John W. Mimms Jr. Daguerreotype – Now on the Market

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.

case and daguerreotype of John W. Mimms Jr.
Daguerreotype presumed to be of John W. Mimms Jr.

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.

John Wilson Mimms Jr daguerreotype
Daguerreotype of John W. Mimms Jr.

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.

case cover
Exterior of the daguerreotype case

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.

John W. Mimms Jr signature inside
Inscription – “John W. Mimms Jr. H __per, Kentucky”

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 the Daguerreotype

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…”

Image Comparisons

In this circumstance, an authenticity rests in the eye of the beholder.

case back inside
Rear interior of case manufactured by Littlefield, Parsons, & Co.

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.

John W Mimms Jr-siblings Zerelda Amanada-Sarah Ann-John Robert Lilburn Mimms 600x
Siblings Zee Mimms-James, Sallie Mimms, Drury Lilbrun Mimms

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.

Harold B Gibson-Lutie Mimms-John W Mimms Jr
Mimms descendants Maj. Gen. Haorld B. Gibson Jr., Lucille Ehtyl “Lutie” Mimms, and the image subject John William Mimms, Jr.

Does the daguerreotype of John W. Mimms Jr. resemble images of the Mimms siblings and family?

Interested in Acquisition? 

Email me at ericjames@ericjames.org and express your family or social affiliation with the James family. I’ll be happy to refer you directly to Leonard Hall.

Major Bridgewater, why?

MAJOR BRIDGEWATER, WHY?

By Eric F. James

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

James H. Bridgewater
Major James H. Bridgewater, abt. 1835-1867. Photo from the collection of Wayne Bennett, Bridgewater’s second great-grandson

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

Speed Smith Fry
Gen. Speed Smith Fry, 1817-1892

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

Spring House Farm
Spring House Farm, home of Gen. & Judge Speed Smith Fry, Danville, Kentucky

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

Route of the chase. Harrodsburg at the top. Stanford on lower right. Danville at center. Perryville on the left.
Route of the chase by Fry and Bridgewater. Harrodsburg at the top. Stanford on lower right. Danville at center. Perryville on the left.

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

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

Oakland Christian Church
Oakland Methodist Church cemetery outside of Harrodsburg, Kentucky. Now the Oakland Christian Church. First burial site for Quantrill’s fallen. Numerous Van Arsdale and Sallee families are buried here.

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.

Spring Hill Cemetery
Spring Hill Cemetery, Harrodsburg, Kentucky, dedicated to the fallen of the Confederacy.
Spring Hill Cemetery, reintenrment plot for Quantrill's Raiders.
The plot in Spring Hill Cemetery where Frank James and Col. Jack Chinn reinterred those of Quantrill’s Raiders who fell under the assault of Maj. James H. Bridgewater.

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.

Bridgewater Retires

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

Bridgewater Killed

Stanford, Kentucky
Assassination site of Maj; James H. Bridgewater, Stanford, Kentucky

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.

L&N Railroad Depot, Stanford, Kentucky
The site of second attempt on the life of Maj. James H. Bridgewater. Louisville & Nashville Railroad Depot, Syanford, Kentucky

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.

Walter G. Saunders tombstone
Walter G. Saunders tombstone. Crab Orchard Cemetery, Crab Orchard, Kentucky

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.

Bridgewater Buried

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.

The question left unsettled no doubt in the mind of Maj. Bridge4water’s widow, as well as for history, is – Maj. Bridgewater, why?

NOTES

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.

2015 Year In Review & 2016 Crystal Ball

Stray Leaves favicon
Favicon for Stray Leaves

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

stats-ericjames.org SL Stats 02-12 2015

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.

2015 IMPROVEMENTS

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.”

Welcome swf-Stray Leaves
Old landing page for Stray Leaves. Now a WELCOME 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.

Landing Page-Stray Leaves
New Landing page for Stray Leaves

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.

Surnames-Stray Leaves
Stray Leaves famous SURNAMES genealogy database

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.

Leaves of Gas-screenshot
The upgraded Leaves of Gas theme with improved drop down menu, search, and email capabilioty

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.

store website
Screenshot of Jesse James Soul Liberty website

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.

  1. Should our website and blog accept advertisements?
  2. Should patronage or corporate sponsorship be sought?
  3. Should the SURNAMES database be put on a paid subscription basis?
  4. Should Leaves of Gas become a paid membership site?
  5. Or, should our website and blog continue to sustain free use solely through the support of user and visitor donations?

SEND ME AN EMAIL. Let me know your thoughts.

donate logopatron logo sponsor logo

Review – Frank and Jesse James “Friends and Family”

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.

Frank and Jesse James "Friends and Family"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.

Fred Cruse Hardison, author of Frank and Jesse James "Freinds and Family" and fake Jesse James image
Author Freda Cruse Hardison standing next to a cutout of a fake image of Jesse James. The image was debunked as fake by the great-grandson of Jesse James, Judge James R. Ross.

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.

50 Years a Man of the Cloth

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.

James B. Malley
James B. Malley Esq.

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.

James B. Malley S.J.
Rev. James B. Malley S.J.

“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.

M.B.R.

Fr. Malley is prominently featured in the book Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence, by Eric F. James.

C. M. James – Artist, Poet, Publisher

C. M. James - Artist, Poet, Publisher
C. M. James – Artist, Poet, Publisher

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.

Robert Lewis Stevenson by C. M. James
Robert Lewis Stevenson by C. M. James

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.”

Poet Lawrence Ferlingetti writes to C. M. James
Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti writes to C. M. James

The Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti wrote to Mike:

“Dear James – You’ve done a beautiful job of my poems on your tiny press. Please thank everyone involved. Ad thanks for all the copies. I didn’t expect as many.

“Confused–

Lawrence Ferlinghetti”

As a book collector, Mike assembled a vast library of books on the subject of the tattoo.

William Blake poetry published by C. M. James

Poems of William Blake published by C. M. James

CURRICULUM VITAE

Since 1989: Artist in residence, Trumbull Art Gallery, Warren OH

1988 Board of Directors, Trumbull Art Gallery

1988 Kenneth Patchen Literary Festival Committee, Warren, OH

1987 A.A. Degree with emphasis in painting, Kent State University, Trumbull Campus, Warren OH

1976 Founded Fantome Press

1971 Youngstown State University, graphic design & life drawing

1966-1968 Ohio State University, major in graphic design

1947 Born Somerset, KY on January 20

C. M. James, aka Charles Michael James
C. M. James, aka Charles Michael James

EXHIBITIONS

1990 One man exhibition: Ohio Historical Society Museum of Labor & Industry, Youngstown, OH

1989-1990 Butler Institute of America Art Area Annual

1990 Performance piece at Picture Show Gallery, Warren, OH

1988-1990 American Cancer Society Annual Art Show, Warren OH

1989-1990 Exhibition: Park Hotel lobby, Warren OH for 6 months

1990 Mahoning Bank Building, Warren OH for 3 months

1990 Installation at Dimitri’s Restaurant, Warren OH

1989 Trumbull Art Gallery Annual, Warren OH (Award for Painting)

1988 Exhibition: Block prints & Fantome Press material, Library of Trumbull Campus of Kent State University, Warren OH

1988 Exhibition: Trumbull New Theater Gallery, Niles, OH

1988 Exhibition: Youngstown Playhouse, Youngstown, OH

1988 One Man Show: Eastwood Mall, Niles, OH

1988 Exhibition: Celebration of the Square Festival in downtown Warren, OH

1986-1988 Trumbull Art Gallery Annual, Warren, OH

1981 “Art of the Macabre” Exhibition, Ashtabula Arts Center, Ashtabula, OH

1973 Butler Institute of America Art 35th Area Artists Annual, Youngstown, OH (Award for Painting)

1973 Group Exhibit: Avalon Inn, Howland, OH

Jack London, illustrated by C. M. James
Jack London, illustrated by C. M. James

COLLECTIONS

Covellie Enterprises, Warren OH

Jack Gibson Company, Warren OH

The University of California at Santa Cruz Library, Special Collections

I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of the World) Permanent Collection, Chicago, IL

J. Abronovich, New Jersey

William Mullane, Warren OH

Ohio Historical Society, Museum of Labor & Industry

Drs. Joseph & Ann Chester

Trumbull Memorial Hospital

GRANTS & AWARDS

Recipient of Regrat: Fine Arts Council of Trumbull County for feasibility study & model for Labor Memorial for Trumbull County

Award: Trumbull Art Gallery Annual, 1989

Award: Butler Institute of American Art, 35th Area Artists Annual, 1973

Charles Michael James
Charles Michael James

Mike’s ARCHIVES are found at the Ohio State University, Rare Books and Manuscripts Library,   Identification: Spec.cms.315

“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.

Hart Crane poem illustrated and published by C. M. James
Poetry of Stepnen Crane illustrated and published by C. M. James

Bob Ford-Jesse James Photo Hoax Cabal

Bob Ford-Jesse James photo hoax JJSL

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.

Fake image claimed to be Jesse James
Fake image claimed to be Jesse James
Jesse-James-Fingered
Fake image claimed to be Jesse James

More of this kind of nonsense can be expected to come.

Lost Jesse James/BobFord Photo – Not Lost, Not Authenticated

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.

______________________________________________________________

Robert Ford & Jesse James as hoaxed by Sandy Mills & Lois Gibson
Robert Ford & Jesse James as hoaxed by Sandy Mills & artist Lois Gibson

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.

Lois Gibson, artist
Lois Gibson, artist

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.

Sandy Mills, holding the tintype she claims is Bob Ford & Jesse James
Sandy Mills, holding the tintype she claims is Bob Ford & Jesse James

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.

The tintype presented to Eric F. James that is claimed by Sandy Mills to be Jesse Woodson James and possibly Robert Woodson “Woot” Hite
The tintype presented to Eric F. James that is claimed by Sandy Mills to be Jesse Woodson James and possibly Robert Woodson “Woot” Hite

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.

Actual image of Robert WoodsonHite (L)fromthe James Preservation Trust, compared to the claimedWootHite (R). WootHite is a James descendant. His motheris Nancy Gardner James, an aunt of Jesse Woodson James. WootHite displaysthe same genetic physical
Actual image of Robert  Woodson Hite (L) from the James Preservation Trust, compared to the   claimed image (R). Wood, or Woot as he was called, is a James descendant. His mother is Nancy Gardner James, an aunt of Jesse Woodson James.   Wood Hite displays the same genetic physical characteristics that are common to Jesse James and other members of the James family.

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

Plate 1 of Lois Gibson's case results in a false claim
Plate 1 of Lois Gibson’s case results in a false claim

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.

Lois Gibson 2-rejected as fraudulent
Plate 2 of Lois Gibson’s case is rejected as fraudulent

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.

Fake photos-fingers

“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.

Texas Rangers, 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.

Plate 3 of Lois Gibson's case compares Mills' fake image of Jesse James with a claimed image of Jesse James never seen before
Plate 3 of Lois Gibson’s case compares Mills’ fake image of Jesse James with a claimed image of Jesse James never seen before

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.

Lois Gibson 4
In Plate 4o of Lois Gibson’s case, Gibson employs artistic skill to transform an authentic image of Bob Ford to match Sandy Mills’ claimed image. A scientific authentication of historic images requires no tampering with images, relying chiefly upon scientific comparison application to reach a conclusion about authenticity.

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.

Lois Gibson 6a-rejected as fake
Plate 6 of lois Gibson’s case presents a 4th fake image of Jesse James, and adds a fake image of Jesse’s wife, Zee Mimms-James, to boot.

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.

Dylan Baddour who wrote the Houston Chronicle story
Dylan Baddour who wrote the Houston Chronicle 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.

News aggregator Sarah Laskow who promoted the hoax by republishing Dylan Baddour's story
News aggregator Sarah Laskow who promoted the hoax by republishing Dylan Baddour’s story

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, who may or may not be a real person, also promoted the hoax by republication.
Arden Dier, who may or may not be a real person, also promoted the hoax by republication.

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.

Michael Pearson of CNN was suspicious of the hoax.
Michael Pearson of CNN was suspicious of the hoax.

The only reporter we found to question the Mills-Gibson story was Michael Pearson of CNN, for whom we also found no contact information other than his LinkedIn page. Skeptically, Pearson asked, “Does photo show outlaw Jesse James with his killer?” Talk about a slick, Texas slide step.

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.

RELATED: THE BOB FORD/JESSE JAMES PHOTO HOAX CABAL 

UPDATE: December 22, 2015

The Texas Monthly has revisited another of Lois Gibson’s fraudulent authentication in an article titled, “49 Experts Agree: That Third Photo of Robert Johnson Is Not Authentic.”

With total disregard for responsible journalism, Dylan Baddour of the Houston Chronicle jumps shamelessly to promote Gibson once more in an article titled, “New photo of bluesman Robert Johnson unearthed; only third photo in existence.”

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.

Claimed photo of Bob Ford and Jesse James is proved as a hoax.
Claimed photo of Bob Ford and Jesse James is proved as a hoax.

Book Review – Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol.I

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.

________________________________________________

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter-Dick Eastman

             “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.

Bobbi king
Bobbi King

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.

Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I
Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence, by Eric F. James

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.

The Exhumation of Jesse James Twin Children

The promise of Jesse Edwards James Jr. to his mother Zee Mimms James, to reunite her twin children whom Jesse buried after their birth in Tennessee with Jesse and her in Missouri, went unfulfilled for three generations. Before he died in 1951, Jesse Jr. bestowed the task upon his grandson, Judge James R. Ross. Three years before Judge Ross died in 2007, the task was bestowed upon me to execute the exhumation of Jesse James twin children for reinternment with their parents in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Kearney, Missouri.

Title slide from the Reunion of Gould & Montgomery James slide presentation
Title slide from the Reunion of Gould & Montgomery James slide presentation

The moving confluence of legalities, family permissions, socio-political objections, and conflict resolutions seemed always directed at times by an unnoticed, unseen spiritual hand, ever watching from the past and always guiding the exhumation of Jesse’s twins to final resolution and peace in ways surprising to us living participants.

An exhumation might appear as a clinical exercise, executed coldly by professional technicians, paid to do a job. The cost was not a problem to exhume and re-inter the twin children of Jesse and Zee Mimms James. In the end, though, no cost was necessary. The spiritual hand brought forth descendants of former generations and social relations of the James family generations long past to accomplish the task.

Ann Yager Hamlin-McCroskey with her sister Sarah Hamlin-Kuchenbrod
Third generation funeral director Ann Yager Hamlin-McCroskey who assisted in the exhumation of Jesse James twin children, shown here with her sister Sarah Hamlin-Kuchenbrod.

Assisting me was Ann Yeager Hamlin of the Stith Funeral Home in Danville, Ky. Not only was Ann my next door neighbor, she also is a 6th great-granddaughter of Reuben Giles Samuel, who is the great-grandfather of Dr. Reuben Samuel, Jesse’s stepfather. Among Ann’s ancestors are also found some Woodsons and one of the Younger brothers’ uncles. I asked Ann if it was necessary to purchase a casket. She advised, “For exhumed remains, plastic containers that can be bought at any Wal-Mart work best.” I then acquired two plastic containers from Sam Walton’s local store in Danville. Sam Walton is a 4th great-grandson of Jesse’s grandfather, John M. James.

B. Steven Spann of the Spann Funeral Home, formerly the Wheeler Funeral Home, Dickson, Tennessee
B. Steven Spann of the Spann Funeral Home, formerly the Wheeler Funeral Homes, Dickson, Tennessee

Representing the Humphreys County Court, to ensure all was done properly according to Tennessee statutes, was Anne’s funeral school classmate, B. Steven Spann of the Spann Funeral Home, formerly the Wheeler Funeral Home.

One of the gravediggers hired by Steve was Robert Shadowen, a 5th grand-nephew of Rev. Lewis Weaver Chaudoin and Katurah Mimms. Rev. Chaudoin married John M. James to Mary “Polly” Poor, Jesse’s grandparents.

Beleaguering Judge Ross and myself with multiple difficulties to overcome was Darrell L. Cave. The church sexton of Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Kearney, Missouri. Darrell then was in his mid-eighties. He was the fourth generation of his family to oversee the cemetery. Among Darrell’s ancestry, Darrell’s great-grandfather, William R. Cave founded Mt. Olivet Church and Cemetery. He was baptized by Jesse’s grandfather, Rev. Robert Sallee James. Darrell’s 4th great-grandfather, Rev. William Cave known as Uncle Billy, entered Kentucky with Jesse’s grandfather John M. James, in the self-exile of rebel Baptist preachers from colonial Virginia into the western wilderness.

Regardless of lost time and a promise too long deferred, Gould and Montgomery James, now are reunited with their parents in Missouri, never to be forgotten, just as Zee wanted

  • The Reunion of Gould & Montgomery James

 

 

Clell Miller Gets No Respect

Clell Miller, aka Clelland B. Miller 1849-1876
Clell Miller, aka Clelland B. Miller 1849-1876

Maligned and also misunderstood. Misquoted and also misinterpreted. Except for the deadly hit Clell Miller took in Northfield, Minnesota; Clell’s life always ran amiss. Clell Miller gets no respect. Even in death, Clell’s bones are missing. How did the James gang ever wind up with the likes of hapless Clell Miller?

Imagine my surprise, to learn that I live just two blocks from Clell Miller’s grandparents. Since Henry Logan and Mary Kenley Thurmond died together back in 1866, Clell’s grandparents have not gone missing at all. For almost 150 years, they have been right here in Danville, Kentucky, in plain sight. And, like poor Clell, no one has cared.

Tombstone of Henry Logan, Thurmond & Mary Kenley, grandparents of James Gang member Clell Miller. Bellevue Cemetery, Danville, Kentucky.
Tombstone of Henry Logan, Thurmond & Mary Kenley, grandparents of James Gang member Clell Miller. Bellevue Cemetery, Danville, Kentucky.

Moving here to Danville, Kentucky twelve years ago to write my five-volume history of the James family, Jesse James Soul Liberty, I made Danville my home base, principally because Danville is the geographic center of the James family’s history in Kentucky, ever since 1782 when Jesse’s grandfather, John M. James, arrived with his Traveling Church. The Youngers, Pence, Scholls, Chinns, Hites, Vardemans, etc. – and now

Clell Miller’s family – lived among one another first around Danville, before moving to Clay County in Missouri. These families left an abundance of history in plain sight, still waiting today for the arrival of serious historians.

John Loyd Thurmond Jr. 1870-1946. First cousin of Clell Miller of the James Gang.
John Loyd Thurmond Jr. 1870-1946. First cousin of Clell
Miller of the James Gang.

Often I take a refreshing walk over to Bellevue Cemetery after long hours of writing. Bellevue is an historic, tree-filled place, where Victorians went for Sunday picnics, courting, and family recreational diversions. Since Danville is where Kentucky separated from Virginia in 1792, Bellevue is populated also by countless blue blood figures of the Commonwealth’s frontier. I commune with them, just as I do with those in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Kearney, Missouri.

Clell’s grandparents were not Kentucky blue blood. Henry Logan Thurmond and Nancy Kenley were just average, simple folk.

Earnest Clarence Thurmond 1873-1940. First cousin of Clell Miller of the James Gang.
Earnest Clarence Thurmond 1873-1940. First cousin of
Clell Miller of the James Gang.

Henry’s father, Absalom Thurmond, first lived on Pistol Creek in Bedford County, Virginia, but he died in Wilkes County, Georgia. Two of orphaned sisters of Henry won land lotteries there. When Henry’s brother, John Thurmond, returned to Georgia from the Cain-tuc, people called him “Rich John.” His cousin Fielding Thurmond became captain of a Kentucky militia, during separation from Virginia, protecting the incoming flood of migrants, as did Jesse’s grandfather, John M. James. Fielding returned to Georgia, too. The orphaned Henry Miller, though, arrived in Kentucky sometime before 1808 to stay. Near Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home in Washington County, Henry married Mary Kenley. The couple spent some time in Logan County, at the time called “Rogue’s Harbor,” a place for killers, thieves, and con artists to flee Kentucky’s emerging new laws and local governments. By 1828, the couple settled more safely in the established, cultured, and Presbyterian community of Danville.

William Paschal Thurmond 1869-1952. First cousin of Clell Miller of the James Gang.
William Paschal Thurmond 1869-1952. First cousin of Clell
Miller of the James Gang.

Henry and Mary Thurmond were in the mid-70s in April of 1866 when they both died. The couple had nine children, most of them from home, or dead. Henry and Mary recently suffered through the aftermath from the bloody battle at Perryville. Scores of wounded, maimed, and dying were treated in every quarter Danville could offer. Henry and Mary were here on the day when Frank James, Bud and

Donnie Pence and the Youngers rode into town with Quantrill, severing telegraph lines, isolating the train depot, and pillaging food and supplies while Frank casually stole some books from a store.

The gang rode off to Harrodsburg where Frank’s cohort Col. Jack Chinn lived. But the Pence brother’s in-law on the Union side, Maj. James Bridgewater, rode up from Stanford in hot pursuit, cornered the gang at Sally Van Arsdale’s house, and killed off a good number of them in the bloody shootout of a snowy winter’s night. Weeks later, Henry read in the news that Quantrill had died in Louisville’s Catholic hospital, and Frank James turned in his guns.

Soldiers were returning to Danville from Charleston, New Orleans, and Mississippi. They brought diseases with them. About half of the population in Danville was black, Most blacks had been freed long before the war. Those newly emancipated were joining the Union Army at nearby Fort Nelson just to be employed, leaving the town without much help. In sunny April of 1866, old and feeble Henry Thurmond died within weeks of his wife Mary, as hapless as did Clell. Their brains exploded unexpectedly with the excruciatingly painful disease of cerebral spinal meningitis.

By then, Clell’s parents, Emaline Thurmond and Moses W. Miller, were in Kearney, Missouri. Most of Clell’s uncles and aunts had settled in Ash Grove. Only Uncle Fielding and Aunt Cettie Thurmond stayed behind to bury Clell’s grandparents. Fielding, who died in 1896 and Cettie in 1909, now rest next to Henry and Mary.

Tombstone of Cettie Miller 1848-1907, first cousin of Clell Miller of the James Gang. Bellvue Cemetery, Danville, Kentucky
Tombstone of Cettie Miller 1848-1907, first cousin of Clell
Miller of the James Gang. Bellvue Cemetery, Danville,
Kentucky

Exactly when Clell’s parents left Kentucky for Missouri is unknown. An early exodus of Baptist missions had begun in the 1830s. The same rebel preachers of Virginia who took Jesse’s grandfather, John M. James, into Kentucky now were sending missions into Missouri. John’s son, Rev. Robert Sallee James, was part of that effort in 1843. Brother William R. Cave laid out his half of Kearney in 1856, using the settlement land of his father, Uriel Cave. William’s great grandson, the late Darrell Cave, was sextant of Mt. Olivet Cemetery almost all his life. He assisted Judge James R. Ross, Jesse’s great grandson, and me when we reinterred Jesse’s twin children at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, following the twins’ exhumation in Tennessee. The James association with the Cave family reaches back to the American Revolution.

The cholera outbreak of the 1830s in Kentucky also sent other families westward. Alice Lindsay-Cole, Frank, and Jesse’s grandmother, married a second time to Robert Thomason. In 1836, the entire Thomason family was uprooting itself from Kentucky and going to Clay County, triggered in no small part by their neighbor Richard Mentor Johnson, who had just married his second slave woman. Johnson claimed he had killed Chief Tecumseh in the War of 1812. Now he was bent upon being elected president of the United States. He also had set up his Choctaw Academy and was bringing Indians back into the Commonwealth to be educated. Among some, that did not sit too well. They fought Indians and spilled blood to settle the land.

Nora Ruth Miller 1900-1964 & Annie Harwood Miller 1895-1993, second and first cousins respectively of Clell Miller of the James Gang.
Nora Ruth Miller 1900-1964 & Annie Harwood Miller 1895-1993, second and first cousins
respectively of Clell Miller of the James Gang.

When Clell was born on December 15, 1849, Moses W. and Emaline Thurmond Miller were well-established residents of Clay County. Clell never knew his grandfather, Jacob Miller, on the side of his father. He also did not know his Thurmond grandparents. But Clell probably learned that his papaw

Jacob Miller was one of those tough-minded Germans, like the Hite family. The Hites/Heydts all came from Germany, then to Pennsylvania, then into Kentucky, all ending up in Missouri. Despite what trouble Clell and his brother Ed Miller found their selves in, people around Kearney regarded their father Moses W. Miller well. Moses was a far more respectable citizen than his two sons, as shown by the expensive obelisk that graces his grave.

Since the Civil War ended, and especially after, Jesse was presumed to have killed Clell’s brother Ed, what Clell shared with the James brothers no doubt was a sense of family disaffection. Like the

James family with the James boys, Miller family cousins had little, if nothing at all, to do with Clell. Most had moved away, gone to Texas or Oregon. Isolated, Clell Miller never knew his Miller or his Thurmond cousins at all. Like the James family, too, Clell’s family spent their days building honest and respectable lives for themselves, for the most part ignoring Clell, or his brother Ed.

Darrell Mansur, a first cousin, four generations removed of Clell Miller 1848- 1846, aka Clelland B. Miller, shot and killed in the failed Northfield Bank Robbery by the James Gang, September 7, 1876.
Darrell Mansur, a first cousin, four
generations removed of Clell Miller 1848-
1846, aka Clelland B. Miller, shot and
killed in the failed Northfield Bank
Robbery by the James Gang, September 7,
1876.

Recently when I met Clell’s first cousin from his Miller side, now four generations removed, I asked Darrell Mansur about his family and about Clell. Having respect for Clell Miller was not at the forefront of Darrell’s mind. In fact, Darrel knew nothing at all about Clell Miller or Ed. I provided Darrell his genealogy of his Miller- Thurmond family and explained the murderous history it contained. Darrell then replied, “This is all new and a bit of a shock to me. It probably explains why I wasn’t told anything about that part of the family when I was growing up…”

Gee, Clell Miller, we hardly knew ya. Seems like your own family did not, either. Cell Miller gets no respect.

This article first appeared in the James-Younger Gang Journal in 2014.

The Smack & Zing of This Bloody Ground

This Bloody Ground, Volume II of the Jesse James Soul Liberty quintet
Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. II, This Bloody Ground

Daniel Boone and John M. James are ancestors of today’s descendants of Jesse James. In the present film documentary Daniel Boone & the Opening of the American West, Boone once more cuts a path and trail for Jesse’s grandfather John M. James, again today as Boone did in the past. The film is worth viewing as a preview of the smack and zing of John’s own history, soon to come in my book This Bloody Ground.

In recent years, as I sat in Danville, Kentucky, writing the story of Frank & Jesse James’ grandfather as the second book of my Jesse James Soul Liberty quintet, Kent Masterson Brown was in Lexington, Kentucky, beginning his journey of three years to bring Boone to film.

Both my book and Brown’s film cover the same period, the same territory, many of the same people, and a lot of the same history. However, each of us delivers a different view. Much of Boone’s story, as Brown tells it, is located north of the Kentucky River. The story of John M. James in This Bloody Ground, as might be expected, resides south of the Kentucky River.

Brown credits Boone in part with opening the Northwest Territory that became everything from Ohio west to Minnesota. John M. James and his band of rebel Baptist preachers, not only opened the West from colonial Virginia to Missouri Territory, but also way beyond into the Far West, to the Rockies and California.

Daniel Boone is a star in history’s firmament, replete with legend and misleading mythology, which Brown goes to great length to extinguish in a shower of facts. John M. James, for the most part, is unknown to legend, mythology, or fact. Equally, unknown is the origination in John’s Kentucky of many of those families affiliated with John who later spawned their own history of the American West.

Kent Masterson Brown
Kent Masterson Brown

I have enjoyed the former work of Kent Masterson Brown. Brown resembles for me the often fabled Kentucky lawyer whose telling of a good history lesson, more than a trial, vindicates justice. His voice that speaks through grit is invaluable. Brown and I are in the same business. Maybe that explains our mutual fondness for a neat and tidy bow tie.

Scitt New as Daniel Boone
Scott New portrays Daniel Boone

As a boy, John M. James tried to join Daniel Boone, when Boone stood beside his wagon in Stevensburg, Virginia, seeking recruits to enter the dark and unknown wilderness. Though John was too young for Boone to accept, each man became a pioneer. Each did so in his own way. Each has had a lasting effect on American history.

In This Bloody Ground, I will argue, however, that John M. James was more an average person’s pioneer. John M. James, not Daniel Boone, produced a more lasting effect relative to the common person. The legacy of John M. James endures in the social, religious, and political culture of America.

The marriage of Jesse’s son Jesse Edwards James Jr. to Estella Frances “Stella” McGowan might have appeared surprising at the time. It should not. He is a great-grandson of John M. James. She is a third great granddaughter of Daniel Boone. Their marriage represents the reunion of Daniel Boone and John M. James. For today and all tomorrows, the descendants of Jesse James will be the progeny of a star pioneer and a pioneer of the common man.

To view the entire program of Daniel Boone and the Opening of the West, and to savor the smack and zing of This Bloody Ground coming this year, CLICK HERE. The program may not be available for very long.

Behind That Book Cover of Jesse James

Why not go behind that book cover and read some chapter previews of Jesse James Soul Liberty? You know what they say. You can’t judge a book by its cover.

                          Click on the book jacket below to preview chapters.                                                                    Click here to purchase now.       

I’m not saying my book cover is bad. I intentionally made it look imperfect. This book cover, in fact, has drawn more attention than what readers expect to find inside the book. That’s because this image of Jesse James never has been published before. This book cover is intended to surprise and arrest, like what’s inside the book that also never has been published before. I’m inviting you to consider imperfection.

  • Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I

PREVIEW CHAPTERS HERE

Do you recall other books about Jesse James, and what the pictures on those book jackets reveal? For the most part, nothing is revealed. When Jesse James appears on a book jacket, he appears mostly in relief, leaving you a vague image of the outlaw, and an even more vague image of what to expect inside the book. Not so, here. That’s one reason why you may want to read some chapter previews to find out for yourself what’s behind this book cover.

Here is why I chose this particular image for the book jacket.  Jesse appears matter-of-factly on this book jacket. Like the scarred tintype this image comes from, Jesse is a flawed character. He’s defective. Universally, Jesse James is unacceptable. Like his damaged tintype, he’s not useful to society in the manner society expects. If he is, in fact defective, what do his defects represent? There’s another reason for you to read the chapter previews behind this book cover.

This image holds the promise of what you will discover inside Jesse James Soul Liberty.  Inside, you will find the Jesse James that only Jesse’s own family can bring to you.  It’s an understanding of the outlaw, his reality behind his distortions, fallacies, and mythology, that no historian ever has been able to capture. Not in books. Not on TV. Not in the movies.

No historian of Jesse James ever has looked at the genetic makeup that made him an outlaw. Behind this book cover, though, individual members of the Jesse James family reveal to you in their own actions just what it takes to make the quintessential character, personality, behavior, and soul that is a James. They do this in generation after generation. For that, however, you’re going to have to get behind the book cover and delve more deeply beyond chapter previews alone.

What the James family shows you behind that book cover of Jesse James will have you looking again and again at what you think you know about Jesse James, and what exactly was the meaning of his actions and history.

You definitely can’t judge a book by its cover.

Official blog for the family of Frank & Jesse James