Collected by Merlin Mitchell
Transcribed by Kyle Perrin
April 19, 1950
Story of Visit of Frank James to Her Home
Mitch..April 19, 1950. We're at the home of George Bement out of
Springdale, Arkansas. She's going to sing some old songs for
us. Where did you come from, Mrs. Bement?
Mrs.B..Well, I've been around a l i t t l e bit. I'se born in Ohio and then
I went to Missouri when I'se eight years old and was married
there and went to Kansas and from Kansas I came to Arkansas.
Been here ever since.
Mitch..You've lived in this community in Arkansas.
Mrs.B..We settled down there by Clean Creak by (Seemon).
Mitch..That was in 1886. Well, that's interesting. Do you have some
particular songs there that you'd like to sing first? Any of
those old fashioned pieces will be fine.
Mrs.B..Let me go in there and get my handbag. I've got these all right.
I think there's one missing(?).
Mitch. .Now, Mrs. Bement. Tell us what you know about Frank James. You
said you met him one time.
Mrs.B. .Well, one dry, late in the evening a couple of young men drove
up—rode up to our horse and wanted to know of my father if
they could coral their cattle in the lot. Father told them they
could provided they didn't do any smoking. And they promised they
wouldn't, so he let them turn their cattle in o r barnyard. And
that evening when we went to milk, our cows had to be left on
the outside. So, these two boys—there was two boys, Frank and
this other fella, and they guarded us through the lot—I guess
there'se seventy-five or a hundred head of cattle. And we
guarded us, you now, protected us. And then they set all night
Mitch..Were they perty decent fellas?
Mrs.B..Oh, you never seer a l i v e l i e r young man in your l i f e.
Mitch..Than Frank James.
Mrs.B..Frank James. And they'se riding the nicest looking horses and
had on kinda cowboy o u t f i t s , broad-rimmed hat and high top boots.
They had lariats or their saddle, They'se just as gentlemanly
as any boys you ever saw.
Mitch. .What was their purpose in driving this bunch of cattle?
Mrs.B..There'se no railroad through there then. No railroad from
Trenton—we lived close to Trenton—and there'se no railroads
from there up i? the edge of Iowa but there'se one b u i l t through
there before I l e f t home. They were driving these cattle up
to the edge of Iowa—nearest railroad point—-and then they were
shipping them from there to Chicago.
Mitch..Well, this was at Trenton, Missouri?
Mitch. .And do you remember what date that was?
Mrs.B..Well, it must have been in about 1876 as near as I can remember. I
know I ' s e just a young woman.
Mitch..How old a man was Frank James?
Frank James Visit (Cont.)
Mrs.B..Well, he might a-been twenty-two or three. Just a young man.
Him and this boy—other one that was doing the driving they
was riding and then we found out some way another that this other
ore was a brother to the man's wife that was driving in a truck
waggon—chuck waggon they call'em, you now—the provisions.
But we never knew what their name was.
Mitch. .So, they just spent the night there and went on.
Mrs.B..Yes. But a few days later after that—nearly a week—my father
went to Trenton and they got word there so e was another that
that was Frank James. That's all we ever knew about i t that it
was him but i t war supposed to have been him.
Mitch..I suppose they had a perfect description of him?
Mrs.B..There was no telegraph, no telephones or nothing of that kind.
just had to be carried by people going back and forth but the word
got to Trenton that one of those boys was Frank James. Be was
a nice looking young man. They'se just as polite as they could be.
Mitch..Do you happen to remember the historical information reguarding
what happened to Frank James after Jesse was killed?
Mrs.B. .Nothing only what was wrote in the paper and that they printed
that piece in the "Believe I t or Not". He died up there some place
in Missouri and I can remember when him and the Dalton—wasn't
Mitch..The Yonger boys?
Mrs.B.. The Younger boys—the time they robbed that bank up there in Missouri.
Mrs.B..I remember all about that. I'se born in 1858.
Mitch. .Do you remember some of the incidents of that robbery?
Mrs.B..Well, yes, I can remember a l i t t l e something about i t . There
was one that was crippled and well that's the way they caught
this—what was his name?
Mrs.B..Cole Younger. He was crippled in that and I think one of them—
his horse was shot out from under him. You know there was quite
a bit of that wrote up in the book about Jesse James when he
was killed. I can remember that part of i t better than I can
remember i t Just when it happened. I was young then and I can
remember the place.
Mitch..Do you happen to know the song about Jesse James?
Mrs.B. .No, I never could—
Mitch..Or any of the outlaw ballads?
Mrs.B. . I ' v e heard i t but, then, I never could learn to sing i t . You
didn't find that othern, Mable?
Mitch..What's the name of the first song?
Mrs.B..The Old Mountain Pines.
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