LITTLE FALLS -- An area Jesse James aficionado has organized a book signing by one of Minnesota's best-known experts on the famous outlaw and his gang, said Laura Hansen of Bookin' It Bookstore in Little Falls.
John J. Koblas, an historian who has authored several volumes on James, Cole Younger and other noteworthy characters, will appear from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at the downtown Little Falls book retailer.
Hansen credits Koblas' visit to area collector and Jesse James fan Corky Reynolds, who has developed a friendship with the author because of their mutual fascination with the James-Younger gang.
The outlaws met their match during their famous 1876 attempt to rob a Northfield bank, forever linked thereafter to Minnesota's frontier lore.
James, Younger and other gang members also had ties, both before and after the Northfield debacle, to several lakes area towns, documented in Koblas' 2001 release, "Jesse James Ate Here: An Outlaw Tour of Minnesota."
He plans to publish two additional gang-related volumes through North Star Press of St. Cloud later this month, Hansen said.
If you go
Who: John J. Koblas
What: Book signing
Where: Bookin' It Bookstore, Little Falls
When: 1-3 p.m. Saturday
The bookstore owner said Reynolds met Koblas at a Northfield raid re-enactment, which matured into a permanent friendship.
"Reynolds found a kindred spirit and their initial conversation turned into a regular correspondence," Hansen said. "Reynolds was eventually invited to the author's home to meet other James gang enthusiasts and a lasting friendship has resulted."
Reynolds urged Hansen to host a book-signing event for the popular author, which led to Saturday's in-store schedule, she said.
North Star Press will release Koblas' "The Great Cole Younger and Frank James Historical Wild West Show" and "When the Heavens Fell: The Youngers in Stillwater Prison" later this month, Hansen said.
A Burnsville resident, Koblas also has written about other famous Minnesotans, including authors F. Scott Fitzgerald and Sinclair Lewis.
"Toward the Summit," an exploration into Fitzgerald's Minnesota connections, won a 1996 Minnesota Book Award nomination. A film documentary based on an earlier Jesse James book aired on the History Channel in 1999.
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