Jesse James: American Outlaw
Production for the Meet the Past television series continues in June with two programs taped before a live audience at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St. Additional episodes will be taped in upcoming months. The series will air during prime-time on KCPT (channel 19) during the 2009-10 season.
Meet the Past features Library Director Crosby Kemper III interviewing prominent historical figures (as portrayed by veteran Chautauqua performers) with Kansas City-area connections.
Major funding for Meet the Past has been provided by a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
Admission to all Meet the Past programs is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes each event. Click here or call 816.701.3407 to RSVP. Free parking is available in the Library District Parking Garage at 10th and Baltimore.
On Tuesday, June 30, at 6:30 p.m., Aaron Worley portrays Jesse James, the Missouri-born outlaw who became one of the most notorious bank and train robbers in the history of the United States.
Following the end of the Civil War, Jesse James and his brother Frank, along with the Younger brothers and other followers, perfected the first daylight bank robberies in the United States. The editor of The Kansas City Times and a Southern sympathizer, John Newman Edwards, promoted the actions of the James Gang as those of American Robin Hoods and popularized the brothers with dime store novels. Jesse James is credited with robbing at least a dozen banks, half a dozen trains and stage coaches, and even the fairgrounds in Kansas City, until the gang’s luck ran out in Northfield, Minnesota. Local residents killed three of the robbers and captured all three Younger brothers. Only Frank and Jesse escaped.
Three years later, Jesse James emerged from the shadows with a new gang that included his cousins Charlie and Robert Ford. The new crew was marred by infighting and backstabbing. The Ford brothers secretly struck a deal with Missouri Governor Thomas Crittenden to kill Jesse James for $10,000. On April 3, 1882, Robert Ford shot the rarely unarmed Jesse James in the back of the head at his home in St. Joseph.
Aaron Worley is an actor-director in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A Kansas City native, he took his first acting class at the Kansas City Public Library.