Samuels, Zerelda (Cole) James ~ mother of Frank & Jesse James

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Daily Oklahoman, The
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
February 11, 1911, page 1

Zerelda Elizabeth (Cole) James Simms Samuel
1825- 1911
was the mother of Frank James and Jesse James

Jesse James's mother Zerelda Samuel. Note the missing arm which was amputated at the elbow after the raid on the James Farm in January 1875.

Zerelda died in 1911 in the Burlington carriage on a train traveling to San Francisco,California, when 20 miles outside of Oklahoma City of a heart aliment which had been affecting her for some time. She was 86 years old and was buried next to Rueben Samuel (not Samuels) her third husband and sons Jesse and Archie  at Mount Olivet Cemetery, Clay County, Missouri.

Daily Oklahoman, The
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
February 11, 1911, page 1

Mother of James Boys Passes Away

Mrs. Zerelda Samuel Dies on Frisco Train Near Oklahoma City.

A Prominent Figure

Mrs. Zedrelda Samuel, 86 years old, mother of Jesse and Frank James, died friday afternoon on a Frisco train while enroute to Oklahoma City after a visit with her son, Frank, at his home near Fletcher, Oklahoma. Mrs. Frank James, was with Mrs. Samuel at the time of her death. Mrs. Samuel died at three o'clock, about twenty miles west of Oklahoma City. The body was brought here, and immediately prepared for burial, and shipped on the seven o'clock train for Kansas City.

Mrs. Samuel and her daughter-in-law were going to Kansas City to visit Jesse James, Jr. a grandson. They were in the sleeping car, when Mrs. Samuel became suddenly ill and died before medical aid could be given.

She was born in Kentucky and for several years has been living with her son, John Samuel, a half-brother of Jesse and Frank James, in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. She is survived by Frank James, a son, of Fletcher, Oklahoma; Jesse James, Jr., a grandson of Kansas City; John Samuel, a son of Excelsior Springs, Missouri; Mrs. Sallie Nicholson, a daughter of Kearney, Missouri and Mrs. Fannie Hall a daughter of Kearney, Missouri.

Mrs. Samuel has been visiting her son Frank at his home near Fletcher, Oklahoma, for the last two months.

Mrs. Zerelda Samuel was one of the prominent figures of this section of the country during the latter part of the Civil War. As mother of the James boys, she later acquired, notoriety, but through it all she remained true to her sons.

Mrs. Samuel was born in Kentucky in 1821 and was educated at a convent in Lexington, Jy. Her father was a soldier in the revolutionary war and her mother was the daughter of a prominent Kentucky family.

In 1841 Zelrelda Cole was married to the Rev. Robert James, a Baptist minister and a short time later they moved to Clay county, Missouri.

The Rev. Mr. James went to California during the gold rush, and soon after arriving theree died. In 1855 his widow was married to Dr. Reuben Samuel and until the opening of the civil war they continued to live on the James farm. During the war, what was known as the "home guard" visited the home and their treatment of Dr. Samuel later caused him to become insane. A visit from detectives of a private agency caused the loss of one of Mrs. Samuel's arms when the men in their anxiety to capture Jesse James threw a bomb into the house.

Later on the late Mrs. Samuel took advantage of the fame of the old homestead and charged each visitor 25 cents to visit the home. From this she received a comfortable income.

Three years ago her second husband died in a state hospital for the insame at St. Joseph, Mo., and since that time his widow has divided hedre time between the homestead and the farm of her son, Frank, in Oklahoma.

During the civil war Mrs. Samuel won admiration by her bravery. She was nearly six feet tall and of powerful build.








Jesse Woodson James (September 5, 1847–April 3, 1882) an American outlaw, was the most famous member of the James-Younger gang. Since his death, Jesse James has become a figure of folklore.








cemetery marker bsnagged from  Hollywood USA June 22, 2007

Jesse was buried in the front yard of the James farm and his mother Zerelda
allowed tourists to view the grave of her son for 25 cents and sold rocks from his grave. Legend has it that when the rock supply ran low, she simply restocked from the river.
Shortly after his death, the inscription on Jesse's monument near the Kearney Baptist Church read:

In Loving Remembrance of My Beloved Son

Jesse James
Died April 3, 1882






Sources:  fair use as stated

Contributed by Marti Graham, June 2007. Information posted for educational purposes for viewers and researchers. The contributor is not related to nor researching any of the above.

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