Joe Herndon

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Joe Herndon, Jesse James gang, black history, train robbing, cattle rustling


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Image first published in the book “Kansas City” by Delia C. Gillis


“Handsome” Joe Herndon was a member of the infamous Jesse James Gang. Herndon was born in Springfield, Mo., where he came from a relatively well-to-do and prominent black family in the area. He would later move to Kansas City where he gave up a life in legitimate business in order to ride with one of the most notorious outlaw gangs of the era.

In 1887, Herndon’s famously profitable career as a cattle rustler and train robber would come to a close in Mesquite, Texas, when Denton County, Texas sheriffs, with help from the Texas Rangers, captured Herndon in the act of train robbing alongside fellow gang members William and Albert Collins and Joel and James Pike. All captured members of the gang, including Herndon, were sentenced to life imprisonment at a federal penitentiary in Detroit, Mich.