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The birthplace of Jesse James, Kearney, Missouri is in Clay County. The first settlement in what is now Kearney was in the southeastern part of the town, and known as Centerville, which was settled in 1856. In 1867, John Lawrence laid out another settlement around the newly constructed Kansas City and Cameron Railroad, which later built the Hannibal Bridge. This new town was named Kearney, for Charles E. Kearney, the railroad president. Kearney and Centerville were merged when Kearney was incorporated in 1869. The railroad now operates as the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad. Jesse James was born on his parent's farm in northeast Kearney on September 5, 1847. Jesse James formed the James-Younger gang in 1866 and, after his death at the hands of Robert Ford, he was buried on his farm, although his body is now interred in Mt. Olivet Cemetery n Kearney. Liberty is southwest of Kearney, while Smithville is west, Plattsburg is northwest, Lathrop is north, Vibbard east, and Elkhorn to the southeast.


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