Saturday, February 16, 2013

Outlaw in Love--Frank James and Annie


by Tanya Hanson

Win a copy of my outlaw romance today...leave a comment for a chance to win either a pdf or Kindle version of Christmas for Ransom!

Everybody knows Frank James as a heartless outlaw wreaking havoc with little brother Jesse. But Alexander Franklin James was also a man who devoured the books in his father’s library and quoted Shakespeare at will. His papa Robert Sallee James, a farmer and Baptist minister, co-founded the William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri. So maybe it’s not all that surprising that Frank fell for a schoolteacher, Anna Ralston, one of Missouri State College’s first female graduates.


How and when Frank met Annie was quite the mystery until his trial in 1883 when he revealed the true story of their courtship. Ten years prior in Jackson County, Missouri, Annie and a friend were playing croquet when two armed young men rode up. One, a neighbor’s son, introduced his companion under a fictitious name. The romantic encounter led to occasional meetings at neighbors’ homes.

When the stranger’s true identity was revealed  --Frank James-- Annie’s father, wealthy and well-respected businessman Samuel Ralston, forbade their association. But after Annie took a teaching post at a country school some miles away, she and Frank frequently kept company and became secretly betrothed.

After finishing the school term and returning home, Annie eloped with the “dashing, daring Frank James” in the summer of 1875. Supposedly, she’d asked her parents for permission to visit relatives in Kansas City.  Unbeknownst to them, Frank waited for Annie on the train, the elopement already arranged.

Two days after Annie’s departure for Kansas City, her parents received a brief note from her that said:

Dear Mother: I am married and going West. Annie Reynolds

Not recognizing the name Reynolds, they figured she’d run off with a gambler they’d heard about. Putting their sons on her trail, her parents learned of Annie’s marriage to the outlaw when Frank himself rode up with the news, telling the Ralstons to forgive her. Samuel, shocked and unaccustomed to being thwarted, threw Frank out. The bridegroom rode off with the threat they wouldn’t see their daughter for ten years.

He was just about right. Not until eight years later, in 1883, did Annie come again to her parents’ door, her five year old son Robert Franklin James at her side, Frank awaiting trial. 

(Five months after the murder of his brother Jesse in April 1882, Frank had given himself up to Missouri governor Crittenden, seeking peace after being hunted for 21 years.)

Annie was in the courtroom every day. Despite vigorous prosecution,, Frank was tried for only two robberies/murders and was found not guilty by both juries.

For the last thirty years of his life, Frank became respectable. He did lecture tours with former James gang comrade Cole Younger and became an AT&T telegraph operator. Upon returning to Missouri, he gave tours of the family’s Kearney farm for the masterful sum of twenty-five cents. He died an honorable man on February 18, 1915. However, to prevent his grave from being desecrated or dismantled for souvenirs, he insisted his ashes be kept in a vault until the time he and his Annie could be buried together. 

Annie stayed at the farm with her mother–in-law, Zerelda James Samuel for many years. When she died at age 91, she and her Frank were reunited at Hill Park Cemetery in Independence.

                                                                           *****

Blurb from my outlaw romance, CHRISTMAS FOR RANSOM: a good-hearted outlaw and the woman who gives him her heart...before she realizes it’s HER horses he stole! 

Member of the notorious Ahab Perkins gang,  “Canyon” Jack Ransom promised his beloved gram-maw on her death bed long ago that he’d learn to read.  After growing a conscience and leaving his past behind,  he hires Texas schoolmarm Eliza Willows to do the deed while she, unbeknownst he’s the crook, hires him in return to “track” the thief of her granny’s prized Morgans. 

Falling in love with each other is fast and furious but real...and the two getting snowbound at Christmas while gun-battling Ahab and the gang only adds to the fun!

Buy links: http://tinyurl.com/by5r566  (Amazon)
          http://tinyurl.com/bne8e7g   (The Wild Rose Press) 


29 comments:

  1. I didn't know that Frank was aquitted. Here all this time, I thought he had gone to jail. I love a real life story with a happy ending.
    I noticed you had some of the Frank James history influence in your Christmas story. The story sounds very romantic.
    I wish you all the best, Tanya.

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  2. I'd never heard the story of Frank and Annie, although I did know he became "respectable" later in life. She must have loved him very much. I hope she was never sorry. I wonder what occupation their son entered when he grew up.

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  3. Another fascinating glimpse of history. I love it when the bad guys turn good!

    Morgan Mandel
    http://www.morganmandel.com
    morgan@morganmandel.com

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  4. Very interesting that Frank James became a solid citizen in his older years. I always thought they'd been forced into outlawing by the way they were treaated after the Civil War. Times probably sent a lot of decent people into crime to take care of their families. She really lived to a ripe old age for those days.

    Great post, Tanya.

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  5. Hi Mary, thank you! I've always been interested in the Jameses, go figure. And happy endings are always great in real-life, too. Glad you posted today.

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  6. Hi Sarah, thanks for the good wishes. There are two follow-up stories to Christmas for Ransom. Outlaw Bride will be released in the near future. I'm having a good time writing about outlaws turning good LOL.

    Thanks so much for posting today. xo

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  7. Hi Caroline, I had a fictional James cousin in my first, long ago western romance, so I enjoyed learning about the family. Jesse was devotedly married, too, go figure.

    I too wonder if Annie ever had regrets, considering she had such a proper, respectable upbringing. But she did return to the James farm and her mother in law. Hope she was happy . I never learned much about their little son, Robert, though.

    Thanks for coming by.

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  8. Hi Morgan, yep, you're just like me, wanting those bad boys getting reformed! Thanks for the post.

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  9. Hi Paisley, you are correct about the influence of the Civil War on the James boys. Their beloved stepfather was tortured by Union troops but survived. But "defending" Missouri with Bloody Bill Anderson at such a young age must certainly have had negative effects. Thanks so much for stopping by today.

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  10. What a great story. I haven't read alot about the James boys, but it seems there was a lot more to both of them than meets the eye. And your outlaw story sounds fascinating!

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  11. That's a love story. A good woman helping a man go straight. LOL Great story for this month.

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  12. Hi Jennie, yeah, Frank and Jesse had lots of love in their lives, but evil can take root LOL. Wonder what would have happened had Jesse been awarded a longer life...

    Thanks for the post, my friend!

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  13. Hi Paty, yes indeedy, when we all decided to go for Western sweethearts for Valentine Month, Frank and Annie just hollered out to me LOL. Thanks for stopping by!

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  14. Tanya, I loved this story of how Frank went straight. He also was a Hollywood consultant on some movies (about train robberies, of course!) and I believe there was one where he played himself, but can't remember the name of it. Also he sold shoes at one point. It's amazing what true love can do for a person. I'm glad everything turned out all right for him in the end. Wonderful post!
    Cheryl

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  15. Tanya--oh, wow, what a wonderful story. I never knew all this at all about Frank James. Those years were weird, weren't they--gangs made up of brothers--the James boys, the Coles...
    Annie must have not only been headstrong, she must have been very much in love. Women will do a lot of things for the man she loves.
    Thanks for this--it was a wonderful true love story. And the photos were excellent.

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  16. Hi Cheryl, yeah, he turned out good LOL. Cole Younger might even have done a wild west show or something. I gotta look up him next. All I think I know of him is Belle Starr, and I don't think that was true love lOL.

    Thanks for the post!

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  17. Celia, I love true love. And it seemed to work out for them, in its way, I guess. I didn't find out if the relationship with her parents ever went back to "normal" but I hope so. Forgiveness is always the best.

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  18. Enjoyed the story of Frank and Annie. Good luck with your book.

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  19. Interesting story, Tanya, and sounds like Christmas for Ransom is a fun read. Gotta love those outlaws that can really fall in love.

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  20. Great post. I love anything western. I think it was because my dad was really big into westerns when I was growing up.

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  21. Thanks so much, Charlene, for the good wishes! Never can have too many of those. Glad you liked Annie and Frank's love story.

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  22. Hi Linda, my Bandera friend! I know how much you like cowboys and I guess outlaws are part of that, too. So happy to have you here today. Thanks a bundle.

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  23. Hi Quilt lady, so good to see you here...I know you well from Petticoats and Pistols! I think our dads were very alike, because I grew up on westerns, too. And many a drive-in-movie night, my brothers and I in our pj's to catch a John Wayne. I am so thrilled to see you here today!

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  24. Fascinating story. Thanks
    debby236 at gmail dot com

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  25. I loved this, Tanya. Thanks for sharing such an interesting and romantic tale!

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  26. Hi Debby, thanks! I enjoyed learning more about Frank, especially that the press considered him dashing and daring. Good to see you here.

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  27. Hi Mackenzie, thanks for posting today! I so appreciate it.

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  28. Fascinating tale of true love! Thanks for sharing the story of Frank and Annie. I admire her for sticking with her man through good and bad times.

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