James-Younger Gang Journal Pans Jesse James’ Hidden Treasure

The following review of TV’s Jesse James’ Hidden Treasure appeared in the Winter, 2009-2010 edition of The James-Younger Gang Journal, posted here with permission of the reviewer Nancy B. Samuelson & the Journal. Samuelson is an author, historian, lecturer, and book reviewer for the Wild West History Association.

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Jesse James’ Hidden Treasure

This program aired on the History Channel three times during early November 2009. With this program, the History Channel has stooped to a new low. The program featured, so called, historians Ron Pastore and Ralph Ganis.

Pastore heads a team called the National Geomantic Survey, or NGS. I have not been able to locate any such national organization. NGS appears to be a creation of Ron Pastore’s imagination. Further, the term geomantic comes from the word geomancy. This is the practice of divination by means of a figure made by a handful of earth thrown down at random or by figures or lines formed by a number of dots made at random. In other words fortune-telling!

The program moves from this bit of pseudo-science to a lot of mythology about the Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC). We are asked to believe that a lot of carvings in caves in Kansas are really coded messages that will help locate huge treasure hordes hidden by Jesse James as he was working for the KGC. These carvings are said to be cryptic codes, however, most of what is shown is the initials JJ in various forms. Real cryptic—as these are the initials of Jesse James.

Jesse James was supposed to have obtained 1.5 million dollars during his robberies and hidden much of it in Kansas in order to finance a second Civil War that was to be started by the KGC. The total of all the take in the James gang robberies probably does not exceed a quarter of a million dollars and Jesse James is not known to have spent any lengthy amounts of time in Kansas either. Ganis has Jesse involved in the Ku Klux Klan operations in North Carolina as well.

Pastore claims to have located two treasure hoards. These two finds amount to all of about $30-35 in old coins. That is a pretty small amount of money to finance a second Civil War! The coins and one piece of gold were buried in Mason jars. However, the jars shown in the program were not discolored with age, and the zinc lid on one of the jars appeared in near pristine condition. Most of the coins also appeared to be in near pristine condition and the coins are dated in the 1890s. The dates of the coins are passed off as proof that Jesse James was not killed by Bob Ford in 1882.

There is much more that could be said about the nonsense that was passed off as “history” in this program but I think I have given the reader enough information to realize that this program was not “history” in any sense of the word.

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