PLEASANTVIEW, ID – An Idaho family maintains they have documentation that a cabin on their farm was the short time home of famous Missouri outlaw Jesse James.
Earnest Palmer, raised on the southeastern Idaho ranch about 5 miles southwest of Malad, is currently living in Washington State. He said the story has been passed down through the family for generations and he’s found several records giving credence to the family’s claim.
“We think he came on train as early has 1868 when the Transcontinental Railroad was being completed at Promontory Point,” Palmer said. “The prevailing theory is James used an alias William Cole and found his way to Pleasantview, lived with a family and worked on a farm.”
James was born and raised in Kearney, Mo. During his 15-year crime spree he killed as many as 17 people and was well known for robbing banks, stagecoaches and trains. Some revered him as an American Robin Hood.
“It is conceivable that he left Missouri for a time to let things settle down,” Palmer said. “We talked to a relative that said that he did spend time in Idaho.”
It was there that the outlaw met Susan Palmer, whose husband died in a drowning accident. The two married and lived in the cabin.
“There is poem out there about Jessie James that talks about Mormon crickets,” Palmer said. “We think he was miserable because of the crickets that year and took off.”
“The Cabin is on our property, the Big Bend Ranch, near a bend in the Little Malad River,” he said. “We took the cabin down and we are going to reassemble it about a hundred yards from where it was originally built.”
Palmer said they want to put it a little closer to a road where people can find it without driving through their property.
“We hope to make a park there and share a lot of the historical facts we have uncovered,” he said. “We set up a GoFundMe page to finance the restoration.”
He said it has been hard to spend time on the cabin with him in Washington and his brother is busy farming. His brother is busy running the ranch.
Ernest’s mother Edna remembers talk about Jessie James when she married into the Palmer family.
“Grandpa Jenkin Palmer would have all of the original information,” she said. “But he’s been long deceased.”
She said Earnest has done more research and talked to distant cousins of Jesse James.
“My husband’s great grandpa said James was not a friendly man and he always wore a gun,” she said. “He was only in here for a couple of years.”
The Palmers say they are only a few thousand dollars away from their goal to finish the cabin and bring a bit of historical attention to their town and a longtime figure of American folklore.
The GoFundMe page is titled Jesse James Cabin Restoration.