Clay County Archives and Historical Library ~ Liberty, Missouri

Preserving the Past for the Present

The Life and Times of Jesse James (exerpt)

by Milton Perry


0001-0967-aThe James Farm

The log cabin portion of the James home is over 160 years old. It was purchased in 1845 by the Rev. Robert Sallee James and his wife, Zerelda. Jesse James was born here on September 5, 1847, and was buried here April 6, 1882. The Victorian cottage that is the front portion of the house was built in 1893. The house has been a tourist attraction since 1882, and is visited by thousands of persons annually.

After the death of Zerelda Samuel in 1911, Frank James inherited the farm and lived here with his wife Anna and son, Robert. Frank died here in 1915, his widow in 1944. "Bob" James ran the Farm, and built a small golf course on it. After his death it came into the hands of the sons of Mary Barr, Jesse’s daughter. The Barrs sold it with all the original furnishings to Clay County in 1978 to be operated as an historic site.

The log cabin was restored in 1978-79 and the cottage portion in 1984.

The Farm is operated by the Division of Historic Sites of the Clay County Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites.

TannersWheelTrivia:  This large round gear-toothed stone on the lawn of the Clay County Archives building in Liberty, Missouri is:

  1. an old mill stone used to make flour
  2. an old mill stone used to tan leather
  3. an instrument of torture for people who don’t rewind their microfilms

 From Green to Governor
by Lyn Allison Yeager


In 1832, a young man named Peter Burnett wore "a suit of jeans" with "elbows out." He later wrote that he knew the glances people gave toward him, and the winks they exchanged, that they considered him "green." That boy never knew that a century later jeans, cut to scraggly shorts or worn long with the knees out, would be stylish with teenagers.

Some Civil War humor
from the Cleveland, Ohio Civil War Round Table


"The dying soldier (might have been a North or South man) was asked, ‘Have you made peace with the Lord and renounced the Devil?’ His reply was, ‘I have made peace with the Lord, but I’m in no position to antagonize anybody.’"

Alexander William Doniphan
by Judge R. Kenneth Elliott (ret.)


Alexander DoniphanBorn on July 8, 1808, near Augusta, Mason County, Kentucky, Alexander William Doniphan was the youngest of 10 children. His father died when he was about 5 years old, having been a teacher and friend of Daniel Boone. Alexander was born about 1 year before Abraham Lincoln, who was also born in Kentucky. Both Alexander and Abraham grew to be 6’4" tall. Both of Alexander’s grandparents participated in the American Revolution. Graduating from Augusta College at Bracken, KY at the age of 18, Alexander studied law in the office of Martin Marshall, a kinsman of the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Alexander studied the classics, histories and then the law.