Mary Louise James Tags Early Buildings of Paso Robles

In 1947, the long-widowed Mary Louisa James Burns wrote to R. C. Heaton in Paso Robles, California. She sent him a history of her father, Drury Woodson James, a founder of the town. In 1905, Heaton had purchased the home Drury Woodson built for his family, the same home in which Mary Louise was born.  The residence was one of many buildings Drury Woodson James built as part of his El Paso de Robles Hotel, around which he built the town of Paso Robles. In one correspondence, written by her granddaughter Mary Joan Malley Beamis, Mary Louise James identifies and tags the early building of Paso Robles.


Mary Louise James Burns identifies landmark locations of the buildings of the El Paso de Robles Hotel, built by her father Drury Woodson James in Paso Robles, California. The locations are pictured in an engraving published by The Paso Robles Journal, Oct. 6, 1948.
Mary Louise James Burns identifies landmark locations of the buildings of the El Paso de Robles Hotel, built by her father Drury Woodson James in Paso Robles, California. The locations are pictured in an engraving published by The Paso Robles Journal, Oct. 6, 1948.

Joan Beamis transcribes the identification tags dictated by her grandmother Mary Louise James…

This is from a wood cut. I have the original copy.

  1. D. W. James Home – 1969 or 70. I was born in this house. A very good likeness considering.
  2. South Cottage where your “Nana” was married (long cottage).
  3. Original Hot Springs Hotel.
  4. Patsy Dunn store. (Ed.: D.W.J.’s father-in-law Patrick Dunn) My father moved this and we used it for storage for many years. It was torn down in 1960.
  5. The Ralston Cottage, or at least its location.
  6. Bath House – original – another was built here but burned in about 1910.
  7. Club House
  8. Tenth Street
  9. Old Stage Road, now Spring St.
  10. Tenth St.
  11. Park Water Station
  12. (does not appear)
  13. Stagecoach approaching
  14. Sunnyside Cottage, or Cottage A                                      




Paso Robles, Cal.    April 20th, 1948

Mrs. E.F. Burns

Somersworth, N.H.

Dear Mrs. Burns: Thank you for the copy of your father’s history sent me by the Paso Robles chamber of commerce at your request. I have it filed away in the history of San Luis Obispo county.

Letter from R.C. Heaton to Mrs. Edward Frederick Burns (Mary Louise James), daughter of Drury Woodson James, founder of Paso Robles, California. References to Carolina F. "Carrie" James Maxwell and Helen "Hattie" James Bennett, sisters of Mary Louise James. "UncLe Jim Blackburn" refers to James Hanson Blackburn, brother of Daniel Drew "D.D." Blackburn, both partners of D.W. James. Heaton owned the El Paso de Robles Hotel property following its destruction by fire in 1910.
Letter from R.C. Heaton to Mrs. Edward Frederick Burns (Mary Louise James), daughter of Drury Woodson James, founder of Paso Robles, California. References to Carolina F. “Carrie” James Maxwell and Helen “Hattie” James Bennett, sisters of Mary Louise James. “UncLe Jim Blackburn” refers to James Hanson Blackburn, brother of Daniel Drew “D.D.” Blackburn, both partners of D.W. James.

Thinking that you would like to see a picture of the old home place as it was in your younger days I had some copies made and am enclosing one to you. I sent one to Carrie.

Please tell me when the house was built and when your folks moved in – also anything that you recall about the place.

Frank and Jesse James were out to California twice but I do not have the record of what years or where they stayed.

This would be interesting to some people.

The visit of Carrie and Hattie B.* last year with us is a happy remembrance.

Too bad that your father could not have ended his days peacefully in the grand old hotel** he had the faith and courage to build in those early days.

Too few people appreciate what he and that other active generous citizen – Uncle Jim Blackburn – done for this community and its old time residents.

Best wishes,


* The references to Carrie and Hattie is to Mary Louise’s sisters Carolina F. James Maxwell and Helen James Bennett.

** The reference to the grand old hotel is to the larger resort hotel D. W. James built in the rear of the original pioneer stagecoach hotel. The Springs Hotel burned to the ground in 1910.


In 2002, the friends and family of Frank & Jesse James reunited at the Paso Robles Inn to celebrate Drury Woodson James.

Drury Woodson James by His Daughter


By Mary Louise James Burns, his daughter

Mary Louise James, daughter of Drury Woodson James
Mary Louise James Burns, daughter of Drury Woodson James, founder of Paso Robles, California. From Jesse james Soul Liberty, Vol. I, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence by Eric F, James, p.18.

Drury Woodson James was born in Logan County, Kentucky on the 14th of November, 1826. His parents and grand-parents were Virginians, and his grand-fathers fought for Independence in the Revolutionary War. Drury Woodson James was the youngest of five boys. They were reared by his oldest sister, having been orphaned at an early age. Drury’s mother died when he was three months old, and his father when he was a year old.

In 1846, Drury enlisted in the Mexican War as a drummer boy, and fought through the war under General Taylor. After the war was over, James went to California. He left old Fort Kearney with a pioneer wagon train and reached the Hangtown gold fields in 1849. He mined for several months and then entered the business of buying and selling cattle. This proved to be a very successful venture. It is stated that his practice was to drive the cattle to the different mining towns and sell the cattle on the hoof for as much as three or four times the amount paid for them. James became known in the country in 1850, and played an important part in the early history of the community.

D. W. James
Drury Woodson James, Founder of Paso Robles, California. From the book Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence, by Eric F. James, p.17

In 1850, D. W. James and a John G. Thompson of Kentucky purchased the La Panza Rancho. They engaged in the business of buying cattle and horses. The county records of this time show numerous failures among the cattlemen. During the years of 1862, 1863, and 1864 occurred one of the worst droughts in the history of the country. At this time James and Thompson found themselves with 5000 head of cattle. At this time, cattlemen all over the area, when they saw their feed and water going, turned their cattle loose to fend for themselves. Not James; he drove the cattle to the Tulare and Buena Vista Lakes and saved them. James and Thompson also owned the Comatti8 and Carissa ranches. It is not known when they purchased these ranches, and they were probably sold along about the same time that the La Panza Rancho was sold.

Thompson and James sold the La Panza Rancho in 1869 to Jones and Schoenfield. Thompson then returned

Mary Louise James testimony-1/3
Page one of a three-page testimony of Mary Louise James Burns, daughter of Drury Woodson James, executed and transcribed in 1949 by Mary Joan Malley Beamis, great-granddaughter of D.W. James. This original document in the Joan Beamis Archive of the James Preservation Trust.

Page 2:

to Kentucky. In 1857, a James H. Blackburn had bought the El Paso de Robles Rancho from Petronelli Ries. Ries had acquired the ranch in 1850 from one Pedro Novares. Novares had acquired the ranch under a Mexican land grant in 1844. Novares claimed six leagues or about 25,000 acres along the Salinas River. In 1850, James B. Blackburn divided the ranch. Daniel D. Blackburn chose the northern league of the rancho on which were located the springs. Daniel D. Blackburn then sold one-half of his northern half to a Thomas McGreal who sold it to James in 1869. D. D. Blackburn and D. W. James each owned half of the northern league. D. D. Blackburn then sold half of his half to James H. Blackburn. So James owned a half and the two Blackburn brothers each owned a quarter of the northern league.

On September 15, 1966, Daniel D. Blackburn and Drury W. James married sisters at a double wedding in the San Luis Obispo Mission. They were married by the Rev. Father Sastra in the old Mission church. Louise M. Dunn married D.W. James and Cecelia Dunn married D. D. Blackburn. The Dunn family had come to America from Australia about 1850. They settled first in Sacramento and later moved to San Luis Obispo.

Mary Louise James testimony 2/3
Page two of a three-page testimony of Mary Louise James Burns, daughter of Drury Woodson James, executed and transcribed in 1949 by Mary Joan Malley Beamis, great-granddaughter of D.W. James. This original document in the Joan Beamis Archive of the James Preservation Trust.

James B. Blackburn was the first of this famous partnership to die. He left the bulk of his estate to Daniel and Cecelia Blackburn and their children. At this time, there was talk of the railroad coming through to El Paso de Robles. Realizing the possibilities of this part of the country as a resort area, Blackburn and James decided to build a hotel. The cornerstone was laid in 1889. The railroad tried to buy the property and the half-finished hotel from Blackburn and James but they refused the offer.

The business set-up became more and more complicated and the number of heirs and D. W. James found that it would be almost impossible to sell any portion of his interest in the property should he want to. So in 1890 he started court action for the purpose of dividing the property. The court ordered the property partitioned.

Mary Louise James testimony 3/3
Page three of a three-page testimony of Mary Louise James Burns, daughter of Drury Woodson James, executed and transcribed in 1949 by Mary Joan Malley Beamis, great-granddaughter of D.W. James. This original document in the Joan Beamis Archive of the James Preservation Trust.

Page 3:

The following history of Drury Woodson James was dictated to me, Mary Jean Malley Beamis, by my maternal grandmother, Mary Louise James Burns in 1949 when she was eighty one years of age.

It was written at the request of the officials of the city of Paso Robles, California, on the occasion of the dedication of a monument to her father’s memory in the Park which had been given to the city by Drury Woodson James and Daniel D. Blackburn.

(s) Mary Joan Beamis

May 22, 1971



May 23, 1971

Personally appears Mary Joan Beamis and made oath that the above statement is true and the information to the attached statement is true to the best of her knowledge and belief.

Before me,

(s) John F. Beamis

Notary Public

Jesse James, Prince of Robbers!

BOOK REVIEW: Wybrow, Robert J. Jesse James, Prince of Robbers! A Collection of Essays on the Noted Missouri Outlaw and His Times. (London: The English Westerners’ Society, 2015) 485 pp., illustrations, notes, index. Paperback, $32.00.

By  Nancy B. Samuelson

This is a valuable collection of James gang literature. One trademark of Mr. Wybrow’s work is his in-depth research. Even though he lives in England, he knows how to find things in U.S. archives and newspapers.  The number of resources he has consulted is truly impressive.

Jesse James Prince of Robbers-book cover
Jesse James, Price of Robbers by Robert J. Wybrow

This collection includes articles about some more obscure robberies and raises questions about the participation of the James boys in the Columbia, Ste. Genevieve and Concordia bank robberies.  There is one article about the Youngers in the state of Texas, and this article contains some intriguing information about an illegitimate son of Cole Younger in Louisiana. One article is devoted to Dick Liddil’s supposed wife, Mattie Collins. Mattie has always been a rather mysterious lady and this article explores her many escapades in depth. Another article deals with the 1875 raid on the James/Samuel farm that killed young Archie Samuel and caused the amputation of Zerelda James Samuel’s arm. This raid produced a great deal of sympathy for the James boys throughout the state of Missouri.

This book presents information from many obscure sources and at times disagrees with material that has been presented by other well-known authors. Everything in the book is informative and often thought-provoking.  I highly recommend this book; this should be in the library of everyone with more than just a passing interest in the James-Younger gang. This book will serve as an outstanding resource for anyone that is interested in doing further research on the James-Younger gang and their associates.

Robert J. Wybrow is a graduate of the University of London and has worked for the British Gallup Poll for over forty years. He is a long time member of The English Westerners’ Society and began to write and publish articles about the James gang in 1969. Most of his work has appeared in the publications of The English Westerners’ Society. A lot of his articles and booklets are now rare collector’s items and are very difficult to find. He has selected the best of his works about the James gang and related subjects and published updated versions in this book. Some 15 of his articles are included in this collection, and there are also four appendixes. The appendixes are: “From the Pen of a ‘Noble Robber’—The Letters of Jesse Woodson James”, “Dick Liddil’s Confession”, “Clarence Hite’s Confession” and “List of Original Articles”. This final appendix is a complete list of all of the articles about the James gang written by Wybrow.

TO PURCHASE: e-mail Ray Cox, secretary of English Westerner’s Society: Domestic postage rates in the UK or USA may apply.

Confederates in Montana Territory

BOOK REVIEW: Robison, Ken, Confederates in Montana Territory: In The Shadow of Price’s Army, (South Carolina: The History Press, 2014.) 190 pp., photos, illustrations, bibliography/notes, index. ISBN 978-1-62619-603-2, paperback, $19.99

By Nancy B. Samuelson

Confederates in Montana Terrirtory-Ken Robison
Confederates in Montana Territory: In the Shadow of Price’s Army by Ken Robison

I was eager to dig into this book as I am a long time student of Missourians in the Civil War. However, I was very disappointed in the book. It is an attractive book with a lot of good photos and illustrations, but the research is only skin deep.  The title of the book is misleading as only about four of the men discussed in the book served in Price’s Army. The author does not have a very good grasp on the history of Price’s Army and the guerrilla units associated with Price. The book contains several errors. In the forward to the book, 1859 is given as the year California entered the Union. The correct year is 1850. Colonel Thoroughman was said to have been taken to a prison in Quincy, Illinois after he was captured. There was no Union prison at Quincy, he most likely was taken to the prison at Alton, Illinois. The Moore brothers were said to have gone south into Kentucky and spend a night with John M. James, the grandfather of Jesse James. A good trick indeed, as John M. James died in 1827.

Confederates in Montana
An early tintype, owned by Ken Robison, showing unidentified Confederate soldiers in Montana Territory.

There are two stories in the book concerning supposed Quantrill men. The first story is about James Berry. This chapter is reasonably close to the facts; Berry did serve with Quantrill for a short time. He also did participate in a robbery with the Sam Bass gang and was killed when there was an attempt to apprehend him. The author states that Berry’s family survived to become prominent in Montana history, but leaves the reader completely in the dark about the family’s contribution to the state’s history.

Ken Robison, author
Author Ken Robison

The chapter about Langford “Farmer” Peel, is titled “When Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction”. A good title, since this tale is almost entirely fiction. Langford Peel never served with Quantrill or anybody else during the Civil War. He hung out in mining camps in California, Utah, Nevada and Montana during the time of the Civil War. He was a rough customer and was accused of several murders. He was finally shot and killed in Montana. The tale about some of Quantrill’s men hijacking a steamboat to come after Peel is from a newspaper article from the Great Falls Tribune of April 30, 1922. The story is complete fiction.

There were a number of men from Price’s Army who did go to Montana and who became prominent men. John C. C. “Coon” Thornton and Thomas L. Napton immediately come to mind, but the author ignored these men. Several Quantrill men are known to have gone to Montana too, one served as the Sheriff of Lewis and Clark County. These folks are also ignored. The book is an easy read but it is history light-weight.


This book review is co-published with the James-Younger Gang Journal.

The Heavyweight Ancestry of Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali
Cassius Marcellus Clay 1941-2016, best known by his adopted name of Muhammad Ali. More popularly known as “The Greatest.”

In the boxing ring, the reach of Muhammad Ali spanned seventy-eight inches, longer at better striking than any of his opponents. In his genetic makeup, the heavyweight ancestry of Muhammad Ali stretched from Roman era enslavement toward Civil War emancipation, For Ali, that never was enfranchisement enough.

Prompted by a conversion from the Baptist faith to the Muslim religion, during which he changed his name, Muhammad Ali seized upon his deliverance. “Why should I keep my white slavemaster’s name visible and my black ancestors invisible, unknown, and unhonored?”

Moved by faith, Ali’s adopted persona infused every corner of his being. In the end, his fight redefined and symbolized his every oddity and eccentricity as authentically American. Ali claimed personal freedom, executed individual accomplishment, spread loving care and humanitarianism, and promoted social justice. Recognized in his time as “The Greatest,” Muhammad Ali became a legend, not too unlike the legendary cousin in his shadowy ancestry whom Ali never knew, America’s favorite outcast Jesse James.


Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, named for his father who bore the same name. Although his father’s nickname was Cash, Ali’s full name came from a notable emancipationist, Cassius Marcellus Clay, a second cousin of famed Kentucky statesman Henry Clay. Five members of Henry Clay’s family bore the name of Cassius Marcellus Clay.

Henry Clay
Henry Clay Sr. 1777-1852

The Clay family naming practice, although trendy in the period for its classical allusion, derived from the naming practices of ancient Rome. Romans attached a three-part structure to naming. The given name was a praenomen. The family name was the nomen. Finally, the nickname was the cognomen, the common name by which one was recognized.

The family name Cassia was taken from the Latin “cassus,” meaning empty, void, hollow, or vain. In the Roman era, vanity was respected as a positive force by which one might rise in status out of nothing. As a class, the Cassii advanced to the patrician level, the name dating back to the 6th century B.C. Back then, Spurius Cassius Viscellinus vainly addressed land ownership issues between the patrician and plebeian classes. Patricians considered the laws too friendly to plebeians. Cassius was tried. Then he was violently executed. The Cassius name arose from a lack of estimability to transfix itself as a representation of honor. In Roman time, Gaius Cassius Longinus conspired vainly to assassinate the tyrant Julius Caesar. In the Middles Ages, four Saints held the Cassius name, most all were persecuted, martyred and then honored.

Green Clay
Green Clay 1757-1858, Father of Cassius Marcellus Clay

The Clay family vanity is well earned. Green Clay was a patriot of the American Revolution. He served in the Continental Army and the Virginia Legislature. After moving his family from Virginia to Kentucky, Clay served in both houses of the Kentucky Legislature. In his private life, he was a surveyor, retaining half of everything he surveyed. He also operated Clay’s Ferry at Boonesborough. Although a slave owner and planter, his wealth accumulated more via his industry and labor, owning warehouses, distilleries, and taverns. He was not so reliant upon plantation enslavement, common in the era, for building his fortune. Called upon by Gov. Isaac Shelby. Green Clay went the War of 1812 with the rank of General. Those who followed him were militia volunteers. Documents show he expressed concern over the treatment of “friendly Indians.”  Clay County in Kentucky was named for Green Clay, and not for Henry Clay as some may think


White Hall, the ancestral home of Cassius Marcellus Clay

Vanity affixed almost naturally to Green Clay’s son, Cassius Marcellus Clay. As a Major General for the Union in the Civil War, Clay was recognized widely as “The Lion of White Hall.” The family estate is located in Richmond in Kentucky’s Madison County. Twenty years before the Civil War, Cassius freed White Hall’s enslaved people.  He then published an anti-slavery, abolitionist newspaper, The True American. While Cassius recovered from typhoid fever, his printing office was attacked and pillaged. Cassius removed his printing office across the Ohio River to Cincinnati, though he continued to edit from Lexington in Kentucky.

Following the Mexican War in which Clay was imprisoned in Mexico City, Clay returned to run for the office of Kentucky Governor. His anti-slavery platform defeated him. He then provided land and underwriting to found Berea College. The new institution of learning accepted women as well as men, Moreover, it welcomed people of color as students and educators. Cassius furthermore took a role in founding the Republican Party. His anti-slavery sentiments befriended him to Abraham Lincoln.

Cassius Marcellus Clay
Cassius Marcellus Clay 1810-1903, The Lion of White Hall

At the onset of the Civil War, Clay’s Battalion protected Washington D.C. A biographer described the battalion leader in personal terms as conceited and somewhat ridiculous. “With three pistols strapped to his waist, and an elegant sword hanging at his side, he talked to anyone who would listen about his Mexican War exploits and his political battles.” Lincoln thought Clay “had a great deal of conceit and very little sense,” Lincoln “did not know what to do with him, for he could not give him a command—he was not fit for it.” Lincoln appointed Clay Minister to Russia. Upon Emancipation by Lincoln, Cassius Marcellus Clay believed his influence upon the Emancipation Proclamation was “the culminating act of my life’s aspirations.”

While in Russia, Clay’s wife Mary Jane Warfield administered to White Hall flawlessly. However, upon Clay’s returned to White Hall bringing a son she never knew, Mary Jane divorced Cassius Marcellus Clay. He married again to fifteen-year-old Dora Richardson but divorced her quickly, and never remarried again.

Despite the controversy surrounding him, the social contribution of Cassius Marcellus Clay was indelible and genuine. On his death, the comment was made, “Never was a more striking scene witnessed on the way to Richmond, where the funeral services were to be held. From every humble negro cottage along the roadside and at every crossroads, the mothers and large children carrying those who were too little to walk, the negroes were lined up to pay their last respects to the man whom they honored as the Abraham Lincoln of Kentucky.”


  1. Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. aka Muhammad Ali
  2. Cassius Marcellus “Cash” Clay Sr. & Odessa Lee Grady
  3. Herman Heaton Clay & Edith Edelen Greathouse
  4. John Clay & Sallie Ann Fry

History does not record if Muhammad Ali’s great-grandparents, John Clay and Sallie Ann Fry were part of the enslaved family at White Hall. Nor can history confirm if John Clay was an actual descendant of Cassius Marcellus Clay. History may never solve the former, but DNA testing still can resolve the latter.

The possibility also exists that the Clay family of Muhammad Ali may not attach to the family of Cassius Marcellus Clay at all. Ali’s family might connect to some other Clay line of the Henry Clay family.

Regardless, the persistence of genetic behavior, character, and motivations between Muhammad Ali, today recognized as “The Greatest,” and  Cassius Marcellus Clay the Lion of White Hall are compelling, as is Muhammad Ali’s apparent acceptance of his high probability of kinship.  One cannot listen to Muhammad Ali speak about all he found in his world that was white without the Lion of White Hall appearing ghostly behind him. Ali is not an imitation of the former. Ali is an authentic reflection.


If Muhammad Ali’s ancestry on his paternal side is indefinite concerning his kinship to the family of Henry Clay, his mother’s ancestry points decisively to ancestry just as complicated and white but with a clear path to his relationship with America’s iconic outlaw for social justice, Jesse James.

  1. Muhammad Ali, aka Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.
  2. Odessa Lee Grady & Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr.
  3. John Lewis Grady & Birdie Belle Morehead
  4. Thomas Morehead & Elizabeth “Lizzie” Bibb
  5. Armistead S. Morehead & (1) Adeline R. Perkins & (2) Dinah Unknown, illicit partner, & (3) Henrietta Elizabeth Frances Poor
  6. Drury Woodson Poor & Elizabeth Ellen Britt
  7.    Robert (Cornet) Poor & Elizabeth Woodson Mimms                                                                6. Mary “Polly” Poor & John M. James                                                                      5. Robert Sallee James & Zerelda Elizabeth Cole                                            4. Jesse Woodson James & Zerelda Amanda Mimms

Ireland claims it is the source of Muhammad Ali’s pugilistic genes. Odessa Lee Grady’s grandfather Abe Grady was an immigrant from Ennis, County Clare in Ireland. He immigrated to America in the Civil War era. Abe married an emancipated African-American daughter of Louis and Amanda J. Walker. Abe bought and farmed land on Duck Lick Creek in Logan County, about ten miles from Russellville. Their son, John Lewis Grady found employment with the St. Bernard Mining Company as a coal miner in Earlington. His registration card for World War I lists John as Ethiopian by race.

Odessa Lee Grady
Mohammad Ali and his mother Odessa Lee Grady-Clay

When Odessa Lee Grady married Ali’s father, Cash Clay, the couple removed from Earlington to Louisville. Cash Clay was an abusive husband and an alcoholic. Ali later affirmed of his mother, “She is afraid of him.” The couple separated when Ali was nine. When Ali’s bicycle was stolen when he was twelve, Ali turned to boxing. Odessa supported Ali in the recreation that became his profession.

Mohammad Ali famile
Muhammad Ali’s family with his brother Rahman Ali, his mother OdessaLee Grady-Clay, and his father Cassius Clay Sr. Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

Odessa inherited her Baptist faith from Ali’s great-grandparents Thomas Morehead and Elizabeth Bibb. Baptist tradition in Ali’s family originated in their Old Union Church in Russellville in Logan County. (Old Union is sometimes identified as the New Union or as the First Baptist Church of Russellville. The church is not to be confused with the Old Union Missionary Church of Bowling Green.)

The Old Union Church was founded in the early 1800s when the Russellville region was called Rogue’s Harbor. Migrants with few resources, little financial support, and no military land to claim in Kentucky following the American Revolution populated the area among a scattering of lawless miscreants and ne’er-do-wells. Among the founding members of Old Union Church were Spencer Curd with his father-in-law Col. John Curd. Joined with the Curds was Ali’s fourth great-grandfather Drury Woodson Poor.

Whippoorwill Creek
Dam at Whippoorwill Creek, constructed by William James, either the brother or father of John M. James

Settling at Lickskillet on Whippoorwill Creek among founders of Old Union Church was John M. James who married Drury Woodson Poor’s sister, Mary “Polly” Poor. The couple became the grandparents of Frank and Jesse James. When John and Polly died within months of one another, Drury Woodson Poor was entrusted with the couple’s eight orphans. Col. William Grubbs of Old Union purchased the slaves of John M. James upon his demise. William Perkins acquired land from Spencer Curd’s brother Samuel with a house on Whippoorwill Creek formerly occupied by their father, William Curd. Thereby, Perkins became neighbors with John M. James. Later, Spencer Curd was instrumental in finding Thomas Martin James, one of the James orphans, a teaching position at Bethel College, before T.M. James departed Kentucky to become a millionaire merchant in Kansas City. Spencer Curd also was the father-in-law of Nimrod Long whom the James Gang shot in the robbery of the Russellville Bank much later in 1868.

Baptist Church, Russellvile, Ky.
First Baptist Church Russellville

William Perkins’ daughter Adeline R. Perkins married Muhammad Ali’s third great-grandfather Armistead S. Morehead. Sometime after their third child was born, Armistead had an illicit liaison with a girl named Dinah. She is presumed to be a slave. Sometime between June and December in 1839, Dinah gave birth to Thomas Armistead, Ali’s great-grandfather. Armistead and Adeline had one last child before Adeline died. In Old Union Church, Thomas Armistead married Lizzie Bibb, who bore Ali’s grandmother Birdie Belle Morehead-Grady. Birdie made her home in Louisville.

Some inaccurate history argues that the mother of Thomas Morehead was Armistead’s second wife, Henrietta Elizabeth Frances Poor. Henrietta formerly was married to Armistead’s brother, James Duncan Morehead Sr. With James, Henrietta bore five children. Among them, Elizabeth Ann Morehead was born in April of 1836, followed by the birth of Presley Leland Morehead in February of 1838. These two dates leave an interval in which Thomas Morehead could have been born in July of 1837. More decisively, however, both Armistead S. Morehead and Henrietta were ethnically Anglo and white. The census of 1870 defines Thomas Morehead as being mulatto, confirming that his mother Dinah had to be African-American. Regardless, Henrietta Poor’s marriage to Armistead S. Morehead makes Henrietta a step-great-grandmother of Muhammad Ali. From her Poor family descendants comes Ali’s step-kinship to Jesse Woodson James.


Muhammad Ali had more than one path to his step-kinship with Jesse Woodson James.

  1. Muhammad Ali, aka Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.
  2. Odessa Lee Grady & Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr.
  3. John Lewis Grady & Birdie Belle Morehead
  4. Thomas Morehead & Elizabeth “Lizzie” Bibb
  5. Armistead S. Morehead & Henrietta Elizabeth Frances Poor
  6. Presley M. Morehead & Mary “Polly” Duncan
  7. James Duncan & Bathsheba Menefee
  8. William Menefee Sr. & Elizabeth “Betsy” Vardeman
  9. Johannes Vardeman, the Immigrant & Elizabeth Taylor Morgan                                 8. Rev. Jeremiah Vardeman & Elizabeth “Betsy” James                             7. John M. James                                                                                                                           6. Robert Sallee James                                                                                                              5. Jesse Woodson James
William Whitley mansion
William Whitley house at Cedar Creek in Lincoln County, Kentucky

The sixth great-grandfather of Muhammad Ali is Johannes Vardeman, father of the eminent Baptist Devine Rev. Jeremiah Vardeman. Johannes is the Vardeman family’s immigrant to America from Sweden. The Vardeman family’s settlement in Kentucky was adjacent to the land of John M. James at Cedar Creek in Lincoln County. Next to them both lived the Kentucky’s famed Indian fight Col. William Whitley. Before their settlement, Johannes Vardeman was an ax man for Daniel Boone, blazing the Wilderness Road, which John M. James patrolled and protected.

Jeremiah Vardeman
Rev. Jeremiah Vardeman 1775-1842

When Jeremiah Vardeman eloped with Elizabeth “Betsy” James, John M. James arranged to bring Jerry into Baptist ministry. In his time, Jeremiah Vardeman baptized over 6,000 converts. He founded, pastored, and preached among many of the Baptist churches in central Kentucky. He also gave Jesse James’ father, Rev. Robert Sallee James, $20,000 and seven enslaved, sending him to Missouri to found William Jewell College, where Vardeman also founded a School of Theology.

Muhammad Ali’s connection to the Vardeman family gives him a confirmation line of kinship with the family of Jesse James.


Extending Muhammad Ali’s relationships further, other relatives appear to contribute to the genes of “The Greatest.” Among them are US Presidents John Tyler and Benjamin Harrison, Confederate President Jefferson Davis; several governors of Kentucky, Virginia, and North Carolina; plus celebrities Glenn Close, Hillary Duff, and Katie Couric. Several ancestors, like Robert (Coronet) Poor, make Ali and his descendants eligible for membership in the Sons or Daughters of the American Revolution as well as numerous other patriotic lineage societies.

Muhammad Ali 1942-2016
Muhammad Ali 1942-2016 “The Greatest”

 “I ain’t draft dodging. I ain’t burning no flag. I ain’t running to Canada. I’m staying right here. You want to send me to jail? Fine, you go right ahead. I’ve been in jail for 400 years. I could be there for 4 or 5 more, but I ain’t going 10,000 miles to help murder and kill other people. If I want to die, I’ll die right here, right now, fighin’ you. You my enemy, not no Chinese, no Vietcong, no Japanese. You my opposer when I want freedom. You my opposer when I want justice.” – Muhammad Ali

Kinship alone did not predestine the life of Muhammad Ali. Almost entirely, it can be said, the life of Muhammad Ali was constructed by his choice and direction alone. Whether Ali knew his ancestry or not did not preclude him in his choices. Muhammad Ali, aka Cassius Marcellus Clay, fulfilled the destiny of his genes.

Laila Ali
Laila Ali, Muhammad Ali’s daughter, the next generation

Great-grandchild of Jesse James has 3 Lines of James Ancestry

Betty Barr- 3 lines of James ancestry
Elizabeth Ann Barr, aka Betty Barr

Only one great-grandchild of Jesse James has three distinct lines of James ancestry. The three lines offer indisputable evidence that the ancestry of the Jesse James family is more extensive and permeating than formerly known. Moreover, it is a sure guarantee that Elizabeth Ann Barr is none too happy about it.

Betty Barr’s father, Lawrence Henry Barr, never was happy about his kinship to the Jesse James family, even though he married Jesse’s daughter. When the James family’s genealogist Joan Malley-Beamis sent letters to Lawrence to learn about the kinship that her research showed they shared, Lawrence stonewalled her. On numerous occasions, Lawrence rudely provided Joan no reply whatsoever. Betty’s mother, Thelma Duncan Barr, took it upon herself to intervene, to restore courtesy and civility among the James family’s descendants. Thelma wrote to Joan Beamis, pleading for Joan’s understanding about her husband’s inexplicable silence.

“Dear Mrs. Beamis, My name is Thelma Duncan Barr. My husband is Lawrence Barr…I am sorry he did not see fit to answer your letter. You have no idea how many inquiries he gets through the mails.. He simply did not want to be bothered. I told him he should have answered your letter. However, he does not know very much about the historical facts of the family. Mother Barr [Jesse’s daughter Mary Susan James-Barr] would not let it be ‘talked about’ in her home.”

Lawrence Barr and Thelma Duncan-3 lines of James ancestry
Thelma Duncan and Lawrence Henry Barr


Without a doubt, Betty Barr is her father’s daughter. From her father’s sense of protection and self-insulation, Betty inherited and maintains the bar to interest in the James family that her father erected.

Years later, when Stray Leaves publisher Eric F. James queried Betty about her family history, word came back through a longtime family friend Marjorie Highley-Best, “Tell Eric James to mind his own business.” Unlike her father with Joan Beamis, at least Betty had the courtesy to provide a reply, albeit an indirect one.

When Judge James R. Ross, another third great-grandchild of Jesse, personally invited Betty to attend the James Gang & Family Reunion in Paso Robles, California in 2002 to celebrate Drury Woodson James, Betty declined. She cited the recent attack of 9/11 as her reason not to fly, although she could have traveled safely and more comfortably by train. Her attendance at the family reunion would have been a historic event in itself, bringing together all of Jesse’s third generation in one place, in one photo, for one last time.

Donald James Baumel, James R. Ross, James Curiis Lewis
Three great grandsons of Jesse Woodson James attend the James family reunion in 2002. Donald James Baumel, Judge James R. Ross, James Curtis Lewis. Not in attendance is Diane June Baumel Fairchild and Elizabeth Ann “Betty” Barr

Among most of the James family, escaping the notoriety of Jesse James, and their kinship to him has become a genetic obsession. Across several generations, being a direct descendant of Jesse James, as is Betty Barr, has not been without pain and difficulty. Despite the family stigma, for the most part, the family phobia remains self-inflicted.

More significantly, today such avoidance and aversion are needless and unwarranted. Now, a blanket of James family exists to give comfort to the stigmatized James. The broader James family of teachers, preachers, educators, and poets, together with a gallery of public servants, politicians, and community builders as Jesse James Soul Liberty documents, asserts a family reputation the isolated Jesse James family never before could claim.

Betty Barr may hide in a citadel of silence, but never can she escape the inviolate facts of her genetic genealogy. In the 135 years since the assassination of her great-grandfather, new research into genealogical facts of the Jesse James family makes it clear that Betty Barr has more than one line of James ancestry. She has three. When compiled together, Betty’s three lines offer her more than ample reason to escape her Barr family citadel, which has imprisoned her.


If “Mother Barr” (Jesse’s daughter Mary Susan James-Barr) elected not to talk about her infamous father Jesse, she had ample reason for not doing so. Jesse’s firebrand burned fiercely throughout the lifetime of Mary Susan James-Barr. The burn and sting transferred easily to Jesse’s grandchildren and beyond.

Henry Lafayette Barr & Mary Susan James-3 lines of James ancestry
Betty Barr’s grandparents, “Mother Barr” Mary Susan James, the daughter of Jesse Woodson James, with her husband Henry Lafayette Barr

Three generations of the outlaw’s progeny would have to pass before the flame would subside sufficiently for the James family to escape the stigma of disgrace. Joan Beamis made ample note of this in her essay “Unto the Third Generation,” now published in Volume I of Jesse James Soul Liberty. Betty Barr is a great-granddaughter of Jesse James, making Betty one of the third generation whom Joan Beamis addressed. With more than a century of time now passed since Jesse’s assassination, Betty should live completely free and unfettered from her great-grandfather’s notorious past.

Betty’s descendant line from Jesse James is as follows:

1. Jesse Woodson James & Zee Mimms
2. Mary Susan James & Henry Lafayette Barr
3. Lawrence Henry Barr & Thelma Duncan
4. Elizabeth Ann “Betty” Barr


Background of a Bandit by Joan Beamis-First line of James ancestry
Background of a Bandit by Joan Beamis

Since 1970, when Joan Beamis published the first genealogy of the Jesse James family, Background of a Bandit, Betty Barr knew only six generations of her James ancestry beyond herself. Joan Beamis was not able to identify any James ancestry beyond that, although she suspected there was much more to be found, as she stated in “Unto the Third Generation,” now published in Volume I of Jesse James Soul Liberty.

Betty’s James ancestry as compiled by Joan Beamis is as follows:

1. William James Sr. & Mary Hines
2. John M. James & Mary “Polly” Poor
3. Rev. Robert Sallee James & Zerelda Elizabeth Cole
4. Jesse Woodson James & Zee Mimms
5. Mary Susan James & Henry Lafayette Bar
6. Lawrence Henry Barr & Thelma Duncan
7. Elizabeth Ann “Betty” Barr


Stray Leaves expanded the ancestry of the Jesse James familyFor twenty-five years from 1970 to 1995, Betty satisfied herself with the genealogy that Joan Beamis produced. Meanwhile, claims continued to assault the established kinship of the Jesse James family that remained for the most part as small, confined, and isolated.

Stray Leaves was hot on the trail to discover Betty’s hidden past. Other genealogists also were on her ancestral trail. Stray Leaves started to publish its new research, starting in 1995. The  findings have been peer reviewed by over two hundred genealogists and historians since. As Joan Beamis suspected, a deeper and broader James ancestry was found.

Betty’s ancestors in her James line now extend five generations beyond what Joan Beamis could find.

1. John James, the Immigrant & Unknown
2. Thomas James & Sarah E. Mason
3. George James Sr. & Mary Wheeler
4. Esther James & Henry Field Sr.
5. Mary Field & Joseph James, the Elder
6. William James Sr. & Mary Hines
7. John M. James & Mary “Polly” Poor
8. Rev. Robert Sallee James & Zerelda Elizabeth Cole
9. Jesse Woodson James & Zee Mimms
10. Mary Susan James & Henry Lafayette Bar
11. Lawrence Henry Barr & Thelma Duncan
12. Elizabeth Ann “Betty” Barr


John Q.A. Capps-ancestry of Betty Barr
Another third great-grandfather of Betty Barr – John Quincy Adams Capps, aka Sweet Potato Capps. Capps was born in Crab Orchard, Lincoln County, Kentucky on August 20, 1784. His family were neighbors with John M. James, Betty’s 4th great-grandfather. The Capps family exited Kentucky for Missouri in the early 1820s. In 1827, Capps acquired a 160-acre farm about 4 miles northwest of Liberty in Clay County, Missouri. There, he became widely known for his sweet potato seeds. Each year on April first, he opened his seed pit, attracting farmers from miles around. He died there September 14, 1857.

From the ancestry of Betty’s mother Thelma Duncan-Barr, Betty possesses yet an additional line of surprising ancestry that connects Betty to her James family’s first immigrant to America, John James in the early 1600s.

This additional line of James ancestry weaves through several generations of other families with various surnames. As the research of Stray Leaves showed since 1997, these families were known to be socially related to the James through several generations in Colonial Virginia. The ancestry of Betty’s mother Thelma Duncan-Barr serves as further confirmation of Betty’s blanket James ancestry.

1. John James, the Immigrant & Unknown
2. Thomas James & Sarah E. Mason
3. Capt. John James & Dinah Allen
4. Sarah James & Peter Hitt Jr.
5. Miriam Hitt & Archibald Holtzclaw
6. Rebecca Holtzclaw & John Quincy Adams “Sweet Potato” Capps
7. Elizabeth Louise Capps & Joseph B. Hart
8. Clarissa Rebecca “Clara” Hart & Louis Fry
9. Louise “Lulu” Fry & Jeholda Duncan
10. Thelma Duncan & Lawrence Henry Barr
11. Elizabeth Ann “Betty” Barr


The fact that both of Betty Barr’s paternal and maternal lines can be traced back to the same set of James ancestors indisputably confirms the identity of the James ancestry of the Jesse James family.

Betty’s ancestry is a unique pedigree peculiar to her alone. Her maternal antecedents confirm her James extraction indirectly, exclusive of her paternal line leading directly to Jesse James. No other great-grandchild of Jesse James’ third generation can claim Betty’s unique pedigree – not Judge James Randall Ross, not Donald James Baumel or Diane June Baumel, and not James Curtis Lewis.

The time is now for Betty to stake her claim in a notable and laudable ancestry that completely outshines the stigma from which her Barr family has been hiding. The time also is now for the ancestry of the blanket James family to recognize and celebrate this uniquely American family for its formidable contribution to society, and not for its legendary sensationalism.


More information about all of Betty Barr’s ancestors can be found in the SURNAMES genealogy database of Stray Leaves.

35 Shades of the James Coat of Arms

Repeatedly, the mother of Frank and Jesse James seated her sons in front of the evening fire to drill them in their family heritage. With so little to tell, she only could have wished to have 35 shades of the James coat of arms to show her sons.

Zerelda Cole James
Zerelda Elizabeth Cole-James

Over and over, Zerelda Elizabeth Cole-James made a point of saying to her boys, “Never forget. You are descended from Royalty.” However, Zerelda never could say how that occurred. Nor could she provide her sons with any proof or evidence of what royal and to whom they were related. So, she referenced King James of England. A James coat of arms to display to her children might have helped.

Black Horse Inn
Black Horse Inn, Midway, Kentucky – Birthplace of Frank & Jesse James’ mother, Zerelda Elizabeth Cole

In her childhood, growing up in Woodford County, Kentucky, many wealthier neighbors of young Zerelda possessed a family coat of arms. The coat of arms they proudly presented or displayed was a relic, long held since family ancestors broke rank with the mother England in the American Revolution. Some possessed their coat of arms longer, for generations before. Such was not the case for the Cole family to whom young Zerelda was born.

However, as a teenager when Zerelda seized upon an upstart preacher named Robert Sallee James, she knew what everyone knew about his James family. The James descended from high stock. If Zerelda married that Georgetown College student with all his family connections and a bright career in ministry before him, she could escape her hardscrabble life as a servant girl in her family’s roadhouse ordinary. Zerelda could rise on the economic scale. And when she bore Robert children, her children would descend from royalty, too.

The Prophecy of the Two Bastards

The royal family history, which Zerelda presented to Frank and Jesse, was skeletal at best, and somewhat tarnished.  Jesse’s great-grandson, Judge James Randall Ross, wrote about the story that Zerelda repeatedly told in his book, I, Jesse James. Jim Ross grew up in the household of his grandfather, Jesse Edwards James Jr. He was privy to all the family stories his cousins never heard. Jesse Jr. made Jim promise to keep the story alive among his progeny. The story appears in Jim’s book in mother Zerelda’s words as “The Prophecy of the Two Bastards.”

James R. Ross
Judge James Randall Rosse, great-grandson of Jesse James, author of I, Jesse James
I, Jesse James-book
I, Jesse James by Judge James R. Ross

The prophecy always began with Ma’s description of those who had migrated to the Virginia colony in the early years…Many in the Virginia colony were running from something or somebody. Outcasts, robbers, bandit, bastards and the like were the backbone of the Virginia colony.

”Flowerdieu, Virginia in September 1622, Ma would say, was a place that harbored such people.”

…In September of that long ago year, two brothers William and John were arguing about William’s future…William had insisted on returning to his land [following an Indian raid] rather than staying in the stockade with his brother John…As John tried to convince William to stay, William pointed out that he must return to his land “Because it is my job, John. It is my heritage – our heritage given to us by our father.”

John replied, “Don’t be bitter about duty, William. We both agreed before we left England that we were giving up any rights we had there in exchange for the land and our start here in the new world. But it’s no use losing your life over your land.”

William answered with considerable bitterness. “Yes, a lot of ‘rights’ either of us had as bastards, except for causing the good King James a lot of snickers at court!”…”Oh, I know in his way he thought he was doing the right thing” he continued, “And damn it all that’s why I’m going to make it on my own land and sire my own family under the name of James! If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for my family.”

Background of a Bandit

Background of a Bandit-book
Background of a Bandit by Joan Beamis

In 1970, Joan Malley Beamis published the first genealogy of the Jesse James family, Background of a Bandit. Joan is a first cousin of Frank and Jesse, and a great-granddaughter of their uncle, Drury Woodson James. Joan discovered no royal coat of arms for her James family relatives to claim. Joan further ascertained that William James is the immigrant of the James family, and John was his son.

Nearly fifty years later, Investigation of Joan’s research files revealed her personal doubt about the genealogy she wrote and published. Joan wrote that, for lack of evidence, she still questioned whether William was the immigrant at all. Too many James families occupied the Virginia colony just before the Revolution. For all of them she deduced, the James family might have been in America for generations earlier. The family, too, might have been much larger than she alone could establish.

Stray Leaves

Twenty years of new research since reveals the immigrant John James, an arrival in America in the year 1620. Stray Leaves began publishing this genealogy in 1997, subjecting new research findings ever since to rigorous peer scrutiny on a worldwide basis. Today, the known, documented and established results of these conclusions support Joan’s doubt. They also disclaim Ma Zerelda’s family lore about King James.

Although the land the James family acquired in Colonial Virginia was granted through Alexander Spotswood from Charles II, a grandson of James I, King of England, no other kinship link to King James can be established.

However, through generations of royal courtiers, none bearing the James name, the lineage of Frank and Jesse James indeed can be traced back to their 19th great-grandfather King Edward II of Caernarvon, Wales and beyond. The boys also are descendants of the Plantagenet Kings Edward I, III, and IV, as well as King Henry VII of Pembrokeshire, Wales.

35 Shades of James Coat of Arms

coadbSeeking what coat of arms the Jesse James family might claim, Stray Leaves consulted the eminent coat of arms website, derived from the ancient and reliable records of Burke’s Peerage – (Coat of Arms Database). There, on a page specifically devoted to the James surname, were found more than 35 shades of the James coat of arms.

Selecting which coat of arms might apply became an exercise in historical knowledge. Apparently, coats that reflect James of Irish origin were eliminated promptly. Next eliminated were those that reflect nothing relating to what is known of the documented history of the James family in America.  What remained are the two coats of arms that reflect Pembroke, Wales and Somerset, England.

From the study by Joan Beamis, she claimed that William James was an immigrant from Pembrokeshire, Wales. However, in the fifty years of additional research since, no link with Pembroke, Wales or any James family history can be established from Pembrokeshire.

Moreover, Terry Wells, the archivist of the Carmarthenshire Archive Service in Wales formerly has queried Stray Leaves regarding the origin of the claim that William James is the progenitor of the Jesse James family in America. In 2014, he wrote the following to Stray Leaves:

“The reason I was asking was that every so often someone turns up to research the ‘Welsh ancestry’ of the James family, but we have never found any evidence to support the theory at all, at least it is so for west Wales, I can’t answer for north Wales. But, I am not surprised, as in the wealth of supposed James family history to be found there is a dearth of evidence to support the supposed eighteenth-century ancestors.

“I had assumed that the idea had originated from Background of a Bandit. Interesting that the author later doubts both the Welsh connection and that she was an ancestor of the James family. Trusting to family lore is always a risky business.”

What remains to consider are these two coats of arms from Somerset in England.

coats of arms, Somerset 2 james-coat-arms-10-Somerset2

The black background common to both crests symbolizes grief and resistance, powerful emotions that continue to infuse James family members today. The fish that graces the crest represents bravery and steadfastness. Moreover, the fish also accounts for Christian faith, constituting a genuine, generous spirit. The fish also represents economy and science. In the one, the bull replicates bravery and generosity. Its horns replicate strength and fortitude with undertones of patience, humility, and sacrifice connected. The bull topping the crest may represent the landed gentry while the dolphin at the top may represent seafaring gentry, as well as swiftness, diligence, charity, and love. It is believed that John James the immigrant arrived in America from Wales as a captain with a ship of his own. The family’s founding of Somerset in Pulaski County, Kentucky evidences the James family’s continued strong tie to its ancient motherland.

From Longshanks to Courtiers

King Edward II of Caernarvon, Wales, and his father Edward I known as Longshanks, present crests of royal heritage.  Variations of the crest have been adopted by royal courtiers and extended family, all of whom appear in the ancestry of the James family.

Edward II coat of arms
Arms of Edward II
Queen Isabella-arms
Arms of Queen Isabella, wife of Edward II






Edward I Longshanks-arms
Arms of Edward I, Longshanks
Queen Eleanor-arms
Arms of Queen Eleanor, wife of Edward I, Longshanks

A Modern James Family Coat of Arms

If the James family adopted a coat of arms for use in the contemporary era, the coat would have to reflect the fundamental character, personality, behavior, and soul, which the James family typifies. That panoply of character now is documented and appears in the family’s official biography Jesse James Soul Liberty. A modern crest for the James would have to include escutcheons for education, faith, and service to community. Ironically, these are the modern equivalents of service once provided by kings and courtiers.

Education, learning teaching, knowledge
community symbol
Community, public service, equality, social justice
cross smbol
Faith, ministry, charity, compassion

The passage of several hundred years may have caused the use of a coat of arms to fade into past glory and romance. There remains, however, the modern equivalent. Being descended from royalty, as Ma Zerelda instructed her sons Frank and Jesse James, still carries the burden of social responsibility, protection, and defense for living a peaceful, productive, and beneficial life for both one’s self and community.

Hey, Jesse James family, you still do what is necessary, but what will you be wearing on your tee shirt now?

Capt. Francis Marion “Dave” Pool After the War

Capt. Francis Marion “Dave” Pool After the War

By Nancy B. Samuelson

Dave Poole
Francis Marion Pool, aka Dave Pool 1838-1899. The Pool surnames is sometimes spelled as Poole.

Dave Pool and his exploits during and immediately after the Civil War are familiar to most students of James-Younger gang history. However, little seems to be known about Dave and his life after the war. Some history states that he went to Texas and became a wealthy cattleman. He reportedly lost most of his money then moved on to Arizona and died there in 1899.


More information is now coming to light about Dave Pool and his brothers Christopher Columbus (usually C. C. Pool) and John A. Pool. C.C. served in the war too, but mostly with a Texas Partisan Unit. Brother, John, served with Quantrill and went just about everywhere Dave did during the war. All three brothers returned to Lafayette County, Missouri after the war and remained there for a short time. Then eventually, all three brothers ended up as well- to-do cattlemen in Texas. Dave did move on to Arizona and may have spent some time in New Mexico, as well.

Dave stayed around the Lafayette County area for some time, but by 1873, he is in Montana. Brother C. C. Pool received a letter from Dave, who is said to be in Montana in the cattle trade. Dave reported he was doing well and that he was getting “fat and sassy” on grisly [sic] and antelope. He also promised to send his little nephew a juvenile grisly [sic] for a pet. (TWC March 29, 1873)

Home of Alexander Graves
ALEXANDER GRAVES, soldier, lawyer, congressman, was born Aug. 29, 1844, in Mississippi. He entered the confederate army, serving throughout the war. In 1872 he was elected city attorney of Lex ington; and in 1874 was elected prosecuting attorney of Lafayette county. He was elected a representative from Missouri to the forty-eighth congress as a democrat. – Herringshaw’s Encyclopedia of American Biography of the Nineteenth Century

In August 1874, Dave is back in Lafayette County. He served on a committee for a public picnic in the area, and he signed a letter endorsing Alexander Graves, Esq. for County Attorney. (TWC August 1, 1874)  Later in the year, Dave is visiting his brother and friends in Carroll County, Missouri. John Pool was now living in Carroll, County. (TWC December 26, 1874)

Dave was confined to his room in May of 1875, so he must have been ill. But by July, it was reported that Dave had left for the western border of Kansas, on the look-out for some good kine (cattle). The newspaper quipped, “Dave, are you going to start a dairy?” (TWC May 15, and July 17, 1875)

Later in 1875, Dave is back in the Lexington area and was en route for Waverly, Missouri. He was said to be a full-fledged partner in the metallic weather strip, lately patented by Hogman & Shomate. Capt. Pool was to depart for England in the spring to solicit orders for the weather stripping. (LWI November 20, 1875) No evidence has yet been found that Dave went to England.

A. W. Hilliard Historical Marker
Historical plaque commemorating the first bank of Midland, Texas, founded by A. W. Hilliard

Early in 1878, Dave is back in Lexington, and it was reported that he now owned a cattle ranch in Texas. The paper also stated that Dave would take a wife back with him. (LT, February 15, 1878) The news of marriage was not accurate, as he did not marry until later. In March 1879 one A.W. Hilliard sent a lengthy letter to the Lexington Weekly Intelligencer from Taylor County, Texas. He discussed the finer points of settling in Texas and said many Missourians were now living there. He mentioned both Capt. Dave Pool and his brother Capt. C.C. Pool. He said that Dave had passed through his area on the way to Sweetwater. Dave had said that neither Comanche, Kiowa nor Yonkaway [sic] squaw could capture him. The only squaw to whom he would surrender alive lived in “Old Lafayette.” Dave was to leave soon for New Mexico, where he had a ranch and a fine herd of cattle. (LWI March 29, 1879) The following month a Texas newspaper reported that Dave Pool of Quantrill’s band flourishes at Coleman, Texas. (TWDS April 1879)


In 1881, Dave was again visiting in his home state. Both Dave and C.C. Pool visited the newspaper office, and the editor said he had received a regular “long-horn” visit. The paper also mentioned that C.C. Pool had moved to Texas several years ago.  C.C. had grown to immense physical proportions and had a thriving cattle business. C.C. was back with his wife and was visiting friends and family. Both of the Pool brothers returned to Texas within the next few days. (LWI February 5 & 12, 1881) The following month Sam Redd, who had been absent from Lexington for seven years, also visited the newspaper. He was accompanied by J. L Peacock, another ranchman. These men discussed recent cattle deals that concerned Dave Pool. Pool & Redd and W. A. Redd and Peacock & Bros. had sold ranches, horses and 5,730 head of cattle for the sum of $95,500. They had sold because they were about to overstock their ranges. They have now organized a company J. M. Peacock & Co. with capital of $150,000 and will establish a ranch in northwestern Texas. These gentlemen were to leave the next day to join J. H. Peacock and Capt. Dave Pool. The newspaper staff wished the men success. (LWI March 12, 1881)

In the summer of 1881, Dave Pool attended a reunion of ex-confederates in Dallas, Texas. Dave served as an assistant marshal for the event, and his residence was said to be in Tom Green County, Texas. Other well-known Missouri Confederates also attended including Gen. Francis Marion “F.M.” Cockrell, Col. Jeremiah Vardeman “J. V.” Cockrell and Col. Sidney D. “S.D.” Jackman. Col. Jackman now lived in San Marcos, Texas. (TDWH August 11, 1881) In December Capt. Dave Pool was back in Lexington. The paper said he likes “long horn” in summer, but when winter arrives he prefers to come to old Lafayette and spend the evenings among God’s people. (LWI December 10, 1881)


In January 1882, it becomes clear why Dave is back in Lafayette this time. Mr. and Mrs. William & Elizabeth Shelby Kirtley announced the marriage of their daughter Lora M. to F.M. Poole on January 24, 1882. The editor thought friends might not recognize Dave under his proper initials and added that the gentleman concerned was Capt. Dave Poole. The bride is described as one of the fairest and best of Lafayette County’s women. (LWI January 21, 1882) A week later the newspaper devoted almost a full column to a lavish description of the wedding. Many guests are named, dresses are described, and many of the gifts are listed and described. One gift of note was the paw of a bear that was killed by Capt. Matt Ham in Texas two weeks before.  General Jo Shelby and some other notables attended the wedding. The happy couple would remain in the Lexington area for four or five weeks and then return to their home in Colorado City, Texas. (LWI January 28, 1882)


In December 1882 Dave Pool is back in Lexington and in January 1883 he makes a visit to Frank James in the Independence jail; he spent an hour or two visiting with Frank. Dave is now said to be a resident of Texas and worth a million dollars. He is described as of commanding appearance and wearing a beard reaching to his knees. (RD December 28, 1882, and TBWT January 31, 1883)

In February 1883, J. A. Peacock and Capt. Redd are again visiting in the Lexington area. Again their cattle companies are mentioned as J. A. and J.C. Peacock, Capt. David Pool, S. B. Redd and W. A. Redd. These men have now invested in a new bank that is to be open for business in a few days. The bank will have capital Stock of $15,000. W. A. Redd is the vice president of the new bank. Dave Pool is not listed as a member of the bank staff, but he is likely an investor in the firm. The location is said to be Colorado, Texas. (This is the Colorado National Bank of Colorado City, Texas.)(LWI February 3, 1883)

There are other developments in Dave Pool’s life at this time. The newspaper reminded readers that at Capt. F.M. Poole’s marriage they mentioned a unique gift of a bear’s foot sent by a friend. The paper now says that on St. Valentine’s Day, this week, the singular coincidence occurs that he has been presented with two bare feet, those of a hale and hearty little son. (LWI February 17, 1883) In March, the Pools and some of Mrs. Pool’s relatives returned to Colorado City, Texas. (LWI March 31, 1883) In August Capt. Pool and family were again visiting from Colorado, Texas. Dave is to attend the ex-confederate reunion at Jefferson City. Mrs. Pool is visiting her family. Dave has been called to Gallatin for the Frank James trial the previous week.  (RD August 30, 1883) Several Texas newspapers also noted that Dave Pool had been called as a witness in Frank James trial in August 1883.

In May 1885, a Mr. Joseph B. Silver returned to the Lexington, Missouri area after a cattle buying trip to Texas. Dave Poole entertained Mr. Silver royally while Silver was in Colorado City, Texas. Silver said Pool was now banking at that place. The Pools had an elegant house and two splendid babies. Pool also treated Mr. Silver to an airing behind Pool’s spanking team of horses. (LWI May 30, 1885)


On September 30, 1897, the Mexico Weekly Ledger (Mexico, Missouri) had a long article about Quantrill and his men. The report states that Dave Pool was now living in Arizona. The Arizona Republican, July 13, 1898, said, “Captain Dave Poole, whose military experience was acquired more than a generation ago, was in town yesterday wanting to enlist for the war in the capacity of Troop A, Arizona Cavalry.”

Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders
Col. Leonard-Wood & -Lt. Col. Theodore-Rooselvelt, company includes the 1st Volunteer Cavlry Regiment of Arizona, May,1898. Serving the 2nd U.S. Cavalry was Frank James son, Robert Franklin “Bob” James.

In June of 1899 newspapers all around the country announced the death of Dave Pool in the Phoenix, Arizona area. Dave died on June 3, 1899 at age 61. One newspaper reported that Dave had become security for a large debt for friends and because of this he had lost the greater part of his fortune. He had been undaunted by this and began anew in Arizona and before his death had amassed a considerable fortune again. (OGB June 24, 1899) When Frank James learned of Dave Pool’s death, he said, “I can hardly believe it. I knew Dave Poole well, and I want to say that God never made a truer soul, and no man was a stauncher friend than he. When he was once your friend he was always your friend, and he didn’t go around feeling the pulse of the public to find out how you stood with other people. He stuck to you through thick and thin, good and evil report.”   (TBWT June 8, 1899)

Dave’s family remained in Arizona and continued in the ranching and farming business. His wife married again but divorced her husband, Ernest A. Panknin, on grounds of desertion in 1920. (AR June 30, 1920) Dave’s daughter, Willie Elizabeth, married Claude Marlar in Phoenix in June 1906. The couple planned to make their home in California but soon returned to Arizona, and Claude was in the cattle business. (AR June 17, 1906) Claude died of heat prostration in August 1915. (AR August 21, 1915) For some time after that Willie appears to be living with her mother and brother, Francis Marion “Frank”, on the family ranch near Scottsdale, Arizona. The family is frequently mentioned in the Scottsdale news items in the Arizona Republican. Willie Elizabeth later married Frank L. Criswell. Frank Criswell died in 1928; Lora M. Kirtley Pool Panknin died in 1934; Francis Marion “Frank” Pool died in 1940, and Willie Elizabeth died in 1977. The entire family is buried at the Greenwood Memory Lawn Cemetery in Phoenix. Dave Pool was first buried in the Confederate Cemetery in Phoenix. However, he now rests beside his family in the Greenwood Cemetery.


TWC  The weekly Caucasian  (Lexington, Missouri)

LWI  Lexington Weekly Intelligencer (Lexington, Missouri)

LT  Liberty Tribune (Liberty, Missouri)

TWDS  The Weekly Democratic Statesman ( Austin, Texas)

TDWH  The Dallas Weekly Herald (Dallas, Texas)

RD  Richmond Democrat (Richmond, Missouri)

TBWT  The Butler Weekly Times (Butler, Missouri)

OGB  Oak Grove Banner (Oak Grove, Missouri)

AR  Arizona Republican (Phoenix, Arizona)

This article is published simultaneously in the  James-Younger Gang Journal, Volume 23, Issue 1, March 2016

Dave Poole Tombstone



Another Brother of Joan Beamis is Gone

Another brother of Joan Beamis has died. John Crohan “Jack” Malley passed away at the age of 90 on Saturday, March 5, 2016.  Among Joan’s other siblings, her brother Fr. Jim Malley died last June. Her sister Janice died in 2012. Joan was the first of her siblings to pass in 1990.

John Crohan Malley, brother of Joan Beamis
Jack Malley, brother of Joan Beamis & Fr. Jim Malley

In 2009, Jack Malley provided substantial information about his family and their kinship with the family of Frank & Jesse James to Stray Leaves publisher Eric F. James. Much of what Jack provided ended up in James’ first volume of the history of the Jesse James family – Jesse James Soul Liberty, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence.

About his family, Jack Malley informed Eric F. James, “My mother  (Marguerite Hazel Burns-Malley) was the only one who would not talk about the James brothers. She was somewhat of a Boston socialite in her pre-marital years. We, her children, thought it was terrific, and our grandmother Mary Louise James-Burns was “pumped dry” for stories.” Mary Louise James-Burns, a daughter of Frank and Jesse’s uncle Drury Woodson James, lived with the Malley siblings as they grew up.

Malley Boys Farm, girlhood home of Joan Beamis
The Malley family home, Somersworth, New Hampshire, and childhood home of Fr. James B., John Crohan, Mary Joan, and Janice Ann Malley. Formerly the Malley Boys Home. Now the Sober Sisters Recovery Transitional Home for women.

As Jack Malley stated, “It is ironic that D.W.J. (Jack’s great-grandfather) was a rancher and cattleman. I spent my life in agriculture. First, running a 100 cow dairy herd with my father in New Hampshire and then 30 years as a soil conservationist with the Soil Conservation Service, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture in New Hampshire and Maine, working with farmers.

“Grandmother Mary Louise James-Burns (Jack’s grandmother) lived with our family until her passing. She and I shared a great love of farming and she maintained a great interest in our farm and herd. My Dad provided her a home from the day he married her daughter Marguerite. They were great friends and rabid Democrats! Our Mother was somewhat ashamed of her James cousins and did not care to discuss the subject with anyone – even family!!!”

J. Mark Beamis, son of Joan Beamis
J. Mark Beamis, son of Joan Beamis and nephew of Jack Malley.

News of Jack’s passing was provided to Stray Leaves by his nephew, J. Mark Beamis. Mark informed Eric about Jacks’ final days. “He was getting hospice at home for congestive heart failure since January. On Friday, they moved him to a nursing home and he wasn’t there 24 hours before he left. I think he ‘planned’ it that way.”

An extensive and loving obituary of Jack Malley outlines in detail his personal life and interests, as well as his accomplished career in conservation and preservation. The obituary is well worth reading.

In recent  news, the Malley family farm where Joan and her siblings grew up now will become a women’s recovery center. The Malley family farm is the place where the first discovery was made by Joan Beamis, leading to her researching and writing the first genealogy of the Jesse James family, Background of a Bandit. Following the death of the Malley siblings’ parents, Rep. James Francis Malley and Marguerite Hazel Burns in 1974 and 1983, the Malley home then became the Malley Boys Farm. With Jack’s passing, the family home now enters a new stage, becoming the Sober Sisters Recovery Transitional Home for women.

Siblings of Joan Beamis - Fr. Jim, Janice, and Jack Malley
Siblings of Mary Joan Malley-Bemis – Fr. Jim, Janice, and Jack Malley

Vard, the Ax Man

“Vard, the Ax Man” by Eric F. James was first published by the Boone Society in the Compass, January 2013; Vol. 17, Issue I


If the persistence of physical genetic memory is trusted, as it is among many families whose identified lineage spans over two hundred years, Vard the ax man may have been described as taller than most, sandy-haired, with a healthy appetite, at times given to excess.  Vard was a congenial sort, relying unusually more on his emotion than intelligence to communicate.  Vard’s energy rarely flagged. Widely admired as being indefatigable Vard always remained intensely focused.

Rev. Jeremiah Vardeman 1775-1842
Rev. Jeremiah Vardeman 1775-1842 is a son of Johannes Vardeman, an ax man for Daniel Boone. Jeremiah Vardeman is also a son-in-law of John M. James. From the churches he founded or pastored after settlement in Kentucky, Rev. Vardeman provided Rev. Robert Sallee James with $20,000 and sent Rev. James into Missouri on a mission to found a church and become a founder of William Jewell College. Rev. Robert Sallee James is the father of Frank & Jesse James

There was something elusive and unidentifiable about Vard, too.  Johannes Vardeman possessed a certain quietude and reserve.  Daniel Boone could well believe Vardeman would expedite shorthand measures with an ax, to produce faster and more efficient results like no other.

Retaining the service of Vardeman and his ax in the late spring of 1775 was a good deal for Boone.  While Daniel Boone culled his family for the acumen and fortitude required to forge his Transylvania Trail through the frontier of Virginia’s Western District of Kentucky, Boone principally was seeking reliable names and familiar family faces, people he could trust to remain afterward to build a permanent settlement at the terminus of his new road.

With the skills of Johannes Vardeman and those friends and family, Boone already knew, Boone could hedge his bet to bring even a larger number of families, more than he first had planned to bring to his Transylvania Colony’s new settlement.


The family of Johannes Vardeman had been building and maintaining wilderness roads since the 1740s.  Locals in Virginia already referred to the mountain road from Thomas Jefferson’s to Charles Quarles’ place as “Verdeman’s Mountain Road.”[1]   Vard’s father, William Vardeman Sr., was among several petitioners in Bedford County, Virginia, who requested a road be cut to connect the neighboring petitioners.  On July 15, 1740, the order was issued “to Clear a Road from the Thorrowfare a little above Morrisons to the Secretarys ford.”  On Sept. 25, 1741, orders granted an extension, “to Clear a road from Thomas Morrisons to the D.S. tree in Michael Woods road.”[2]   These early roads that traversed the Blue Ridge, that were built by the Vardeman family, was all the evidence Boone needed to know that Johannes Vardeman was the right ax man to cut his Transylvania Trail.

Olde Swede's Chruch, engraving by John Sartain
Olde Swede’s Chruch, engraving by John Sartain

Johannes Vardeman was the third generation of his family in America.  His grandfather, also named Johannes, settled on Appoquinimy Creek in Delaware County, Maryland.  Over time, his grandfather acquired a sizable estate of over 450 acres which he left to his four children, Johannes Jr., Christopher, Jane Margaretha, and Vard’s father, William.[3]   The family worshiped in the Lutheran faith at Holy Trinity Church, near Wilmington.  There, William married Magdalena Peterson from the settlement of Swedish families at Brandywine’s Hundred.  The Olde Swede’s Church, as Holy Trinity came to be called, today still displays the fine woodworking handiwork of its early immigrants from Sweden.[4]   Boone would not need Johannes Vardeman to produce such exceptionally fine finish work, though.  Boone only wanted the quick, easy, and utilitarian bench, table, or latch that Johannes Vardeman could produce with three strokes of his ax.

Interior of Holy Trinity Church, 1938
Interior of Holy Trinity Church, 1938

Sometime after 1724, Vardeman’s parents migrated from Maryland to the area of Rockfish Gap in today’s Albemarle County, Virginia.  At this time, the wood skills of the Vardeman family turned to the backwoods’ skill of building roads.  If one was to move anywhere through such wilderness, the way had to be surveyed and made clear. As with every former push into the darkness of Virginia’s western wilderness, a road was required to be made.


Having connected his neighbors with roads two decades earlier, William Vardeman pushed further into the dark forests of the old Southwest, cutting a wagon road to settle his family next near the Peaks of Otter in Lunenberg County, today’s Bedford County.  There, William and his neighbor Timothy Dalton petitioned to connect themselves with a road.[5]   William, having more proven experience, was also consigned with maintaining the road.  In the next five years, Johannes Vardeman practiced the road building skills learned from his father. [6]

road building
Cutting through the wilderness

At some time during the early 1740s, Johannes and his father William were found in South Carolina.  There, father and son became enchanted.  The area was so attractive that William turned his ambition to settling there.  Eventually, he accomplished the move.  William Vardeman died in Dutch Fork of New Berry County, but not until March of 1789.

Johannes found the enchantment of youth in Elizabeth Taylor Morgan. he married the young woman in South Carolina on September 7, 1744.  His father and mother-in-law, Thomas Morgan and Hester Taylor, also were from Bedford County in Virginia.[7]   Johannes returned to Bedford County with his bride to start a prodigious family of fourteen children.

The young couple associated themselves with the Baptists, who had begun to practice a faith more free of the disciplinary licensure required by Anglicans, or the rigors of his own family’s Lutheranism.  One son, Jeremiah Vardeman, would become an eminent Baptist Divine, baptizing more than 6,000 converts in his lifetime, and founding the Missouri Baptist Convention.


The French-Indian War was the probable meeting ground for Daniel Boone and the Vardeman family.  In 1751, Daniel’s parents, Squire and Sarah Morgan Boone, departed Olney in Pennsylvania’s Berks County.  Two years later they arrived at Dutchman’s Creek in the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina.

Daniel Boone
Daniel Boone Engraving by Alonzo Chappel,1851

In 1755, eighteen-year-old Boone was among hundreds recruited by British General Edward Braddock to repel the French at Fort Duquesne, today’s Pittsburg.  Twenty-three-year -old George Washington was the British general’s aide-de-camp.  Braddock’s campaign ended as a miserable failure and Boone drove his wagon back to the Yadkin Valley.  A year later, Boone married Rebecca Ann Bryan at Bryan’s Settlement.  The conflict was only the beginning of mounting difficulties with the Indians who perceived the conflicting forces taking their land.

William Vardeman’s neighbor, Timothy Dalton, was summoned to testify about the rising difficulties.  Before a Bedford County Justice of the Peace, Dalton testified on May 9, 1758, that three Indians had come to his home, followed by four white men.  William Hall told Dalton that one of the Indians stole his horses and would not return them.  John Wheeler attempted to retrieve one horse but was shot at three times.  The Indians fled with the white men, and seven more, in pursuit.  At the Staunton River, ten more Indians joined the fleeing band. They halted and prepared to confront their pursuers in battle.

French Indian War reenactorsThe rest of Dalton’s testimony was corroborated by the additional testimony of both William Vardeman Sr. and Johannes Vardeman’s brother, William Jr.  The Vardeman men had arrived at the Staunton River.  Hearing a big “War Halloo,” they crossed the river, where they found the Cherokee gathered around a fire.

Fellow deponents attested to what “Old William Vardeman,” then aged sixty, did next.  The old man approached the fire, the others following cautiously behind.  Old Vardeman spotted the stolen horses tethered to the brush.  The Cherokee were busy, painting their faces very energetically.  Some red.  Most black.  To his followers’ surprise, though, Old Vardeman removed his hat with a flourish.  He repeatedly bowed to the Cherokee, accosting them only regarding peace and friendship.  “Gentlemen, we come in a brotherly manner to ask for our horses, and other goods, you have taken from us.”

Vardeman’s greeting was returned by a single grunt, upon which the Cherokee began loading their rifles.  The rifles of the Indians were primed to shoot. When a tomahawk struck a tree, demand was made promptly that the white men fight.

Vardeman continued bowing, as the Cherokee approached while enclosing the white men within a tightening semi-circle.  Young William Vardeman Jr. pointed out two Indians, now taking aim with their rifles.  The white men began slow-stepping backward in a cautious retreat, never losing their face to the Cherokee, knowing well that to do so meant certain death.

Suddenly, a volley of tomahawks was thrown.  One of Vardeman’s group narrowly missed being struck.  Another tomahawk could have struck Old Vardeman himself, but the old man “parried it with an elder stick he held in his hand.”  Old man Vardeman was unarmed.[8]


Richard Callaway
Col. Richard Callaway 1717-1780. Killed at Fort Boonesborough.

In the next few years, Johannes Vardeman’s father began disposing of his lands.  He found a ready buyer in young James Callaway Jr., a nephew of Col. Richard Callaway, who also joined Boone to build his Transylvania Trail.[9]   Though born in Essex County, Richard Callaway lived in Bedford County, where he often served militia campaigns and was a Justice of the Peace.  John Mack Faragher, in his biography of Boone, describes Callaway as “officious, bad tempered, and a bit of a blue blood.”  The Kentucky frontier did not abide the hauteur of a blue-blood temperament.  Callaway was slain at Boonesborough. His body was scalped, mutilated, and rolled into a mud hole.

Riddled ny age, old William Vardeman surrendered road building to the next generation.  In November of 1764, William Jr. and a cousin, Peter Vardeman, paid to have a road cleared in Bedford County “from Glasscow’s into Pockett Pond.”  At the April Court of 1767, Johannes Vardeman was “appointed to view a road from Goose Creek across Brandy Camp into Turner’s Road and make report.”[10]

A year before Boone commenced blazing the Transylvania Trail; Lord Dunmore’s War brought Virginians into conflict with the Indians again, this time, with the Shawnee.  William Jr., son of “Old” William Vardeman, as the military index states, provided supplies and services for the expedition.  In the campaign of 1774, William also served in Capt. Walter Crockett’s militia.[11]

Stanwyx Treaty
Treaty of Fort Stanwyx

At Sycamore Shoals on the Watauga River in March of 1775, the Cherokee deeded to William Henderson of the Louisa Company, now reformed as the Transylvania Company, the land below the Kentucky River and above the Cumberland River.  In June of the previous year, as much as 4,000 acres already had been claimed by Boone in the name of James Hickman.[12]   Seven years earlier, in the Treaty of Fort Stanwyx, the Iroquois had ceded the land below the Ohio River attaching to these rivers and lands.  Opposition attacks by the Shawnee led to Lord Dunmore’s War, resulting in the Shawnee relinquishing their claims, but not necessarily giving up the fight.

By now, Johannes Vardeman was in his mid-fifties.  His wife was pregnant with his fourteenth child.  Lyman Draper reported Johannes “was too old to take an active part in the wars – but stood guard – his three sons, Wm., Amaziah & Morgan…all were frequently engaged in the Indian wars – his eldest son Wm. was at the Point [Pleasant] Battle…”[13]   Despite advancing age, Johannes Vardeman still was willing to risk his life to join Daniel Boone’s expeditionary settlement of the Shawnee lands inside the frontier of the Kentucky.


As March turned into April of 1775, Boone assembled his expedition on the Holsten River.  A footpath, no wider than six to eight feet, with much overgrowth that had to be cleared, directed the labors of Boone and his axemen, so Boone’s families could follow through the Cumberland Gap.  Their destination was Otter Creek.

Wilderness Trail
The Wilderness Road

Johannes Vardeman remained two years in the Kentucky with Boone, as Boone had hoped when he hired Vard. Together, they developed Boonesborough Fort. His last child, Jeremiah Vardeman, was born at New River two months after he had left with Boone.

Upon his return to New River, Johannes Vardeman removed his family further south to the Cinch River, to occupy Shadrach White’s fort at Maiden Spring Fork.  In the autumn of 1779, Johannes Vardeman removed his family entirely to make a permanent settlement at Walnut Flats near Crab Orchard in Kentucky.[14]   His neighbor was the old Indian fighter, William Whitley.

Skirmishes with the Shawnee persisted around Walnut Flats, too.  Vardeman’s son, Amaziah, was tomahawked and killed at a home on Cedar Creek, after the young man had ranged with George Rogers Clark, fighting the Shawnee.[15]   Five years after Johannes settled at Cedar Creek, his nephews, Peter, and William, had been bathing in the creek.  Peter was shot in the thigh, and William was tomahawked.  The brothers died of their wounds. [16]

Boone’s bet on Vard ther ax man turned out more sagacious than expected.  In December of 1779, the Virginia Assembly invalidated Transylvania’s claim for its proprietary colony.  By his very act of settlement, Daniel Boone could claim Boonesborough as his own.

Fort Boonesborough
Boonesborough plat

Within no time, a flood of Baptist traveling churches fled Virginia and the religious persecutions of the Anglicans in Virginia to saturate the new frontier.  Among them was John M. James, who brought his three-year-old daughter Betsy.  A decade later, Johannes Vardeman’s son Jeremiah would elope with Betsy.

Boonesborough postcard
Boonesborough Fort

Road building did not end with Daniel Boone’s Transylvania Trail.  The Wilderness Trail that he, Vardeman, and others forged was only a beginning.  Other roads were needed.  A son-in-law of Johannes Vardeman, Raney Clifton McKinney Sr., was “appointed overseer of the road from Danville to Harrods Run as it leads to Harrodsburg, in place of Godfrey Smith.”[17]   McKinney’s uncle, Peter Chastain, was “appointed surveyor, whereof Charles McKinney was late surveyor, to keep roads repaired, that hands worked under said McKenny, to work under Peter, according to law.”

Within a decade, Johannes’ neighbor, John M. James, a young waggoner like Boone in the Revolution, would be made a militia Captain to protect the Wilderness Trail. Capt. James ushered migrants safely into Kentucky.  Vardeman and Boone’s footpath became well-worn with the ruts of wagon wheels.  The bundled layers of buckskin that were the uniform of Boone and Vardeman gave way to the tailored finery of travelers with means.  John Bradford’s Kentucky Gazette advertised, “As it is very dangerous on account of Indians, it is hoped each person will go well armed.”[18]   The ax of Johannes Vardeman was replaced by the Kentucky long rifle.



When Rev. Jeremiah Vardeman, the son of Vard the ax man, eloped with Betsy James, the daughter of John M. James, the couple became the progenitors of an impressive list of other historical figures.  Their son Rev. William Henry Vardeman continued to pastor the David’s Fork Meeting House, founded by his father. Their daughter Sarah Morgan Vardeman married Rev. James Nall Griffin, a grandson of John M. James. Rev. Griffin pastored the West Cuivre Baptist Church in Audrain County, Missouri.

Another daughter Eliza Vardeman married Lewellyn Porter, a Judge in Rall County, Missouri. Among their grandchildren, James Vardeman Matson became a Colonel in the Confederate Army.

Their daughter Sarah Morgan Vardeman married Rev. James Nall Griffin, a grandson of John M. James. Rev. Griffin pastored the West Cuivre Baptist Church in Audrain County, Missouri. Daughter Eliza Vardeman married Lewellyn Porter, a Judge in Rall County, Missouri. Among their grandchildren, James Vardeman Matson became a Colonel in the Confederate Army.

Daughter Eliza Vardeman married Lewellyn Porter, a Judge in Ralls County, Missouri. Among their grandchildren, James Vardeman Matson became a Colonel in the Confederate Army. The 4th great-grandchild of theirs is J. Danforth Quayle, elected Vice-President of the United States, and his son Benjamin Eugene Quayle, elected to the U.S. Congress.

Daniel Boone entered the James family when Estella Frances McGowan, Boone’s 3rd great-granddaughter, married Jesse Edwards James Jr., the son of Jesse Woodson James. Their marriage makes all future descendants of Jesse James also descendants of Daniel Boone.


[1] Bedford County, VA, Land Records, C Grant Book D, pp. 223-224.

[2] Pawlett, Nathaniel Mason, Goochland County Road Orders 1728-1744. Charlottesville, VA: Virginia Highway & Transportation Research Council, 1975.

[3] A Calendar of Delaware Wills, New Castle County, 1682-1900, abstracted & compiled by the Historical Research Committee of the Colonial Dames of Delaware, Frederick H. Hitchcock, Publisher, New York. See also: Garrett, Carol J. New Castle Co. Delaware Land Records 1728-1738.


[5] Lunenburg Co., VA, Order Book 1, p. 53. See also: Lunenburg Co., VA, Court Orders, 1746-1748, T.L.C. Genealogy, 1990, p. 25. Timothy Dalton is a progenitor of the Dalton Gang.

[6] Paulette, Road Orders, 3 April 1751 Old Style, P. 394. April 1751 April Court 1751, Lunenburg Co.,VA.

[7] Spencer’s History of Kentucky Baptists. See also: Lyman Copeland Draper Manuscripts, Kentucky Papers, Reel 12 C, pages 63-?, Interview with Morgan Vardeman, son of John Vardeman Jr., conducted May 25-26th 1868, probably in Lincoln County, Kentucky.

[8] Official Correspondence and Military Letters of Virginia Colony Lt. Governor Robert Dinwiddie 1754 – 1756, University of Delaware, Special Collections, Manuscript Collection Number 341. See also:  SC Dept. of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina, Colonial Records of South Carolina, Documents relating to Indian Affairs, 1754-1765, His Majesty’s Council “Indian Books” (S171001) Vol. 6, 1757-1760, pp. 153-162, pp. 463-465. See also: History of Pittsylvania County Virginia, Maud Carter Clement, 1981, page 78-91, Baltimore Regional Publishing Company. Also: George Washington Papers, Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 4. General Correspondence. 1697-1799. Also: Bedford County, Virginia, Settlers, May 8, 1758, “Thos. Morgan Acct.” Timothy Dalton, May 9, 1758, Affidavit on Indian Raid.

[9] Bedford County, VA, Deed Book B-2, 1761 – 1766, p. 249.

[10] Bedford County., VA, Order Book 3, p. 185, 340.

[11] Military Records, Virginia, 1774, Library of Virginia. Source Record #001230264.

[12] Copies of Depositions taken in Land Suits in Kentucky Courts between 1794 and 1824, gathered by Richard H. Collins while writing his “History of Kentucky.”

[13] Lyman Copeland Draper Manuscripts, Kentucky Papers, Reel 12 C, pages 62-66, Interview with Morgan Vardeman, son of John Vardeman Jr., conducted May 25-26th 1868.

[14] Peck, Rev. John Mason, D. D. Annals of the American Pulpit, 1860.

[15] George Rogers Clark and His Men Military Records, 1778-1784, compiled by Margery H. Harding, The Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort, KY., p. 88.

[16] Draper, Kentucky Papers, p. 36, 9cc36.

[17] Kentucky Gazette, November 1, 1788.

[18] Ibid.

Vardeman family history

An excellent account of the historic Vardeman family is Early Vardeman Ancestry in America by Jesse  “Jack” Harris Vardeman Jr. and David M. Vardeman. It is available for free download with an accompanying reference directory .

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 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?


By Eric F. James

“Major Bridgewater, Why?” 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 on his chase to Harrodsburg.

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


1  Sanders, Stuart W. “Quantrill’s Last Ride.” America’s Civil War Vol.12. March 1999, p.42-48.

2  Brown, Richard C. A History of Danville and Boyle County, Kentucky, 1774-1992. Danville. Bicentennial Books. 1992. p. 41.

3  Louisville Daily Courier, March 1, 1862. The text of the full letter addressed to “Gen. F. K. Zollicoffer,” is reproduced.

4  Interview with Col. Speed S. Fry, 4th Kentucky Infantry, to the Editors of the Louisville Journal. Danville, Kentucky, Feb. 23, 1862.

5  A year before the battle, King had written to his neighbor Capt. Isaac Singleton, whose son was hanged with King’s two sons. Letter of Capt. Harbert King to Capt. Isaac Singleton, dated, “Camp Robinson, Kentucky, Oct. 16, 1861,” in possession of King descendant Madelene Henley.

6  Obituary. Lafayette Advertiser, Lafayette, Louisiana. September 2, 1893. p. 6, col. 5.

7  Sanders, Stuart W.

8  Author’s interview with Robert Hamlin, great grandson of bourbon distiller Taylor William Samuel 1821-1898, the brother of Dr. Reuben Samuel. Danville, Ky. March 18, 2004.

9  Author’s interview with Jack Farmer at age 76, great-grandson of Elisha Farmer. Stanford, Ky. June 16, 2007. The attack pistol remains in the possession of Jack Farmer. Jack Farmer has since deceased.

10  Hale, Donald R. We Rode with Quantrill, self-published 1975. ed. 1982, p. 147.

11  Records of Lincoln Lodge No. 60 of the Free & Accepted Masons, confirmed by Chaplain David Gambrel in preparation for the Bridgewater dedication service.

12  Rhyne, J. Michael “A Murderous Affair in Lincoln County: Politics, Violence, and Memory in a Civil War Era Kentucky Community” American Nineteenth Century History, Volume 7, Issue 3, September 2006, pp. 337 – 359.

13  The Advocate-Messenger, June 14, 2007. Danville, Ky. Also, David Gambrel, Vice-President, Lincoln County Historical Society. Saunders tombstone in Crab Orchard Cemetery identifies him as born in 1840 and died in 1877. His epitaph reads, “A kind husband and affectionate father and a friend to all.”

14  Records of Lincoln Lodge 60.

15 1870 Census. Johnson County, Hazel Twp. Missouri. Also, 1900 Census. Vernon County, Richland Twp., Missouri.

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.


  • 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


The year 2015 began with a recovery from a hack to Leaves of Gas that occurred in November of 2014. Recovery of the blog took three months.

The devastation from the hack proved a blessing in disguise. As Google downgraded Leaves of Gas in public searches as a hacked website, Google also quickly identified the posts and pages that were affected by the hack. Google’s identification made it easy to recapture the blog posts from our backup archive. With the removal by Google of the designation of hacked website, all might have seemed restored to normal.  However, Google presented another challenge for Leaves of Gas.

In an effort to present quality content at the top of Google searches, Google changed its algorithms. Anticipating that mobile applications are poised to overtake desktop applications, as more and more people access the web via tablet or smartphone, Google announced that it would give priority in search strings to websites that are mobile responsive and which produce content of high quality. To keep the priority status Stray Leaves earned over so many years, Stray Leaves and Leaves of Gas had to adapt to the new requirement from Google to become mobile friendly.


Being mobile friendly means changing everything about Stray Leaves and Leaves of Gas .and its presentation. Given the gigantic size of our website and blog, the prospect could take years. The first alteration was to meet Google’s requirement for a “landing page.”

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.


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.


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.


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.

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