Saturday, March 29, 2008

Fletcher, OK. home of Frank James

History has often ignored the time Frank James spent in what is now the state of Oklahoma. From the time of the Civil War to the years before his death Frank had ties to the Sooner State.

Born Alexander Franklin James on January 10, 1843 he was nicknamed "Buck" by family and friends. We simply know him as Frank. He first traveled into the Indian Territories while riding with Quantrill's Raiders. At the close of the Civil War the James/YoungerGang was formed. Little is known about the time Frank spent in Oklahoma during his outlaw years, but it must have been a favorite haunt due to the many stories that persist to this day. There were even rumors that Frank caught and sold wild horses from the Wichita Mountain Range during the years before 1900.

What is known and can be verified is that Frank and his wife Annie came to Oklahoma in 1905 looking to settle in the Fletcher area. The local paper reported on Dec. 16, 1905 that Frank had purchased a farm north of town. In November of 1907 Frank settled on his farm and began building his house in December of that year. Mr. and Mrs. E.W. Dilling soon became good friends of Frank and Annie. Mr. Dilling was the president of the Fletcher bank. It was Mrs. Dilling who recalled that Frank brought in a large roll of dirty bills that were presumed to have been dug up and opened a bank account with them.

Locals knew that Frank spent time searching for the treasures he had long ago hidden. He was known to have recovered $6000 near Cement, Ok. and there were rumors of many more he unearthed.

On Feb. 17, 1911 the Fletcher Times reported the death of the mother of Frank and Jesse James. Mrs. Zerelda Samuels passed away while en-route back to Missouri after a visit with Frank. She passed away on a Frisco train before reaching Oklahoma City. It was shortly after this that Frank left Oklahoma and moved back to the family farm in Missouri.

There were a number of Frank James imposters before and after his death. To this day there are those who would have you believe that the man living outside of Fletcher was a double who took Frank's place, so that the real Frank James could live in peace under an assumed name. These stories are told without facts that can be verified. There is more than enough proof that the real Frank James was the man who lived on the Caddo County line and left his mark in Oklahoma history.


Anonymous said...

Frank James with his wife [Annie Ralston?]and son [Robert Franklin?]traveled from Illinois by Ox Cart to Fletcher Ok. Newspaper accounts says his son Abraham was already there. Unknown to the world was the fact that he had a son John Leathers who lived there.
When Zerelda Samuels died, Frank James moved to Clay Co. Mo. to claim his inheritance, The Samuel farm. He never lived there but he did use the lumber from the torn down house to build his house in Excelsior Spring Mo.

okie treasure hunter said...

I have Frank James' will and he only mentioned one son. I was raised near Fletcher so I will check into John Leathers and see if I can find a connection. I've never seen mention of a son named Abraham either.

Anonymous said...

I am from Kearney, Missouri in Clay County Missouri and the James' farm home and out buildings are still there and available to tour... therefore Frank counldn't have used the lumber from the "torn down" home. To my knowledge, he died there, not in Excelsior Springs.

okie treasure hunter said...

I believe his Fletcher home was a catalog kit that he had shipped in by rail.

Anonymous said...

John Leathers is the son of Frank. My dad mike leathers( great grandson of john) done extensive research and has lots of documents to prove.

Anonymous said...

Do you know anything about the above photograph of Frank James' house near Fletcher? The approximate time the photo was taken and the identity of the two women?