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.


Still WANTED…Francis Lawrence “Jimmy” Keating

For those who read about Jimmy Keating on page 196 in Volume I of Jesse James Soul Liberty, here’ s some supplemental information. The first is the fingerprint card for Francis Lawrence “Jimmy” Keating from Leavenworth Prison where he was incarcerated, following his train robbery with Jimmy Holden. The second is Keating’s FBI WANTED bulletin, issued by J. Edgar Hoover following Keating’s escape from Leavenworth Prison.

Jimmy Keating is still a wanted man. I continue to research for new information about him. For years, I’ve been trying to learn more about his Keating genealogy. In recent weeks, I was contacted by one of his cousins and have been able to expand my knowledge about this silent and elusive criminal, who by chance became related to the James family. As the James-Keating family cousins were unaware of the cousin who contacted me, the contact cousin was also un-knowledgeable about his James-Keating cousins. I don’t foresee a family reunion in their futures, however.

I have enough material to write a book about Frances L. Keating, but my accumulated research is far from complete to tell Keating’s entire story. Presently in particular, I’ve been looking for information about one of Keating’s brothers, Robert “Bob” Keating, who died in Kansas City, according to a letter Jimmy Keating wrote when he learned in prison about his brother’s passing while reading the Kansas City Star.

From the documentation I have in hand, it’s clear Keating had outside support, both in the political community and among organized labor. Keating’s retirement was spent as president of a boilermaker’s local. I don’t believe more information about Keating will lead to where Jimmy Hoffa is buried. I don’t care about that. I do believe, though, from an historical point of view that James L. Keating was as interesting an outlaw as Jesse James.

One noticeable difference between Francis Keating and Jesse James is that Keating had the superior penmanship, and he could spell correctly. That’s the difference between graduating 8th grade and being home schooled.

AUCTION ALERT – Fake Frank & Jesse James Image

The claimed authenticity of an auction item today can fall under very critical, and perhaps more professional, analysis. Technology itself and the internet, now truly being world-wide, have brought a host of analytical skills to bear. No longer can a claim be made that an item is what it’s claimed to be. Of course, a claim can still be made, but people of serious intent want to know the underlying facts for the claim – particularly if you expect to reap a windfall of $40,000 to $60,ooo for a simple photographic image.

You’d think auction houses would have become aware of this by now. But they seem to be the last to get the message.

J. Levine Auction & Appraisal in Scottsdale, Arizona, has an image it claims is that of Frank & Jesse James. The auction house expects to sell the image at auction on July 21, 2014. The image, the auction house claims, has been in the possession of Edward Ziebarth and family for over 100 years, implying the image came into the family’s possession about the time Frank James died. Just how that occurred and under what circumstances are not stated. It is implied the image had been displayed at the Ziebarth Family Museum in Adams County, Nebraska.

To help a prospective purchaser believe in the claim of the auction house, auctioneer Josh Levine has posted the following two videos. The videos are vaguely reminiscent of the old familiar con game of a pea placed under three cups. The videos are intended, not to provide any substantive information, but instead to trick the eye.





If the image is authentic as its owner and auction house claim and is, in fact, worth as much money as they expect someone to pay, it would seem the wise course of action would have been to spend $5,000 to subject the image to formal forensic analysis, and provide the forensic report as evidence of authenticity. As it is, prospective bidders are expected to bring only lots of cash and lots of ignorance.

In my estimation, the auction image is not what it’s claimed to be.

I see nothing in this image, or in the countless images from the James family files, that resembles these two individuals, or that produces a physical similarity with Frank & Jesse James, or any other member of their family.

Jesse James at age 14

Without executing any mathematical analysis of the images, or going further into sub-strata flesh analysis, or anything more, a simple comparison test should have sufficed.

The auction house claims its image for auction was taken before Frank entered Confederate service, placing Jesse at about age 15. The image of Jesse that should have been employed for comparison should have been the image of Jesse at age 14. It doesn’t take an expert then to perceive the difference between the authentic image and the fake one. Instead, what the auction house has done is to compare one fake image of Jesse James to another fake image of Jesse James. That, if purposeful, would amount to fraud.

UPDATE: July 31, 2014
Gay Mathis reports this image sold at auction for $12,000.

Jesse James – Your Guide to Child Care & Parenting

Who knew Jesse James would be a guide for child care and parenting? Somebody thinks so. But who that somebody is remains to be discovered.

An alert from Amanda Palmer, a performance artist I like and follow, said she had just sent off her finished book manuscript for publication. She invited me to her book’s pre-order page at Powell’s Books. While there, I checked out how my own book appeared on Powell’s website.

What a surprise! There was Jesse James Soul Liberty listed under the category of “Child Care & Parenting.”  Who knew?

Child care and parenting also appears to cost more. The book is listed at a two dollar premium above the suggested retail price.

In writing and proofing the book, I read the book so many times; but never did I come away from the book with that perspective. This clearly informs me that Jesse James means much more in American culture than anyone ever knew. The boy continues to confound expectation.

UPDATE: August 1, 2014

The following email has been received:

Eric F. James,

Thank you for contacting us. Our records indicate on ipage the following:

BISAC Categories:
- Biography & Autobiography | Historical | General
- Biography & Autobiography | Criminals & Outlaws
- History | United States | 19th Century INGRAM Categories:
- Chronological Period | 19th Century
- Geographic Orientation | Kentucky
- Geographic Orientation | Missouri
- Cultural Region | Western U.S.

We are unable to locate anywhere that it is listed as Child Care & Parenting”. We apologize for any inconvenience.


Ingram Content Group
Customer Care

Surprise Discovery for a Contributor to Jesse James Soul Liberty

UPDATED SOURCE CITATION…In the past few days I reconnected with Barbara Wenzel-Clemens, now age 81. It was several years ago when Barbara first contacted me to inform me she had been a high school classmate of Diane and Don Baumel, great grandchildren of Jesse James. Some of the information Barbara provided at the time now appears on page 288 of Jesse James Soul Liberty, V.I.

What doesn’t appear in my book is my citation of Barbara as being the source of the information, which I now acknowledge here. Barbara wasn’t identified because her identity got locked up in that pesky external hard drive of mine you’ve heard me mention before, that got damaged when a light fell on it after a TV interview. The cost of retrieving the hard drive’s information has been cost prohibitive since. I was happy to apologize to Barbara in recent days for the neglect. When JJSL next appears in a revised edition, I assured her, she will be acknowledged properly in the book.

Then Barbara and I got to talking about her own family ancestry and a couple of surprises in store for her. The slim genealogy that Barbara gave me before, and what I was able to add to it since, already appears in our SURNAMES database on Stray Leaves. With her contact info locked up, I never could tell Barbara about it in the past. This week, I did.

My research into Barbara’s past showed that she is a 4th great granddaughter of Daniel Boone, just like her classmates, Diane and Don Baumel, were 5th great grandchildren of the famed explorer.

The surprise here for Barbara is that their shared relationship to Boone also makes cousins of all three of the former classmates. It also makes Barbara a cousin to Jesse James.

If that isn’t enough, when I last worked on her husband’s familiar family name of Clemens, there was an additional discovery.

I informed Barbara last week about Jeremiah Clemens who appears on page 84 of JJSL. Joseph McAlister James purchased the Clemens hotel that was built in Danville, Kentucky, as the Black Horse Inn. When the hotel burned, Joseph McJames rebuilt it in brick. Jeremiah Clemens, I told Barbara, is a cousin of her husband. Not only that, her husband is a cousin of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, aka Mark Twain.

Barbara assured me she was going to look into all that, and what I said certainly explained some stories that circulated among her family in the past.

I told her I could save her the time. I directed Barbara to the SURNAMES database on Stray Leaves first. Then I sent her ancestral reports for both her and her husband, which can be downloaded HERE for her husband and HERE for her.

Rounding out almost two decades of research, I can cite numerous stories like Barbara’s. The surprise of discovery is always thrilling. And no matter how old Barbara may be, I know she’ll be looking at her past with a richness never fully grasped when she was living it.


James-Younger Gang Past President Deceased

Janet H. Goodman, long-time James-Younger Gang member, died suddenly on June 30, 2013 at her home in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Janet was 73 at the time of her death.

Jan Goodman, days before her passing

Jan was a native of Minneapolis and was preceded in death by her parents, Julius and Lucile Nielsen, brother, Julius Jr. and close friend Jack Koblas. She is survived by her three children, Bret, Troy (Annette) Goodman, and Holly (Lannie) Segebarth. Also by three grandchildren, Avery, Davis and Vaughn, and a sister, Joan Nims. Memorial services were held Monday, July 7 at the Washburn-McReavy Funeral Home.

Janet worked for thirty years at the Fairview University Hospital in the accounts receivable department. She was also active in a number of fundraising activities at the hospital. She retired in 2006. She developed an interest in the James-Younger Gang when she went to a book signing by Jesse James book author Jack Koblas. Janet and Jack were high school classmates and she soon became Jack’s publicist. Jack suffered from Parkinson’s disease for the last decade of his life and Janet often drove him to his book signings. Speaking engagements, and other activities connected with his writing. She also often assisted in getting him to medical appointments and with other aspects of his medical care.

Jan Goodman with author John Koblas

Janet became one of the movers and shakers in the James-Younger Gang organization. She was a lady who always knew how to get things done. From 2006 to 2010 she served as the secretary and treasurer, and from 2012 to 2013 as the president of the organization. Janet was a selfless and caring person , she will be sadly missed by family and many, many friends.

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