By Linda Emley
I always look at the human side of any story and Richmond’s 1867 bank robbery is a good example. What were the boys thinking when they robbed our bank? They were young men who couldn’t escape their past, so they started down a path that ended up affecting their future.
Members of the James-Younger Gang were good looking single men who never spent enough time in one place to let a women steal their heart.
I looked at the boys in a much different perspective after I found the following story, 35 years after this famous gang robbed our bank.
From The Richmond Missourian, March 27, 1902: “Ex Bandit – James Younger Wants to Marry – Loves the Girl who Aided Him in Securing Parole.
“Jim Younger wants to get married. He cannot because he is legally dead; hence is unable to enter into any contract. Younger submitted the question of whether or not he could wed to (Minnesota) Gov. Van Sant, who has looked into the matter, with some surprising results.
“In Minnesota, a man who is a life prisoner is civilly dead. The only way he can make any binding contract, in the eyes of the law, is through the board that paroles him, in this case the state board of control, which is empowered to enter into a contract for him. It is not probable, however, that the three members of the board of control, separately or as a whole, will agree to enter into a marriage contract with any women for a paroled life convict.
“The only way for Jim Younger to become a married man in Missouri is to get a parole that will restore to him the rights of a living citizen. Another phase of the law is that neither Jim Younger or nor his brother Cole, if they establish a business of their own, as has been contemplated, can he held for any debts which they may incur.
“In his application to the Governor, requesting information as to his right to marry, Younger said nothing regarding the proposed bride. The woman who Jim Younger wants to wed is Alexis Schuermeier, who is highly connected in St. Paul, and who was instrumental in securing his parole. She is almost 40 years of age and is his constant companion when he is about the city. She would undoubtedly make him a good wife and there is little doubt that they will yet be married, even though the law declares he is dead.”
Jim Younger rode with the James-Younger gang and was finally arrested at the ill-fated 1876 bank robbery in Northfield, Minn. After reading this article, I couldn’t wait to see what happened to Jim and the lady that stood by her man. I knew enough about the Younger boys to know it was not going to be a happy ending but I still hoped to find a little happiness for these “star-crossed” lovers.
Seven months later, Jim Younger committed suicide. This from a Utah newspaper, The Deseret News, Oct. 20, 1902: “Jim Younger’s Spiritual Wife, Alice J. Muller, the sweetheart and betrothed wife of Jim Younger, has been a resident of this city since last August when she came here for rest and to avoid the publicity that her association with the parole of the Younger Boys gave her.
“Today she said, ‘Jim wrote me until the date of Oct 16, stating he had given up all hope and was out of work. Saturday evening he telegraphed me, ‘Don’t write’. He was driven to this act by his persecutors. I am his wife, understand spiritually. No scandal has attached to my name. But before God, he is mine and never alone. My life will be to place him right before the world. I have written the authorities to cremate his body. It was his request.’
“Miss Muller is 30 years of age and wrote a history of the police and fire departments of St. Paul and did work on the Salt Lake Herald during the Bryan campaign. She is now writing a novel. She leaves at 6:45 this evening for St. Paul, and has independent means.”
Jim Younger’s body was brought back to Missouri and buried in the family plot in Lee’s Summit. The San Francisco Call gave details on Oct. 24, 1902:
“Flowers Cover Outlaw’s grave. The pallbearers were old associates of the Youngers and members of Quantrell’s band. Among the mourners were men who had fought with Quantrell, Price and Shelby.
“There were many inquires for Alice Muller, Jim Younger’s sweetheart. It was expected that she would be at the funeral and a rumor was started that she was here. But she did not come, and so far as could be learned no message came from her.”
I don’t know if Alice Muller or Alexis Schuermeier was Jim’s sweetheart and I was unable to find the rest of the story for either of these women. I’m still hoping to run across their story in the future while looking for something else because that is how it works when you research the past.
So what is the moral of this story? The first one is “love is blind’’ because she stood by her man even if he was a convicted bandit. Sadly, Jim Younger learned the most important lesson a little late because in the end we all know that “crime doesn’t pay”. RIP – Jim, whereever you are.
Linda Emley will be writing stories about outlaws in preparation for Richmond Outlaw Days on Sept. 22. You can write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.