Repeatedly, the mother of Frank and Jesse James seated her sons in front of the evening fire to drill them in their family heritage. With so little to tell, she only could have wished to have 35 shades of the James coat of arms to show her sons.
Over and over, Zerelda Elizabeth Cole-James made a point of saying to her boys, “Never forget. You are descended from Royalty.” However, Zerelda never could say how that occurred. Nor could she provide her sons with any proof or evidence of what royal and to whom they were related. So, she referenced King James of England. A James coat of arms to display to her children might have helped.
In her childhood, growing up in Woodford County, Kentucky, many wealthier neighbors of young Zerelda possessed a family coat of arms. The coat of arms they proudly presented or displayed was a relic, long held since family ancestors broke rank with the mother England in the American Revolution. Some possessed their coat of arms longer, for generations before. Such was not the case for the Cole family to whom young Zerelda was born.
However, as a teenager when Zerelda seized upon an upstart preacher named Robert Sallee James, she knew what everyone knew about his James family. The James descended from high stock. If Zerelda married that Georgetown College student with all his family connections and a bright career in ministry before him, she could escape her hardscrabble life as a servant girl in her family’s roadhouse ordinary. Zerelda could rise on the economic scale. And when she bore Robert children, her children would descend from royalty, too.
The Prophecy of the Two Bastards
The royal family history, which Zerelda presented to Frank and Jesse, was skeletal at best, and somewhat tarnished. Jesse’s great-grandson, Judge James Randall Ross, wrote about the story that Zerelda repeatedly told in his book, I, Jesse James. Jim Ross grew up in the household of his grandfather, Jesse Edwards James Jr. He was privy to all the family stories his cousins never heard. Jesse Jr. made Jim promise to keep the story alive among his progeny. The story appears in Jim’s book in mother Zerelda’s words as “The Prophecy of the Two Bastards.”
The prophecy always began with Ma’s description of those who had migrated to the Virginia colony in the early years…Many in the Virginia colony were running from something or somebody. Outcasts, robbers, bandit, bastards and the like were the backbone of the Virginia colony.
”Flowerdieu, Virginia in September 1622, Ma would say, was a place that harbored such people.”
…In September of that long ago year, two brothers William and John were arguing about William’s future…William had insisted on returning to his land [following an Indian raid] rather than staying in the stockade with his brother John…As John tried to convince William to stay, William pointed out that he must return to his land “Because it is my job, John. It is my heritage – our heritage given to us by our father.”
John replied, “Don’t be bitter about duty, William. We both agreed before we left England that we were giving up any rights we had there in exchange for the land and our start here in the new world. But it’s no use losing your life over your land.”
William answered with considerable bitterness. “Yes, a lot of ‘rights’ either of us had as bastards, except for causing the good King James a lot of snickers at court!”…”Oh, I know in his way he thought he was doing the right thing” he continued, “And damn it all that’s why I’m going to make it on my own land and sire my own family under the name of James! If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for my family.”
Background of a Bandit
In 1970, Joan Malley Beamis published the first genealogy of the Jesse James family, Background of a Bandit. Joan is a first cousin of Frank and Jesse, and a great-granddaughter of their uncle, Drury Woodson James. Joan discovered no royal coat of arms for her James family relatives to claim. Joan further ascertained that William James is the immigrant of the James family, and John was his son.
Nearly fifty years later, Investigation of Joan’s research files revealed her personal doubt about the genealogy she wrote and published. Joan wrote that, for lack of evidence, she still questioned whether William was the immigrant at all. Too many James families occupied the Virginia colony just before the Revolution. For all of them she deduced, the James family might have been in America for generations earlier. The family, too, might have been much larger than she alone could establish.
Twenty years of new research since reveals the immigrant John James, an arrival in America in the year 1620. Stray Leaves began publishing this genealogy in 1997, subjecting new research findings ever since to rigorous peer scrutiny on a worldwide basis. Today, the known, documented and established results of these conclusions support Joan’s doubt. They also disclaim Ma Zerelda’s family lore about King James.
Although the land the James family acquired in Colonial Virginia was granted through Alexander Spotswood from Charles II, a grandson of James I, King of England, no other kinship link to King James can be established.
However, through generations of royal courtiers, none bearing the James name, the lineage of Frank and Jesse James indeed can be traced back to their 19th great-grandfather King Edward II of Caernarvon, Wales and beyond. The boys also are descendants of the Plantagenet Kings Edward I, III, and IV, as well as King Henry VII of Pembrokeshire, Wales.
35 Shades of James Coat of Arms
Seeking what coat of arms the Jesse James family might claim, Stray Leaves consulted the eminent coat of arms website, derived from the ancient and reliable records of Burke’s Peerage – coadb.com (Coat of Arms Database). There, on a page specifically devoted to the James surname, were found more than 35 shades of the James coat of arms.
Selecting which coat of arms might apply became an exercise in historical knowledge. Apparently, coats that reflect James of Irish origin were eliminated promptly. Next eliminated were those that reflect nothing relating to what is known of the documented history of the James family in America. What remained are the two coats of arms that reflect Pembroke, Wales and Somerset, England.
From the study by Joan Beamis, she claimed that William James was an immigrant from Pembrokeshire, Wales. However, in the fifty years of additional research since, no link with Pembroke, Wales or any James family history can be established from Pembrokeshire.
Moreover, Terry Wells, the archivist of the Carmarthenshire Archive Service in Wales formerly has queried Stray Leaves regarding the origin of the claim that William James is the progenitor of the Jesse James family in America. In 2014, he wrote the following to Stray Leaves:
“The reason I was asking was that every so often someone turns up to research the ‘Welsh ancestry’ of the James family, but we have never found any evidence to support the theory at all, at least it is so for west Wales, I can’t answer for north Wales. But, I am not surprised, as in the wealth of supposed James family history to be found there is a dearth of evidence to support the supposed eighteenth-century ancestors.
“I had assumed that the idea had originated from Background of a Bandit. Interesting that the author later doubts both the Welsh connection and that she was an ancestor of the James family. Trusting to family lore is always a risky business.”
What remains to consider are these two coats of arms from Somerset in England.
The black background common to both crests symbolizes grief and resistance, powerful emotions that continue to infuse James family members today. The fish that graces the crest represents bravery and steadfastness. Moreover, the fish also accounts for Christian faith, constituting a genuine, generous spirit. The fish also represents economy and science. In the one, the bull replicates bravery and generosity. Its horns replicate strength and fortitude with undertones of patience, humility, and sacrifice connected. The bull topping the crest may represent the landed gentry while the dolphin at the top may represent seafaring gentry, as well as swiftness, diligence, charity, and love. It is believed that John James the immigrant arrived in America from Wales as a captain with a ship of his own. The family’s founding of Somerset in Pulaski County, Kentucky evidences the James family’s continued strong tie to its ancient motherland.
From Longshanks to Courtiers
King Edward II of Caernarvon, Wales, and his father Edward I known as Longshanks, present crests of royal heritage. Variations of the crest have been adopted by royal courtiers and extended family, all of whom appear in the ancestry of the James family.
A Modern James Family Coat of Arms
If the James family adopted a coat of arms for use in the contemporary era, the coat would have to reflect the fundamental character, personality, behavior, and soul, which the James family typifies. That panoply of character now is documented and appears in the family’s official biography Jesse James Soul Liberty. A modern crest for the James would have to include escutcheons for education, faith, and service to community. Ironically, these are the modern equivalents of service once provided by kings and courtiers.
The passage of several hundred years may have caused the use of a coat of arms to fade into past glory and romance. There remains, however, the modern equivalent. Being descended from royalty, as Ma Zerelda instructed her sons Frank and Jesse James, still carries the burden of social responsibility, protection, and defense for living a peaceful, productive, and beneficial life for both one’s self and community.
Hey, Jesse James family, you still do what is necessary, but what will you be wearing on your tee shirt now?
Dave Pool and his exploits during and immediately after the Civil War are familiar to most students of James-Younger gang history. However, little seems to be known about Dave and his life after the war. Some history states that he went to Texas and became a wealthy cattleman. He reportedly lost most of his money then moved on to Arizona and died there in 1899.
MISSOURI – MONTANA – TEXAS
More information is now coming to light about Dave Pool and his brothers Christopher Columbus (usually C. C. Pool) and John A. Pool. C.C. served in the war too, but mostly with a Texas Partisan Unit. Brother, John, served with Quantrill and went just about everywhere Dave did during the war. All three brothers returned to Lafayette County, Missouri after the war and remained there for a short time. Then eventually, all three brothers ended up as well- to-do cattlemen in Texas. Dave did move on to Arizona and may have spent some time in New Mexico, as well.
Dave stayed around the Lafayette County area for some time, but by 1873, he is in Montana. Brother C. C. Pool received a letter from Dave, who is said to be in Montana in the cattle trade. Dave reported he was doing well and that he was getting “fat and sassy” on grisly [sic] and antelope. He also promised to send his little nephew a juvenile grisly [sic] for a pet. (TWC March 29, 1873)
In August 1874, Dave is back in Lafayette County. He served on a committee for a public picnic in the area, and he signed a letter endorsing Alexander Graves, Esq. for County Attorney. (TWC August 1, 1874) Later in the year, Dave is visiting his brother and friends in Carroll County, Missouri. John Pool was now living in Carroll, County. (TWC December 26, 1874)
Dave was confined to his room in May of 1875, so he must have been ill. But by July, it was reported that Dave had left for the western border of Kansas, on the look-out for some good kine (cattle). The newspaper quipped, “Dave, are you going to start a dairy?” (TWC May 15, and July 17, 1875)
Later in 1875, Dave is back in the Lexington area and was en route for Waverly, Missouri. He was said to be a full-fledged partner in the metallic weather strip, lately patented by Hogman & Shomate. Capt. Pool was to depart for England in the spring to solicit orders for the weather stripping. (LWI November 20, 1875) No evidence has yet been found that Dave went to England.
Early in 1878, Dave is back in Lexington, and it was reported that he now owned a cattle ranch in Texas. The paper also stated that Dave would take a wife back with him. (LT, February 15, 1878) The news of marriage was not accurate, as he did not marry until later. In March 1879 one A.W. Hilliard sent a lengthy letter to the Lexington Weekly Intelligencer from Taylor County, Texas. He discussed the finer points of settling in Texas and said many Missourians were now living there. He mentioned both Capt. Dave Pool and his brother Capt. C.C. Pool. He said that Dave had passed through his area on the way to Sweetwater. Dave had said that neither Comanche, Kiowa nor Yonkaway [sic] squaw could capture him. The only squaw to whom he would surrender alive lived in “Old Lafayette.” Dave was to leave soon for New Mexico, where he had a ranch and a fine herd of cattle. (LWI March 29, 1879) The following month a Texas newspaper reported that Dave Pool of Quantrill’s band flourishes at Coleman, Texas. (TWDS April 1879)
A TEXAS LONG-HORN
In 1881, Dave was again visiting in his home state. Both Dave and C.C. Pool visited the newspaper office, and the editor said he had received a regular “long-horn” visit. The paper also mentioned that C.C. Pool had moved to Texas several years ago. C.C. had grown to immense physical proportions and had a thriving cattle business. C.C. was back with his wife and was visiting friends and family. Both of the Pool brothers returned to Texas within the next few days. (LWI February 5 & 12, 1881) The following month Sam Redd, who had been absent from Lexington for seven years, also visited the newspaper. He was accompanied by J. L Peacock, another ranchman. These men discussed recent cattle deals that concerned Dave Pool. Pool & Redd and W. A. Redd and Peacock & Bros. had sold ranches, horses and 5,730 head of cattle for the sum of $95,500. They had sold because they were about to overstock their ranges. They have now organized a company J. M. Peacock & Co. with capital of $150,000 and will establish a ranch in northwestern Texas. These gentlemen were to leave the next day to join J. H. Peacock and Capt. Dave Pool. The newspaper staff wished the men success. (LWI March 12, 1881)
In the summer of 1881, Dave Pool attended a reunion of ex-confederates in Dallas, Texas. Dave served as an assistant marshal for the event, and his residence was said to be in Tom Green County, Texas. Other well-known Missouri Confederates also attended including Gen. Francis Marion “F.M.” Cockrell, Col. Jeremiah Vardeman “J. V.” Cockrell and Col. Sidney D. “S.D.” Jackman. Col. Jackman now lived in San Marcos, Texas. (TDWH August 11, 1881) In December Capt. Dave Pool was back in Lexington. The paper said he likes “long horn” in summer, but when winter arrives he prefers to come to old Lafayette and spend the evenings among God’s people. (LWI December 10, 1881)
In January 1882, it becomes clear why Dave is back in Lafayette this time. Mr. and Mrs. William & Elizabeth Shelby Kirtley announced the marriage of their daughter Lora M. to F.M. Poole on January 24, 1882. The editor thought friends might not recognize Dave under his proper initials and added that the gentleman concerned was Capt. Dave Poole. The bride is described as one of the fairest and best of Lafayette County’s women. (LWI January 21, 1882) A week later the newspaper devoted almost a full column to a lavish description of the wedding. Many guests are named, dresses are described, and many of the gifts are listed and described. One gift of note was the paw of a bear that was killed by Capt. Matt Ham in Texas two weeks before. General Jo Shelby and some other notables attended the wedding. The happy couple would remain in the Lexington area for four or five weeks and then return to their home in Colorado City, Texas. (LWI January 28, 1882)
VISIT WITH FRANK JAMES
In December 1882 Dave Pool is back in Lexington and in January 1883 he makes a visit to Frank James in the Independence jail; he spent an hour or two visiting with Frank. Dave is now said to be a resident of Texas and worth a million dollars. He is described as of commanding appearance and wearing a beard reaching to his knees. (RD December 28, 1882, and TBWT January 31, 1883)
In February 1883, J. A. Peacock and Capt. Redd are again visiting in the Lexington area. Again their cattle companies are mentioned as J. A. and J.C. Peacock, Capt. David Pool, S. B. Redd and W. A. Redd. These men have now invested in a new bank that is to be open for business in a few days. The bank will have capital Stock of $15,000. W. A. Redd is the vice president of the new bank. Dave Pool is not listed as a member of the bank staff, but he is likely an investor in the firm. The location is said to be Colorado, Texas. (This is the Colorado National Bank of Colorado City, Texas.)(LWI February 3, 1883)
There are other developments in Dave Pool’s life at this time. The newspaper reminded readers that at Capt. F.M. Poole’s marriage they mentioned a unique gift of a bear’s foot sent by a friend. The paper now says that on St. Valentine’s Day, this week, the singular coincidence occurs that he has been presented with two bare feet, those of a hale and hearty little son. (LWI February 17, 1883) In March, the Pools and some of Mrs. Pool’s relatives returned to Colorado City, Texas. (LWI March 31, 1883) In August Capt. Pool and family were again visiting from Colorado, Texas. Dave is to attend the ex-confederate reunion at Jefferson City. Mrs. Pool is visiting her family. Dave has been called to Gallatin for the Frank James trial the previous week. (RD August 30, 1883) Several Texas newspapers also noted that Dave Pool had been called as a witness in Frank James trial in August 1883.
In May 1885, a Mr. Joseph B. Silver returned to the Lexington, Missouri area after a cattle buying trip to Texas. Dave Poole entertained Mr. Silver royally while Silver was in Colorado City, Texas. Silver said Pool was now banking at that place. The Pools had an elegant house and two splendid babies. Pool also treated Mr. Silver to an airing behind Pool’s spanking team of horses. (LWI May 30, 1885)
On September 30, 1897, the Mexico Weekly Ledger (Mexico, Missouri) had a long article about Quantrill and his men. The report states that Dave Pool was now living in Arizona. The Arizona Republican, July 13, 1898, said, “Captain Dave Poole, whose military experience was acquired more than a generation ago, was in town yesterday wanting to enlist for the war in the capacity of Troop A, Arizona Cavalry.”
In June of 1899 newspapers all around the country announced the death of Dave Pool in the Phoenix, Arizona area. Dave died on June 3, 1899 at age 61. One newspaper reported that Dave had become security for a large debt for friends and because of this he had lost the greater part of his fortune. He had been undaunted by this and began anew in Arizona and before his death had amassed a considerable fortune again. (OGB June 24, 1899) When Frank James learned of Dave Pool’s death, he said, “I can hardly believe it. I knew Dave Poole well, and I want to say that God never made a truer soul, and no man was a stauncher friend than he. When he was once your friend he was always your friend, and he didn’t go around feeling the pulse of the public to find out how you stood with other people. He stuck to you through thick and thin, good and evil report.” (TBWT June 8, 1899)
Dave’s family remained in Arizona and continued in the ranching and farming business. His wife married again but divorced her husband, Ernest A. Panknin, on grounds of desertion in 1920. (AR June 30, 1920) Dave’s daughter, Willie Elizabeth, married Claude Marlar in Phoenix in June 1906. The couple planned to make their home in California but soon returned to Arizona, and Claude was in the cattle business. (AR June 17, 1906) Claude died of heat prostration in August 1915. (AR August 21, 1915) For some time after that Willie appears to be living with her mother and brother, Francis Marion “Frank”, on the family ranch near Scottsdale, Arizona. The family is frequently mentioned in the Scottsdale news items in the Arizona Republican. Willie Elizabeth later married Frank L. Criswell. Frank Criswell died in 1928; Lora M. Kirtley Pool Panknin died in 1934; Francis Marion “Frank” Pool died in 1940, and Willie Elizabeth died in 1977. The entire family is buried at the Greenwood Memory Lawn Cemetery in Phoenix. Dave Pool was first buried in the Confederate Cemetery in Phoenix. However, he now rests beside his family in the Greenwood Cemetery.
Another brother of Joan Beamis has died. John Crohan “Jack” Malley passed away at the age of 90 on Saturday, March 5, 2016. Among Joan’s other siblings, her brother Fr. Jim Malley died last June. Her sister Janice died in 2012. Joan was the first of her siblings to pass in 1990.
About his family, Jack Malley informed Eric F. James, “My mother (Marguerite Hazel Burns-Malley) was the only one who would not talk about the James brothers. She was somewhat of a Boston socialite in her pre-marital years. We, her children, thought it was terrific, and our grandmother Mary Louise James-Burns was “pumped dry” for stories.” Mary Louise James-Burns, a daughter of Frank and Jesse’s uncle Drury Woodson James, lived with the Malley siblings as they grew up.
As Jack Malley stated, “It is ironic that D.W.J. (Jack’s great-grandfather) was a rancher and cattleman. I spent my life in agriculture. First, running a 100 cow dairy herd with my father in New Hampshire and then 30 years as a soil conservationist with the Soil Conservation Service, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture in New Hampshire and Maine, working with farmers.
“Grandmother Mary Louise James-Burns (Jack’s grandmother) lived with our family until her passing. She and I shared a great love of farming and she maintained a great interest in our farm and herd. My Dad provided her a home from the day he married her daughter Marguerite. They were great friends and rabid Democrats! Our Mother was somewhat ashamed of her James cousins and did not care to discuss the subject with anyone – even family!!!”
News of Jack’s passing was provided to Stray Leaves by his nephew, J. Mark Beamis. Mark informed Eric about Jacks’ final days. “He was getting hospice at home for congestive heart failure since January. On Friday, they moved him to a nursing home and he wasn’t there 24 hours before he left. I think he ‘planned’ it that way.”
An extensive and loving obituary of Jack Malley outlines in detail his personal life and interests, as well as his accomplished career in conservation and preservation. The obituary is well worth reading.
In recent news, the Malley family farm where Joan and her siblings grew up now will become a women’s recovery center. The Malley family farm is the place where the first discovery was made by Joan Beamis, leading to her researching and writing the first genealogy of the Jesse James family, Background of a Bandit. Following the death of the Malley siblings’ parents, Rep. James Francis Malley and Marguerite Hazel Burns in 1974 and 1983, the Malley home then became the Malley Boys Farm. With Jack’s passing, the family home now enters a new stage, becoming the Sober Sisters Recovery Transitional Home for women.
“Vard, the Ax Man” by Eric F. James was first published by the Boone Society in the Compass, January 2013; Vol. 17, Issue I
If the persistence of physical genetic memory is trusted, as it is among many families whose identified lineage spans over two hundred years, Vard the ax man may have been described as taller than most, sandy-haired, with a healthy appetite, at times given to excess. Vard was a congenial sort, relying unusually more on his emotion than intelligence to communicate. Vard’s energy rarely flagged. Widely admired as being indefatigable Vard always remained intensely focused.
There was something elusive and unidentifiable about Vard, too. Johannes Vardeman possessed a certain quietude and reserve. Daniel Boone could well believe Vardeman would expedite shorthand measures with an ax, to produce faster and more efficient results like no other.
Retaining the service of Vardeman and his ax in the late spring of 1775 was a good deal for Boone. While Daniel Boone culled his family for the acumen and fortitude required to forge his Transylvania Trail through the frontier of Virginia’s Western District of Kentucky, Boone principally was seeking reliable names and familiar family faces, people he could trust to remain afterward to build a permanent settlement at the terminus of his new road.
With the skills of Johannes Vardeman and those friends and family, Boone already knew, Boone could hedge his bet to bring even a larger number of families, more than he first had planned to bring to his Transylvania Colony’s new settlement.
THE VARDEMAN FAMILY
The family of Johannes Vardeman had been building and maintaining wilderness roads since the 1740s. Locals in Virginia already referred to the mountain road from Thomas Jefferson’s to Charles Quarles’ place as “Verdeman’s Mountain Road.” Vard’s father, William Vardeman Sr., was among several petitioners in Bedford County, Virginia, who requested a road be cut to connect the neighboring petitioners. On July 15, 1740, the order was issued “to Clear a Road from the Thorrowfare a little above Morrisons to the Secretarys ford.” On Sept. 25, 1741, orders granted an extension, “to Clear a road from Thomas Morrisons to the D.S. tree in Michael Woods road.” These early roads that traversed the Blue Ridge, that were built by the Vardeman family, was all the evidence Boone needed to know that Johannes Vardeman was the right ax man to cut his Transylvania Trail.
Johannes Vardeman was the third generation of his family in America. His grandfather, also named Johannes, settled on Appoquinimy Creek in Delaware County, Maryland. Over time, his grandfather acquired a sizable estate of over 450 acres which he left to his four children, Johannes Jr., Christopher, Jane Margaretha, and Vard’s father, William. The family worshiped in the Lutheran faith at Holy Trinity Church, near Wilmington. There, William married Magdalena Peterson from the settlement of Swedish families at Brandywine’s Hundred. The Olde Swede’s Church, as Holy Trinity came to be called, today still displays the fine woodworking handiwork of its early immigrants from Sweden. Boone would not need Johannes Vardeman to produce such exceptionally fine finish work, though. Boone only wanted the quick, easy, and utilitarian bench, table, or latch that Johannes Vardeman could produce with three strokes of his ax.
Sometime after 1724, Vardeman’s parents migrated from Maryland to the area of Rockfish Gap in today’s Albemarle County, Virginia. At this time, the wood skills of the Vardeman family turned to the backwoods’ skill of building roads. If one was to move anywhere through such wilderness, the way had to be surveyed and made clear. As with every former push into the darkness of Virginia’s western wilderness, a road was required to be made.
A TALENT FOR ROAD BUILDING
Having connected his neighbors with roads two decades earlier, William Vardeman pushed further into the dark forests of the old Southwest, cutting a wagon road to settle his family next near the Peaks of Otter in Lunenberg County, today’s Bedford County. There, William and his neighbor Timothy Dalton petitioned to connect themselves with a road. William, having more proven experience, was also consigned with maintaining the road. In the next five years, Johannes Vardeman practiced the road building skills learned from his father. 
At some time during the early 1740s, Johannes and his father William were found in South Carolina. There, father and son became enchanted. The area was so attractive that William turned his ambition to settling there. Eventually, he accomplished the move. William Vardeman died in Dutch Fork of New Berry County, but not until March of 1789.
Johannes found the enchantment of youth in Elizabeth Taylor Morgan. he married the young woman in South Carolina on September 7, 1744. His father and mother-in-law, Thomas Morgan and Hester Taylor, also were from Bedford County in Virginia. Johannes returned to Bedford County with his bride to start a prodigious family of fourteen children.
The young couple associated themselves with the Baptists, who had begun to practice a faith more free of the disciplinary licensure required by Anglicans, or the rigors of his own family’s Lutheranism. One son, Jeremiah Vardeman, would become an eminent Baptist Divine, baptizing more than 6,000 converts in his lifetime, and founding the Missouri Baptist Convention.
WAR WITH THE NATIVES
The French-Indian War was the probable meeting ground for Daniel Boone and the Vardeman family. In 1751, Daniel’s parents, Squire and Sarah Morgan Boone, departed Olney in Pennsylvania’s Berks County. Two years later they arrived at Dutchman’s Creek in the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina.
In 1755, eighteen-year-old Boone was among hundreds recruited by British General Edward Braddock to repel the French at Fort Duquesne, today’s Pittsburg. Twenty-three-year -old George Washington was the British general’s aide-de-camp. Braddock’s campaign ended as a miserable failure and Boone drove his wagon back to the Yadkin Valley. A year later, Boone married Rebecca Ann Bryan at Bryan’s Settlement. The conflict was only the beginning of mounting difficulties with the Indians who perceived the conflicting forces taking their land.
William Vardeman’s neighbor, Timothy Dalton, was summoned to testify about the rising difficulties. Before a Bedford County Justice of the Peace, Dalton testified on May 9, 1758, that three Indians had come to his home, followed by four white men. William Hall told Dalton that one of the Indians stole his horses and would not return them. John Wheeler attempted to retrieve one horse but was shot at three times. The Indians fled with the white men, and seven more, in pursuit. At the Staunton River, ten more Indians joined the fleeing band. They halted and prepared to confront their pursuers in battle.
The rest of Dalton’s testimony was corroborated by the additional testimony of both William Vardeman Sr. and Johannes Vardeman’s brother, William Jr. The Vardeman men had arrived at the Staunton River. Hearing a big “War Halloo,” they crossed the river, where they found the Cherokee gathered around a fire.
Fellow deponents attested to what “Old William Vardeman,” then aged sixty, did next. The old man approached the fire, the others following cautiously behind. Old Vardeman spotted the stolen horses tethered to the brush. The Cherokee were busy, painting their faces very energetically. Some red. Most black. To his followers’ surprise, though, Old Vardeman removed his hat with a flourish. He repeatedly bowed to the Cherokee, accosting them only regarding peace and friendship. “Gentlemen, we come in a brotherly manner to ask for our horses, and other goods, you have taken from us.”
Vardeman’s greeting was returned by a single grunt, upon which the Cherokee began loading their rifles. The rifles of the Indians were primed to shoot. When a tomahawk struck a tree, demand was made promptly that the white men fight.
Vardeman continued bowing, as the Cherokee approached while enclosing the white men within a tightening semi-circle. Young William Vardeman Jr. pointed out two Indians, now taking aim with their rifles. The white men began slow-stepping backward in a cautious retreat, never losing their face to the Cherokee, knowing well that to do so meant certain death.
Suddenly, a volley of tomahawks was thrown. One of Vardeman’s group narrowly missed being struck. Another tomahawk could have struck Old Vardeman himself, but the old man “parried it with an elder stick he held in his hand.” Old man Vardeman was unarmed.
MOVING ON TO KENTUCKY
In the next few years, Johannes Vardeman’s father began disposing of his lands. He found a ready buyer in young James Callaway Jr., a nephew of Col. Richard Callaway, who also joined Boone to build his Transylvania Trail. Though born in Essex County, Richard Callaway lived in Bedford County, where he often served militia campaigns and was a Justice of the Peace. John Mack Faragher, in his biography of Boone, describes Callaway as “officious, bad tempered, and a bit of a blue blood.” The Kentucky frontier did not abide the hauteur of a blue-blood temperament. Callaway was slain at Boonesborough. His body was scalped, mutilated, and rolled into a mud hole.
Riddled ny age, old William Vardeman surrendered road building to the next generation. In November of 1764, William Jr. and a cousin, Peter Vardeman, paid to have a road cleared in Bedford County “from Glasscow’s into Pockett Pond.” At the April Court of 1767, Johannes Vardeman was “appointed to view a road from Goose Creek across Brandy Camp into Turner’s Road and make report.”
A year before Boone commenced blazing the Transylvania Trail; Lord Dunmore’s War brought Virginians into conflict with the Indians again, this time, with the Shawnee. William Jr., son of “Old” William Vardeman, as the military index states, provided supplies and services for the expedition. In the campaign of 1774, William also served in Capt. Walter Crockett’s militia.
At Sycamore Shoals on the Watauga River in March of 1775, the Cherokee deeded to William Henderson of the Louisa Company, now reformed as the Transylvania Company, the land below the Kentucky River and above the Cumberland River. In June of the previous year, as much as 4,000 acres already had been claimed by Boone in the name of James Hickman. Seven years earlier, in the Treaty of Fort Stanwyx, the Iroquois had ceded the land below the Ohio River attaching to these rivers and lands. Opposition attacks by the Shawnee led to Lord Dunmore’s War, resulting in the Shawnee relinquishing their claims, but not necessarily giving up the fight.
By now, Johannes Vardeman was in his mid-fifties. His wife was pregnant with his fourteenth child. Lyman Draper reported Johannes “was too old to take an active part in the wars – but stood guard – his three sons, Wm., Amaziah & Morgan…all were frequently engaged in the Indian wars – his eldest son Wm. was at the Point [Pleasant] Battle…” Despite advancing age, Johannes Vardeman still was willing to risk his life to join Daniel Boone’s expeditionary settlement of the Shawnee lands inside the frontier of the Kentucky.
THE WILDERNESS ROAD
As March turned into April of 1775, Boone assembled his expedition on the Holsten River. A footpath, no wider than six to eight feet, with much overgrowth that had to be cleared, directed the labors of Boone and his axemen, so Boone’s families could follow through the Cumberland Gap. Their destination was Otter Creek.
Johannes Vardeman remained two years in the Kentucky with Boone, as Boone had hoped when he hired Vard. Together, they developed Boonesborough Fort. His last child, Jeremiah Vardeman, was born at New River two months after he had left with Boone.
Upon his return to New River, Johannes Vardeman removed his family further south to the Cinch River, to occupy Shadrach White’s fort at Maiden Spring Fork. In the autumn of 1779, Johannes Vardeman removed his family entirely to make a permanent settlement at Walnut Flats near Crab Orchard in Kentucky. His neighbor was the old Indian fighter, William Whitley.
Skirmishes with the Shawnee persisted around Walnut Flats, too. Vardeman’s son, Amaziah, was tomahawked and killed at a home on Cedar Creek, after the young man had ranged with George Rogers Clark, fighting the Shawnee. Five years after Johannes settled at Cedar Creek, his nephews, Peter, and William, had been bathing in the creek. Peter was shot in the thigh, and William was tomahawked. The brothers died of their wounds. 
Boone’s bet on Vard ther ax man turned out more sagacious than expected. In December of 1779, the Virginia Assembly invalidated Transylvania’s claim for its proprietary colony. By his very act of settlement, Daniel Boone could claim Boonesborough as his own.
Within no time, a flood of Baptist traveling churches fled Virginia and the religious persecutions of the Anglicans in Virginia to saturate the new frontier. Among them was John M. James, who brought his three-year-old daughter Betsy. A decade later, Johannes Vardeman’s son Jeremiah would elope with Betsy.
Road building did not end with Daniel Boone’s Transylvania Trail. The Wilderness Trail that he, Vardeman, and others forged was only a beginning. Other roads were needed. A son-in-law of Johannes Vardeman, Raney Clifton McKinney Sr., was “appointed overseer of the road from Danville to Harrods Run as it leads to Harrodsburg, in place of Godfrey Smith.” McKinney’s uncle, Peter Chastain, was “appointed surveyor, whereof Charles McKinney was late surveyor, to keep roads repaired, that hands worked under said McKenny, to work under Peter, according to law.”
Within a decade, Johannes’ neighbor, John M. James, a young waggoner like Boone in the Revolution, would be made a militia Captain to protect the Wilderness Trail. Capt. James ushered migrants safely into Kentucky. Vardeman and Boone’s footpath became well-worn with the ruts of wagon wheels. The bundled layers of buckskin that were the uniform of Boone and Vardeman gave way to the tailored finery of travelers with means. John Bradford’s Kentucky Gazette advertised, “As it is very dangerous on account of Indians, it is hoped each person will go well armed.” The ax of Johannes Vardeman was replaced by the Kentucky long rifle.
When Rev. Jeremiah Vardeman, the son of Vard the ax man, eloped with Betsy James, the daughter of John M. James, the couple became the progenitors of an impressive list of other historical figures. Their son Rev. William Henry Vardeman continued to pastor the David’s Fork Meeting House, founded by his father. Their daughter Sarah Morgan Vardeman married Rev. James Nall Griffin, a grandson of John M. James. Rev. Griffin pastored the West Cuivre Baptist Church in Audrain County, Missouri.
Another daughter Eliza Vardeman married Lewellyn Porter, a Judge in Rall County, Missouri. Among their grandchildren, James Vardeman Matson became a Colonel in the Confederate Army.
Their daughter Sarah Morgan Vardeman married Rev. James Nall Griffin, a grandson of John M. James. Rev. Griffin pastored the West Cuivre Baptist Church in Audrain County, Missouri. Daughter Eliza Vardeman married Lewellyn Porter, a Judge in Rall County, Missouri. Among their grandchildren, James Vardeman Matson became a Colonel in the Confederate Army.
Daughter Eliza Vardeman married Lewellyn Porter, a Judge in Ralls County, Missouri. Among their grandchildren, James Vardeman Matson became a Colonel in the Confederate Army. The 4th great-grandchild of theirs is J. Danforth Quayle, elected Vice-President of the United States, and his son Benjamin Eugene Quayle, elected to the U.S. Congress.
Daniel Boone entered the James family when Estella Frances McGowan, Boone’s 3rd great-granddaughter, married Jesse Edwards James Jr., the son of Jesse Woodson James. Their marriage makes all future descendants of Jesse James also descendants of Daniel Boone.
Bedford County, VA, Land Records, C Grant Book D, pp. 223-224.
 Pawlett, Nathaniel Mason, Goochland County Road Orders 1728-1744. Charlottesville, VA: Virginia Highway & Transportation Research Council, 1975.
A Calendar of Delaware Wills, New Castle County, 1682-1900, abstracted & compiled by the Historical Research Committee of the Colonial Dames of Delaware, Frederick H. Hitchcock, Publisher, New York. See also: Garrett, Carol J. New Castle Co. Delaware Land Records 1728-1738.
Lunenburg Co., VA, Order Book 1, p. 53. See also: Lunenburg Co., VA, Court Orders, 1746-1748, T.L.C. Genealogy, 1990, p. 25. Timothy Dalton is a progenitor of the Dalton Gang.
 Paulette, Road Orders, 3 April 1751 Old Style, P. 394. April 1751 April Court 1751, Lunenburg Co.,VA.
 Spencer’s History of Kentucky Baptists. See also: Lyman Copeland Draper Manuscripts, Kentucky Papers, Reel 12 C, pages 63-?, Interview with Morgan Vardeman, son of John Vardeman Jr., conducted May 25-26th 1868, probably in Lincoln County, Kentucky.
Official Correspondence and Military Letters of Virginia Colony Lt. Governor Robert Dinwiddie 1754 – 1756, University of Delaware, Special Collections, Manuscript Collection Number 341. See also: SC Dept. of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina, Colonial Records of South Carolina, Documents relating to Indian Affairs, 1754-1765, His Majesty’s Council “Indian Books” (S171001) Vol. 6, 1757-1760, pp. 153-162, pp. 463-465. See also: History of Pittsylvania County Virginia, Maud Carter Clement, 1981, page 78-91, Baltimore Regional Publishing Company. Also: George Washington Papers, Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 4. General Correspondence. 1697-1799. Also: Bedford County, Virginia, Settlers, May 8, 1758, “Thos. Morgan Acct.” Timothy Dalton, May 9, 1758, Affidavit on Indian Raid.
Bedford County, VA, Deed Book B-2, 1761 – 1766, p. 249.
Bedford County., VA, Order Book 3, p. 185, 340.
 Military Records, Virginia, 1774, Library of Virginia. Source Record #001230264.
Copies of Depositions taken in Land Suits in Kentucky Courts between 1794 and 1824, gathered by Richard H. Collins while writing his “History of Kentucky.”
 Lyman Copeland Draper Manuscripts, Kentucky Papers, Reel 12 C, pages 62-66, Interview with Morgan Vardeman, son of John Vardeman Jr., conducted May 25-26th 1868.
 Peck, Rev. John Mason, D. D. Annals of the American Pulpit, 1860.
George Rogers Clark and His Men Military Records, 1778-1784, compiled by Margery H. Harding, The Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort, KY., p. 88.
Leonard Hall is the owner of a daguerreotype appearing to be that of John W. Mimms, Jr. Hall wants to put his image on the market and make it available for acquisition.
There’s a hitch, though. Mr. Hall’s preferred customer is a member of the Jesse James family or its related families. His backup choice is an historical institution that would make the image available to the public, or a collector of Jesse James-related or Western memorabilia.
Who is John W. Mimms Jr.?
John W. Mimms Jr. is the son of John Wilson Mimms Sr. and Mary James, making Junior a descendant of the James family, also. Mary James is the daughter of John M. James and Mary “Polly” Poor, grandparents of Frank and Jesse James, making Mary James and John Wilson Mimms Sr. an aunt and uncle of the James brothers, and making John W. Mimms Jr. their first cousin.
When John M. James and Mary “Polly” Poor died between 1826 and 1827 within months of one another, the couple left behind nine orphan children, ranging in age from a few months to Mary, who was the eldest at age seventeen. Among the orphan clan was Robert Sallee James, the father of Frank and Jesse James.
Mary’s uncle is Drury Woodson Poor from her Poor ancestry on her mother’s side. He became the executor of the estate of John M. James. Within weeks, D. W. Poor immediately became guardian to Mary and her siblings.
An immediate problem arose to confront Drury Woodson Poor. He had nine children of his own. Now, he was given charge of eight more. Besides, he had just launched his career as a Kentucky legislator and state representative from Logan County. Poor had the confidence of his community. Known as the “Lion of Whippoorwill Creek,” Poor had served Logan County as its sheriff before his election. His judgement was respected. Poor’s resolution to his problem was to marry off Mary James, the eldest orphan, to John Wilson Mimms Sr.
For almost thirty years thereafter, John Wilson and Mary James Mimms operated a tobacco farm in Adairville in Logan County, Kentucky. After being ordained in the Missionary Baptist Church as a Methodist minister, Rev. Mimms removed his family from Kentucky in 1856 to join Mary’s brother Thomas Martin James in Missouri.
For the benefit of the orphan clan, D. W. Poor purchased the family Bible of John M. James and Mary “Polly” Poor and gave it to Mary James-Mimms. Before the Bible burned in a storage room fire, its’ genealogy entries were copied into the family Bible of Robert William Mimms. Ultimately this Bible was passed down to Ruth Ethyl Waers, a granddaughter of Robert William Mimms. Ruth married Col. Harold Burton Gibson. The Bible is presumed to have stayed in the Gibson family.
History knows little about the life of John W. Mimms Jr. other than he was born in Logan County, Kentucky on July 14, 1831. He married Cornelia Dobbins on Dec. 22, 1859, in the company of his siblings Robert William and Lucy Frances Mimms. Then he died shortly after that in February of 1863.
The Mimms Daguerreotype Cannot be Authenticated
Since no photographic images exist of the closest family of John W. Mimms Jr., no forensic analysis can determine if the picture of him is scientifically authentic. The earliest known images of these James-Mimms descendants occurs among their grandchildren.
Also, since no authentic documents exist to show comparison evidence of the image or of the handwriting of John W. Mimms, Jr. to the signature in the daguerreotype case, the handwriting cannot be ascertained as authentic, either. Forensic analysis, however, should be able to verify the paper stock and ink as being in the period, or not.
Some evidence of ownership or subject identification of “John W. Mimms Jr.” can be found in the inscription “H_ _per, Kentucky.” These two identifiers appear written on the case interior underneath the daguerreotype. The written name and location must be taken at face value.
What can be authenticated in this artifact, in fact, is the town in Kentucky that is inscribed in the case, despite the evident appearance of puncture damage to the town’s name. The town is Hesper, Kentucky. This fact is little known except to historians of the Jesse James family and the James Preservation Trust. The identification is found in a letter from Lutie Mimms to Joan Malley-Beamis. Lutie identifies J. W. Mimms Jr. as a “merchant in Hesper, Ky.” Lutie is the granddaughter of John Wilson Mimms Sr. and Mary James-Mimms. Joan Beamis is a great-granddaughter of Drury Woodson James, an uncle of Frank and Jesse James.. Beamis also is the author of Background of a Bandit, the first genealogy of the Jesse James family by the Kentucky Historical Society.
Provenance of theDaguerreotype
In his original query to Stray Leaves about his daguerreotype, Leonard Hall attested to the following provenance.
“I was in Martha’s Vineyard this summer (where the Presidents hang out for vacation) and Island off Cape Cod…..and I am an ex~photographer and picker….I was at a flea market that I normally visit and saw this at an Antique vendors table…I bought it as he seemed to realize it had some connection but said he had if for a few years and wanted to sell it as he dealt in high-end jewelry…..he said he got it in Miami where he summers…..that’s the origin as far as I’m concerned…”
In this circumstance, an authenticity rests in the eye of the beholder.
Regarding the case, it is a widely and well-known fact that Littlefield, Parsons, & Co. made photographic casings of this type in a variety of sizes, covers, similar fabric and imprints. The company’s casings were available throughout the nation, both North and South. Similar cases are known to host photographic images of Civil War partisans from both sides.
While it is assumed the identification of the company, paper, ink, and other related materials are authentic, only a formal scientific forensic analysis can ascertain definitively. The costs of such analysis well could exceed the cost of acquiring the image.
What is left to assess is a comparison between the daguerreotype and known Mimms family images. While the physical characteristics of the Mimms are not known to be catalogued, a catalogue of physical characteristics of the James does exist. After all, the subject image of the daguerreotype and the following photographic images of related Mimms family members are all descendants of the James family, too. These Mimms display identifiable James family physical features.
Multiple images exist of Zerelda Amanda “Zee” Mimms a younger sister of John W. Mimms Jr. Zee Mimms also is the wife of Jesse Woodson James. Sarah Ann, or Sallie Mimms, was born after Zee. Drury Lilburn Mimms was born before Zee and Sallie and immediately following John W. Mimms Jr.
From generations that follow the Mimms siblings, Maj. Gen. Harold B. Gibson Jr. is the son of Ruth Ethel Waers-Gibson who inherited the Mimms Bible. Lutie Mimms, whose full name is Lucille Ethel Mimms-Gray, is a daughter of the eldest and firstborn of the Mimms siblings, Robert William Mimms.
Does the daguerreotype of John W. Mimms Jr. resemble images of the Mimms siblings and family?
Interested in Acquisition?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and express your family or social affiliation with the James family. I’ll be happy to refer you directly to Leonard Hall.
This story first appeared in the James-Younger Gang Journal. It appears here in a revised and enhanced edition.
“They gutted my office pretty effectually.” So telegraphed Capt. William R. Gross to his Union superiors from the train depot in Danville, Kentucky.
The Raid on Danville
By January 29, 1865, all hostilities of the Civil War had ceased. Regardless, the telegraph message of Capt. Gross stated that thirty-five guerrillas, dressed in Union uniform, sacked his Union telegraph office that morning. The town’s boot store was plundered, too.1 Their horses were refreshed, probably from William Sallee’s Livery at Fourth and Walnut Streets, a block south of the courthouse. Oddly, one of the band also robbed a bookstore.2
Gross further reported the guerrillas were under the command of a Capt. Clark, who identified his group as the Fourth Cavalry from Missouri, on their way to Washington to have a personal meeting with President Lincoln. Capt. Gross broadcast that Clarke’s band headed west for Perryville at 11:15 a.m.
Judge Fry Gives Chase
From an earlier experience, Judge Speed Smith Fry of Danville learned not cotton to the idea of guerrillas, masquerading in Union uniform, especially in his town. Fry had earned his rank of Brigadier General at the Battle of Perryville He still retained his command of Danville’s Home Guards.
The Battle of Mill Springs outside of Somerset, Kentucky is where Fry killed General Felix Kirk Zollicoffer of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, seemingly over an issue of mistaken dress and identity. When the hapless General Zolly rode up to Fry out of a foggy early morning rain, wearing a “light drab overcoat, buttoned to the chin.” Fry, who was “in undress uniform,” presumed the rider to be a Union officer like himself. Zolly ordered Fry to cease his fire. Both clustered together, riding so closely that their knees touched. Then Fry objected insistently. “I do not intend to fire upon our men.” Out of the misty drizzle, Capt. Henry M. R. Fogg of Zollicoffer’s staff suddenly rode forward and fired at Fry, killing his horse. “Sir, these are the enemy!” Fry instantly drew his revolver and shot Gen. Zollicoffer in the breast. His rebels secured Zollicoffer’s horse, but Fry seized the dead man’s saber. A letter in Zolly’s pocket revealed Zollicoffer’s actual Confederate identity.3 Fry sneered, “You sneaking cowardly, infernal scoundrels, why do you not come up and fight us like men?”4
His ire raised again; Judge Speed Smith Fry now suspected Gen. Clarke of Missouri to be none other than William Clark Quantrill. With Danville’s Home Guards, Judge Fry gave chase from his home at Spring House Farm. He headed down the pike, eight miles to Perryville.
Maj. Bridgewater in Stanford
Four miles southeast of Danville, Maj. James H. Bridgewater received the telegraph message in Stanford, Kentucky. Bridgewater had been in the Union Secret Service, commanding scouts who chased Confederate guerrillas throughout central Kentucky. Only recently, Maj. Bridgewater had organized the Hall’s Gap Battalion of Home Guards. Most everyone in Stanford was a Southern sympathizer, who considered Bridgewater’s guards as being guerrillas themselves, not at all for the South but the Union.
Bridgewater Family Terror
None of the Northern guerrillas was more nefarious than Maj. Bridgewater’s older brother Augden.
A retreating Confederate Army captured Augden Bridgewater’s Home Guard in 1862 after the Battle of Perryville. Augden escaped. His captain, Harbert King, and King’s two sons John Franklin and William Alexander King, were captured and hanged.5 Acting as a Union Home Guard since the Battle of Perryville, Augden “terrorized Lincoln County and robbed indiscriminately.”
Finally, Augden was hunted down. He was cornered in Harrodsburg with a wagonload of loot. He was shot in the face, leaving his entire jaw dangling. A doctor wired his jaw to his tongue. Augden then was jailed briefly in Stanford before being sent to the Kentucky penitentiary. Subsisting on liquids sipped through a quill until he got religion, Augden Bridgewater repented and was released to return to Stanford.6
Maj. James Bridgewater Gives Chase
Upon the telegraph news, Maj. Bridgewater mobilized the Hall’s Gap Battalion and headed for Harrodsburg up the old buffalo trace, north of Perryville. Maj. Bridgewater assumed Fry would drive Clarke’s band from Perryville. Harrodsburg, a staunchly Confederate bastion of Southern sympathy, would be the guerrillas’ nearest destination of safety.
Late in that cold and snowy night, Maj. Bridgewater found a detachment of the guerrillas four miles west of Harrodsburg. The band, including Frank James, Bob Younger, Allen Parmer, and the Pence brothers Bud and Donnie was concealed in the home of Sallie Ann Van Arsdale.7 Maj. Bridgewater would not wait for the break of dawn to commence slaughter.
Frank James long since had learned how to protect himself when taking refuge for the night. Even when called to dinner at the home of his Samuels kinfolk in Nelson County, Frank waited until all others sat at the table. He then walked the exterior perimeter of the home, surveying the horizon, before taking his customary seat at the table with his back towards an interior wall. Frank performed the same ritual before retiring for the night.8
When Maj Bridgewater assaulted the Van Arsdale farmhouse full bore, with Kentucky rifles and keen marksmanship famed since the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, the unforeseen force against Frank James and Quantrill’s men turned deadly.
Bridgewater’s First Assault
Elisha Farmer of Bridgewater’s Home Guard held position behind a field fence. Holding only a pistol, Farmer held his fire, waiting for a reachable and precise target. Bridgewater’s assault raged for ten or fifteen minutes, Farmer recollected.
In a lull, two riders emerged in the field before him. Farmer took aim between two fence rails and shot. Down and dead fell the first rider. The second rider, later identified as Frank James, escaped death by a hair second.9
Escaping with Frank was Allen Parmer. That night, Quantrill had partitioned his original band of forty-two into three squads, housing each third in separate farmhouses. Parmer reported, “Quantrill flew into a terrible rage when we told him about it, and he wouldn’t believe it. He sent Chat Rennick, Frank James, Peyton Long, and myself back to see if we could get any of the wounded boys out. They killed Chat Rennick on the way back.“10
Quantrill lost nine of his forty-one men that night. Jim Younger and three others were captured. The arrested were ordered to bury Quantrill’s dead in the cemetery of the Oakland Methodist Church.
In his retirement, Frank James returned to the scene later in 1889. With the help of Col. Jack Chinn and his son Kit who lived on the other side of Harrodsburg, Quantrill’s fallen were exhumed and re-interred in the new Spring Hill Cemetery in the town of Harrodsburg. Spring Hill Cemetery had been dedicated to the fallen soldiers of the Confederacy.
Bridgewater’s Second Assault
Ten days later, Maj. Bridgewater struck again at 2:00 a.m. west of Hustonville where Quantrill had been spotted. On this occasion, Bridgewater killed four more of Quantrill’s band. The balance fled barefoot in the snow when Bridgewater captured all of their horses.
In Kentucky, Quantrill never gained more distance on President Lincoln than Georgetown, Kentucky. Lincoln soon was killed on April 15th.
On May 10th, Quantrill was shot up and left for dead in the farm field of Dr. James Heady Wakefield in Nelson County. Quantrill had taken refuge there. When alerted to the shooting of Quantrill and his being severely wounded, Frank James was found reading a book he had picked up while in Danville. In a Louisville hospital, Quantrill got religion. He was baptized a Catholic like the Youngers. Quantrill then expired on June 6th. Frank James retreated to a home on the railroad tracks not too far from Samuel’s Depot, where he and Quantrill’s band surrendered on September 26th. Frank James then was paroled.
Before the Civil War in Stanford in 1858, James H. Bridgewater and his brother Augden had been members of the Lincoln Lodge No. 60 of the Free & Accepted Masons.11 At that time, Stanford elected Bridgewater as Sheriff. When Bridgewater ran for election to the state legislature, his popularity faded, and he was not as successful.
After the war, Stanford began to view Maj. Bridgewater more as a hindrance. Settling into a position with the Freedman’s Bureau, Bridgewater sought protections for the formerly enslaved. In May of 1867 at Louisville, Bridgewater turned in a list of “regulators” he believed were terrorizing Stanford’s former slaves and staunch Unionists. “Regulators used terror tactics both to stymie political competition for the building blocks of state power, including the offices of sheriff and magistrate and to impose a white supremacist social order after the form abolition of slavery.”12
On July 17, 1867, an assassin’s bullet brought down Maj. James Bridgewater.
Previously, twenty-seven-year-old Walter G. Saunders made an attempt on Bridgewater’s life. Bridgewater’s brothers and nephews repelled Saunders when they appeared in the street carrying Spencer carbines.
A subsequent attempt against Bridgewater occurred on Danville Avenue in Stanford at the crossing of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad.
On July 17, 1867, however, Bridgewater was playing cards in a saloon. Saunders appeared again with four men of his own. They chased Bridgewater to a stairwell where they killed him.
At the trial of Walter G. Saunders in Crab Orchard, no prosecution witnesses showed up to testify. Afterward, Stanford elected Walter G. Saunders as Sheriff, but Saunders only lived another ten years.13
Ever since the assassination of James H. Bridgewater, candidates for Sheriff’s office in Stanford, Kentucky customarily demonstrate their Southern sympathy.
His Masonic Lodge buried Maj. Bridgewater with Masonic Rites.14 He is presumed buried in an unmarked grave near his father-in-law Abraham Dawes outside Stanford on Howell Lane, off Route 127 at the foot of Hall’s Gap. Immediately adjacent and across Howell Lane lay buried the enslaved of the Dawes family.
Bridgewater’s Southern Family Revealed
One issue remains unresolved in the saga of Maj. James H. Bridgewater’s pursuit of Quantrill, Frank James, the Younger brothers and especially the Pence brothers.
With Maj. Bridgewater murdered and buried, Bridgewater’s widow and children departed Kentucky with Sarah Pence-Dawes, Bridgewater’s mother-in-law. They moved to Missouri, first to Warrensburg in Johnson County about 20 miles southeast of Kansas City. They subsequently removed to Nevada in Vernon County.15 One of Bridgewater’s sons settled in Kansas City.
Also living in Missouri in Pettis County was Rebecca Younger, a first cousin of Bob Younger whom Bridgewater captured. Bridgewater cousins of the Major proceeded to live among Rebecca Younger’s nieces and nephews there.
Maj. Bridgewater’s mother-in-law is Sarah Pence, who removed her family to Nevada, Missouri.16 Back in Stanford, Kentucky, the parents, nieces, and nephews of Sarah Pence-Bridgewater stayed to continue populating Lincoln County. Today, they lay buried in Buffalo Springs Cemetery outside Stanford.
Sarah and her Pence family, like Maj. Bridgewater’s wife Susan Dawes and Bridgewater’s children, are cousins of Bud and Donnie Pence, whom Bridgewater hunted to kill on his chase to Harrodsburg.
The question left unsettled no doubt in the mind of Maj. Bridgewater’s widow, as well as for history, is – Maj. Bridgewater, why?
1 Sanders, Stuart W. “Quantrill’s Last Ride.” America’s Civil War Vol.12. March 1999, p.42-48.
2 Brown, Richard C. A History of Danville and Boyle County, Kentucky, 1774-1992. Danville. Bicentennial Books. 1992. p. 41.
3 Louisville Daily Courier, March 1, 1862. The text of the full letter addressed to “Gen. F. K. Zollicoffer,” is reproduced.
4 Interview with Col. Speed S. Fry, 4th Kentucky Infantry, to the Editors of the Louisville Journal. Danville, Kentucky, Feb. 23, 1862.
5 A year before the battle, King had written to his neighbor Capt. Isaac Singleton, whose son was hanged with King’s two sons. Letter of Capt. Harbert King to Capt. Isaac Singleton, dated, “Camp Robinson, Kentucky, Oct. 16, 1861,” in possession of King descendant Madelene Henley.
6 Obituary. Lafayette Advertiser, Lafayette, Louisiana. September 2, 1893. p. 6, col. 5.
7 Sanders, Stuart W.
8 Author’s interview with Robert Hamlin, great grandson of bourbon distiller Taylor William Samuel 1821-1898, the brother of Dr. Reuben Samuel. Danville, Ky. March 18, 2004.
9 Author’s interview with Jack Farmer at age 76, great-grandson of Elisha Farmer. Stanford, Ky. June 16, 2007. The attack pistol remains in the possession of Jack Farmer. Jack Farmer has since deceased.
10 Hale, Donald R. We Rode with Quantrill, self-published 1975. ed. 1982, p. 147.
11 Records of Lincoln Lodge No. 60 of the Free & Accepted Masons, confirmed by Chaplain David Gambrel in preparation for the Bridgewater dedication service.
12 Rhyne, J. Michael “A Murderous Affair in Lincoln County: Politics, Violence, and Memory in a Civil War Era Kentucky Community” American Nineteenth Century History, Volume 7, Issue 3, September 2006, pp. 337 – 359.
13 The Advocate-Messenger, June 14, 2007. Danville, Ky. Also, David Gambrel, Vice-President, Lincoln County Historical Society. Saunders tombstone in Crab Orchard Cemetery identifies him as born in 1840 and died in 1877. His epitaph reads, “A kind husband and affectionate father and a friend to all.”
14 Records of Lincoln Lodge 60.
15 1870 Census. Johnson County, Hazel Twp. Missouri. Also, 1900 Census. Vernon County, Richland Twp., Missouri.
The year 2015 presented significant challenges for our Stray Leaves website and our blog Leaves of Gas. Despite those challenges, the statistics show that more visits generated more hits, more page views, and more file downloads than in previous years. Now we look into our crystal ball for 2016.
Right now, our 2016 crystal ball shows us a future for Stray Leaves that is both clouded and bright. If difficulties can be overcome by more investment and website improvement, the probability exists that Stray Leaves and Leaves of Gas will progress to become a better research resource and a more influential source of information as it approaches its 20th anniversary in 2018.
THE 2015 BOTTOM LINE
Number of annual visits: 477,092
Number of annual hits: 9,764,670 or 9.8 million plus
Number of annual page views: 7,155,636 or 7.1 million plus
Number of annual file downloads: 7,231,751 or 7.2 million plus
IT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER
The year 2015 began with a recovery from a hack to Leaves of Gas that occurred in November of 2014. Recovery of the blog took three months.
The devastation from the hack proved a blessing in disguise. As Google downgraded Leaves of Gas in public searches as a hacked website, Google also quickly identified the posts and pages that were affected by the hack. Google’s identification made it easy to recapture the blog posts from our backup archive. With the removal by Google of the designation of hacked website, all might have seemed restored to normal. However, Google presented another challenge for Leaves of Gas.
In an effort to present quality content at the top of Google searches, Google changed its algorithms. Anticipating that mobile applications are poised to overtake desktop applications, as more and more people access the web via tablet or smartphone, Google announced that it would give priority in search strings to websites that are mobile responsive and which produce content of high quality. To keep the priority status Stray Leaves earned over so many years, Stray Leaves and Leaves of Gas had to adapt to the new requirement from Google to become mobile friendly.
Being mobile friendly means changing everything about Stray Leaves and Leaves of Gas .and its presentation. Given the gigantic size of our website and blog, the prospect could take years. The first alteration was to meet Google’s requirement for a “landing page.”
Our WELCOME page that was created five years ago no longer was viable to Google as a landing page. Steve Jobs intended to kill flash websites, by rendering them no longer accessible on smartphone or on tablets. Our WELCOME section was constructed on a flash platform. Now our WELCOME page sits in semi-retirement as a link on the menu for Leaves of Gas. Those who still access the web via laptop or desktop can still access the old WELCOME page. At the front door of our website now is our new landing page which is Google compliant.
Our changeover from flash to mobile friendly landing page cost us valuable web traffic. For almost three months, visits to Stray Leaves fell by almost half over 2014 statistics. To return to par required more improvements.
Our SURNAMES genealogy research database has always been a premiere attraction of our website. Since its inception in 1997, the 55,000+ web pages that make up the database have been a magnet for genealogists and for researchers looking into much more than the genealogy of the James family alone.
But our database was built on a 1997 software platform. That software is no longer supported by its creator. The old platform inadequately serves Google’s standard of today for a mobile-friendly presentation. Not yet finding a suitable substitute, the existing software was re-coded to improve screen visibility for mobile devices. Still lingering is the need to find another new platform for the database altogether. That is a project for 2016.
A HIT BY ANY OTHER NAME IS ANOTHER HACK
By summer and into the fall of 2015, our website and blog began to recapture lost audience and its priority standing in Google searches. At the beginning of October, however, the arrival of the detestable Bob Ford/Jesse James Photo Hoax shot our statistics into the stratosphere. We were poised for a ceiling breakthrough. But a follow-up story on the hoax cabal brought everything to a crash. Leaves of Gas was hacked again. This hack appeared to emanate from Houston, Texas, the home of the hoaxers.
This time, repair to Leaves of Gas took about thirty days. Using a security backup file of the entire blog installed after the previous hack, the entire blog was restored. Then, security was doubled. Within ten days, stats were restored to pre-hack level. Since then, stats have continued on an upward trajectory.
2016 CRYSTAL BALL – MORE IMPROVEMENT IS REQUIRED
Our crystal ball for 2016 tells us, the oldest section of Stray Leaves still is in need of a very challenging makeover. The CONTENTS and JESSE JAMES pages, together with their ARCHIVED CONTENT and NEW FOUND LINES subpages, must still be transcribed, remounted, and presented again in a new mobile friendly theme. Another year may be required to achieve this.
Further complicating needed improvement to the Stray Leaves and Leaves of Gas website and blog is the additional need to revamp the website for Jesse James Soul Liberty. Funding that could easily have continued to support our website and blog has been directed to research, promotion, and publications for producing our epic five-volume history of the Jesse James family. Our present book website is not recognized by Google as being mobile-friendly. This, too, needs to change. Our entire book website needs to be republished for both ease of use and ease of customer purchase of our family history books and related souvenirs to come.
Left waiting on the horizon remains our plans for the Joan Beamis Studio for film, video, and podcast production, and for continuing Jesse James Family and Gang reunions, highlighting and celebrating the unique contributions to society by slected members of the James family.
Meanwhile, the cost of making the required improvements, plus the need for added security, up-to-date software, editorial applications, design, storage and other services, arise from the former hobby level of Stray Leaves to a new level of professionalism. Time has come to recognize that Stray Leaves and Leaves of Gas must have financial underwriting to support this new professional level of service and to continue as an effective research resource.
YOUR OPINION MATTERS
Can your crystal ball see the future of Stray Leaves and Leaves of Gas?Our options for badly needed support and underwriting are limited.
Should our website and blog accept advertisements?
Should patronage or corporate sponsorship be sought?
Should the SURNAMES database be put on a paid subscription basis?
Should Leaves of Gas become a paid membership site?
Or, should our website and blog continue to sustain free use solely through the support of user and visitor donations?
Book Review: Frank and Jesse James “Friends and Family” by Freda Cruse Hardison. Morris Publishing, Kearney, Nebraska, 2015. 381 pp. ISBN 978-0-9842111-2-8. $29.00. Paperback. Photos. No end notes, bibliography or index. Reviewed by Nancy B. Samuelson, Sacramento, California
Publication of this review is shared by Stray Leaves, the James-Younger Gang Journal, and the Wild West History Association.
This book is billed as a historical novel told in the voice of Alexander Franklin James. However, the book has none of the attributes of a novel and it is certainly not historically accurate. The book is poorly organized, rambling and incoherent.
The author seems to have little knowledge of well-known historical facts about the Civil War and some well-known personalities of the era. She states that Senator Stephen Douglas was famous for the Missouri Compromise. Stephen Douglas was born 1813 and the Missouri Compromise took place in 1820. Douglas did, however, play a major role in the Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. General Nathan Bedford Forrest is given credit for establishing the Knights of the Golden Circle but that organization was founded by a man named George Bickley. Union General Grenville Dodge becomes Greenville Dodge. The Union prison that collapsed killing and injuring the sisters of Bloody Bill Anderson and other female relatives of Quantrill guerrillas is placed in Lawrence, Kansas. (It was in Kansas City, Missouri.)There are numerous errors of this sort throughout the book.
Military rank structure appears to be foreign territory to the author. Men are one rank on one page and on the next page they are another rank. In one instance a captain is commanding a colonel. And on occasion John Thrailkill is identified as both a colonel and a major at the same time. (He was a major.) The military abbreviations for rank are used in a rather bizarre fashion. In one place ferries were of Maj. importance, in another instance something was a Maj. task for Union troops. Then strangest of all, the military rank is used as a name as follows: Alexander Maj’s is the manager for Russell, Maj. and Waddell, the freighting firm.
There is a lot of dubious genealogy throughout the book. One egregious example of this is the claim that William “Wild Bill” Thomason, step-uncle of the James boys, was the grandfather of Bill and Jim Anderson. It is also stated that “Wild Bill” taught the James and Anderson boys, together, to shoot, ride and practice other martial skills. A quick check of the census records shows this to be fiction. The 1850 census for the Anderson family show them in Randolph County, Missouri and W. Tomason (sometimes spelled Tomasson) and his wife Mahala are living with the William Anderson family. The Tomason couple is undoubtedly the grandparents of Bill and Jim Anderson. Both William Anderson, father of Bill and Jim, and W. Tomason list their occupation as hatters (they make hats). In 1850 William Thomason, the step-uncle of the James boys, is 62 years old and is living in Liberty Township in Clay County, Missouri. The Anderson family moved to Iowa for a short time, back to Randolph County, Missouri, then to what is now Lyon, County Kansas. A brief look at the map of Missouri and Kansas should quickly quell any notion that the Anderson and James boys visited frequently and learned to ride and shoot together.
There are a number of photographs in the book and many of them dubious, including the one on the front cover of the book. Several of the photos are from the Emory Cantey Collection and a number of serious scholars and photo collectors have questioned the validity of this entire collection. Several photos offer no source and are also very dubious. Only the photos from the Missouri Valley Special Collection, Kansas City Public Library should be considered as valid.
This book is poorly written, historically inaccurate, and tedious to read. It is also overpriced for a paperback. Save your money for something more worthwhile.
EDITOR’S COMMENT: Author Freda Cruse Hardison is part of the cabal that promoted the Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax, previously noted HERE. Hardison employed this book as her authoritative collateral to piggyback on the fake photo hoax and identity theft perpetrated by Sandy Mills, Lois Gibson, Dylan Baddour, the Houston Chronicle, and others.
News is made when a lawyer becomes a man of the cloth. On June 16, 1964, attorney James Burns Malley was ordained a Roman Catholic priest by Francis Cardinal Spellman. More unusual than being a lawyer, Jim’s great-grandfather is Drury Woodson James, an uncle of Frank and Jesse James, making Fr. Jim a first cousin of the outlaws. Fifty years later, Fr. Jim celebrated his Golden Jubilee of 50 years as a Jesuit priest. A year later, Fr. Jim claimed his eternal rest and reward. Following Jim’s graduation from Farragut Academy, Dartmouth, and Harvard Law School, his “Alumni Album” at Dartmouth recognized the unusual life and destiny of Fr. James B. Malley S.J.
For the first 15 years, his life followed a predictable course, almost archetypical of the path to be expected of a bright young Ivy Leaguer of a certain vintage. Raised in a prosperous New Hampshire family, James B. Malley ’43 went off to prep school, followed his alumnus father to Dartmouth, matriculating within weeks of a new European war. After an accelerated program, he served three years as a Navy officer, then entered Harvard Law School. He started practice in Boston, was recalled to active duty during the Korean conflict, then worked briefly in San Francisco before joining a Manchester, New Hampshire firm.
He had settled into a promising career as a tax and trust specialist when not very suddenly, he concluded that “I wanted something more and different.” In 1954, Malley started the long, rigorous training in preparation for the Jesuit priesthood.
“I had been thinking about it for a year or more,” Father Malley recalls. “I had always been a religious person; it was my basic motivation and where my deepest values lay. What was paramount in my mind was that I wanted to devote more time to the expression of my religion.” The irony, he adds parenthetically, is that “it’s just as tough to do as a priest. I still get so busy that I must carve out the time to pray and to reflect.”
No second thought about his decision has nagged at him, he say, in grand measure because he left a good life, a challenging career with congenial partners, for a better, more fulfilling one. In a sense, what he found most gratifying in the practice of law was a very personal relationship, and I found I wanted to work with people in a more holistic way.”
He knew from the start that he wanted to be an order rather than a parish priest, but he did not have the Society of Jesus specifically in mind until close friends urged him to consider it. Although best known to laymen for their traditional emphasis in intellectual and educational pursuits, the Jesuits have throughout their history functioned in the slums, the missions, and the parishes as well, Father Malley explains.
So, at the age of 35, Jim Malley embarked upon eight years of general, philosophical, and theological studies, modified considerably from the 13 or 14 that might be required by a novice entering the order straight from high school. He was ordained in 1964 and, after a year of theology, requested and received an assignment as a missionary in South America. “I felt drawn there for a number of reasons, among them that my mother’s family were Spanish-speaking Californians. And there had been a real drive in the church towards Latin America, where the percentage of priests in proportion to the population has been low.“
Historically, Latin America – religious and secular in its policies and economy – has been “inundated by foreigners trying to transplant their structures.” Father Malley comments, “Since colonial days, the church has been staffed largely from the Iberian Peninsula, and more recently, North American has been called upon to ‘man the oars.’”
During six years in Brazil and a shorter interval in Mexico, however, Father Malley experienced a growing conviction that the importation of foreign priests was no answer to the problems of the Latin American people. “Though many disagree with me, I came to believe that our presence relieved the local population of the responsibility and the opportunity for social change. Thrown on their own, they would find a way.”
The Catholic presence in South America is terribly exciting, and it is an immensely complex reality.” Father Malley asserts. “It is different from the United States. The people are not church-goers, but in the cities particularly, they are deeply religious in their outlook and philosophy. It’s a cosmic reality. God is active in their lives.
“The church has always been on the side of the poor, and the poor know it. The official hierarchy is very much committed to social change, which causes some problems with some parts of the clergy and with powerful laymen.” Whether change can occur fast enough through the evolutionary process remains a question. “There is a long way to go. In spite of what is called ‘the Brazilian miracle.’ 70 percent of the people have less than a survival income,” he points out. “I hope conditions can change without bloody revolution. Places like Chile leave almost no option, but in Brazil, repressive as the government is, some encouraging cracks are appearing in the military.” One ray of hope is that industrialization will bring education and social progress with it. Meanwhile, people working for peaceful social change are dismayed to “see the United States all too often fearfully backing the status quo.”
“The years in Brazil were the richest part of my life,” Father Malley declares emphatically, then reconsiders. “Well, maybe not the richest – life has been good to me – but very rich. It was immensely exciting in 1965. The church was in the vanguard of social change. It was very ecumenical, and old hatreds were wiped out. We worked with the Peace Corps, and with Protestants. Everybody collaborated in community development – Catholics, Protestants, communists. Together we’d get the pipes laid and water running to people who had never had it before.”
Father Malley doubts that he will ever return to South America on assignment. “One side of me would love to go back,” he muses, “but the other side of me says the reasons for leaving are still valid. I had begun to feel a pain of the foreign presence and a little bit officious. It’s not for me to say what they need.” Aside from that, he adds, “We were spied on and often called communist priests, and our friendship could hurt the Brazilians.” A visit would not work out either. “It would be alike a date with an ex-wife. I have loved the place too much, and my heart was too much in it.”
Since 1973, Father Malley has been in the campus ministry at the Law Center of Georgetown University, an assignment that draws together many of the thread of his life. He has done some team-teaching in the past, but he is preoccupied with counseling, devoting long days to working with young people in many levels of student life. He normally does not wear a clerical collar, and his office – far from ecclesiastical in atmosphere – is in the cinder block basement of designed by Edward Durell Stone. The confessional cubicle is now his kitchen, whence he dispenses coffee along with pastoral concern, where a tidy larder betrays a quite secular predilection for Italian delicacies.”
An indefatigable scholar, Father Malley is taking three courses this term: family psychiatry to help his students and those close to them: German “for fun”: and computer science for a layman’s knowledge of an innovation he look upon as “another steam engine on the horizon,” its potential for change as profound. “Think what computers can do in legal education, and what they can do to close the technological gap for South American countries struggling to catch up. They could bring a quantum leap.”
If it seems a quantum leap also from the oppressive poverty of South America to the impressive hard and software of computer technology, it’s a long way too from commanding landing craft in the Pacific to settling estates in New Hampshire to laying pipe in Brazil. And Father James B. Malley S.J. has demonstrated amply that he’s a good man at bridging gaps.
His family name is Charles Michael James. As an artist poet, and publisher, Mike is known among the art world and literary circles as C. M. James.
Mike was born in Somerset, Kentucky, a second great-grandson of Rev. Joseph Martin James and Permellia Estepp. He attended Youngstown and Ohio State Universities.
As a poet, artist, and illustrator, Mike founded Fantome Press. He began to publish poets of the Beat Generation. He also published classic American and British poets.
A retrospective of his work as an artist brought the following comment:
“Several of his pictures are offered in different sizes, combinations, and colors, offering surprise after surprise. An element is offered alone and is quite sufficient. Later, admiring a patterned work of almost ornate intricacy, it is amazing and a little disconcerting to find it composed of repetitions of that element.”
“The C. M. James/ Fantome Press Collection consists of documents, publications, video tapes, cassette tapes, correspondence, etc. all relating to the small press owned by C. M. James, The Fantome Press, and the cassette distribution project he ran, called the Underground Culture Vultures. The Fantome Press has been operating in Warren, Ohio since 1976 and publishes original works by various authors including C. M. James.”
Since suffering a stroke in 1993, Mike has retired from writing and publishing.
In the Bob Ford – Jesse James photo hoax formerly written about HERE, a cabal of hoaxers assembled to perpetrate a case of identity theft, at the expense of factual history and in violation of the identity of the Jesse James family.
Through an ample misapplication of fantasy, imagination, slight of eye magic, chicanery, and purposely deceitful tabloid and broadcast journalism, the cabal sought to beguile, hoodwink, and defraud an unknowledgeable audience for the purpose of promoting fake imagery of Bob Ford and Jesse James and for reaping an imaginary million dollar windfall.
THE CABAL OF HOAXERS
The principal motivating forces behind the Bob Ford-Jesse James photo hoax is without doubt Sandy Mills, Lois Gibson, Dylan Baddour, and the Houston Chronicle. Whether the others who followed were witting or unwitting accomplices, each as writer and publishers had a fiduciary duty to investigate and report the truth of the opposite side of Sandy Mills’ story. They did not. But others did.
Among the responsible writers and publishers, the Canadian Broadcasting Company dropped the story from publication altogether. CNN’s Michael Pearson questioned the image’s authenticity and claim. Christopher Klein who writes for A&E’s History rewrote his initial story to present the James family’s objection and argument. Elleda Wilson who picked up the story for the Daily Astorian wrote a followup story when alerted about the hoax.
Without doubt, calling out the hoaxers of the Bob Ford-Jesse James fake photo fraud, will not put an end to the constant flow of images claimed to be Jesse James. Within the period of the present hoax, two more claimed images arrived at Stray Leaves, claiming to be authentic images of Jesse James.
More of this kind of nonsense can be expected to come.
The following is a re-publication of a post to Leaves of Gas that appeared on October 2, 2015. After the initial publication of “Lost Jesse James/Bob Ford Photo – Not Lost, Not Authenticated,” the Leaves of Gas blog was hacked. The hack occurred on the day on which the Houston Chronicle published an addition to the story. The hack prevented public access to the following post which represents the James family’s rebuttal to the falsehoods presented in the Chronicle story. Moreover, the hack appeared to have emanated from Houston, Texas, the home base of this Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax.
Two days ago, the Houston Chronicle headlined a story, “Lost Photo of Jesse James, assassin Robert Ford is found. Authenticated. ” Here we go again, I thought. Another day. Another fake Jesse James photo. Another fake authentication. Another con artist, or two, or maybe more. The fact is, there are no photos of Jesse James or Bob Ford that are lost. Moreover, the ones claimed by the Chronicle are not authenticated. Here is why.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, Lois Gibson holds the world record for “most successful forensic artist.” Gibson is the chief forensic artist for the Houston Police Department. In my experience as genealogist and historian of the Jesse James family, Texas is the birthplace of numerous Jesse James hoaxes. Some have carried on for decades. Apparently, with three images of Jesse James, Robert Ford, and Zee Mimms-James, which Gibson claims to have authenticated, the 65-year-old Lois Gibson is an artist with a leg up on creating another Jesse James hoax in Texas.
Let us back up on Gibson’s story to my first encounter with Sandy Mills. Sandy is the owner of the image in question. Gibson claims this image was lost, now found, and she has authenticated it.
As happens with regularity in most any month here at Stray Leaves, images of all types believed to relate to the Jesse James family are submitted here for review, and opinion. Mills submitted her image to me for review in March of 2013. Mills stated, “I have a tin type photo of Jesse James sitting with another man, we think it is a first cousin Robert Woodson Hite. We are interested in showing you. Please contact me.” The email from Mills arrived under enhanced suspicion. Mills sent the email under an alias email account of Robyn Anderson. Con artists love alias names. Red flags were waving already.
In 2002, Jesse’s great-grandson, Judge James Randall Ross, and I founded the James Preservation Trust. Part of the mission of JPT is to archive the family history, as well as to address issues about the veracity of Jesse James family history, genealogy, images, and documents. Upon receipt of a claimed image, the image is circulated first for preliminary review among family, respected historians, and/or specific authorities most relevant to the image’s provenance. If the image is believed to be possibly verifiable as authentic, the image owner is referred for full forensic investigation and analysis to a reputable authority fully trained in the metrics of scientific forensic analysis and Jesse James history. The image owner then can chose to employ, or not to employ, such services.
The image Sandy Mills provided me was so blatantly false about being either Jesse James or Woot Hite, I told Mills not to waste any money for an authentication.
There exist only a handful of authentic images of the outlaw Jesse James. Those images appear variously on Stray Leaves and have done so for nearly 20 years.
I also included an authentic image of Woot Hite from the Joan Beamis Archive for Mills to compare with her claimed image.
MY EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE WITH SANDY MILLS
Click on an email to enlarge & read
LOIS GIBSON & SANDY MILLS CONJOINED
The Houston Chronicle article now links Sandy Mills with Lois Gibson. This raises many questions and more red flags.
Who is conning whom? Did Mills inform Gibson of my reaction to the image? Did Mills offer other information to Gibson that Mills did not offer to me? On the other hand, did Gibson see another opportunity for self-promotion, as Gibson formerly did when she stated a tintype image of Billy the Kid was the authentic tintype of the widely circulated image of the Kid already known to be authentic. At that time, Gibson fell under intense scrutiny. She was widely derided among the western artifact collector community, another red flag.
Regardless of what remains unknown about the relationship between Mills and Gibson, what is known is that the images Lois Gibson states are authentically Jesse James, Robert Ford, and Zee Mimms-James cannot be authenticated as true when, in fact, they are fake.
LOIS GIBSON’S CASE FOR AUTHENTICATION
Customarily, a reputable authentication of any historical image is documented in abundant clinical detail in an image’s authentication report. The report usually bears the signature of a witness or witnesses, and/or a notary for formal and legal recognition. Gibson provides none – a red flag. The report will give a full account of the credentials of the expert performing the authentication, a full explanation of the scientific techniques applied, the entire known provenance of the image and its condition. Gibson pretends to do so, but provides none – another red flag. The report concludes with arguments and resulting findings, which the applied forensic analysis produced.
No evidence exists that Lois Gibson performed any scientific authentication of image assessment, or that she is qualified to do so. In her biographical statement, Gibson says she is a forensic artist. At first glance, her record as an artist is impressive. She claims no forensic science training, though – a significant red flag.
What Lois Gibson has proudly produced from her palette of artist tricks is a deception intended to fool the eye of the indiscriminate viewer and a public un-knowledgeable about Jesse James. Gibson’s deft artwork is intended to convince you she has authenticated the subject image when fact it does not – an additional red flag.
Gibson’s cardinal sin was first to alter the image to her preference by a process of image reversal. Lois Gibson reverses the images presented to me in 2013 by Sandy Mills. In the field of legal evidence, this is termed “tampering,” – a most compelling red flag.
In a series of plates Gibson next manufactures and develops her suppositions with no reference to actual history that is known or recognized.
BREAKING DOWN LOIS GIBSON’S ARGUMENT
In Plate 1, Gibson describes the spare provenance provided by Sandy Mills. Neither one addresses Mills own genealogy or the personal family background or circumstances that might offer the slightest explanation for how this image fell into the Mills family’s possession. Gibson proceeds to compare Mills’ image to the authentic wedding photo of Jesse James. Mills’ fake Jesse James is cross-eyed, something Jesse was not. Although Jesse suffered from “lazy eye” in his youth, the condition corrected itself by his adulthood. Mills references no relevant history about the condition.
The most telling giveaways of the Mills image are the spatial relationships and physical features. A reputable scientific forensic analysis would have applied a grid system, mathematics, and spatial metrics. Such analysis would have identified the discrepancy in forehead, hairline, eyebrows, eye formation and nose that is all too evidently wrong in the fake photo.
In Plate 2, Gibson commits the authenticator’s crime of comparing one fake photo to another fake photo. She misidentified the comparison fake photo as being “Historically accepted group shot of Jesse James and cohorts, circa 1880s.” Mills cites no recognized authorities for this false claim.
A check of the clock informs the most unknowledgeable person that Bob Ford assassinated Jesse James in 1882. Jesse’s popular death photo reveals his physical features. They resemble the fake comparison photo, not in the least. Jesse, in fact, was a bit chubby when killed. A check of any Jesse James history book also tells us Jesse had no cohorts in the early 1880s, other than the despicable Ford brothers.
Most egregiously, Gibson fails to discuss the physical discrepancies between her fake Jesse James and the fake comparison Jesse James. Between those two fake images, forehead, eyes, nose, ears, and facial width are all different.
Here is the quintessential question everyone looks for in claimed pictures of Jesse James. Where is Jesse’s famous missing fingertip in the comparison fake Jesse James? Mills’ fake Jesse James image displays a full set of unharmed digits.
“Historically,” Gibson’s comparison fake Jesse photo was rejected already as a fake. The actual image exists in the collection of Robert G. McCubbin, a reputable collector of Western memorabilia. Tne photo is of a group of Texas Rangers, identified as (Standing, from left) Robert “Bob” Speaks and Jim Putman, (Seated, from left) Alonzo Van “Lon” Oden and John R. Hughes. The rangers were sent to Texas after a shootout in 1892.
The image of Lon Orden went to auction in 2002, when it was claimed to be Jesse James. At that time, Jesse’s great-grandson, Judge James R. Ross, lodged his written complaint with Swann Galleries in New York that was auctioning off the image. The image sold for a paltry sum to a man from Kentucky. I met that collector a few years later. The auction house had not informed him of the written opinion issued by Judge Ross. Proper and full disclosure might have influenced the bidder not to buy.
Plate #3: Remember that shell game where three shells move around while you try to remember under which shell a pea was placed? Artist Gibson plays this game to fool the unsuspecting eye. She is not alone in deploying such tricks. We recently encountered the same technique by an auction house that was trying to sell a fake Jesse James image for an advertised $40,000 to $60,000 windfall expected. Some fool actually anteed up $12,000 for an image known publicly to be worthless. The price of ignorance in the Jesse James artifact market can be dear.
While Gibson focuses the unsuspecting eye on her fake image, a knowledgeable eye is asking, “Where did this other fake image come from?” Gibson present a fake image of Jesse James never seen by anyone before. Neither Gibson or Mills cites no origination of this previously unknown image. No one among the Jesse James community ever has seen this second claimed image of Jesse James. Not ever among the Jesse James family. Certainly not among Jesse James historians. Not even among the public. Again, Gibson produces one fake image to compare against yet another fake image. The image she identifies as “Jesse James, 1870s, Webb City, Missouri” is another of Gibson’s gallery of Jesse James fake photos.
In Plate #4, Gibson performs her same slight of the eye trickery. However, the physical features at the start of her slide characterization are not the same as at the end. If Gibson had simply looked at the photo of Bob Ford and his wife Dot Evans that appears on page 311 of my book, Jesse James Soul Liberty, Volume I, she might have surrendered her gambit to fool the Jesse James family. That photo of Bob Ford, never published before, has been in the possession of the James family for more than a century. That image of Bob Ford should have been integral to Mills’ authentication, had she tried.
Plate #6: Incredibly, stunningly, and arrogantly, Gibson no longer can control her hoax. She goes full-bore con game. Lois Gibson not only introduces a third, previously unknown, and additional fake image of Jesse James, Gibson throws in a fake image of Zee Mimms-James, Jesse’s wife, to boot. To the trained eye, this third Jesse looks nothing like Gibson’s other two fake Jesse James photos. Nor does it compare to any known and authenticated historical image of Jesse and his wife.
At this point, Gibson loses all objectivity. She clearly has no knowledge of James family genealogy. Nor has she made an effort to know it. Jesse’s wife Zee is, in fact, a James family descendant herself. Zee’s mother is Mary James, Jesse’s aunt. The couple is first cousins. They share the same genetic DNA that marks their physical appearances with shared identical physical features. Those physical features have been accounted and quantified across five generations of the James family. In physical appearance, Gibson’s fake Jesse James couple share no common physical features that match the proven genetics of the James.
HOW CAN THIS HOAX GO SO WRONG?
The simple answer is environment and enablers, whether actual conspirators or not Texas is home to nefarious con artists who have preyed upon the Jesse James family and its identity for generations. From Orvis Hauk, to J. Frank Dalton, to Betty Dorsett Duke, Texans lift up their tall tales as they throw factual history into the trash. Texas legislators actually do this with schoolbooks, too.
The true Jesse James family in Texas goes unrecognized. Around Granbury, authentic members of the real Jesse James family who live there roam in confident privacy and anonymity. They can do this because Granbury would rather fete its fake Jesse James internment there. Authentic Jesse James family members populate Texas terrain and cemeteries from Red River to the gulf coast. No Texan celebrates Geneva James who taught Willie Nelson in grammar school in Waco. Nobody in Johnson County knows of John James of Alvarado unless they follow Stray Leaves or read my book. Texas has yet to recognize the kinship shared between Houston’s George W. Bush and the Jesse James family.
But Lois Gibson and Sandy Mills can find ample news coverage for fake Jesse James photos by the Houston Chronicle, whom we now must acknowledge as an enabler of bogus Jesse James imagery, along with their correspondent Dylan Baddour who broke the story.
We contacted Dylan Baddour and asked for his defense of what he wrote. He provided the following statement: “Lois Gibson, who identified the photo, is one of the world’s most credible sources for facial recognition. She’s a forensic artist and analyst with the Houston Police Department who has garnered a Guinness world record and features in national media for her success. When it comes to identifying faces, there is no higher authority. Every auction house we spoke with found it very compelling that Gibson made the ID, and couldn’t immediately refute it.”
What motivated Baddour to inquire of an auction house and not of reputable Jesse James family, historians, or authorities? When it comes to Jesse James artifacts, we repeatedly take auction houses to the woodshed for their inflated and inaccurate claims, not to mention their despicable practices of deceit. In all of Jesse James auction history, there has been only one auction that performed ethically and responsibly; and, ironically, Heritage Auctions is in Texas.
We also reached out to Sarah Laskow, a news aggregator for Atlas Obscura. She replied, stating, “I used the Houston Chronicle as a source for this short post, as well as the analysis that Lois Gibson had posted. If there’s countervailing evidence about the authenticity of the image, I’d be interested to hear about it.”
Arden Dier harvested the story for republication for Newser, whose slogan is “Read less. Know more.” Really? We found no contact information for Arden Dier.
There is more to this hoax than is clear at this moment. New information is being researched and developed. More revelations will come.
In the end, this hoax will enter history under the names of Sandy Mills and Lois Gibson. No matter how long it takes, history always gets to the truth. Sandy Mills and Lois Gibson will stay on our watch list of tricksters, con artists, and frauds for some time.
The family of Frank and Jesse James maintains the fraudulent actions of Dylan Baddour and Lois Gibson, and their sycophants engage in identity theft. A like reaction will probably come from the family of bluesman Robert Johnson. Music historian Bruce Conforth, identified in the Texas Monthly article has been friends with Johnson’s descendants. Conforth publicly acknowledges the Johnson family’s assessments that Gibson’s claimed Johnson photo, like the Bob Ford/Jesse James claimed image, is a fake.
BOOK REVIEW: Jesse James, Soul Liberty. Volume I. By Eric F. James. Published by Cashel Cadence House, Danville KY. 2012. 411 pages, $36.95, reviewed by Bobbi King of Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter, June 23, 2013. Reprinted here by permission.
“Mr. James has conquered the Everest of writing a family history genealogy book that is interesting enough for the rest of us to want to read.”
Eric F. James was asked to take on the task of researching and writing the story of the James family, specifically the many members of the family who merited fair consideration distinct from the myth and legend of the notorious outlaw brothers Frank and Jesse.
Mr. James succeeds in acquainting us with a family of characters who do deserve to be featured apart from the tarnished brothers. The book’s subtitle, “Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence” offers a not-so-subtle hint on the family’s take on their historical connection. Apparently, the more well-informed members of the family vigorously sought to put the kibosh on any kinship to Frank and Jesse James when naïve queries arose.
Mr. James introduces the family:
“In the emerging democracy of colonial Virginia, the early Kentucky frontier, and throughout the American heartland, the James were renowned as community builders, public office holders, ministers of faith, financiers, educators, writers, and poets. From these roots shot Frank and Jesse James.
“Following the Civil War, Frank and Jesse James eclipsed the family’s destiny. War may have splintered the family ideologically, but Frank and Jesse James disjoined the family’s compass and direction, casting a longer and darker shadow on the James family, like no other.
“Like their royal ancestors of old when beset by crisis, the James family turned suspicious and distrustful of its own. The larger James family kept apart from one another, holding in muted reverence what relic of itself that it could. The line of Frank and Jesse James was left isolated, unsupported and abandoned.”
Goaded by family in-laws, the Jesse James family withdrew into a citadel of its own. Their ostracism was enforced by every other family line of the James.
Mr. James’ book locates the various families’ residences, describes their personal occupations, details relationships and kinship to one another (a six-generation descendant chart is included), chronicles their military service, catalogs their movements about the regions, and quotes a good deal of material from their letters and journals, which always evokes a personality, a spirit, a temperament.
Mr. James’ research appears to be extensive across a wide variety of sources, with references at the end of the book that contain explanatory tidbits adding even more to the story. The photographs and illustrations, even those blurred by age and decomposition, are vivid and well produced, summoning up their subjects and places.
Mr. James, along with Judge James R. Ross, a great-grandson of Jesse James, is a co-founder of the James Preservation Trust. He writes and publishes on the official website of the James family, and is without a doubt the family cheerleader.
His writing is strong, perhaps a bit hyperbolic for my taste, but this is a good book for fans of Western history who want to know the real story. His research supports a claim to authenticity, and his writing keeps us reading.
Mr. James has conquered the Everest of writing a family history genealogy book that is interesting enough for the rest of us to want to read.
Official blog for the family of Frank & Jesse James
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