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1943: No truth that James jumped Devil's Gulch

Bits By Betty
Lead Summary
Betty Mann, president, Rock County Historical Society

The following article is part of the Diamond Club Member group that began in the January 7, 1943, issue of the Rock County Star Herald. Members of this group consist of persons of age 75 and older.
The visit of Jesse and Frank James, two of the most noted robbers in the 1870’s, to Rock county was recalled this week by James P. Kennedy, Luverne.
Although he did not actually see the men, he recalls how a neighbor came galloping to their farm on a gray horse to spread the news that the James brothers had eaten breakfast that Sunday morning at the Charles Rolph home in Battle Plain township, about 12 miles north of Luverne. It was Mr. Rolph who notified Ezra Rice, then sheriff of Luverne, according to Mr. Kennedy, and a posse was formed to apprehend the bandits. As the story goes, only one Luverne man got close enough to see them. He was Jack Dement. They trailed them to a point near Larchwood, Ia. And there one of the brothers fired at Dement, hitting the horse he was riding.
There’s no truth in the stories that James hid in a cave in the Mounds or jumped the Devil’s Gulch at Garretson with his horse, Kennedy states.
Mr. Kennedy was a boy of 12 when the famed desperadoes made their escape after the Northfield bank robbery. Born in Clayton county, Ia. Jan. 26, 1864, he came with his father, a brother and a neighbor to Rock county in March, 1876, which was the same year as the robbery. That same year, the railroad was built into Luverne from Worthington.
Mr. Kennedy’s father had bought a farm two miles north of Luverne near the Mounds, and this was their home for six or seven years.
Mr. Kennedy had attended school about three terms in Iowa, and after coming to Rock county, resumed his education when school was in session. The building in which he first attended school was constructed like a chicken coop with one side high and the other side low. It was located on the south side of the Mounds, a short distance from Luverne.
In 1883 or ’84, Mr. Kennedy’s father filed a homestead and tree claim in Pipestone county, northwest of Edgerton, and sold his Rock county land. Mr. Kennedy lived at home with his parents and helped with the farm work until he and his brother bought a farm near Hardwick in 1891, to which they moved the following spring. They farmed in partnership until after they were both married, and they then divided their property and began operations individually.
The two brothers did some “railroading” on the side. One winter, they hauled lumber and timber for the branch railroad between Hardwick and Wilmont. Every bit of piling, lumber and ties that is used in the bridge across the Rock river east of Hardwick was hauled by Mr. Kennedy, brother, and two other men who had been hired to help them with the hauling.
This, however, was not Mr. Kennedy’s first experience working on a railroad construction crew. The year the Great Northern built the line from Sioux Falls to Ihlen, he helped haul rock for every culvert and bridge for the entire stretch of track. He was paid at the rate of $3 per day, and board, but he had to furnish feed for his horses.
         This article will continue in next week’s publication of the Star Herald.
         Donations to the Rock County Historical Society can be sent to the Rock County Historical Society, 312 E. Main Street, Luverne, MN 56156.
Mann welcomes correspondence sent to

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