Did the James Gang Steal Morgan Horses From Cousins ?

Raymond James, who appears on pg. 67 of Jesse James Soul Liberty, visited me last week. Raymond has spent a lot of time studying the Operations Orders for the 12th Kentucky Infantry in the Civil War, where his great-grandfather John Thomas James (pg. 73) served. Raymond has identified the campaign movements of his grandfather on a daily basis from start to finish. An extraordinary accomplishment that hopefully will make its way into print.

Raymond James
Raymond Edward James

On other topics, Raymond also related a story told to him by his grandmother, Lydia Crow-James. The James family, Lydia said, raised Morgan horses. From her hilltop home in Dabney in Pulaski County, during winter she could see clear to Shopville and the horses the family penned. After the James Gang raid on the Columbia Bank in Ky. on April 29, 1872, many of the Morgan horses were stolen from their pen in Shopville. Left behind were some very tired, sorry-looking horses. A while later, the stolen Morgan horses reappeared at the James farm after the attempted bank robbery in Somerset, presumed to have been by the James Gang who fled when a group of hunters assembled at the same time in the town square for a hunting party.

It’s an interesting story, which unfortunately is impossible to verify, unlike the troop movements of the 12th Kentucky Infantry.

Commenting on his appearance in Jesse James Soul Liberty, Raymond said he had read the book twice. “The first time I read it from start to finish. The second time I read it again, but this time with the notes. Reading the notes was like getting an extra book!”

Sadly, Raymond also informed me of the recent passing of his grandson. An autopsy is pending. We wish Raymond’s daughter Kathy well.

UPDATE: Raymond James now informs us the autopsy is in on the death of his grandson. The young man died of a brain aneurysm. The autopsy report notes such deaths occur when the brain’s blood vessels become constricted. One other case of death brought on by a brain aneurysm among James family members is known. The death of Eleanor Marie James-Brush was caused likewise, cutting short her life at age 62. Eleanor was known to drink 2-3 pots of coffee per day, the caffeine from which was the most likely cause for constricting her blood vessels and triggering the event. Constriction may also be caused by recreational drug use, particularly hard drugs like heroine, even in short-term use or in use long past.