|Cole Younger Circa 1915|
Suddenly the secretary slid a book across the table to me and pointed at an entry, "What do you make of that?"
The name on the line read, "C. Younger, Entered Apprentice." Underneath that was another entry, "Littleton Younger: rejected." The entries were from the records of 1852.
We were both thinking the same thing: "C. Younger." COLE Younger? The notorious bandit turned Confederate Civil War guerrilla Cole Younger? In my opinion, Cole Younger wasn't exactly Freemason material, but I had to find out. I began checking the next morning. It took about fifteen seconds to figure out C. Younger was not Cole. Thomas Coleman "Cole" Younger was born in 1844 and would have been a kid at the time. But who was C. Younger; and, in fact, who was Littleton Younger and why was he rejected?
|Cole Younger's Grandfather Charles|
Born in Virginia, Littleton Younger, also one of Cole's uncles, moved to Kentucky where he met and married his wife, Eliza. From there, the couple moved to Liberty, where they had five children. After their children were born, they moved to an area northeast of Eugene, Oregon. There is no record as to why his petition for membership was denied. Once described as a sportsman, perhaps he shot something other than the white-tailed deer indigenous to the area.
It is almost certain Cole Younger was never a Freemason. At the age of eighteen he had already committed his first murder and had a $1,000 bounty on his head. He is known to have killed 17 men and was shot so many times he once said of himself, "I guess you could strike lead in me in almost any place you drilled." He died peacefully in 1916, at the age of 72. In all he was one of the most notorious men in the country, along with another famous Clay County, Missouri resident, Jesse James, whom he hated... but that's altogether another story.
Steve Harrison, 33° KCCH, is a Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri. He is the editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine, author of the book Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi, a Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research and also its Senior Warden. He is a dual member of Kearney Lodge #311, St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite, Moila Shrine and is a member of the DeMolay Legion of Honor.