Missouri guerrilla, Confederate officer, bank robber, notorious outlaw, Wild West showman—Cole Younger’s life was the stuff of myth and legend.
Known for intelligence and coolness under pressure, he published his autobiography, "The Story of Cole Younger," in 1903, telling his story in his own words after his parole from prison at the age of 59 and reflecting on the colourful and sometimes violent experiences of "the gentleman, the soldier, the outlaw, and the convict."
Born in Missouri, Thomas Coleman ("Cole") Younger rode with William Clarke Quantrill's Confederate raiders during the Civil War, participating in many daring and bloody exploits, including the infamous Lawrence, Kansas, massacre of 1863. Following the war, Younger continued his celebrated career as a desperado, robbing banks and trains with Jesse James and other members of the James-Younger gang. A fateful attempt in 1876 on the Northfield, Minnesota, bank sent Cole to the state prison in Stillwater, Minnesota for decades. There he became a model resident, helping both to protect women convicts during a fire and found the Prison Mirror, a newspaper intended to shed "a ray of light upon the lives of those behind the bars." Paroled in 1901, Younger successfully sought a pardon, operated a Wild West show with his old comrade Frank James, and lectured on "What My Life Has Taught Me."