Mother of ‘James Boys’ Is Dead
Mrs. Zeralda Samuel, 86 years old, mother of Jesse James, died Friday afternoon on a Frisco train while enroute to Oklahoma City after a visit with her son Frank, at his home near Fletcher, Oklahoma. Mrs. Frank James was with Mrs. Samuel at the time of her death.
Mrs. Samuel died at three o’clock about twenty miles west of Oklahoma City. The body was taken to Oklahoma City and immediately prepared for burial, and shipped on the seven o’clock train for Kansas City.
Mrs. Samuel and her daughter-in-law were going to Kansas City to visit Jesse James, Jr., a grandson. They were in the sleeping car when Mrs. Samuel became suddenly ill, and died before medical aid could be given.
She was born in Kentucky and for several years has been living with her son, John Samuel, a half-brother of Frank and Jesse James, in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. Mrs. Samuel had been visiting her son Frank at his home near Fletcher, Oklahoma for the last two months.
She is survived by Frank James, a son, of Fletcher, Oklahoma; Jesse James, Jr., a grandson, of Kansas City; John Samuel, a son, of Excelsior Springs, Mo.; Mrs. Sallie Nicholson, a daughter, of Kearney, Mo.; and Mrs. Fannie Hall, a daughter, of Kearney, Mo.
Mrs. Zeralda Samuel was one of the prominent figures of this section of the country during the latter part of the Civil War. As mother of the James boys, she later acquired notoriety but through it all she remained true to her sons.
Mrs. Samuels was born in Kentucky in 1824 and was educated at a convent in Lexington, Ky. Her father was a soldier in the revolutionary war and her mother was the daughter of a prominent Kentucky family.
In 1841 Zeralda Cole was married to the Rev. Robert James, a Baptist minister, and a short time later, they moved to Clay County, Mo.
The Rev. Mr. James went to California during the gold rush and soon after arriving there died. In 1855 his widow was married to Dr. Rueben Samuel and until the opening of the civil war they continued to live on the James farm. During the war, what was known as the “homeguard” visited the home and their treatment of Dr. Samuel later caused him to become insane.
A visit from detectives of a private agency caused the loss of one of Mrs. Samuel’s arms when the men, in their anxiety to capture Jesse James, threw a bomb into the house.
Later on the late Mrs. Samuel took advantage of the fame of the old homestead and charged each visitor 25 cents to visit the home. From this she received a comfortable income.
Three years ago her second husband died in a state hospital for the insane at St. Joseph., Mo., and since that time his widow has divided her time between the homestead and the farm of her son Frank, in Oklahoma.
During the Civil War Mrs. Samuel won admiration by her bravery. She was nearly six feet tall and of powerful build.
Source: The Choctaw Herald. (Hugo, Okla.), February 16, 1911, page 1
John Thomas Samuel (b. December 25, 1861 – d. March 15, 1934)
Jesse Richard Cole