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Bill "Whiskeyhead" Ryan Trial Reenactment

  • Historic Truman Courthouse- Brady Courtroom 114 West Maple Avenue Independence, MO, 64050 United States (map)

JCHS is producing the 1881 Retrial of Bill "Whiskeyhead" Ryan, a/k/a  Tom Hill.

On October 8, 1879 the Alton & Chicago Train was robbed at the Glendale Train Depot in eastern Jackson County.  The location of the station is located at about 39th & Selsa Road . The crime was said to have been committed by the James Gang.  In September 1881, Bill Ryan, a member of the James Gang, stood trial at the Jackson County Courthouse in Independence (today the Truman Historic Courthouse), and Bill Ryan was housed in the 1859 Jail that is owned today by JCHS.  William Wallace, the elected Jackson County Prosecutor, successfully prosecuted Bill Ryan, and notwithstanding the fact that Ryan’s defense team was considered as a dream team and best attorneys in the area.  Ryan became the first of the James Gang to be convicted by a jury.  However, Ryan was the 2nd person to be sent to prison for the Glendale Train Robbery.  In November 1880, Tucker Bassham had pled guilty to being a participant in the crime.  He would later become the key prosecution witness.  After Governor Crittendon pardoned Bassham, he then testified against Ryan which played a big role in garnering Ryan’s conviction.

Tickets on sale soon!


Earlier Event: October 13
Historical Hauntings at the 1859 Jail
Later Event: October 14
Ghost Tours at the 1859 Jail