The Jesse James Bank Museum in Liberty Missouri is small but definitely worth a visit. Did you know that Jesse James was an ex Confederate bushwhacker from Missouri? Perhaps you did or perhaps not, anyway he was and that’s why you’ll find a lot of great museums around this area dedicated to him including this one.
This robbery took place February 13 1866 at 2pm and has secured the title of the first bank robbery in American peacetime history, it was also the first robbery attributed to the James gang.
Now straight up I must tell you that the name of the museum is somewhat misleading, Jesse James actually DID NOT rob this bank! His brother Frank James and possibly Archie Clements or Cole Younger robbed it, it’s highly likely Jesse had a hand in on the planning though. Roughly 9 months previous at the closing of the Civil War he suffered a near fatal gunshot wound and was still recovering at the time. Anything is possible and perhaps he was one of the horseman gathered outside however he WAS NOT in the bank on this day. Nonetheless it’s still an interesting little museum worth a visit, another one worth visiting is the Civil War Museum in St Louis Missouri.
At the time the robbery took place (there is a rare Seth Thomas calendar clock set to the actual time and date) the bank was named The Clay County Savings Association and the boys made off with roughly 1.5 million in today’s money. No money was ever recovered and nobody ever caught!
- American history
- The wild west
- True crime
- Post Civil War era
Are you interested in these historical categories? Not only does the Jesse James Bank Museum tell the story of the robbery, it has snippets of information relating to all the historical categories listed above, seeing as they all intertwine.
Your children will enjoy themselves too, there is a heavy bag of coins that they can attempt to lift. The weight was unbelievable, I knew it’d be heavy but wow!
Walking into the bank is like stepping back in time, there are a lot of things that children in particular have never seen before and are very interested in.
There’s a beautiful period top hat with an interesting story attached to it about life at the time.
This teeny tiny little bank (yes really it is small) is jam-packed with information and the tour guide is very knowledgeable and lovely. The original vault is still in place and you really get a feel for what happened on the day of the robbery, it’s almost as if time has stood still. There is a gift shop filled with souvenirs and an extra room with lots of photos and information to look at and read.
I’ve been to lots of museums and historical sites, this would have to be one of the smallest but it really is larger than life and doesn’t skimp on anything.. It’s great that you are actually where the robbery happened, which helps with the experience. We were able to take photos in the bank, but in the little back room you’re not able to, there are documents to read and photos to look at there. If you’re particularly into this history you may want to spend a little while in there without rushing.
The afternoon we went was very quiet, it was just us and then as we were leaving a young man arrived, he was probably lucky enough to get his own tour as well. So we would recommend if possible going on a day you think may be quiet, but either way we recommend you go check it out, definitely worth a visit.
❄️Have you been lucky enough to go to the Jesse James Bank Museum? We’d really love to hear how your experience was!