To whom it may concern:
I have completed an examination of the following six handwriting samples and signatures. One assumption was made; Exemplar A contained two genuine signatures of Frank James, the outlaw. Based on this, my conclusion is that Frank James, the outlaw, wrote all six documents. These results refute the speculation that Frank James used a stand-in for his surrender to Missouri Governor Crittendon in 1882 and that another person lived under his name in Clay County and other locations during the latter portion of his life. Also, his letter, Exemplar C, does not support the claim that someone other than Jesse died in St. Joseph, Missouri.
Exemplar A is Franklin James' "Oath and Parole of Honor" signed on April 26, 1862 and contains two signatures and the date. The writing on this document is considered to be the genuine handwriting of Alexander Franklin "Frank" James. (Document source: Jesse James Farm and Museum, Kearney, MO)
Exemplar B is a letter signed Frank James, written from the Huntsville, Alabama Jail, dated April 4, 1884 to Wm. M. Kirk, Esq. Frank James had been incarcerated there to stand trial for his part in an 1881 robbery at Muscle Shoals Canal in northern Alabama. Jesse, Bill Ryan and another person, probably Wood Hite, conducted the robbery. Both Jesse and Frank were in Kentucky at the time, however Frank had not been involved. Justice was served; Frank was acquitted. (Document source: Jesse James Farm and Museum, Kearney, MO)
Exemplar C is a letter written from Kearney, Missouri on June 23, 1902 to someone named Warren. Frank was asking him to act as a pallbearer when they moved his brother Jesse's remains from the old farm. (Document source: Jesse James Farm and Museum, Kearney, MO)
Exemplar D is a letter written to his nephew, Jesse Edwards James on September 21, 1905. In it he stated that he was taking the train to Nebraska and asked Jesse to come to the station to see him off. He also said to ask Charlie to bring him a pint of good whisky. (Document source: "The Signature of America" by Charley Hamilton, 1979, Harper & Row Publishers, New York.)
Exemplar E, The Last Will and Testament of Frank James. (Document source: Missouri Valley Room, K. C. (MO) Public Library, Vertical File)
Exemplar F is a letter written to Dr. Lowrey, Excelsior Springs, Missouri, dated February 8, 1915, regarding a serious health condition that he had been suffering since November 20th. Frank described symptoms and asked for help. The letter was dated 7 days before he died. (Document source: Jesse James Farm and Museum, Kearney, MO).
I have been studying handwriting for nearly 40 years and have worked numerous question document cases during that time. This one was less difficult than most.
John O. Steele, Grandnephew of Joseph F. Vaughn, aka Frank James.