Defeat of Jesse James Days

A nonprofit organization

Donations to the Defeat of Jesse James Days Committee go to support the ongoing operations of the festival

The Defeat of Jesse James Days was started in 1948 by a group of Northfielders with one goal in mind.  To honor the townspeople of September 7, 1876.  

On that faithful day, 8 men rode into Northfield intent on robbing the First National Bank of Northfield.  At about 2:00 p.m. three men entered the bank and the robbery begun.  It would later be called a "textbook" James-Younger Gang robbery, except that this time they would not succeed.  The three in the bank demanded the bankers open the safe, but they were told it was locked and could not be opened.

Meanwhile on the street, local merchant J.S. Allen tried to enter the bank.  When he tired one of the raiders assaulted him, Allen broke free yelling, GET YOUR GUNS BOYS THEY'RE ROBBING THE BANK!  This force the other remaining raiders to enter the street and threatening the townspeople.  The first towns-person to fall was Nicholas Gustafson, who was wounded with a gunshot to the head, he died four days later.

It lasted only seven minutes but when it was over, two of the robbers were dead with two more badly wounded.  The remaining six raiders fled south and west, the largest manhunt in the history of the United States was organized.  Jesse and Frank James were not caught after the failed raid, but Cole, Jim and Bob Younger captured and spent 25 years in Stillwater Prison.

The heroes that day were many: J.S. Allen the merchant who first sounded the alarm, A.R. Manning, who shot the horse, wounded Cole Younger and killed William Chadwell, Henry Wheeler, who killed Clell Miller and wounded Bob Younger.  Joseph Lee Heywood, who died because he wouldn't open the bank bault and betray the trust of the owners of the bank or the citizens of Northfield who entrusted the bank with their savings.

It is the extraordinary courage of these ordinary men that we honor the weekend after Labor Day each year.

Defeat of Jesse James Days is the LARGEST all volunteer run festival and third largest festival in the state of Minnesota.

Celebration includes a car show, PRCA rodeo, parade, soapbox derby, craft shows, carnival, school visits to educate the students on what happened on September 7, 1876 and eight re-enactments of the failed robbery by the James-Younger Gang.

Donations to the Defeat of Jesse James Days go to support the ongoing operation of this festival.

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Defeat of Jesse James Days

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Arts & Culture


PO Box 23

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