Ask anyone whos grown up in Huntsville and theyll be able to tell you all about the time that Jesse James and his gang staged a daring robbery on the First National Bank downtown and, upon being cornered, spurred his horse off the bluff and into the Big Spring, galloping away to freedom and into local legend.
It was the stuff of legend. But a legend is all it was. As far as any historian knows, Jesse James never set foot in Huntsville. But like all legends, this one has an element of truth. And the truth is much more interesting than the legend.
On a cold day in March 1881, three masked men on horseback, brandishing revolvers, held up an army paymaster on the banks of the Tennessee River near Muscle Shoals. The paymaster was on his way with the payroll to pay the construction workers digging a canal near Muscle Shoals.
The masked men kidnapped the unlucky paymaster and took him into the woods where they relieved him of the payroll, his horse, and even his gold pocket watch hed inherited from his deceased father... More "James" on next page!