Jesse James Family Reunion 2002 Video – Pt 6

When taking our bus tour around Paso Robles, visiting the sites where Drury Woodson James lived and worked, we made a special trip to San Luis Obispo. The old Franciscan mission there was where Drury Woodson James and his business partner Daniel Drew “D.D.” Blackburn married the Dunn sisters from Australia, the young ladies being twenty years their junior.

A lot could be read into these two 40 years old geezers marrying women half their age, while living on a frontier that still was lawless. For Drury, the likelihood was he wanted a wife capable of giving him a large family like the one he grew up among, his 8 James brothers and sisters and his 12 step brothers and step sisters, who included Jesse’s wife Zee Mimms-James.

Drury Woodson James
Drury Woodson James

Our videographer for the reunion, Tommy Barrios, was not present when we went to the mission. This video was shot instead by my niece, Kathryn Craft, which explains its “home video” quality. Was it not for Kathryn, though, we wouldn’t have any record of this funny little event.

That was not the only unexpected development at the mission, Little did we all know how seriously Jesse’s great grandson, Judge James R. Ross, would take his acting role, portraying Patrick Dunn, Drury’s alcoholic father-in-law. Talk about “stealing the show.”

Jesse James Family Reunion 2002 Video – Pt 5

Rarely does the owner of an image claimed to be that of Jesse Woodson James ever proceed to the costly process of a formal authentication. The process itself is lengthy, and requires an administrator who is highly trained.

Antiquarian Gary Taylor was pretty sure of what he had, enough to commit further resources to prove it. In this video, Gary talks about his reward. Gary present’s Jesse’s great-grandson, Judge James R. Ross, with a photo-copy.

Jesse James Family Reunion 2002 Video – Pt 4

As families gather for the holiday season, I’ll be adding ten more videos from the Jesse James family reunion in 2002 to thto the reunion playlist on our YouTube channel. I’ll bet when you watch them, you’ll be wishing, “Maybe we should do that again.” 

You know, some Christmas wishes do come true.

Watching this video, not having viewed it for some time, I was struck at how polite Stanley was in his initial reference to Drury Woodson James. Stanley states Drury may have “tired” of all his property when it Frederick Augustus Hihn acquired it all. Holy understatement, Batman!

When this reunion occurred, I think Stanley was only a couple of years into the gigantic task he had undertaken in archiving the Hihn-Younger files bequeathed by Marion Stowell Younger. Though we had communicated for more than a year, the reunion was our first  meeting in person. I’m not sure if Stanley had yet plumbed the depths of his archive enough to know what was known already to us. Had he known, or had we been better known to one another, Stanley certainly could have been more candid and forthcoming than the politeness of his casual remark portrayed.

Frederick Augustus Hihn
Frederick Augustus Hihn

The fact is, Drury Woodson James indeed was probably tired, but it was not due to his age. As we know today, F.A. Hihn, aided in no small part by Charles Bruce Younger Sr. a first cousin of the Younger Gang brothers, foreclosed on the properties Drury Woodson James had established.

Drury’s loss at the time, however, was not his alone to bear. Like many Americans who lost home and property across the nation in 2008, Drury suffered his loss because of policies established by his own federal government with regard to the banking interests, the stock market, and railroads. Among his many interests, Hihn was a railroad owner and developer. The Panics of 1893 and 1896, and the lingering Recession of 1899-1900 were replays of the Depression of 1815-1821 that doomed Drury’s father John M. James, leading to the James family’s first antipathy towards banks.

Charles Bruce Younger Sr.
Charles Bruce Younger Sr.

To continue building his town of Paso Robles and to develop the El Paso de Robles Hotel simultaneously into a world-class resort, Drury Woodson James was leveraged to his financiers to the hilt. Retirement on the San Francisco knob became an appealing invitation.

The irony was, Drury legally was stripped of all his property and was decimated financially by a cousin of the Youngers.


Aquia Church – The James Family’s First House of Worship in America

 The Aquia Church in Stafford County, Virginia, is the first known house of worship of the ancestral family of Frank and Jesse James.

Aquia Church

Located in Stafford County, this old church was established by the Anglican Church of England, which constructed the church about 1667 upon the area’s first church of Overwharton Parish, which had burned. Its brick construction of Flemish bond masonry would become a hallmark of the mansion houses constructed later by John M. James, Jesse’s grandfather, in Kentucky.

Aquia Church Historical Marker
The Aquia Church is located on Jefferson Davis Highway (US Highway 1) the church is on a tree-ringed hilltop off I-95 (Exit #143A) just south of Marine Corps Base Quantico.

The James family is first known to have arrived in the Virginia Colony sometime around 1620-1640. They arrived as Anglicans. The family became Episcopalians during the next fifty years. James family members appear in the Register of Overwharton Parish, 1723-1758.

During the fiery and impassioned ministry of Rev. John Waugh, notoriously known to history as “Parson Waugh” of Parson Waugh’s Tumult that erupted in 1688, the James fell under Waugh’s anti-Catholic preaching.

Like the James family, John Waugh (abt. 1640-abt. 1706) had emigrated from England to the Virginia Colony. Among Waugh’s descendants would appear Gen. Alexander William Doniphan (1808-1887), Waugh’s second great grandson, best known to the Jesse James family as the leader of Jesse’s uncle Drury Woodson James in the Mexican War, and the General at Santa Fe when Frank James’ father-in-law Sam Ralston first explored his own settlement in the West before finally settling in Missouri.

The Aquia Church was constructed with simplicity. No fancy wood carvings or distracting religious icons. Just solely an express and intent focus upon preaching the Word.

Parson Waugh’s Tumult was an extension of the Glorious Revolt that led to the unseating of King James II, a Catholic. As King William assumed the throne to put an end to there ever being a Catholic king ruling over England again,  the firebrand Waugh continued to preach to end royal rule over Virginia. Waugh urged his congregation to remain armed for their own defense. George Mason III (1690-1735), a third great grandfather of Thomas T. Crittenden Jr. the close friend and confidante of Jesse James’ son, lent his support and protection to Parson Waugh, to his congregation, and to the James. Ultimately, Parson Waugh was arrested, and George Mason was stripped of his command.  Construction of the Aquia Church, known today, was begun in 1751 and finished in 1757. Eighteen years later, the American Revolution began.

Robert “King” Carter (1663-1772), known as King because he was the wealthiest man in the Colony, had hired Nathaniel Hedgeman of Overwhwarton Parish as an overseer of his enslaved. Hedgeman, however, met a violent death, leaving Carter to remark about Hedgeman, “I have heard of late he hath been a very great delinquent from my business and lived a loose, rebelling life, which hath brought him to his untimely catastrophe.” King Carter was a third great grandfather of Maj. Hancock Lee who built the log cabin ordinary where Frank and Jesse’s mother was born. Carter also was a great-grandfather of General and President William Henry Harrison who led the James and the rebellious Baptist preachers of Kentucky into the War of 1812.

Aquia Church pew

Nathaniel’s eldest son, Peter Hedgeman (abt. 1700-1765), tendered his application for his father’s job, to which Carter replied, “As for entertaining his son, a wild young lad that hath no experience in the world, I can by no means think proper.” Despite Carter’s rebuff, young Peter Hedgeman rose to social and political in Overwharton Parish, serving in his lifetime as a justice, militia officer and presiding Burgess, representing Stafford County.

Peter Hedgeman also served as vestryman of Overwharton Parish. There he noted the dissention tearing apart his parishioners and threating to dismantle his church. Some, like the James, had removed themselves to St. Mark’s Parish, a congregation that was known to foment revolution. Peter Hedgeman readily acknowledged, “sundry inhabitants of Overwharton Parish complaining of the illegal, arbitrary, and oppressive proceedings of the present vestry of said Parish, and praying that the same may be dissolved.”

St. Mark's Church
St. Mark’s Church

Dissenters among the James and their in-law families associated with St. Mark’s Parish as the events of the American Revolution unfolded. At St. Mark’s, fourteen-year-old John M. James, destined to be the grandfather of Frank and Jesse James, first learned the power to disobey.

The lesson came directly from his Uncle Henry, the son of Henry Field Sr. and Esther James. John’s Uncle Henry was one of the sixteen  judges in Culpeper County who resigned their commissions, to boldly oppose King George’s Stamp Act. From Henry Field Jr., John learned that being disobedient in a civil manner could alter a person’s identity, and also change one’s course of destiny.

By the time the Revolution was in full effect, John M. James was one of the dissenters who bartered his participation in the war for the liberty of separating church from state. They became known as “the fighting Baptists.

These ancestral colonials and their associated families set the stage in their period for much of the dissention, conflict, and religious structures that attempt to influence political structures, not only in the time of Frank & Jesse James but also, in present day.


Much more of this will be found in This Bloody Ground, the second volume of my Jesse James Soul Liberty quintet.

Stefon From SNL Was a No-Show for My Book Talk

Circling twice around McQuixote Books & Coffee before spotting it, I was convinced Stefon from Saturday Night Live would show up to review my book talk and signing.

The Portland Arts District of Louisville, Kentucky is precisely the kind of environment to turn Stefon giddy – an old manufacturing and warehouse district; surrounded by decrepit homes in need of preservation, reconstruction, or demolition; surprises around every corner; and not a sign in sight to tell you where to go or what to do.

Here’s where “it” happens. Bring imagination. Something will come of it.

I thrived in this kind of place when I was a boy. A district just like this lay between my home in the projects and the stench of the Chicago Stockyards. Among derelict castles of industrial commerce long gone, Kenny Grail and I imagined ourselves as medieval warriors, battling demons of destruction. Our creative innocence slayed dragons that darkened every corner. We became heroes of our imagination. Today, Chicago is revitalizing our abandoned playground with art galleries, trendy coffee houses, and performance spaces, as is Portland’s district.

My host at McQuixote was Trevor DeCuir, one of its three owners. In no time at all, we were talking Ecuadorian coffee beans, business, books, and art. Mmmmm. Was it the coffee making me feel rather youthful?

Once around age 11 or 12, I left Chicago with the only possession I thought worth taking – my typewriter. I was headed for Greenwich Village in New York to become a Beat writer like Jack Kerouac. I was going to read my poems in basement coffee houses and live off the brew. I never got the chance, though. A young kid from Minnesota kept showing up with his guitar. He sang his poems. They never let Bobby Zimmerman off the stage. I never got on.

Finally now, at McQuixote Books & Coffee, my time was here and now. Like back then, my set up was simple. I was ready to talk about my writing and listen to the finger snaps of appreciation. And where are you now, Bobby? You’re secluded in your house in Malibu, releasing old tapes from your basement. I’m here in Portland, sipping coffee, waiting for Stefon, about to talk about my book in front of a live audience. Take that, Bob Dylan!

Having arrived an hour early, Trevor invited me to have a look around. Beyond the book & coffee shop, I discovered a warren of artist studios. I peeked in some windows. A lot going on.

A child whizzed past me on a scooter. I followed the child and heard the voice of an artist, at work, talking to their creation.

The child whizzed past me again, leading me down a small gallery into a large gallery space. Art was hanging everywhere. I stopped at each one, taking it all in. The quality of the art was good, if not exceptional. Everything was affordable.

A wall mural caught my eye, reminding me of my acting days, when a photographer posed me beside a wall mural in California at Venice Beach. Graffiti art has come a long way since. The murals here, you can step inside of them, it seemed.

In the theater space, I met Tim Faulkner. I told him his place reminded me of when I used to work at Andy Warhol’s weekend nightclub, the Exploding Plastic Inevitable. Tim’s space is a catch-all for all types of events, too, from performances to weddings. A film crew was outside, working on a documentary, like Andy used to do with his camera while Lou Reed, Nico, and Velvet Underground droned under my strobe light. The adorable child on the scooter whizzed by again.

Back in the coffee shop, my audience assembled. We didn’t wait for Stefon to arrive. This was not going to be a sterile book lecture. Like a couple of book talks I’ve had in private homes, we all sat around casually. I began talking, but soon all of us dissolved into conversation, following the flow of everyone’s interest with my material.

Author Eric F. James with Jack Francis

At times, I found myself more interested in the theatrical work Jack Francis from my audience was doing with the young people of Louisville. He was taken enough by the show business types from the Jesse James family, enough to take home a book.

Stefon was a no-show, but I was thrilled when Trevor posted on McQuixote’s Facebook page, “Eric F. James was a treat to have at the shop and we’ll be hosting him again soon, to be sure!” I can’t wait to return. I left some authorgraphed books behind for anyone who missed our event.

I may be as old as Don Quixote, but I found no one at Portland’s McQuixote Books & Coffee tilting at windmills. For anyone with a future in their eyes, this is a place to do and be.

Do you read me, Stefon?

Which Makes a Better Genealogy Program?

What makes one TV genealogy program better than another? The top two genealogy programs are Who Do You Think You Are and Finding Your Roots. One is better than the other, because one more accurately reflects the actual genealogy experience.

Both programs, however, misrepresent genealogy for what it is. That’s because both programs are constructed as entertainments. A television program, devised from the need to attract a defined audience demographic, cannot ever be true to its subject matter, because the program will be skewed towards the demographic. In essence, the only general audience appeals the program may have in the end is an appeal to entertain.

In Finding Your Roots, Henry Louis Gates presents himself as an authoritarian who will reveal to a subject’s surprise unknown facts about the subject’s past. His narrative discoveries appear, as if by magic. There’s no insight for the audience into the magician’s bag of tricks. Nothing is required of the focal subject, or of the audience for that matter, other than to sit back and be entertained by Mr. Gates’ wizardry.

On the other hand, Who Do You Think You Are actually displays a journey of personal discovery. The subject must travel from place to place, from one institution to another, often seeking assistance, to find the desired evidence of fact, often coming up short. The journey may produce yet another clue for yet another segment of discovery, leading in the end to a satisfactory conclusion though trial and error to accomplishment and fulfillment, regardless of one’s originally desired expectation. This more closely represents the actual genealogy experience.

Ironically, Who Do You Think You Are displays the warrior experience of mythology. The program shows an individual can arise from the unknown to go forward. That person can be tested and tried, over and over, and ultimately return home to one’s family, or tribe, as a hero, who now is the enlightened one. This in fact is how genealogists become heroes among their families. Genealogists are the heroes families turn to. They are ones who hold the tested knowledge, the truth, and the history. Genealogists become family leaders.

Mr. Gates, though, would prefer to be every family’s leader and hero. That’s as much an unrealistic expectation as the leaf in the television commercial, which promises if you simply click on it, all your family ancestry will magically be provided.

It is not surprising if viewers might not identify with the genealogy experience presented to them in these television programs. Viewers are passive receptors, nothing more than observers. Few among them have been warrior tested. But, if they were, they soon would recognize the weaknesses in these entertainments. In fact, they would probably come to prefer sifting through old records in the basement of a dingy court house basement, to sitting comfortably in their lounger, awaiting the big reveal. If they’d just go and be tested, they would return with stories equally as magical, entertaining, informative, and enlightening.

Author’s Book Signing Uncovers a Librarian’s Family Lore of Jesse James

HORSEFLY HOLLAR…The name may fit what you imagine is Kentucky, but the people of the Hollar may alter your imagination. Librarian Allison White was hostess for my book signing at the Bullitt County Public Library in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. Allison hails from Horsefly. There, her neighbors make for some very entertaining stories. But not the kind of Kentucky stories you might think.

Librarian Allison White, Bullitt Couty Public Library

Like the story of the couple who moved to Horsefly from Chicago. They brought with them a city slickers’ fantasy of raising lamas in Kentucky. One of their lamas became real neighborly, coming up to Allison’s bedroom, tapping on her window, and waking her up, after snacking in her garden throughout the night and leaving it ruined.

Or the American husband who brought home a Chinese wife. No one ever has heard one of them talk to the other in the other’s language. Each of them fights in their own native language – never more fiercely than when they both are standing over their vegetable garden in full public view.

Then, there’s Jesse James. “We have a lot of people who come to the library,” Allison told me, as she sat down to order four of my books to stock her library’s bookshelves. “They’re very interested in Jesse James. A lot of them have stories about him and their own family lore.” From what Allison tells me, I think we’ll be looking at a presentation, or two, in the coming year. Wherever I speak, I always come away having learned something new. So I look forward to meeting more of her library’s patrons.

Allison’s family has their own lore about Jesse, too. Her family home once hosted John Hunt Morgan, when Morgan came through, trying to retake Kentucky for the Confederacy. Among them, would have been David Hunt James, one of Jesse James’ distant cousins. Three of Morgan’s Raiders died at that time and are buried in Allison’s family burial ground.

After the Russellville Bank robbery, Allison’s family claimed to have been visited by the James Gang. Her great grandfather provisioned them with use of his barn, but disallowed their occupancy in the house, because of his three teenage daughters. The family fed the gang in the morning, and one of the gang laid a five dollar bill on the table when leaving. Left behind also was a pipe, which, according to Allison, the family believes may have belonged to one of the Younger brothers. The artifact remains in the family, but the initials on the pipe are as worn as the day when it was left behind.

Authors Eric F. James & Jean Thompson Kinsey

Jean Thompson Kinsey is a fiction writer from Logan County, Kentucky. She also was signing books with me, among the large group of authors at the Bullitt County Library Author Faire. Jean informed me that she writes a fictional account of Frank and Jesse James in her Logan County Trilogy, Secrets of Willow Shade.

I met many Kentucky authors I didn’t know before. I was most impressed, however, by these two young authors.

Author Rebekah McAuliffe reading & being interviewed.

Rebekah McAuliffe, I learned, started reading at age two. Her mother told me, one day Rebekah was sitting in her high chair. She pulled the newspaper off the table and began to read it. “Then she started to talk about what she had read,” her mother said. “It was then we knew, Rebekah could read.” Now Rebekah is a published author.

Rebecca presented her debut novel Gears of Golgotha. She’s already planning her next book. At her signing table, I viewed her book trailer. Rebekah also may have some film making talent. She said, she was considering making book trailers for authors as a sideline.

Author Leah Pugh, reading her book in progress

Leah Pugh read from an upcoming novel she’s writing. I was impressed enough to ask if she also was planning an audio book. Her story telling ability is extraordinary. And when read aloud, her words jump right off the page. But I soon learned Leah is not my discovery alone. Leah Pugh is under contract to write twenty books!

Her initial mystery novel, The Diamond Caper, is doing well. Leah’s presently writing her third mystery novel, Houston, We Have a Problem. Look for Leah Pugh to become the next Agatha Christie.

I’ll have more about the other authors, to follow later.

Librarian, author interviewer,& co-host Patrick. He greeted me at the door by my full author name, that included my middle initial F.

Bullitt County Public Library Author Faire Welcomes Eric F. James

Think you know Jesse James? Wait…until you meet his family.

I’ll be signing my book Jesse James Soul Liberty at the Bullitt County Public Library Author Faire in Shepherdsville, Kentucky tomorrow, Saturday, November 8, 2014, 10am to 4 pm. I’ll also be doing a reading at 3 pm. Stop by.

Let’s see…just 5 male authors among all of these female authors. It’s going to be a very good day.

John James of Alvarado & Mysteries from His Newspaper Office

This rare image of John James of Alvarado surfaced recently. John appears in the office of his newspaper, the Alvarado Daily Bulletin, which published his news columns. Those stories later were compiled and published shortly before John’s passing on October 4, 1927 as the book, My Experience with Indians, which today is a prized collector’s item. John’s story appears in the chapter “An Independent Free Man” in my book Jesse James Soul Liberty.

John James of Alvarado in his newspaper office at the Alvarado Daily Bulletin

This image now resides in the photographic collections of the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. Thanks to the museum photo curator, John Rohrbach, I learned the provenance of the picture. The image originated in the collection of Fred M. Mazzulla, an eccentric, colorful attorney who roamed the Old West, collecting memorabilia. He especially treasured images of prostitutes, lynchings, and the KKK.

Rorhbach further stated, “The print arrived as part of a sub-group of that massive collection, that includes perhaps 100 similar gelatin silver prints of older buildings and store interiors, generally shot in IL, NB, and CO. This image is the only Texas photograph in the group.”

The Quantrill Sword?

Of particular interest to me, I pointed out to Rohrbach, was the sword hanging in the corner of John’s office. My chapter “An Independent Free Man” tells the story of John receiving a sword as a gift from William Wythe James, who claimed not only to be related to John, he also publicly claimed his kinship with Jesse James and his association with the Civil War guerrillas of William Clarke Quantrill. Among John’s family, the sword became known as ‘the Quantrill sword.” I mailed Rohrbach a copy of the chapter, which now is included in the image’s file at the Museum. I won’t spoil here the delight readers of my book will enjoy when they read about the disappearance of the Quantrill sword in my book and what they read here.

There’s no way to identify if the sword in this image is “the Quantrill Sword,” but one has to ask, how would such a sword come to occupy and hold this place of display in John’s newspaper office? In the early 1920s, John would have no need of such a sword as a weapon. By that time, the sword clearly had become an historic artifact.

Fred M. Mazzulla Esq.

Fred M. Mazzulla would not have known John James of Alvarado personally. Mazzula was born in Trinidad in 1903. He grew up in Salida, Colorado and died in 1981. He is buried in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. In a 1962 newspaper article, Mazzulla told the reporter, “I’m no stickler for historical accuracy. Sometimes it takes showmanship to make history interesting.”

Mazzulla often was accused of appropriating family photos. At a Denver bank, he once conducted an Old West photo contest, offering a $500 savings bond for the best image of the Old West. Families complained afterward they had problems getting their images returned. Some said when they eventually received their images, their treasured family photos were stamped “Mazzphoto,” indicating Mazzulla retained the original image and returned only a copy.

Home of Fred M. Mazzulla

In 1972, the Denver Post stated Mazzulla confessed to being a packrat. He stated he used to “pick up anything not nailed down.” He continued the practice even after he became a lawyer in 1930.

Those who’ve read about the disappearance of “the Quantrill sword” in Jesse James Soul Liberty will be better informed to speculate on how this image of John James of Alvarado made its way into the collections of Fred M. Mazzula, Esq.

Claimed image of Frank & Jesse James

Formerly in the Amon Carter collection, identified together with this office image of John James of Alvarado, was an image claimed to be that of Frank and Jesse James. Ironically, this image has crossed my desk a number of times, delivered by various claimants. I informed John Rorhbach of the Amon Carter Museum, as I’ve informed the claimants, that the image most definitely is not of Frank & Jesse James. The distinction is as clear and definitive as not to require any authentication process. The museum has noted its file accordingly.

Or Sons of John James of Alvarado?

However, given the fact the image was conjoined in the Museum’s collection with the image of John James of Alvarado, this claimed image raises an interesting question. Might the two young men in the accompanying image be sons or family relations of John James of Alvarado?

Over the years, I’ve collected numerous images of the children and grandchildren of John James of Alvarado. I’ve included some of them in John’s chapter in my book. While I find no match among the photos in my possession, perhaps there are matching photos in the possession of John’s descendants. If so, I wish those descendants come forward and make it known.

The mysteries surrounding these images do not end here. Curator David Rorhbach further informed me of the provenance of the image of the two young men. He stated the image came from the collection of the noted, awardwinning photographer David R. Phillips of Chicago.

I know David and have communicated with him over the years. Among his photo archives are original images of Charlie Chaplin, Essanay Film Studios in Chicago, and James’ family shirttail cousins Wallace Beery and Gloria Swanson. David had informed me he also possessed some unpublished images of Frank & Jesse James, as well as their mother Zerelda. When I write my show business memoir, I’ve expected to visit David and access some of his photos for my book. David assured me he’d hold those images for my exclusive view. With my long delay, he donated the images to the Amon Carter Museum, but disappointingly they are the faces of Frank and Jesse James.

Libraries Line Up for the Jesse James Family

Libraries are lining up to stock Jesse James Soul Liberty on their book shelves. Today we add the following:

Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkely, Special Collections
University of Wisconsin, Special Collections
University of Arizona Library
They follow behind the University of Kentucky Library and the Frankfort (KY) Public Library, the first libraries to perceive the book’s importance for history.

Finding a publisher who could get JJSL into America’s libraries was a primary objective, that initially delayed the book’s publication for almost two years. Though the book is an entertaining non-fiction history of the Jesse James family, the book contains an abundance of new historical information about the Jesse James family never published before. It was important that the book not only appear in today’s marketplace, but also that the book remain accessible for future generations.

North Star Press, who published most all of the Jesse James catalogue written by John Koblas, would have been a natural fit to publish the book. It was with regret, though, that I elected to pass on North Star’s publication offer. North Star Press could not guarantee JJSL would find its way on to library book shelves.

I’m also informed today to expect more libraries that will be placing additional orders. Meanwhile, book readers can provide a copy to their own favorite library, historical or genealogical society, by taking advantage of the publisher’s discount offer for books donated to learning institutions.

First Galley for This Bloody Ground

Loaded up a new toner cartridge, good for 2400 copies, and started printing the first galley of This Bloody Ground, Volume II of Jesse James Soul Liberty.

My beta-readers have returned their comments, after they reviewed the first two-thirds of the book. I was surprised by their reaction. No severe comments, just a batch of good constructive criticism. I already can see how their comments will improve the book.

I thoroughly enjoy this part of the writing process, because the computer words finally leap onto paper to give me a preview of how the book will look, and how big it yet might grow to be.

From here, I can sit with the book in hand, and see how and where I will accommodate the recommendations of my beta-readers. Then I can re-write those portions and freeze the manuscript.

After that, I’ll re-read the book again, this time to locate where I want to insert all my photos and images. Volume I had 175 of them. I’m trying to keep the number down for Volume II. I want to keep printing costs down, and also keep down the wholesale and retail costs for the book.

As I do all this, I’ll be completing the final third of the book and constructing all the back-matter for the end of the book. Then comes the final and most agonizing pain. I hate constructing an Index!

This book will only be a year late in its arrival to the market. But it should make 2015 another exciting year for the fans of Jesse James Soul Liberty.

Eric F. James at the Louisville Genealogical Society Book Fair – 2014

Here are some afterthoughts following my book signing at the Louisville Genealogy Society Book Fair on Oct. 18, 2014.

This was the first book signing where 3 people told me they had bought my book elsewhere and already had read or were reading it. Setting salesmanship aside, we then began some serious interest and questioning.

Daniel Braxton, president of  the Bullitt County (KY) Genealogical Society took this fine picture of me tending my lemonade stand at the book fair. His exhibit was to the right of mine. We discussed my doing a talk in Bullitt County in the upcoming year. I’m already looking forward to it.

A young lady approached me, asking if I knew Jim Sames. “Of course, I do,” I said. The late Jim Sames will appear in the preface to JJSL, Vol. II. Jim is a James family relative. Jim and his family occupied the Black Horse Inn in Midway, Ky., where Jesse & Frank’s mother was born for 40 years. She then told me she was leaving to get her father. Soon after she reappeared with her father in tow. He had gone to school with Jim Sames, and their family farm backed up to the Sames property in Versailles, Ky. I told him Jim won’t appear in the family history until Volume II. He purchased Vol. I anyway.

The gentleman who installed this store of historic maps came from Fort Wayne, In. His display of maps, available for purchase, was exceptional. Of particular interest to me were his maps of Lithuania, where my mother’s family came from. His maps actually showed the historic connection to Prussia, that confounded me for so long when I was researching my Lithuanian heritage.

His Indiana maps also displayed the progression over time of the dissection of the old Northwest Territory into the counties of Indiana. I informed him of my particular interest in the map showing Newton County, In, founded by our Joseph McAlister James, aka Joseph McJames.

My day began at 5 a.m., because I had a two-hour drive to Louisville. I realized on days like these I tend to rely upon fast food, and not necessarily healthy food, for sustenance and sustainability.  My day began that way and ended that way when I fell into bed at 7:30 pm. However, the Louisville Genealogical Society made my noontime a refreshing and nourishing surprise. The lunch they provided was terrific. Whoever catered the food is exceptional. At of lot of events, nourishment doesn’t work out that well.

Tonight, I dig into my swag bag of freebies.

Fraud on Find a Grave

Sue (anonymous last name) has posted a fraudulent memorial on Sue will not respond to a legitimate request to remove the fraud. Her non-reaction calls into question the validity of any posting on, or the intention of its owner to provide accurate information. One must question, out of the almost 1,800 memorials Sue has posted and manages, how many more memorials on findagrave contain fraudulent information that can’t be trusted?

Sue describes herself so: “I’m a Mother of 4 adult children, (is that an oxymoron? lol) 2 sons, 2 daughters. I have 11 marvelous grandchildren, a fantastic, loving husband whom I’ve been married to for 40 yrs. on Sept. 21, 2014. And now our first Great Grandchild, Gysele Mei has arrived at 28 wks. She’s doing well so far. I’m the oldest of my 2 sisters & one brother. I’ve been a laryngectomee since Nov. 1999. Oh ya, I’m a redheaded Indian gal.

“Some of my ancestors are Chase, Campbell, Wabasha, Morelock, Moman, & Cress. My husbands family names are Bryan, Bowen, Goodman & Goodpasture and O’Dell.”

The issue of Sue’s fraud is evident and clear. Sue’s memorial of Joseph Jesse Chase claims Chase is a son of America’s iconic outlaw Jesse Woodson James. This claim has been known to the Jesse James family for years. The claim always has been denied. No one among Chase’s descendants has ever provided any credible evidence to substantiate the Chase claim.

After a dozen years of genealogical research, and the expenditure of a quarter million dollars, the Jesse James family has gone out of its way to identify who factually is related to Jesse Woodson James. Extraordinary findings were made by documenting the Jesse James family, followed by genealogical research into the in-law families of the James, and then into others related by extension from those in-law families. Research went so far to study the genealogy of most anyone who was known to have contact with the James.

Historically, there have been literally thousands of claims of kinship to Jesse Woodson James, and to his brother Frank James. Not one ever has been proved. Even today, Stray Leaves receives two or three claims per month on average. Like Sue, few claimants reply to a request for evidence.

A reasonable assumption implies that Sue Anonymous in all likelihood is a relation, if not an actual descendant, of Joseph Jesse Chase. Sue assumed management of this findagrave memorial following its abandonment by Kent D. Myrick. Complains to Myrick from members of the Cole and Graves families, who are legitimate relations of Jesse W. James, resulted in Myrick’s desertion and the subsequent assumption by Sue Anonymous.

The email request sent to Sue, pictured here, also met with no response. Sue’s lack of courtesy in not providing any kind of response whatsoever is evidence enough of her non-responsibility. Former requests made to findagrave and by a complainant from the Graves family also met with a lack of responsible action.

Without evidence, the memorial posting by Sue, that is supported by and amounts to fraud.

It shouldn’t be expected that Sue would permit this message on her findagrave pubic profile. However, with regard to Jesse Woodson James and the James family, Stray Leaves will continue to publish the identity of con artists, bogus history, fake genealogy, inaccurately identified images or artifacts, false claims, inaccurate information, and fraud when it is encountered.

This memorial to Joseph Jesse Chase is a fraud.

Official blog for the family of Frank & Jesse James