One of the most visited spots on my history website is of the robbery of Charley Craig's store, possibly by Jesse James. The store was located at the current address of 113 South Main Street. More than one reference is given that the James Gang are the ones responsible.
Here are the facts:
The James Gang, consisting at that time of Jesse and Frank James and Cole and Bob Younger, and possibly Arthur McCoy, robbed the stage at Hot Springs on January 15th, 1874 of about $3000. On January 31st, they robbed the St. Louis, Iron Mountain, and Southern train in Gad's Hill, MO. They made off with about $12,000. Gad's Hill is located in Eastern Missouri, about 75 miles north of the Arkansas line. If Craig's store was robbed on February 11, 1874, then the gang would have been back in the Kansas City area by March 10th in order to kill a Pinkerton man who decided to go to their home alone and was found later, shot three times.
What the Daily Arkansas Gazette had to say, courtesy of the Bentonville Advance:
So was it the James Gang?
Several sources say yes. The newspapers never indicated one way or the other, (meaning that they likely didn't suspect them at the time).
It's a long way from Gad's Hill to Bentonville and then back to Clay County. However, it is pretty well known that the gang spent a lot of time in the caves around the Missouri line north of Bella Vista, so it's conceivable. The gang's mannerisms seem pretty professional; obviously this wasn't the first time they had robbed someone and gotten away. And the theft of fine suits of clothing seems to fit their mold too. Most thieves would have just gotten the money and left quickly.
Larry Horton has a Master's degree in history concentrating on southern US history in general and Bentonville in particular. He owns Bentonville Real Estate Company. Read more on his history blog: www.bentonville123.com