• Judge William Wallace, Prosecutor of Jesse James' Gang, Offers Wedding Wishes To Cousin

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    JUDGE WILLIAM HOCKADAY WALLACE (1848-1937) was notable for the capture and prosecution of train robbers and helping to break up the James Gang with his repeated legal assaults [Research included]. Wallace’s parents were farmers. Born in Kentucky, Wallace went to Westminster College in Fulton, MO, and graduated in 1871. He was elected Prosecuting Attorney in 1880. After Jesse James was shot and killed, Wallace, who had prosecuted several members of the James Gang, including Bill Ryan, the only member who was convicted, redoubled his efforts to bring Frank James and the other outlaws to justice.


    One day, a young woman identified as Mrs. Frank James went to the Jackson County prosecutor’s office with an elderly, heavily built woman. Wallace was struck that the older woman had only one arm. Mrs. James’ companion was Mrs. Zerelda Samuels, the mother of Jesse and Frank. They asked Wallace if Frank would receive a fair trial if he surrended and Wallace assured them that he would. Wallace decided to try James for murdering William Westfall, conductor of a Rock Island train, who was slain during a July 15, 1881 holdup, at Winston, MO.  The trial lasted 16 days, but it took the jury only four hours to acquit James, who, along with his brother Jesse, was seen as a hero who took from the rich railroad barons. The belief that they gave to the poor was false. In fact, they often murdered innocent civilians in cold blood.  Frank James was acquitted and lived until 1913 when he died of a heart attack. 


    Offered here is one-page, 8 ¼ x 10 ¾, ALS, Wallace writes from Newbolt Building, Kansas City [MO], April 23, 1882, to his cousin, Mrs. Florence A. Blair.  “I am just officially informed by your cards or whatever I should call them, of your marriage. I am truly glad you remembered me. Had I been compelled to guess, I should have said you had forgotten both my name in full and my address.  I am working according to my capacity harder than any man in the state, but still find time to take pleasure in being remembered. I trust your cup of happiness is full to overflowing and will keep filling to the end as…you drink it out. My regards to Mr. B. My love to all the family when you see them.


    “Your Cousin & friend,


    “William H. Wallace”


    Light toning, folds, two small holes at the top and bottom away from the writing.  A newspaper clipping of his obituary is included along with biographical research on Wallace.


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