Russellville was recovering from the Civil War when an old Confederate guerrilla gang from Missouri that was up to no good made its way to town one day in 1868. Among the men, many believe, was the infamous Jesse James (1847-1882).
The gang robbed the Nimrod Long Banking Co. of Russellville on March 20, 1868. The bank president, Mr. Long himself, was shot and wounded. Jesse James later denied being there. However, it is certain that Jesse knew Kentucky well. His father, a minister, was born in Logan County, and his aunt lived in Adairville, providing him a convenient Kentucky hideout.
Jesse’s gang hit a Kentucky bank again on April 29, 1872, when they robbed the Deposit Bank of Columbia, and killed an unarmed cashier. On Sept. 3, 1880, they held up a stagecoach on the road from Mammoth Cave to Cave City.
The years went by in a blur of bank and train robberies as the outlaw’s legend grew. It all ended for Jesse James in 1882, when he was shot in the back of the head in his own home in St. Joseph, Missouri, by a trusted ally who wanted to collect bounty money.
The Russellville bank robbery is re-enacted every year at the Logan County Tobacco and Heritage Festival. The Adairville home where Jesse hid out with his aunt’s family still stands today.