Frank James took the witness stand on his own behalf. The following report was published on Aug. 31, 1883, by the St. Joseph Daily Gazette (Vol. 39, No. 208):

“There was the largest attendance today since the trial began. The principal witnesses were Mrs. Samuels, John Samuels, Allen H. Palmer and wife, and Frank James, the defendant. The direct testimony and a greater portion of his cross-examination was a disappointment to his counsel and friends. He refused to disclose the names of some parties, which was his legal privilege, and forgot the names of some parties with whom he stopped while in Texas.

Zerelda James Samuel, the mother of Frank and Jesse James, lost her right arm to a Pinkerton bomb explosion as the detectives sought to capture the outlaws at the family farm home east of Kearney, MO. Zerelda ardently defended the innocense of her sons. She was described as a hard woman living in hard times, a slave owner and unabashed supporter of the Southern Cause.

“The witness used good language, spoke distinctly, and his earnest manner implied that his story was true, and it made a good impression on the audience. His friends claim that his tour through Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky was accurately detailed, and accounts for his failure to describe his Texas trip on the ground that he did not want to make certain disclosures with his Texas relatives to corroborate him and aid him.

“They say his story was more favorable and truthful than if it had been more particular in the description of details, but nothing has transpired to remove the general impression that the state has made out a very strong case, and that the state and its friends will be disappointed if the jury does not convict.”

Frank James, shown here in 1898 at age 55, was the older brother to the now-legendary American outlaw Jesse. Although on the surface the brothers seemed very similar, in truth the siblings were quite different. Jesse was showy, daring to the point of recklessness, and had a thirst for fame that would eventually be his downfall. Frank was shy, referred to spend his time reading, and married a schoolteacher.