This lead consists not of buried ill gotten loot, but of two gifts.
You see, I was talking with an old timer, a real cowboy, who is versed in the local lore of his area.
Word is that Jesse James, Frank James and two other outlaws of the James-Younger gang hid out in Southern Manitoba after (at least) one of their robberies.
The story goes that Jesse & one outlaw stayed at one farmer's place, and Frank and the other outlaw stayed at another farmer's place, all 4 posing/working as farm hands over the winter.
Apparently the Pinkertons had a blockade set up across the USA, being determined to catch the brothers as they tried to get home to the south.
When it came time to leave Manitoba, the brothers readied their horses, but found the two thoroughbreds they arrived on were not recovered/ready, so they left their two stallions here, and took one of each of the farmers' horses.
So, there is probably some of the James' horses' DNA floating around in some of the horse population here!
Frank was appreciative for the lodging given him and his associate, and had presented his host with one of his Colt pistols. What model it was is unknown, at least at the moment!
This firearm was said to have been seen by a friend of mine in a collection back 30 or 40 years ago. He was told the gun had belonged to Frank James, but at the time he brushed the information told to him off as fantasy...but hearing this additional story some years later has given him pause....could it be a colt that belonged to Frank James is in private hands right now?
Jesse on the other hand, presented a fancy bridal to the son of the farmer he and the other outlaw lodged with, as the son had admired it. The bridal has not been seen (recognized) in recent times.
Fall had become winter, likely winter had become spring, and by that time the Pinkertons gave up. The outlaws made it home, probably during the late winter or spring.
The trick to these treasures, beyond the monumental task of finding them, is provenance.
It has been a rumour/tale told through generations that the James brothers came up to that particular part of Southern Manitoba after their robberies, but how do you prove it? Are there photos floating around of the brothers posing with the families, or their images in emblazoned on a cabinet card that is marked with a Manitoba area photographer's markings, or their images with landmarks in the background that can be identified positively to those areas?
The more time passes, the more tenuous those connections are, if they even exist.
So, the next time you see a fancy bridal or a colt pistol from that era, it should be on your mind to ask if the person knows the history of the piece...maybe, just maybe the infamous James brothers once owned them!
A Colt Revolver with provenance as belonging to Frank James. Could this be the mate to the one that he left with the farmer in Manitoba? (Image from this cool page: https://www.schwendguns.us/Photo_Page_One.htm)