Tombstones of the Younger Outlaws & their Mother
The Younger Family
Henry Washington Younger and Bursheba Leighton Fristoe were married in 1830. Both came from prominent southern families. They became the parents of fourteen children: Laura, Isabelle, Anne, Richard, Mary Josephine, Caroline, Thomas Coleman, Sally, James Hardin, Alphae, John Harrison, Emma, Robert Ewing and Henrietta.
Henry was a successful businessman who operated a livery and dry goods business. He owned property in both Jackson and Cass counties and decided to move his family to Harrisonville in 1857. While living in Harrisonville, he became involved in politics and was elected the 2nd mayor of the city in 1859.
During the border war, there was allot of ransacking and looting going on by the Kansas Jayhawkers and Red Legs throughout the border counties along the Kansas/Missouri state line. Henry’s livery was not exempt from these raids and in 1861, his business netted a loss of over $4,000 in merchandise during one of these raids. Over the next year, he would be hit again on several occasions. This angered his son, Cole, who encouraged his father to take a stand against the Kansans but Henry resisted.
Cole, Jim and two of their sisters attended a local celebration in the summer of 1861. Also in attendance at this celebration was a Union militiaman, named Captain Irvin Wally. During the course of the evening, the Captain’s advances towards one of the Younger sisters were rejected. He had some unkind words for her and Cole came to her defense. Some heated words were exchanged and a fight broke out between Walley and Cole. It was broken up just as Walley pulled his pistol.
After hearing about this incident, Henry felt that Cole’s safety was at stake and the Union troops would seek revenge. Henry suggested that Cole leave town and his instincts proved right when that same evening, Walley did show-up at the Younger home demanding that Cole be turned over to him.
Henry continued with his life while the difficulties between Kansas and Missouri continued, trying to remain neutral and run his business. Still, the looting of his business continued. Henry had some business to attend to in Kansas City and decided while he was there, he would speak with someone at the state militia headquarters to see what could be done about the continuous raids occurring in his community. While on this trip, he had some successful business transactions and had $1500 on his person, which he hid in a money belt to begin his trip home. About one mile south of Westport, on July 20, 1862, Henry Younger was shot three times in the back and killed. There are several versions of where Henry was actually shot, but according to the story told by Cole, the above version is correct. Henry’s body was found and turned over to the federal commanding officer. A witness saw Irvin Walley and a group of his soldiers depart shortly after Henry Younger. Although Henry Younger had a substantial amount of cash on him, his body had been undisturbed after his fall from the wagon, so the murder was politically motivated and not a robbery. Most likely, Walley was seeking vengeance for the earlier incident involving Cole. Walley was brought up on murder charges but was released because his fellow soldiers provided him with an alibi.
Henry Younger’s body was returned to the family and buried on the Younger property. They were worried about Walley and his band of soldiers digging up his grave and displaying his body so therefore the grave was never marked. The death of Henry had a devastating effect on the Younger’s, both financially and emotionally.
It was the killing of his father that caused Cole to join up with the Missouri guerillas. Because of his involvement with the guerillas, his capture became a high priority of the Federals. The Younger home was watched constantly as Cole became more involved with the guerillas and Bursheba and the remaining family members were constantly harassed. Life for the Younger’s would never be the same.-
Upon returning home to check on his family, Cole found one of his sisters distraught and crying. Prompting her to tell him what was wrong, he found out that a federal captain had assaulted her. He vowed revenge on this officer and his anger towards the Union Army was further fueled.
After Order #11 was issued, John and Bob Younger refused to relinquish their home to the Union troops and kept vigil at the windows with weapons too large for their small bodies to handle. Jim Younger was trying to find a place where the family could relocate. Bursheba, unnerved by worry for her sons, the pressure of trying to survive and distraught over the loss of her beloved husband, soon became ill. On the day the Federals arrived to execute Order #11, Bursheba was bedfast and weak. She pleaded with the authorities but was unsuccessful in saving her property, however the commanding officer allowed them to remain in the home under the condition that they leave in the morning and burn the house and barn themselves. This was agreed to and the following morning, the family loaded Bursheba on a bed in the wagon and commenced with burning their home and dreams. They left to find refuge with relatives.
Jim Younger joined the guerillas after being accused of spying in 1864. His involvement with the guerillas was brief and he was captured in Louisville, Kentucky in May of 1865. He remained a prisoner of war in the Alton, Illinois prison until the end of the war. Cole Younger refused to surrender after the war and remained in hiding, often times seeking refuge with the families of his comrades since he was unable to safely return home.
In January of 1866, Bob and John drove Bursheba to Independence to purchase some winter supplies. Recognizing the family from his days as a militiaman, a former soldier approached the wagon and made some comments about Cole. John took offense and told him to be quiet. Upon doing so, the former soldier hit John across the face with a frozen fish, knocking him off his feet. When John got to his feet, he retrieved Cole’s gun, which he had just picked up from the gunsmith. The former soldier made a move toward his hip and John shot him between the eyes. Upon examining the dead body, it was discovered that he had a concealed slingshot and the killing was ruled as self-defense.
The Younger's were split between several locations during the years following the war. Bursheba remained in the area to try and settle matters involving what was left of Henry’s estate. Jim stayed and assisted her. John and Bob were sent to St. Clair County to live with their uncles and the sisters were sent to Pleasant Hill. Cole was still on the run and in hiding.
It was difficult for the surrendered southern supporters to make a living, let alone for those who were still in hiding. Frank James approached Cole with an idea to make some quick cash and obtain some further revenge on those that won the war. This idea involved the robbery of the Clay County Savings Association in Liberty. On February 13, 1866, the first daylight, postwar robbery occurred in the United States, netting a theft of $60,000 in cash and bonds. This wetted the appetite of these soon to become famous outlaws and was the first of many more robberies to come.
The Younger family was able to reunite in Texas and lived a peaceful life there for awhile. Bursheba became ill and wished to return to Missouri to die. The boys fulfilled her wishes and with the exception of Cole, escorted her back to Jackson County.
Almost immediately upon their return, they were harassed by a posse of men looking for Cole and the reward that had been placed on his capture. They attacked Bob knocking him unconscious and took John out back where they hanged him four times until he too, became unconscious. This demise proved to be too much for Bursheba and she fell comatose. She died on June 6, 1870, her 54th birthday and was buried in the Lee’s Summit cemetery.
After Bursheba’s funeral, the boys left Jackson county and met up with Jim in St Clair county. They then headed back to Texas after deciding it was not safe to stay in Missouri. They continued to travel back and forth between the two states.-
By 1873, John, Bob and Jim Younger were adopted into the James/Younger gang. Their exploits are well documented in history books, biographies and movies. It is unknown how many robberies were actually committed by the gang, as all robberies were blamed on them during this time period. The railroad hired the Pinkerton Detective Agency to capture these outlaws.
While Jim and John were visiting some friends in Roscoe, Missouri, some suspicious men stopped by to ask directions. After the men left, John and Jim pursued them. They caught them about ¾ of a mile up the road and questioned them about who they were. Suspecting them to be Pinkerton detectives a shoot-out began. John was shot through the neck. One detective was instantly killed and the other lived a few days. John managed to stay on his horse until the fight was over, but then fell off, dead. He was buried quickly to keep the law from taking his body and then was reburied that same evening in an unmarked grave in the Yeater Cemetery.
The last bank robbery involving the Younger’s occurred in Northfield, Minnesota. This robbery went bad. Several were killed during the robbery, but the Younger’s and James brothers escaped. Travel was slow for the Younger’s as they were injured during the shootout, so they parted ways with Jesse and Frank in an attempt for Jesse and Frank to lead the pursuers from them. Although Jesse and Frank managed to escape, the Younger’s were captured 2 weeks later. Another shoot-up ensued and when Cole was captured he had 11 bullet holes in his body. Jim was critically wounded by a bullet through his jaw and was never able to eat solid food again. Bob was shot through the lung and this lead to problems later.The Younger’s pleaded guilty and were given life sentences at the Minnesota State Prison in Stillwater.
In prison, Bob worked as a clerk and bookbinder. He became ill with tuberculosis in 1888. Because of his illness he was paroled so he could die at home and died on September 6, 1889. He was buried in the Lee’s Summit Cemetery.-
After working the prison factories, Jim was made postal clerk and librarian. He was paroled in 1901. Unable to adjust to civilian life, he committed suicide on October 9, 1902 and he was buried in the Lee’s Summit Cemetery.
Cole was also paroled in 1901 and was completely pardoned in 1903. He returned to Missouri where he lectured, traveled with a Wild West show and worked peacefully at various jobs. He died on March 21, 1915 after a prolonged illness with heart and kidney trouble. He was buried in the Lee’s Summit Cemetery.
Located in Lees Summit Cemetery, Lees Summit, MO
Below are the tombstones for Cole Younger, his brothers Jim Younger & Bob Younger and their mother Bursheba Fristoe Younger
Missouri and The Civil War
The Border War (Charles Jennison, Jim Lane, James Montgomery)
General Order #11
William T "Bloody Bill" Anderson (Guerilla leader)
William Clarke Quantrill (Guerilla leader)
The James Family (Frank and Jesse: Guerillas & Outlaws)