Jessie Estell James was the granddaughter of Jesse James, who was an American frontier outlaw, bank and train robber, guerrilla fighter, and leader of the James–Younger Gang. Her granduncle Frank James, a Confederate soldier, guerrilla, and outlaw was also part of the James–Younger Gang.
Jesse and his brother Frank James were part of pro-Confederate guerrillas “bushwhackers” operating in Missouri and Kansas during the American Civil War.
Jessie’s father Jesse E James was a lawyer who appeared in the 1921 film Jesse James Under the Black Flag with his sister Mary James Barr and in Jesse James as the Outlaw. He was a technical adviser for the 1927 biopic of his father titled Jesse James produced by Paramount.
He also published the book “Jesse James, My Father” in 1899.
Jessie Estell James’s Family Background
Jessie was born on 27 August 1906 to Jesse E James and Stella Frances McGowan. Jessie’s grandfather was born Jesse Woodson James on September 5, 1847, in Clay County, Missouri. He grew up with his elder brother, Alexander Franklin James, and a younger sister, Susan Lavenia James. Jesse’s father, Robert S. James was a Baptist minister, who moved to Bradford, Missouri from Kentucky. Robert was one of the founders of William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri.
Jessie’s father lived with his family in Kansas City after the death of his father. Jesse E James was arrested and tried in 1899 for a robbery on a Missouri Pacific train, for which he was acquitted. He married Stella Frances McGowan on January 2, 1900, with whom he had four daughters, including Jessie Estell James. Jessie died on February 2, 1987.
Jessie Estell James’s Career
Jesse James, Jessie’s grandfather, and granduncle were inspired by William Quantrill and “Bloody Bill” Anderson. They were accused of committing several robberies and atrocities during the Centralia Massacre in 1864 on Union soldiers and civilian abolitionists.
Jesse and Frank became popular for their involvement in several bank robberies, stagecoaches, and train thefts across the Midwest. They were active from 1866 to 1876 during which they committed brutal crimes.
In April 1882 Jesse James was shot dead by Robert Ford who was a new gang member and wanted to earn bounty money. Jesse James became a popular figure in the Wild West.
Jessie’s father ran a pawn shop in Kansas City. After passing the Bar exam he opened a law firm in Kansas City in 1906. Later in the 1920s, her father moved to Los Angeles, California where he ran a restaurant “The Jesse James Inn”.
Jessie Estell James’s Family Net Worth
Jessie owned the property built by her grandfather and father. Jesse James earned all his wealth from illegal activities, including extortion, robberies, and criminal activities. According to some sources, her grandfather had a wealth of around $95-$100 million. The house owned by Jesse’s father was bought by Clay County, Missouri, in 1974. It was listed on the National Register of Historic places and has been converted into a museum and historical site. The house where James was killed in south St. Joseph was moved to near Patee House and has been converted into Jesse James Home Museum by Pony Express Historical Association.