Paisley Kirkpatrick ~ Bandit Built Store

I want to welcome my good friend Paisley Kirkpatrick to Wildflower Junction. Paisley is one of the first writers I met when starting on my quest for publication and has become a beloved friend and critique partner 🙂 I’m thrilled to say her first western historical NIGHT ANGEL will be hitting bookstores this August, with many more to follow in her Paradise Pines western series. She’s graciously agreed to fill in for me today and tonight we will give away reader’s-choice of my e-books to one comment poster ~Stacey Kayne




My Mother gave me a great gift — five, three-inch binders full of the history of my family. Apparently I come from a group with a colorful past and have used some of their activities in my stories. She often spoke of the ranch at La Honda and I treasure some items that belonged to my grandfather while he lived there. When I first started blogging, I found this great story and love to share it with others.


The following accounting was obtained from Roscoe Wyatt, Oscar John and Walter Ray.  Oscar and Walter both remember the Younger brothers in person.  Wyatt was a conscientious historian.  Personal interviews included two of my family members:  Emma John Weeks and Percy Weeks.  Oscar John (87 at the time of the interview) worked on the Bandit Built Store.  He knew the Younger brothers from when they hid out on his La Honda ranch.  


Among the men hired to build John Sears’ store, referred to as the ‘Bandit-Built Store’ in 1877 were the Younger brothers from Forsyth, Kansas.   At that time no one in La Honda, CA, knew them as the Younger brothers, because they were posing as cousins to Oscar John and Walter Ray.  Jim Younger actually lived behind the Redwood City Court House for one year using the name of Joe Hardin.


Three Younger brothers and their sister

Cole, Jim, Bob and John Younger lived in Forsyth, Kansas on their father’s ranch in May, 1861, when the Civil War broke out.  Cole, the youngest son, joined the Confederate Army and became a colonel.  In November of that year, a short leave gave him a chance to visit his parents.  As he approached the ranch, he found the place engulfed in flames.  A band of Union troops and local Northern sympathizers reached the ranch before him and stole all of the stock before burning the grain, corn, and feed.  They also threw his youngest sister, who suffered from tuberculosis, out on the cold ground, causing her death.  When their father discovered what had happened and put up a fight, they hung him from a tree on the ranch.  This left their mother, oldest sister, Molly, and three younger brothers homeless.


Within hours Cole, along with a friend, organized local Southern sympathizers and within a few hours they started wiping out their enemies.  It’s reported that Cole alone killed one hundred men that he knew had something to do with his father’s and sister’s death.  By the end of the war, Cole had a price on his head for desertion, killing for revenge, and a long list of other charges.  He left his family in the care of his cousin, John Jarret’s parents.  He, John Jarret and a few friends left for California where they hoped to find sanctuary at his uncle’s ranch in San Jose, but ended up using a ranch in La Honda as their hideout.


Oscar John and his stepfather met the gang as they rode onto the ranch.  Oscar was ten years old at the time.  He recalls unsaddling ten horses.  Everyone but Cole Younger and John Jarret left the ranch.  They helped build the lakeside Ray ranch into a large two-story building.  Cole and John traveled back to Kansas in order to bring the rest of their family west.  They learned their mother had died and that Jim and Bob Younger had been accomplices to the James gang robberies.  Cole was convinced the Ray ranch was the best place for the remainder of his family until everything blew over.


They arrived back in La Honda August, 1876, when big changes were happening.   A new sawmill belonging to R.J. Weeks (my ancestor) opened and John Sears just started clearing an old bear pit site for his store and hotel.  At last luck was with the Younger family.  Oscar John talked John Sears into hiring his cousins from the east, no questions asked.  The three brothers and John Jarret went to work on the store.  Oscar John recalls seeing Cole shingling the roof of the store.  When the store was finished, the men returned to the Ray ranch to work the harvest.


John Jarret spent that season at the Ray ranch, one season in Redwood City and then went back east.  He returned the next year and started work on my family’s ranch.  While he was there, he married Molly Younger, thereby becoming Cole’s brother-in-law as well as cousin.


The James Brothers were planning to rob the Northfield Bank in Minnesota.  They couldn’t pull the job by themselves and no longer trusted their gang.  They sent a message to Cole by a man named Giles.  Since the Youngers knew Northfield, they expected them to participate in the robbery.  Frank and Jesse James sent a message stating that if the Youngers refused to come, they would have them exposed to the law.  Cole decided to participate to save his sister and brother-in-law.  He left a rare set of pearl handled pistols with Jarret at the Weeks Ranch.  He realized if he got caught with them, they’d be a dead giveaway as to his identity.


Cole Younger Gang

Cole had an agreement with Jesse James that this bank robbery would be their last appearance in the mid-west.  Jesse assured Cole that after this job, they would never have to worry about money again.   Unfortunately, the robbery went wrong.  During their escape Jim Younger was shot in the jaw.  Jesse wanted to kill Jim because it would hinder to their escape.  Cole absolutely refused.  So, while Jim lay bleeding in a wet creek bottom, the James brothers made a clean getaway.  The Younger brothers gave themselves up to the law to save Jim from bleeding to death.  Cole, Jim and Bob Younger were sentenced to serve terms in the Minnesota Penitentiary.


When John Jarret learned what had happened to his brothers-in-law, he happened to be working away from the Weeks ranch and only coming home on the weekends.   Giles showed up at the ranch with a forged note from Cole.  Molly wasn’t home so he gave the note to their housekeeper.  It was written to Molly and asked that she give Giles the two rare guns.  The note stated that Cole’s prison term was just about up and that he wanted to sell the guns so he could get a new start in life.  The housekeeper, remembering Giles from his first trip, thought he was on the level and handed over the guns.  Jarret, for some unknown reason, came home that night and found Giles there with the guns in his possession.  After he read the letter, he knew it was forged because Cole always wrote in of care of him, not Molly.  Giles confessed that he had a chance to sell the guns to an Illinois museum.


Jim Bartley, La Honda rancher and teamster, visited the Younger brothers at the Northfield, Minnesota Penitentiary.  He learned that an old sweetheart of Jim Younger visited him regularly.  She promised to marry him when he got out of prison.  Jim looked forward to that day, planning once more to start life anew.  However, the woman turned him down when he got out.  His heart was broken.  Having nothing to live for, he rented a room at a cheap boarding house and shot himself through the head.


Cole and Bob dropped into obscurity after serving their terms.


There was a lot of unjustified killing and bad deeds that happened during the Civil War. I know what the brothers did was not right, but maybe they thought it was the only way to get justice. I don’t know how I would have reacted if I’d come upon the slaughter of my family members. It was a rough time in our history. Do you think they overreacted or that maybe hunting down the killers was justified?

+ posts

25 thoughts on “Paisley Kirkpatrick ~ Bandit Built Store”

  1. Hi Paisley!

    It’s good to “see” a fellow Hearts through History member on P & P!

    This was such a fascinating post! Wow, what a gift your mother gave you with all this history!

    I find it hard to judge the Youngers too harshly for the “justice” they handed out. It’s hard to imagine being Cole and enduring the horrors of war only to return home for leave and see those same horrors at your front door.


  2. Wow,,what a interesting post an past,,,enjoyed reading it so much,,,justice then an now are so much different ,,,,cant say which is better,,,

  3. What a great story! I have not read your books before but will be looking for Night Angel in Aug. Thanks for sharing your story with us today!

  4. I just watched a movie with the Younger Brothers that ended when Jesse James was killed. Adn this mournful song talks about:
    The Dirty Little Coward
    That shot Mr. Howard

    (Jesse was going by the alias Howard at the time)
    And I just thought, ‘you know, if you run around with thieves and killers, Jesse, you really can’t trust them.
    It just seemed kinda DUH to me.

  5. Waving Kirsten. My heart goes out to the brothers as well. It is hard to comprehend the horrors that happened during that time period. I guess they survived the best way they could. Appreciate your support today.

  6. Hi Paisley, I have to give your Mom a cheer. I have done the same for my family. However, there is a big difference…we don’t have illustrious ancestors. Just the run of the mill type. However we have a connection to ‘The Swamp Fox’, Francis Marion. That’s it!
    Great story and Great post. You have a world of stories from this.

  7. Hi Mary J. We used to ask my Danish grandfather about the family tree and he’d just walk away. Little did we know he was hiding a secret. His great grandfather was King Fredrik VIII (on the wrong side of the blanket) and he was too embarrassed to talk about it. We thought it was great and turned to my Mom and asked what her side of the family provided as far as great ancestors — that is the reason why we have these great binders. 🙂

  8. Hi Connie. Part of one of the binders has a copy of the journal my great, great grandfather kept in 1849 while coming across country on a wagon train. It is kept at the Bancroft Library at UC Berkley. It was the inspiration for my first story written. Thanks for visiting with me today.

  9. Thank you for an interesting post. There is always so much more to history than what is generally known. It would be hard not to react the way he did with something like that happening to your family. However, forming a similar group to retaliate isn’t the way to do it. More innocent lives will be lost and more retaliation will be taken.

    You are so very lucky to have such a detailed compilation of family history. I tried talking with my grandparents but we never got very much information from them. They weren’t very forthcoming. Now their generation and much of my parents’ generation are gone and there is no one to get the information from. Too bad.

  10. Hi so agree with you, Patricia. I have lots of photos, too, that have no names on the backs of them. It’s a shame because they are useless without identification. I know how lucky I am that we have this family information compiled in one place.

    Thank you for stopping by today.

Comments are closed.