Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Outlaw and The Schoolteacher Contest Re-Post

This is a re-post for the Romantic Reviews contest question.
She was a schoolteacher.  A pretty brunette who graduated from college in 1872 with a degree in literature and science.  She came from a well-respected family and she could have married well.  Yet, Ann Ralston eloped with one of the most-wanted outlaws in America.

He was not a handsome man and he shunned the publicity showered on him. Bookish, he was an avid reader and he could quote Shakespeare at will.  It was said he always had novels with him.  Even when he was busy outrunning a posse, his saddlebags contained books.   Is it any wonder Alexander Franklin James fell for a girl with a degree in literature?

The details of how Frank and Annie met and secretly courted remain elusive.  In June of 1874, Annie convinced her parents to let her go visit a relative in Kansas City.   She actually met Frank in Kansas City and went to Omaha with him where they were married.  She sent a note home to her worried parents:  Dear Mother, I am married and going West.  Annie Reynolds.  Her parents had no idea she had married the outlaw, Frank James, until much later.  When her father found out, he disowned her. 

The unlikely marriage would last for 41 years and, according to most accounts, it was a happy marriage.  Frank and Annie got along well   They lived under aliases in Texas, Nashville and Baltimore.  Their only child, Robert, was born in 1878 while they were living in the Nashville area.  After Jesse’s assassination in 1882, Frank turned himself in to the governor of Missouri and Annie wrote her husband a poem called Surrendered.   Frank’s trial earned more publicity than that of the man who killed President McKinley.  He was found not guilty of the charges against him, and he spent the rest of this life as a law-abiding citizen and loving spouse.  “No better husband ever lived,” Ann said of him.

In their later year, Annie and Frank lived on the James farm where Frank sold tours for twenty-five cents.  When he died, he wishes were to be cremated and his ashes stored in a vault until he could be buried with Annie.  She would continue to live on James farm until her death in 1944.  She was 91 when she died. 

Now, the schoolteacher and the outlaw are together again, resting peacefully beneath a simple grave marker.  Frank would have approved.

1 comment:

Reina said...

A real love story. :) Thanks for the smile.