Jesse James Birthplace


Jesse James, son of a Baptist minister, was born at the family home in Kearney, Missouri, in 1847. Barely 16, he followed his older brother, Frank, into the Civil War. While Frank was a member of Quantrill’s guerillas, Jesse rode with Bloody Bill Anderson. When the war ended, Jesse returned home and joined other former Confederate guerillas in a life of outlawry.

Jesse’s boldness and flamboyance as a bank and train robber, combined with sensational publicity from newspapers and dime novels, soon made his a household name.

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A tour through the restored home will take visitors back to where the legend began.  Before walking the trail to the farmhouse, a twenty minute movie recaps the history of Frank and Jesse James and exploits of the outlaws.  The museum displays the world’s largest collection of James family artifacts.  Jesse’s boots and Frank’s surrender letter tend to captivate visitors.  Guests then follow the paved winding trail to the farmhouse and walk along the creek where, as young boys, Frank and Jesse spent much of their time playing.  In the yard of the family home is Jesse’s original burial site, the place where his mother once sold souvenir rocks from his grave for twenty five cents. 

Upon completion of the tour guests will want to browse the museum's gift shop.  A wide variety of books relating to the period are available as well as t-shirts, mugs, and many other souvenir keepsakes. Print our gift shop catalog here.   

For more information or to schedule a tour, call us at (816)736-8500.

Jesse James' Birthplace is owned and operated by the Department of Clay County Historic Sites. Click here to see full details on all Clay County Historic Sites fees.  

A wheelchair is available for your use.

Note: RVs and semi trailer cabs can fit through our gate. However semis with containers or flatbeds attached cannot. 


If you can not view the video above, click here

contact us

The Jesse James Birthplace

21216 James Farm Rd.

Kearney, Missouri 64060

phone: (816) 736-8500
fax: (816) 736-8501