I hope you are enjoying Northfield History Month as much as we are! Today, we will continue our exploration of interesting artifacts on the Northfield History Collaborative with some great souvenirs from the James-Younger Gang’s bank raid in Northfield.

Did you know that the First National Bank in Northfield has in its possession a Colt Single-Action Army Revolver and a spur, both retrieved from Division Street after the failed bank raid on September 7, 1876? You can see photographs of these artifacts – preserved in a case at the bank today – on the NHC.


Gun picked up on Division Street after bank raid. See details here: http://contentdm.carleton.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/FNBN/id/0/rec/59


Spur picked up on Division Street after the bank raid. See details here: http://contentdm.carleton.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/FNBN/id/2/rec/115

In order to establish the authenticity of the revolver, the bank hired appraiser R. L. Wilson. His report is also included on the NHC.

According to Wilson,

History records no more celebrated event in the annals of towns of the American West than the James-Younger Raid on the 1st National Bank of Northfield, Minnesota, September 7th 1876. As the outlaws were shot up by the town’s people, leaving two of the gang dead on Division Street, a spur and a Colt Single Action Army revolver were found in their wake.

An article from the Northfield News in 1930 gives even more details on the history of the gun, in particular. Dr. D. J. Whiting, a dentist with an office in the upper story of the Scriver Building, witnessed the bank raid from the outside stairwell landing. The robbers shot at him and his patient and caused them to retreat back into the building. Then,

As soon as the rout was completed and the six survivors had left town on five horses, Dr. Whiting ran down the old wooden stairway and picked up a gun belonging to one of the dead robbers lying at the side of the dead man. This gun is supposed to be a part of the collection of souvenirs of that event, now held by the First National Bank in Northfield. [Northfield News, 7/18/1930, page 7]

The appraisal continues with Wilson’s assessment of the gun’s marks of authenticity, and he provides crucial dates. He concludes his report with these grand statements:

Gun appraisal page 3

Gun appraisal, page 3. See more details here: http://contentdm.carleton.edu/cdm/ref/collection/FNBN/id/48/rec/116

It’s great to know that even if you can’t see these historical mementoes in person, you can see them on the Northfield History Collaborative from all over the world. Explore the rest of the First National Bank collection on the NHC here!