This summer the Northfield Historical Society will display one of the most important artifacts from the 1876 robbery attempt by the James-Younger Gang: the rifle that Henry Wheeler used to defend the First National Bank of Northfield. The weapon — a .50 caliber Smith carbine — is on loan from owners Gerry Groenewold and Connie Triplett and will be on display in the museum starting June 25.
“This is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen” stated Hayes Scriven, NHS executive director. “We have so many artifacts from the James-Younger Gang members, but little that represents the town’s defense of the failed 1876 raid.”
“We care greatly about historic preservation,” explains Groenewold. “Over the years our collecting interests have focused on artifacts having verifiable historic significance. Accordingly, we feel an obligation to allow the public to see these artifacts and learn from the stories they tell.
Along with the rifle, NHS will be displaying the Smith and Wesson .38 caliber revolver that Wheeler carried in his back pocket after the family of Clell Miller threatened his life, since he had shot and killed Miller during the raid. A gold pocket watch the First National Bank presented to Wheeler for his efforts in defending the bank also will be on display.
“All of the artifacts are in good condition and will be a great addition to our bank raid exhibit this summer,” says Cathy Osterman, NHS curator.
‘One of those moments’
The museum also will display some items relating to Wheeler from their collection that have not previously been displayed, including an unpublished photo of Wheeler recently discovered by Ariel Butler, manager of the Northfield History Collaborative Project. The image seems to be of Wheeler around the age when he was attending Carleton College.
Scriven says he was speechless when Butler first showed him the photo. “That was one of those moments when you first see an item and you can’t believe what you’ve just found,” he says.
Also on display will be the actual glass plate negative taken by Ira Sumner of the dead Clell Miller and Bill Chadwell that was donated to NHS in 2009 by Benjamin Nystuen, a Colorado resident who grew up in Northfield. Scriven believes the negative to be the first photo taken of the dead raiders.
The artifacts will be on display June 25–September 30. Museum hours are Monday through Saturday 9:30 a.m.–6 p.m. and Sunday 1–6 p.m. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors, and $2 for children (6–12).
NHS is located in historic downtown Northfield at 408 Division Street. Visit northfieldhistory.org for more information.Read More
Acclaimed author Marley Brant’s non-fiction books have been featured in People Magazine and the New York Times, been the basis for programs on VH1 and A&E, and served as the primary research for hours of television on the History channel, TBS, CMT, the Biography channel and PBS. Now Brant announces the publication of her first historical novel, In the Shadow, published by Incarnat Books and available in trade paperback and eBook. You can also get the book on Amazon.com.
Captivating and controversial, In the Shadow, is the story of Bob Younger, the sixth of the Younger Brothers of Missouri. As a boy, Bob’s privileged life is irrevocably altered through a horrific series of events during the Kansas-Missouri Border War and ensuing War Between the States. After his brother Cole becomes immersed in the deadly guerilla force of William Clarke Quantrill, a vendetta is launched against the Youngers by men who won’t be satisfied until the family’s home, enterprises, land and lives are systematically destroyed. As Bob grows into his adolescence, Cole turns to a life of outlawry and the list of his enemies grows longer and more determined. Despite Bob’s efforts to live his own life, he finds it nearly impossible to be considered individually beyond Cole’s reputation. After Bob experiences a devastating personal loss, the charismatic Jesse James entices him with promises of retribution against those they believe won’t allow them the opportunities to which they feel entitled. Only Bob wants something that Cole and Jesse probably don’t understand; but what he wants is just out of his reach. It seems his life might always be one of complications and compromise. Yet when Bob is not yet twenty-one, unforeseen encounters with two people may provide him with an opportunity to live the life he has always longed to live. One of them attempts to show him his life has value despite his past. The other has a proposal that might enhance Bob’s future. Now Bob has to make a big decision. So do his brothers. Once again the Youngers stand to be transformed by family loyalty and unprecedented events. Yet this time, Bob holds the cards. If only he can leave behind the boy who always stood in the shadow…
“After focusing on music biography for so long, it’s exciting to return to the subject of my very first book,” says author Marley Brant. “I know some people may have an issue with the way I present Bob’s story, as this story has never been told in this way, but that’s okay. This is the story my familiarity with the subjects, some unpublished letters and statements, and my decades of research has led me to tell. This deviates from many of the accounts with which they are familiar but this is, after all, a historical novel. This is an animated version; In the Shadow is the way it might have been…” “
Brant’s books The Outlaw Youngers: A Confederate Brotherhood and Jesse James: The Man and the Myth were both recognized with the Milton F. Perry Award for extensive research and contribution to American history. Brant has been employed in the entertainment industry as a biographical writer, music and television producer and artist development executive. She is the author of eight non-fiction books about outlaws, television and rock music. (*For more information visit marleybrant.com)Read More
A forensic scientist says a skeleton with ties to Dr. Henry Wheeler, a central figure in Northfield’s storied James-Younger Raid of 1876, could be that of gang member Clell Miller.
In a presentation last month in Atlanta at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, James Bailey, Ph.D., a professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, said a process called craniofacial superimposition could not rule out that the skeleton’s skull belonged to Clell Miller.
Miller was one of two gang members slain on the street in Northfield during the failed attempt to rob the First National Bank of Northfield. Dr. Wheeler, then a medical student home for the summer, shot and killed Clell Miller; Anslem Manning, a local hardware merchant, shot and killed Bill Chadwell, also known as William Stiles.
Craniofacial superimposition can definitively exclude remains from a positive identification. Computer tomography (CT) scans were used to establish key reference points on the skull in question. Then a postmortem photo was superimposed over the CT scan of the skull to see how the reference points match. Dr. Gil Brogdon and Dr. Brandon Nichols, Forensic Radiologists from Mobile, Alabama, collaborated with Dr. Bailey and used Miller’s case study to familiarize the forensic science community with the technique and how it is used in historical cases.Read More
Editor’s note: This is another poem by JYG member Frank Younger
A gang straight from hell had a Miller named Clell,
Two Jameses, three Youngers and Pitts,
And a Chadwell called Bill. Men who rob and who kill.
Men of violence and cunning and wits.
They came up from Missouri, rode in with a flurry
Of shootin’ and cussin’ and dust
To raid Northfield Bank, to take gold from the Yank -
To take money held tightly in trust.