In 1882, my fellow Missourian Jesse James was shot in the back of the head and killed by a man he’d recruited to help him rob a bank in Platte City. Rumors persist to this day that James faked his death, even though 1995 DNA analysis of the body buried in Kearney, Missouri under a headstone reading “Jesse James” proved 99.7% conclusive. A man named Frank Dalton died in Granbury, Texas at the age of 104 in 1951 and he claimed to his dying day that he was Jesse James. Dalton’s body was to be exhumed in 2000 for DNA analysis and the story was a media sensation that you might remember. You probably don’t remember the results, because a mismarked gravestone caused the body of a one-armed man who died in 1927 to be exhumed instead, and the body buried as “Jesse James, supposedly killed in 1882” has yet to be tested. Despite the 1995 tests, citizens of Gransbury and citizens of Kearney still argue over which of them has the real Jesse James.
In other news, Adolf Hitler, FDR, Abraham Lincoln and Elvis were last spotted playing cards together in Argentina.
In 1826, Boss Tweed was born. Tweed was the political boss of the Tammany Hall machine in New York City. Their motto: Vote early and often. Tweed’s downfall came when one of his own men felt he got shortchanged when the embezzled money was split up, so he ratted to the New York Times. Tweed was imprisoned twice, on criminal and then on civil charges. He escaped and fled to Spain in December 1875, only to be recognized (supposedly a series of famous political cartoons gave him away) and he was returned to New York, where he died in prison in 1878.
In 1783, Washington Irving was born. I’m sure you’ve read his Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow or seen at least one of the many movies or Scooby Doo episodes based on it.
In 1942 and 1944, singers Wayne Newton and Tony Orlando, respectively, were born. Branson, Missouri would never be the same.
Ah, but you forgot the other event that put St. Joseph, Missouri on the map… The start of the Pony Express – also an April 3rd event. In fact, I remember the slogan for St. Joe once being ‘Where the Pony Express began and Jesse James ended.’
No doubt Jimmy Hoffa was the dealer.