Most people in Bentonville remember the story of when Henry Starr robbed the Peoples Bank in Bentonville, but not too many have heard story of the day the Jesse James Gang came to town.
James Craig had lived in Bentonville before the Civil War and returned here from Cane Hill in 1871. When he returned, he built the first two story business house in Bentonville. He and his son went into the dry goods & saddlery business. Little did he know that a few years later something would happen in his life that he would never forget.
In February, 1874, Mr. Craig and his son were closing up the store. It was sometime between five and six o'clock that they were wrapping up their business day. They had had a very busy day with a lot of people coming into town to do their shopping, and most of their customers had headed back to their homes. Three to five men quietly rode into town, dismounted their horses, and entered the store. Mr. Craig went to greet the men to see if he could help them and was met with a pistol pointing at his head. Two of the men watched the front door and kept an eye on all the people left in the store. The door of the store's safe had not yet been closed for the day, which made it easy for the James Gang to quickly go through the safe. One thing the robbers didn't realize was the Craigs had made a deposit at the bank about an hour before the robbers arrived. At that time there was only $150 in the store.
The robbers were disgusted because they were expecting to find more money at the store, so they quickly grabbed about $200 worth of silk items and headed out the door. On the way out they warned the people in the store not to try to get help before they had a chance to leave town. Anyone who tried to do so would be shot dead on sight. The robbers then nonchalantly walked to their horses and rode out of town. Once the townspeople learned what had happened, they sent out a posse to try and capture the robbers, but the Jesse James Gang had escaped.