First Galley for This Bloody Ground

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tonight, I dig into my swag bag of freebies.







Fraud on Find a Grave

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This memorial to Joseph Jesse Chase is a fraud.










John Jarette Finally Gets a Grave Marker

Mystery has surrounded the death and burial of John Jarrette, a Quantrill Raider and James Gang member. Researcher Lorna Mitchell has been on Jarette’s trail. Attempting to solve the mystery, Lorna has produced documents , expected to write some new history.

L-R: Lorna Mitchell, her husband Ron Mitchell, researcher Wendy Higashi, with Frank & Sharon Younger of the International James-Younger Gang

An unsubstantiated story of death claims that John and his wife Mary Josephine Younger, known as Josie, a sister of the Younger brothers, perished in an ambush of their home in St. Clair County, Missouri in 1869. Local lore said John and Josie Jarette were buried in Yeater Cemetery in Roscoe, Missouri. The Jarette’s children Jeptha and Margaret, were adopted following their parent’s demise. Genealogy records of William R. Lunceford in 2005 stated Anne and Lycurgus Jones became legal guardians of Jeptha Jarette. Nothing is known of who adopted Margaret. No cemetery records exist for Yeater Cemetery and a physical inspection of the cemetery revealed tombstones too old and weathered to be discernable.

Lorna Mitchell has tracked down John Jarette to Greenwood in British Columbia, Canada. She’s produced a death certificate showing Jarette, a proprietor and rancher, died in a local hospital in 1906.

A marriage certificate also has been produced by Lorna, showing a marriage between Robert Letherdale, a livery proprietor, age 30, and Edwards Rosella Jarette, age 18. Edna, as she was known, is identified as being born in Henderson County, Kentucky with her parents identified as John Jarette and Josephine Younger. The couple was married in 1893.

The marriage certificate for another daughter, Marion Jarette, the spouse of Hugh F. Keefer, also shows John and Josie Jarette as Marion’s parents. Both daughter petitioned the British Columbia Probate Court, with Marion relinquishing any claim.

In addition to these documents, Lorna states she has an archive of supportive documents, records, and newspaper clippings.

Of the new grave marker installation, Lorna writes, “Frank and Sharon Younger, my husband and I just returned from our trip to Greenwood to attend the ceremony for John Jarrett’s new grave marker. The event was a huge success with fifty people in attendance, some in period costume. We toured the museum where they have recently opened an exhibit for John, then we went to the cemetery where the President of the Greenwood Historical Society gave a talk on John. Then a minister gave a short sermon and prayer. Amazing Grace was played on an accordion at the end of the ceremony. After a luncheon ten of us drove to Rock Creek to see the properties where John lived…I will be writing a more detailed account of our trip for the next James-Younger Gang Journal.”

Whenever an important discovery, such as this, is made, new questions arise. We expect Lorna will be moving on to the next step of investigation, namely researching how, why, and when Jarrette went to Canada and what was Josie’s fate and where. Of course, people are going to inquire, too, about the middle initial “M” in her documents and where that comes from, since a middle initial for John Jarette was unknown previously. A couple years discrepancy in Jarette’s birth date can be expected to be called into question also. But a specific date may not be as important as the hopeful discovery of John Jarette’s life in retirement from the James Gang and Quantrill Raiders.

Lorna Mitchell provides the excellent example of how genealogical research will provide historical breakthroughs. Traditional historians should take note. More due diligence of this type should be conducted by genealogists and historians. We look forward to more of Lorna’s fine research. Lorna Mitchell is opening a new door to new history.


Who Loves Ya, Jesse James?


Bill Penn, proprietor of the Historic Midway Museum Store, sports a new tee shirt I gave him.

I’ve begun to wonder. Who loves ya, Jesse James? 

At book signings of Jesse James Soul Liberty, more women buy my book than men. This was confirmed again last Sunday, as I signed books for the Midway Museum at the Midway Fall Festival. My book was purchased only by women. This was the first time, too, that the new JJSL tee shirt was introduced. And who were the tee shirt buyers? Women, not men.

A couple of women did say they were buying the book for their husband. Curiously though, two other women did not buy the book for their husbands after I pointed out that the book is about the Jesse James family principally, and about Jesse James only indirectly through his family.

During the course of the day with hundreds of people walking by my booth, four young men popped out from the crowd on separate occasions to ask, “Did Jesse James really die?” My reply to their question all began with, “That’s the mythology, not the fact.” All of them abruptly walked away. Not one engaged in further discussion, picked up the book, look inside it, or buy it.

I’ve come to view young men like these as the core demographic that the history and biography reality shows target as their viewers. Their productions all are based on the mythology surrounding Jesse James, and rarely upon facts. As a result, young men like these learn nothing about factual history or about Jesse James. They walk on in a cloud of mythology. They read little, and know even less.

By contrast, women attracted to Jesse James engage in discussion about my book first. They pick up the book, leaf through it, and ask questions about what they see. I don’t have to sell the book to women at all. I only have to point out that the book is about Jesse James’ family, and the information comes from primary family sources never published before. When women buy, it is evident they are curious to know more, but they want what they learn to be authentic and true.

One young school girl, who ran over to my table, surprised and delighted me. “Are you related to Jesse James,” she asked. I replied, “That’s what I write about.” She ran back to her parents, shouting, “That’s so cool!” She was not the first young girl to ask the question.

It’s a scientific fact that within the female DNA resides some gene which is attracted to the genes of the bad boy. But I don’t think that’s what attracts women to buy my book. I believe they’re attracted by the idea of finding the factual history of the bad boy inside the context of family. Family is their emotional connection with my book. After they read my book, some have informed me the book did not disappoint them. They were enlightened.

So, who loves ya, Jesse James?

My survey says, young men, ages 18-45, mostly loners lacking connections with family of their own, who watch way too much TV, and only absorb the mythology dispensed to them in that medium as fact. In short, guys who aren’t too smart.

But intelligent women absolutely adore Jesse and his family.


New Things at My Book Signing in Midway, Kentucky

This coming weekend, you’ll find me at the Midway Fall Festival in Midway, Kentucky. Come meet me at the Historic Midway Museum Store. I’ll be signing my book Jesse James Soul Liberty. Last year at this event I signed books under the tent show in the picture. This year I’ll be inside the store where it’s cool.

This will be the first time that I’ll be signing books with the new book jacket which ports the Milton F. Perry Award medallion. I’m very proud of this award because it recognizes the abundance of new research that appears in the book.

This also will be the first event debut for the new Jesse James Soul Liberty tee shirt. Christian James produced this limited edition tee and proceeds from sale will go to maintaining and improving our Stray Leaves web site.

See you there !


JILL MEUCCI JOHNSTON writes about her encounter with Hurricane Katrina

Jill Meucci Johnston

On a day in 2005, I awoke to news reports that Hurricane Katrina was rapidly approaching the Louisiana coastline as a Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 160 mph. There was no longer time to evacuate. In actuality, until the evening of Friday, August 26, Katrina had been a Florida storm.

I was at a bar in Lake Catherine, Louisiana that Friday night. My husband was performing at what proved to be the final show the establishment would ever host. In less than 60 hours the building would no longer exist. Neither would anything else on that particular spit of land.

People were quick to judge why more didn’t evacuate. The fact is, there was very little time. If you didn’t evacuate by Saturday, August 27 before 12:00 noon, it was already too late.

Our home had survived Hurricane Camille in 1969, and as we are on the highest ground in the area, we decided to stay and ride out the storm.

Preparations were made the best we could. The large generator I had requested as my Christmas gift the previous December was moved from the garage to the gazebo just off the back porch. 60 Gallons of gasoline were stashed around the property, securely hidden so looters could not easily find it. Our vehicles were garaged, mine in the old barn on the back of the property which once housed the Johnston family’s cow decades before. All objects that could become projectiles were stored or secured. The generator was chained to the gazebo with a heavy lock, and the gazebo itself was tied to an enormous oak tree. Plywood was hung on all the windows and doors. The house was dark with only small peepholes of light available through a few knotholes in the wood. The larder was full, bottled water at the ready. My last purchase before the stores closed Saturday morning was a large supply of charcoal for outdoor cooking once the storm had passed.

There was nothing left to do but wait. We went to bed on this night in 2005, not knowing if we would wake in the morning. Then, at 5:02 a.m. on the morning of August 29, 2005, the power went out. The storm had arrived.

I cooked all that Sunday knowing we would need hearty food in the coming days. I started a large pot of red beans that morning to freeze, and then went to work on a standing rib roast for dinner. I knew that hot leftovers would be important so I made extra brown gravy. All the televisions in the house were turned on and I was kept company, though not comforted by, the one in the kitchen. We made sure that our valuables were secure and that our important papers were at the ready. Even then, Thor suffered from what veterinarians now refer to as “storm anxiety” and he was well medicated. I was envious of him. We made sure all the laundry was done and we filled the bath tub with water. By late afternoon, the storm’s feeder bands approached and the wind and rain became heavy.

The roar of a 50 mile per hour wind foretold what was to come. Somehow that night we slept, only to be awakened by an explosion at dawn. The transformer on the electric pole in our front yard had blown. Electric power and water was now a thing of the past and would not return for many days.

We had agreed that we would allow the generator to power the refrigerator and AC for two hours at a time and then we would turn it off for four hours. A small window air conditioner kept us cool at night but we knew we needed to ration our supply of gasoline to power the generator.

That afternoon as the storm raged, I grabbed Thor and went to bed, pulling a sheet over my head because it was too hot for blankets. I realized it was of no value as protection, but it somehow comforted me.

Johnny stood watch until about 2:00 p.m. when the eye of the storm rested above us.
It was then that we ventured out onto the back screened-in porch and witnessed the destruction for the first time. The saddest thing we saw that day was no fewer than six dogs, terrified from where they had been, not knowing where they were going, run through our yard. We wanted to help them but knew we could not.

At about 5:00 p.m. the storm had passed over us and the northeast quadrant, or “dirty edge”, was wreaking havoc on Mississippi about 15 miles east of us. Johnny had begun his new job as the Band Director of Pearl River High School two weeks prior to Katrina. The high school, as well as the junior high and grade school in town were designated Red Cross shelters for those who could not evacuate. We were lucky. We were able to stay in our own home and no trees had crashed through our roof. Others were not as fortunate.

Lake St. Catherine, Louisiana

On Tuesday, August 30, 2005, the skies were once again clear. It was hot, blistering hot and the day was unlike any other Tuesday. Our three-acre homestead was littered with hundreds of fallen trees and broken limbs. The driveway was impassable and our house could not be seen from the two-lane state highway on which we live.

It was Louisiana State Highway 41 that proved to be our salvation. We knew the state would need to clear the roadway and restore utilities as soon as practicable. We didn’t know, however, that services would not be restored for another week.

The radio was our primary source of news as the TV cable was out of order and would remain so for another 57 days. We rigged a wire hanger on an old television set to receive news while we ran the generator. It was then that we learned about the levee breaks in New Orleans. There was no telephone service and cell phone towers had been destroyed so communication with the outside world would have to wait.

My husband’s elderly brother-in-law who lived next door suffered a heart attack and there was no means by which to hail an ambulance. His daughter, my husband’s niece, Rozalind, ran onto the roadway and flagged down one of the few vehicles traversing the dangerous highway. The Good Samaritan drove to the nearby fire station and an ambulance was dispatched. One of the paramedics had been a band student of Johnny’s several years prior.

After depositing Russell at one of the two hospitals in nearby Slidell, she returned to check on us and provide an update on the damage around town. We were horrified to hear that parts of Slidell were under 6 feet of water. We knew that many of our friends were in serious trouble. Aside from our discomfort and inconvenience, we had dodged a bullet.

Days passed and still there was no sign of relief from FEMA or any other state or federal agency. Only the Red Cross and a few faith-based organizations were providing assistance to those in the shelters, and even the smaller shelters were closed leaving the high school the only bastion of hope for those in need.

The St. Tammany Parish president ordered a curfew of 7:00 p.m. and halted the sale of alcoholic beverages. Looting was rife, and many neighborhoods placed signs at their entrances warning “trespassers will be shot on sight”. It was a lawless, frightening time.

The main artery between the north and south shore of Lake Pontchartrain, the Twin Span Bridge, had collapsed. Only Interstate 12 between Mississippi and Baton Rouge remained open to emergency vehicle traffic.

On Friday, September 2, I changed into clean clothes, put on my Angola State Prison hat over my unwashed hair, and packed a 22 caliber handgun and spare clip in my car to make the 120-mile drive west to Baton Rouge to purchase gas and supplies and to call my father in California. It was the first time we communicated since the storm.

On the two-hour drive to Baton Rouge, the eastbound lanes were flooded with relief vehicles. National Guard troops and semi-trucks were finally bringing food in the form of MREs, water and ice. By the time I returned home, the Red Cross had fully ramped up operations at the high school. Doctors from as far away as Connecticut were seeing patients and dispensing medications. “Anything you want” said the doctor we talked with. We did not take him up on his offer.

FEMA relief centers were finally established in convenient locations, four days after the storm, and we could drive through once a day to re-supply. Blue FEMA tarps became “de rigueur” on rooftops, and many still exist today.

The failure of FEMA was blamed on poor communication between Governor Kathleen Blanco, Mayor Ray Nagin and the Bush administration. Congresswoman Mary Landrieu explained that FEMA had been virtually dismantled after the crisis of 9/11 had subsided, and funding to the agency had been slashed. Too little was done far too late by the Bush administration. They even stopped calling on residents of southeast Louisiana asking for campaign donations for several years thereafter. Mississippi, with its Republican governor, Haley Barbour, fared much better than Louisiana. Once again, it was politics as usual. Volunteer organizations came to the aid of survivors long before FEMA arrived.

And for us? Our power and water were restored one week after the storm made landfall. People in more remote areas waited as long as two months’ time. As I said before, we were very fortunate. The clean-up and the healing began and continues still, but nine years later, life is still not the same.

PEDIGREE of Jill Meucci Johnston

. Richard G. Meucci & Patricia Mae Phillips
.. Harold L. Phillips & Marion Anita James
… Francis Marion James Jr. & Anna Emalia Knaff
…. Francis Marion James Sr. & Nancy Angelina Logan
….. Joseph McAlister James & Elizabeth Vardeman James
…… Rev. Joseph Martin James & Martha McAlister
…… Rev. Daniel Field James & Eleanor Evans
……. John M. James & Clara Nalle

Don’t Keep Your Genes in the Closet

Living free is much better than living with secrets, or in secret.

Witness the freedom celebrated and achieved by the LGBT community when those among them can come out of their closet.

Every family has secrets. Secrets are kept about everything, not just about who is gay or straight. The multitude of secrets a family keeps is never discovered. Usually, they are strictly enforced, whether by one or by many. Wherever secrets exist, harm exists also.

Usually, those who create, maintain, or propagate secrets, knowingly or unknowingly, rarely are aware of what harm they inflict. The harm is left for the victim of a secret to suffer, and if fortunate to discover.

Some secrets can inflict violence of a significant magnitude upon families and their members for generations, if not centuries, as occurred among the family of Frank and Jesse James. This is particularly true about secrets that are taken to the grave.

For others, like this world famous geneticist, the discovery can provide humor, but, more importantly, answers, explanations, and his release from the family secret the world knew, but he didn’t.


Jesuit Cousin of Jesse James Celebrates Golden Jubilee

Jesse James’ cousin, Rev. James Burns Malley S.J., recently celebrated his Golden Jubilee as a Jesuit priest on June 18, 2014.

Ordained into the Catholic priesthood on June 18, 1964, Fr. Jim has served his vocation faithfully for fifty years. His calling, however, did not come easy to him. When it did, his call to serve the Lord was not an easy ride. Like his infamous cousin Jesse James, Fr. Jim soon found himself the target of military and politicians alike, who perceived his good works as a direct challenge to their political regime.

Fr. Jim’s story is amply told in a recent biographical history of the Jesse James family, Jesse James Soul Liberty. He first aspired to a naval career, but Jim found his math and science skills did not measure up. Attending Dartmouth, Jim’s college thesis won the Jones History Prize. His graduation with “Highest Distinction in History” earned him entry to Harvard Law School, after which he joined a law firm in Boston, not too far from his New Hampshire home.

Fr. Jim’s military service found him on the staff of a Navy Admiral as an intelligence officer, not too unlike his first cousin Donald James Baumel who was an intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, nor unlike Jim’s great grandfather John M. James who was a spy for George Washington in the American Revolution.

When Jim was ordained and joined the Jesuit order, he answered the call of the Second Vatican Council. Committed to social change, Jim went to Brazil. There he found an active Catholic presence, but he also encountered a culture where “the unchurched” were deeply committed in their religion, but not necessarily their practice, particularly among the wealthy and the military.

Working side by side with the Peace Corps, Catholics, Protestants, and Marxists, Fr. Jim laid water pipes and provided running water for the poor. Jim found himself spied upon and branded a Communist priest. Providing food for the hungry, he was accused of “delaying the revolution.”

His reassignment back home landed him at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington D.C. Nearing retirement, he was relocated to Boston College in a ministerial service to students, faculty, and staff. Today, he resides in a home for retired Jesuits, where this past year he took particular delight in the election of his fellow Jesuit from South America, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who was elected Pope Francis I.


James Burns Malley

. James Francis Malley & Marguerite Hazel Burns

.. Edward Frederick Burns & Mary Louisa James

… Drury Woodson James and Mary Louisa Dunn

…. John M. James & Mary Poor


2012 New Year Prayer from Fr. James Malley S.J.

Janice Malley, Sister of Jesse James Genealogist Joan Beamis, Has Died

Jesse James…Meet Pope Francis I


Gee, Clell Miller, we hardly knew ya !

Clell Miller, member of the James Gang

Imagine my surprise, to learn that I live just two blocks from Clell Miller’s grandparents.

Since Henry Logan and Mary Kenley Thurmond died together back in 1866, Clell’s grandparents haven’t gone missing at all. For almost 150 years, they’ve been right here in Danville, Kentucky, in plain sight. And like poor Clell, no one has cared.

Who’s Clell Miller? Hapless Clell was a member of the James Gang. During their robbery attempt of the Northfield Bank in Northfield, Minnesota in 1876, Clell Miller will killed.

Jesse James is reputed to have killed Clell’s brother, Ed Miller.

Tombstone of Henry Logan Thurmond & Wife Mary Kenley, Bellevue Cemetery, Danville, Kentucky

Moving here twelve years ago to write my histories of the Jesse James family, I made Danville my home base, because Danville’s the geographic center of the James family’s history in Kentucky, ever since 1782 when Jesse’s grandfather, John M. James, arrived with his Traveling Church. The Youngers, Pence, Scholls, Chinns, Hites, Vardemans, etc. – and now Clell Miller’s family – lived among one another first around Danville, before moving to Clay County in Missouri. These families left an abundance of history in plain sight, still waiting today for the arrival of serious historians.

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

Now that I know I have Clell Miller’s grandparents for neighbors, I think I’ll write a story about them for the James-Younger Gang Journal. I believe Jesse James fanatics know just about as much about Clell’s family as they know about Clell Miller himself.

High School Photos of Jesse James Great Grandchildren

For the James family, high school photos become really interesting when they are newly discovered photos of Jesse James’ great-grandchildren. The class photos increase in interest when they’re discovered to be provided by a previously unrecognized cousin.

Twin siblings, Don & Diane Baumel, are direct descendants of America’s iconic outlaw. From the history of the Jesse James family, Jesse James Soul Liberty, we learn the following about Don and Diane, and more:

In high school in Los Angeles, Don and Diane Baumel both were considered “joiners.” If a group existed, they joined. Years later in 2007, Barbara Clemens, a classmate from their high school class, confirmed the fact. Diane and Don were elected by their classmates and by school faculty to the Ephebian Society, “on the basis of outstanding character, leadership ability, demonstrated service, and high scholastic achievement.” Don was Vice-President of the student body Diane was class President.


Barbara Wenzel-Clemens

These class photos are provided by Don and Diane’s classmate, Barbara Clemens, now age 81. Until Barbara provided these images, she did not know herself that she shared a common ancestor with Don and Diane in the famed explorer Daniel Boone, making all three of them cousins.

Being a great granddaughter of Daniel Boone, also makes Barbara a cousin to several of Boone’s descendants who also were among William Clarke Quantrill’s Raiders. Those are: John M. Ross, Daniel Boone Scholl and George Thomas Scholl, plus James Overton Hinde and Thomas W. Cassell.

Of continuing interest and research is the question of whether Barbara’s ancestry to a Link family also connects her to the Link family of William Link, the owner of Link farm that Jesse and Zee James rented in Waverly, Tennessee, where their children Gould & Montgomery James were born and died.

The class photos of Don & Diane no doubt intrigues other James family members who perceive all the common physical features they share with Don & Diane. Notably evident is the single arched eyebrow that continues to plague James women whenever they do their makeup. Don’s flat sided ear, addressed elsewhere on Leaves of Gas, is an unmistakable James birthmark, as are the evident jawlines, lips, nose, eyelids, forehead, and overall spatial formations.

If all this isn’t exciting enough, Barbara’s married name of Clemens also links her husband to the family of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known to America as Mark Twain.



Jesse Woodson James & Zerelda Amanda Mimms

. Jesse Edward James Jr. & Estella Frances McGowan

.. Mervyn Baumel & Jessie Estell James

… Donald James Baumel


Daniel Boone & Rebecca Ann Bryant

. Nathan Boone & Olive Van Biber

.. Alfred M. Hosman & Mary Boone

… Luther Alfred McGowan & Mary Frances Hosman

…. Alfred Monte McGowan & Martha Ann Wood

….. Jesse Edward James Jr. & Estella Frances McGowan

…… Mervyn Baumel & Jessie Estell James

……. Donald James Baumel


Daniel Boone & Rebecca Bryant

. Jemima Boone & Flanders Callaway

.. Susannah Callaway & Thomas Howell

… John Francis Howell & Sarah Ann McCourtney

…. John Martin Howell & Caroline Virginia Link

….. Vella Martina Ashby Howell & William Percy Carver

…… Mary Vella Carver & Robert Alfred Wenzel

……. Barbara Wenzel-Clemens


Great Grandson of Jesse James & Daniel Boone, Donald James Baumel, is Dead

Surprise Discovery for a Contributor to Jesse James Soul Liberty

Attention James Family…Send Me Your Ears

This map gets you to the Jesse James family ancestral lands

Here’s a map, crucial to identifying the early settlement in Kentucky of John M. James, following the American Revolution and his entry into the Western frontier.

What this map reconstructs is some original military land grants distributed by Virginia to participants who served in the American Revolution. Virginia set aside these lands about 1783 and began to be dispense them about 1790. John M. James was among the first of the Kentucky pioneers to acquire land here. In his lifetime, John leased, owned, sold, and controlled most all of the land on this map.

The principal grant holder here was Col. Nathaniel Welch, who acquired most everything west of Buck Creek, identified on the right. On another map not shown here, Welch also acquired about 3,500 acres east of Pitman Creek. From the land at Pitman Creek to the land at Buck Creek, most al of it intermittently fell under the control of the James family. These are the lands that formed the foundations of Pulaski County, Kentucky, of which John M. James was a founder.

Looking more closely in the upper center, Fellowship Knob identifies the first acquisition by John M. James.  Following the road, upper center of Fellowship Knob, takes you to the site of John’s Flat Lick Baptist Church, founded in 1799, and still operational today. John’s land extended further, well beyond the top boundary of this map to adjoin the military grant of Robert McAlister, another family relation.

Flat Lick Baptist Church, founded 1799

From Fellowship Knob on the road extending to the lower left is a black square identifying the Mansion House of John M. James, built sometime in the1790s.

Mansion House of John M. James

Proceeding from the Mansion House around the corner and downward brings you to the intersection of Dahl Road & Shopville Road at Flat Lick Creek. The black square here identifies the stone house of the “talented, but erratic” Rev. Joseph Martin James.

The Stone House of Rev. Joseph Martin James

The open space below Shopville is the big Flat Lick, still in the possession of James descendants today. A buffalo trail originally came down the center of this map from Crab Orchard to Flat Lick, where the buffalo then, and still do today, gorge themselves on its abundant salts, adjacent to Flat Lick Creek.

This map is part of a recent two-volume history Dawning of the Cumberland by Charlene Adkins who is 93 years old. The old military surveys were drafted by surveyor Bobby Hudson, and identified by D. E. Coates, a Pulaski County historian. Their work has proved critical in putting the James family lore about John M. James’ lands into clearer perspective, while adding definition that is plainly identifiable today.

This map arrives just in time for the publication of Volume II of Jesse James Soul Liberty, This Bloody Gound, which tells the story  of the first arrival and settlement on the Western frontier of Frank and Jesse James’ grandfather, following the service of all of these patriots and first military grant holders after the American Revolution.

Count me in!

I’m in! This morning I sent my literary submission for the Penned 2014 – 7th Annual Writer’s Showcase to Kentucky Monthly magazine.

The piece was finished a couple weeks ago. It’s been fermenting since. I checked my creative non-fiction entry this morning, and it hadn’t gone stinky on me since I wrote it. Creative writing can do that, a lot. In fact, the work was smelling so sweet, I decided now’s the time to get it in, well before deadline.

Kentucky offers some of the stiffest writing competition outside of New York. Kentucky writers, like Kentucky Derby contenders, know this is the place to compete and be judged. Watch for the results in October.


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