H.W. Younger

H.W. Younger

Henry Washington Younger was born in 1810 in Lincoln County, Kentucky and moved with his family to Missouri at a young age. In 1830 he married Bursheba Fristoe, daughter of a prominent Jackson County politician and a founder of the City of Independence, and over the years, the couple became parents of fourteen children, including the famous outlaw Younger brothers, Cole and Jim, who rode with Quantrill and Jesse James.

Although Henry Younger had not been directly involved in politics before the Kansas-Nebraska Act, his brother Coleman had served in the Missouri General Assembly from Clay County and the family was well connected to the Atchison faction. Henry owned farms in both Jackson and Cass counties and continued to live in Missouri during his two years in the Bogus Legislature. [Shively, Pottawomie, 178] By 1856, he owned several thousand acres near Strother (now Lee's Summit) in Jackson County.

Cole Younger (1844-1916)

Rode with Quantrill and Jesse James. Found guilty of murder and robbery in Northfield, Minnesota in 1876. In prison until 1901. Made a living thereafter in Wild West Shows.

In 1857 Younger bought several hundred more acres in Cass County on which the new town of Harrisonville was platted. He moved his family to the town and was elected mayor in 1859. In Harrisonville, he operated a dry goods business and livery stable and obtained a lucrative contract to transport the government mail in western Missouri. In the summer of 1861, Younger's livery stable in Harrisonville was raided by Jayhawkers who stole forty horses, a number of wagons and several carriages. Younger was never hesitant to express his opinion about Kansas and Kansans, but as a federal contractor, he was discreet in talking about the Secessionist cause openly. [Brant, Outlaw Youngers, 10ff]

In the winter of 1861, his son Cole attended a neighborhood dance that was crashed by members of 5th Missouri Federal Militia. Captain Irvin Walley of the Militia was refused a dance by Cole's sister and Walley and Cole exchanged heated words. Fearing Walley had guessed his growing Confederate connections, Cole went into hiding. The next summer, in July 1862, Henry Younger rode in a buggy into Kansas City on business. As he was returning toward Harrisonville, he was waylaid on the road a few miles south of Westport. He was shot three times, fell out of the buggy and died in the road. His assailants tied his horse to a tree and searched his body for cash. Cole Younger was convinced Captain Walley had killed his father, though no one was ever formally charged. Cole always pointed to his father's murder as the start of his life of crime. [Leslie, The Devil Knows How to Ride, 101]

Charles Clark