Just in time for the Defeat of Jesse James Days, the Northfield History Collaborative invites you to learn more about the 1876 raid on the First National Bank through the words of eyewitnesses.

The July 10, 1897 edition of the Northfield News, published around the time the Younger brothers were first seeking pardon,  included 16 eyewitness accounts of the bank raid.

  • Frank Wilcox (inside the bank)
  • Francis Howard (followed the gang over the bridge into the square)
  • James Law (followed the gang over the bridge into the square)
  • Norman Van Buskirk (saw the gang members on the west side of the river)
  • Anselm Manning (owned the hardware store next to the bank)
  • Mrs. E. P. Kingman (on Division Street, near the current Rocky Top store)
  • Gilbert Onstad (lived in the block south of the bank, and his little boy was in the street)
  • Ross C. Phillips (working in Manning’s shop)
  • Steven Budd (across the street from the bank)
  • W. H. Riddell (in a hardware store across the street from the bank)
  • J. A. Hunt (at the jewelry store five doors south of the bank)
  • John Olson (worked in the cellar of the building on the northwest corner of Fifth and Division)
  • H. B. Gress¬† (had a store across the street from the bank)
  • Dr. D. J. Whiting (had a dentist’s office on the top floor of the Scriver Building)
  • A. H. Bjoraker (had a store on Fifth Street)
  • Miron W. Skinner (had a store opposite the bank)

The accounts begin on the first page of the edition, at the top of the fifth column; continue to the top of the second page; and jump to the fifth column on the fourth page.

You have to take into account that the newspaper editor does not note where the accounts came from: whether he sat down with the witnesses, or whether he transcribed accounts previously written. But aside from that, these are the stories the average Northfielder doesn’t hear a lot about the raid. This Defeat of Jesse James Days, honor the Northfielders of 1876 by expanding your knowledge of the event beyond the eight or nine gang members, bank employees, and best-known heroes of the day.