The James Brothers
Joplin Daily Herald, Nov. 4, 1879

George Shepherd says he shot and killed one of them.

He got a pistol ball in his leg in making his escape.

    Late Sunday evening a report reached Joplin that Jesse James, the noted out-law, had been killed near Short Creek by George Shepherd, a member of the gang.  Sheriff McBride and some other parties immediately started for Short Creek, and upon their arrival there found the town in a great state of excitement.  Shepherd was found at a hotel with a bullet wound in his leg, and his statement was that he had killed Jesse James outright and had been wounded in escaping from the rest of the gang.  It seems as though this man Shepherd had been traveling with the gang, which was composed of Jesse James, Jim Cummings, Henry Miller and another man he did not know, and that they had planned a robbery at Empire.  The scheme was for Shepherd to ride to Empire, find out how the land lay, and then return.  He states that his intention was to give the whole thing away and have the party captured when they came into town, but he afterwards changed his mind and told the Clary brothers and Jim Flanery about the matter.  The four men then arranged a plan to lead the robbers into an ambush and kill or capture them.  Three of the men were to hide in a ravine, and Shepherd was to lead the gang that way and assist in shooting them when the other party opened fire.
    About eight o'clock Shepherd left Short Creek and after traveling about six miles in a southern direction, he found the trail of the party, who had left their camp.  Between 9 and ten o'clock he caught up with them near Lee's farm, nearly a mile from the crossing on Shoal creek.  When Shepherd rode up to Jesse James, the latter said "it is rather suspicious about your staying so long."  Shepherd quickly placed his pistol at the back of Jesse's head, and with the remark, "this is for killing Ike Flannegan," shot him dead.  He then started on a mad gallop in a southern direction hoping to lead the rest of the party near the ambush.  One of the party rode to the dead man and the others immediately started in pursuit of Shepherd.  Owing to the swiftness of his horse, he distanced one of them, but Cummings, who rode a powerful horse, gained on him rapidly, firing all the time with his revolver, hitting him once in the calf of the leg.  Seeing that he was going to be overtaken, Shepherd wheeled his horse and rode toward Cummings.  Both men fired rapidly as they approached each other, and Shepherd says he is quite sure he shot Cummings in the breast.  When they got close to each other Shepherd's horse sprang against a tree, and in trying to get control of him, he dropped his pistol to the ground.  Cummings's horse dashed through the woods with him and before he could get him turned around, Shepherd was speeding away out of reach of his pistol.  Shepherd then rode into town and gave the alarm.  An effort was made to organize a party to search for the dead man, but  it was nearly dark before they could reach the spot where the shooting was done.  A telegram was sent to Marshal Liggett, of Kansas City, and he at once started down in a special train with a company of trusty men.  The train arrived yesterday morning at two o'clock, and at daylight a posse of men accompanied by Deputy Sheriff Ross, started on the trail of the robbers.
    Shepherd knew the James brothers in Kentucky nearly ten years ago, and he assisted them to escape after they had committed a bold robbery at Russelville, in that state.  For this offense he was convicted and sent to the penitentiary for three years.  In after years he moved to Kansas City, and has been connected with the James boys ever since.  Not many years ago Jesse James killed Flannegan, a nephew of Shepherd's, and he claimed the revenge which according to his statement he has wiped out in blood.
    There is a great difference in opinion in regard to Shepherd's story, and if a man in Joplin wanted to bet any money that Jesse James was dead, he could get accommodated right away.  Many citizens think that the gang suspected Shepherd of treachery, and when he returned, attempted to kill him.  There has been nothing found that will point to the death of Jesse James.  The public generally will not believe that he was killed, but there is on thing about it.  Shepherd had undoubtedly been with the James gang, and had some kind of a collision with them, but whether he shot anybody remains to be proven.
    Yesterday evening at HERALD reporter met Dr. Burns in East Joplin, and in conversation with him learned that he was at Mr. Lee's residence last Sunday, near Shoal creek, when the shooting took place between Shepherd and the robbers.  He said he saw a man riding down the road towards the ford at a full gallop, and that he held the bridle rein in his teeth and a revolver in each hand.  In a few moments some excited neighbors came up the road and said they had met a man riding toward Shoal creek with a revolver in each hand, and that he had halted them in the road and told them that he had shot a man in the woods.  Directly some other neighbors came from the opposite direction and said that man had been killed not far from there, and some men were carrying off the body.  The doctor stated that he was within fifty feet of Shepherd when he rode along, and that he was wounded in the leg.  He also described Shepherd as having but one eye, and said that the horse he rode was either, a very dark bay or black.  This statement is part substantiates Shepherd's story, but in other particulars there is a confliction.  Shepherd says he lost his pistol in the woods and Dr. Burns says he had one in each hand as he galloped toward Short Creek.  There is a mystery surrounding this affair which time alone will clear up, and by to-morrow the HERALD hopes to give its readers a full history of the tragedy.