Thomas Coleman (Cole) Younger, His Story.

Thomas Coleman Younger was born on January 15th, 1844, at Lee's Summit Missouri. Before the War "Bud" Younger was a popular young man, who worked as a mail carrier when he was seventeen. Younger was one of Quantrill's original recruits, one of the most renowned of the Missouri guerrillas. Unlike so many of his commades in arms, not only did Coleman survive the conflict and his legend continued to grow. Enjoy this postwar image of Cole.                                                                                

His father Henry was a successful farmer, who owned over 3500 acres in Jackson and Cass counties. In the fall of 1862, Union soldiers "jay-hawked" the Younger family fortune. Included in the items whisked off to Kansas were: 40 saddle-broke horses, numerous wagons and carriages, and at least $4000.00 in cash.

Despite being a known pro-union man, Henry Younger was murdered on July 20, 1862, by six federal solders under the command of union Captain Irvin Walley. Cole's mother was forced to burn her home.  She spent the rest of her days in exile, until passing away on June 2, 1864.

Coleman fought at Wilson Creek, and by spring of 1862 he joined Quantrill. Before the first Battle of Independence Missouri Cole disguised as an old "apple woman" reconnoitered the town gaining vital information which helped the Confederate forces route the bluecoats.

On Christmas night 1862, Younger along with George Todd, Abe Cunningham, Fletcher Taylor, Zachary Traber, and George Clayton, entered Kansas City armed to the hilt,  dressed as union troopers. The six guerrillas were able to kill six of the Yankees responsible for Henry Younger's death, before shooting their way out of town.

Younger was elected first lieutenant in 1863, along with William Greg, was assigned to Shelby's brigade. They both fought with "Fightin-Jo"in the battles of Cane Hill and Prairie Grove. Coleman later saw action at Blue Cut, Wellington, he participated in Lawrence and Baxter Springs Massacres.

Ironically Younger was one of the first to leave Quantrill's band. When the unit traveled to Sherman Texas in the winter of 1863, he left the guerrillas and reported to General Henry  McCullough at Boham Texas.

Later Cole served as captain under General E. Kirby Smith in Louisiana. General Shelby gave him a direct order to report to General John Marmaduke, who ordered him on a failed recruiting trip to New Mexico. Younger was sent to California, where he was when the war ended.

Because he never surrendered Cole was considered an outlaw in Missouri. After the war he traveled to Texas, and bought a farm near Sycene. Cole soon became a desperado, robbing banks, trains,and stagecoaches. At times Younger rode with his brothers as a member of the James-Younger gang, and at times other times they rode as own gang.

Cole Younger was friends and allegedly had arealtionship with Myra Shirley (Bell Starr) who he knew from childhood and during flights from lawmen would sometimes hide out at the Shirley family farm.

After the infmamous and ill-faited fateful attempt to rob the Northfield, Minnesota bank in 1876 , severely wounded, Younger along with his brothers Jim and Bob was captured. The brothers were convicted and sentenced to twenty five years in state prison at Stillwater, Minnesota. There Coleman became a hero helping to protect women convicts during a disastrous fire. He founded the "Prison Mirror," a newspaper intended to shed a ray of light upon the lives of those behind bars.

Paroled and able to obtain a pardon at age 59, Younger's first job was at the Peterson Granite Company in Stillwater making tombstones. He later teamed up with his old comrade Frank James to form a Wild West show.          

Finding religion,  Coleman went on the "New Chataqua" lecture circuit speaking on the evils of crime and drink.  The New-Chataqua was an adult education movement in the  highly popular in the late 19th & early 20th centuries  The Chautauqua assemblies were intended to bring entertainment and instill culture amomg rural America with speakers, teachers, musicians, entertainers, preachers and personalities of the day. It continued till the mid-1920s and William Jennings Bryant was the most popular Chautauquaiana.

Thomas Coleman (Cole) Younger, died peacefully in his own bed from Heart and kidney failure at the age of 72. It was documented that medical examinations of his remains determined 14 bullets were still embedded in his body. ©Patrick Marquis Quantrillsguerrillas.com. Permission should be obtained before copying this material. The image below was taken at the Indpendence Missouri, Chautauqua. Cole is sitting with a white hat on, William Jennings Bryant sits on his left.



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