Rural Roots: When Jesse James rode into town

Was the mystery man who came to Grey County in the early 1880s really the famous outlaw? It’s an oft-told story in the area


There’s a story I’ve heard so many times that I’m beginning to believe it. It has to do with the notorious American outlaw Jesse James.

The way the story goes, in the early 1880s when things got too hot for him south of the border, the outlaw headed north into Ontario and holed up in an old log shanty in south Grey County. That winter, he did chores for the farmer who owned it.

This story, with slight variations, is mentioned in several local histories, including the History of Wellington County, which tells the tale not once but twice!

Better Farming February 2008