Edward M. Samuel
Frank & Jesse's mother
Frank & Jesse's
Born: September 12, 1851 Died: July 11, 1936
Buried: Clifty Cemetery Place: Clifty, Madison County, Arkansas
January 27, 1875.....Zerelda Samuel, mother of Frank and Jesse James and wife of Reuben Samuel, was lying in her bed recovering from her lower right arm being blown apart at the elbow and torn from her body. Eight year old, Archie Samuel lay dead in the family home, waiting to be prepared for his funeral and burial. The Pinkerton Detective Agency's bombing of the James farm in the wee hours of January 26th had success in it's mission to due harm and damage to the James family. But it was success they did not want.
Neighbors and family had been consistently visiting from near and far to lend their help, share their grief and bite down on the anger that enveloped them all. One of those family members was Edward M. "Ned" Samuel. Ed was at the James farm for several days with well known and historically recorded James gang member, Ed Miller. Ed Miller went down in Jesse's history as a member of the James gang and for being killed by Jesse for opening his mouth too much. Also, at the farm were two other men that were in the law's crosshairs named George James and William Fox.
On Friday, January 29, Clay County Sheriff, John Groom organized a posse consisting of forty six men. They split with one group going to the east and Groom's group, with Liberty Township Constable, W. J. Courtney heading for the James farm and arriving at approximately eight in the morning. The lawmen surrounded and searched the house. They found a Mexican blanket and a Texas saddle hidden in a barrel. They also found Ed Samuel, Miller and Geo. James. The men were taken into custody and brought into the Liberty, Missouri Jail under suspicion of being pickets for the James boys. Edward was believed to be "a bad man for planning." Once they arrived at the jail, a reporter was allowed to start interviewing them almost immediately. This is how the scene appeared in the Kansas City Star of Sunday, January 31, 1875:
"E. M. Samuel , who seemed to have the credit of being the "party of deep laid schemes," was approached first. Would he object in answering a few questions?"
"No sir ; I'll answer anything that I know anything about."
"Will you commence and tell all you do know?"
" Yes; give me some tobacco and I'll sail in."
Samuel then sat down on a pile of wood and his companions huddled about him as careless as if they had been getting around a beer table or preparing for a game of euchre.
"Are you ready to abuse us?" said Samuel as took a few quick puffs from a Powhatten pipe. The reporter told him to proceed.
"MY NAME IS E. M. SAMUEL
my half brother married the James' boys mother. I don't know what kin that makes me to Jesse and Frank. Maybe you can figure that out though. I live within a mile and a half of the house where they took me, with my father and mother. (QSCR note: his father being Fielding Samuel) I ain't married, but if I get out of this I am going to be. I am past 22 years old. I heard of the fight at Mrs. Samuel's the next morning and went over immediately. I have been there ever since. I was waiting on the sick. I suppose you want to know when I saw Jesse and Frank; I saw them just about a year ago; I ain't seen them since and don't know where they are and haven't heard. They ain't the kind of boys to tell people their business. I don't know what they took us for ; I guess if I had wanted to get away I had several chances. It's somebody in the neighborhood that hates us worse then the devil that's at the bottom of this. Of course, Mr. Groom's done his duty; I ain't blamin' him, but this ain't no way to do it. I ai'nt got anything else to say."
In the same Kansas City Star article with the interviews, there is a very interesting character description of Ed Samuel. It says this: " Samuel is said to "play low" for the party. He is not a villianous looking man, on the contrary, is quite the opposite and rather stylish. It is said that he is the confidant of Jesse and Frank, and only tells his "pals" what he considers politic"
Also quite interesting is this passage from the same article: "At the time these parties were arrested, Mrs. Samuel called them to her bedside and said; "They're just taking you down there to pump you; keep your mouths shut, and don't tell anything you don't know!"
Ed, Ed Miller and George James were interrogated on Saturday, January 30th and satisfied the authorities that they knew nothing. They were released and the three set forth for home on that afternoon's train.
Ed's family ties, with half brother and step-uncle to the James boys may be a bit loose, but there is no denying the fact of Ed's place in the famous Pinkerton bombing of the James farm and that he was no bystander in the family line. One...He was believed to be the holder of information as Frank and Jesse's confidant. Two...the "bad planner" description lends itself to helping Frank and Jesse. Three...he was there, smack in the middle of James history, in regards to the Pinkerton bombing and aftermath. Four...he helped attend to the family including Zerelda James and, just maybe, the preparing and funeral of little Archie. He saw and shared it all. The death, the wounds, the grief and the destruction. Though Ed isn't in the Quantrill realm, he IS a strong piece in Jesse James history and is mentioned in a few books on the James boys and family. With his father, Fielding Samuel and QSCR Member, Joe Coyl, Ed has a bonafide, solidified place in James history that isn't a country yarn or story grown from nothing.
You know what's even more interesting?? We may never know the real secrets and facts that Ed went to his Clifty, Arkansas grave with.