

Every name, from Franklin James to John James, adds depth to your understanding of this storied family's impact.

The James Family Legacy

Why should you delve into the James family legacy beyond the notorious deeds of Jesse and his brother Frank?

The saga of the James family is rooted in the American experience, marked by pioneering spirits and the fight for survival.

The family's ancestry includes Robert, Jesse and Frank's father, a hemp farmer with a strong Baptist background.

Their first cousin attended William Jewell College, a symbol of the family's pursuit of education and normalcy amidst chaos.

The Gold Rush era's economic turmoil undeniably influenced their choices.

Understanding the James family's comprehensive story, from Kentucky origins to Missouri struggles, helps contextualize the brothers' infamy within a larger tapestry of American history and the societal pressures that shaped them.

Modern Descendants

As you delve into the family tree of Jesse James, you'll find that his modern descendants are notably absent from the historical accounts of his life and legacy. However, some have made a mark on history in their own right.

Jesse Franklin Hall, a direct descendant, became prominent at Jewell College, showcasing that the legacy of Jesse's family extended beyond the infamy of their ancestor.

William Nicholson's marriage to Sarah Louise Samuel connected him to the outlaw's lineage.

Samuel's family, related to Jesse, saw members like Richard Cole make strides, albeit far from the notoriety of their kin.

Jesse's family spread out, with some venturing to California during the Gold Rush era, seeking fortunes of a different kind.

Genealogical Challenges

Exploring the Jesse James family tree, you'll encounter a maze of genealogical complexities, from duplicated names to uncertain birthplaces, that obfuscate the lineage's clarity. For instance, distinguishing between the many William Jameses is daunting. Moreover, pinpointing the precise roots of Richard Cole and Lavenia James, as they moved to Virginia, is fraught with difficulty.

To illustrate the challenges, take a look at this table, which outlines some of the perplexities:

Common NameRelated IssueLocation Linked
William JamesMultiple individualsUncertain
Richard ColeLack of primary sourcesMoved to Virginia
Peyton SamuelConflicting birth dates/placesLogan County & Whippoorwill Creek
Lavenia JamesDuplicated namesMoved to Virginia

As you delve deeper, you'll find that each piece of the puzzle is essential for a complete picture, yet each is as elusive as a wisp of smoke.

Historical Impact

While unraveling the complex genealogy of the James family, you'll notice how historical events like the Civil War directly shaped their notorious legacy. The family's Southern loyalties deeply influenced Jesse James and his older brother, Frank. Their mother, Zerelda Cole, with roots in a Revolutionary War family, instilled a resilient spirit that would manifest in their future rebellions.

  • Robert's education at Jewell College in Liberty set a precedent for the family's value on learning.
  • The brutal treatment of Dr. Samuels and young Jesse by the Militia highlighted the personal cost of their Confederate sympathies.
  • The economic strife of post-war America, reflected in raised grain prices, spurred Jesse and Frank's criminal exploits.

Mary, the matriarch, and Richard Cole, a relative, also found themselves entwined in a saga marked by historical turbulence.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Are Descendants of Jesse James?

You're looking for Jesse James' descendants. They include his children Jesse Edward, Mary Susan, Gould, and Montgomery, and his grandson Jesse Franklin Hall, through his daughter's marriage to William Nicholson.

Who Are Jesse James Siblings?

You're asking about Jesse James's siblings. He had an older brother, Frank, and a younger sister, Susan. His mother's remarriages also added half-siblings: Sarah, John, Fannie, and another sister, Zerelda, to his family.

Did Jesse James Have a Child?

Yes, you've got it right; Jesse James did have children. He and his wife, Zerelda, had four: Jesse Edward, Mary Susan, and twins Gould and Montgomery. Two witnessed their father's tragic end.

What Happened to Jesse James Wife and Children After His Death?

You're likely curious about the fate of Jesse James' wife and children post his death. Zerelda remarried, his son became a lawyer, and his daughter married. The family endured hardships due to their Confederate ties.


You've journeyed through the roots and branches of Jesse James's family tree, from his ancestry to his modern descendants. It's a saga marked by notorious deeds, familial bonds, and the echoes of a turbulent time.

Understanding this lineage offers you a window into the past, illuminating the complexities of American history. As you reflect on the legacy left behind, remember that the tales of Jesse and his kin are forever intertwined with the story of a nation.