All posts by Eric F. James

Meet Eric James - a Broadway & TV has-been, living in the Kentucky Bluegrass. A former law journalist turned politico, blogger, publisher, author, historian, archivist, & lecturer, Eric continues to build upon the success he earned during his 16 years in show business & 35 years as a pioneer in international real estate brokerage. Presently, Eric is writing Volume II of his five-volume history of the family of Frank & Jesse James- Jesse James Soul Liberty. He also publishes & writes their official web site Stray Leaves, and blog Leaves of Gas.

Jesse James Family Discredits 7£ eBay Find of Justin Whiting

Novice Con in UK Branded a

Merchant of Identity Theft


Fake tintype claimed to be Jesse James
“Just another entry in the parade of “newly discovered” photos of Jesse that have been “authenticated” by comparing them to a photo that isn’t Jesse. “- CHUCK RABAS, Kansas City, Mo.

Can’t a year go by without some fool huckster who seeks fifteen minutes of fame claims a fake Jesse James photo is authentic?

2018 has just begun, and the witlessness has happened again. This time with a 7£ tintype find on eBay.

Regrettably, the pitch for the present folly falls far short of the sublimity achieved by polished con artists. The hucksters for this fraudulent Jesse James picture only rate top notch for amateurism.

Faithfully following the proven template of sharpies and swindlers of fake Jesse James photos, these amateurs step readily and willingly into a template for a crime. The family of Jesse James brands them as merchants of identity theft.

Recent Fake Jesse James Images

Linear forensics applied to authentic image of Jesse James with a claimed image
Linear forensics applied by Mark Bampton to Lois Gibson’s alleged authentication of the claimed Jesse James image yields plainly visible discrepancies in the Bob Ford/Jesse Jame photo hoax.

In 2016-2017, hoo-ha raged over the Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax.  In its first stage, a standard template of con artistry failed miserably, dragging the Houston, Texas Police Department into the gutter with it. With no substantive evidence to support the image claim, the hoax then advanced to a surprising second level. The hoax transitioned into a reality TV show. Television produced a sham auction of the tintype, claiming a final bid of $35,000 that was literally unbelievable. No record exists of the money being paid. More so, no image of Jesse James ever has sold for more than $2,000. Justin Whiting laughably waits for his tintype to fetch him $2 million US.

Fake Jesse James image disproved by an authentic one.
Forensic science proves a claimed Jesse James tintype is not authentic.

Then arrived a claimant to Jesse James kinship. He hawked a photo from his family possessions.  The claimant could not prove his kinship any more than he could prove his ambrotype was Jesse James.  He only proved that suckers exist for fraudulent Jesse James imagery. The ambrotype never reached the auctioneer’s advertised value of $12,000. The ambrotype sold at auction for a paltry $300.

An Obsessive-Compulsive eBay Collector in the United Kingdom

America has grown weary of fake Jesse James photos. Delusional con artists abound, and self-appointed “authenticators” always are ready to aid the con. It’s no surprise that the infection of the fake photo phenomenon has crossed the ocean to the UK. After all, the United Kingdom is the ancestral seat of tabloid journalism and fake news. Just ask any of the country’s kings or queens, Will Shakespeare or Rupert Murdoch. Tea is not tea without one’s purple prose and fantasy fulfillment.

Justin Whitiing
Justin Whiting tries to fool the public into paying him $2 million for his tintype of a fake Jesse James

In Lincolnshire, England is the town of Spalding. There sits Justin Whiting. He is out of work and confined to his computer screen by a back injury. Whiting is a middle-aged man with a childish imagination that further cripples his well-being. Lonely as Jane Austin, Whiting trolls eBay for excitement. He likes old photos. On eBay, one old tintype caught his eye.

EBay ad for a tintype of an unknown Victorian man.
The eBay ad that Justin James now swindles as his authentic image of Jesse James.

The eBay ad announced, “Victorian Tintype Photo, Young Man in dark Suit Standing by Chair 1870-1879.”

The ad contained no claim that the image was Jesse Woodson James, America’s folk-lore outlaw. Whiting, however, thought something about the image was familiar. With no immersive knowledge of Jesse James history, photography forensics, or family genetics, Justin Whiting made the sole determination that the tintype he bought on eBay is Jesse James.

Seized by the irrational insanity of his conviction, Whiting searched for other discoveries he could manufacture. He found another image he believed was Jesse James.

Claimed to be Jesse James by Justin Whiing
Justin Whiting claims this, too, is an image of Jesse James. Whiting says he has an entire box full of photos of Jesse James, Billy the Kid, and Abraham Lincon!

Going off the deep end of all rationality, Justin Whiting furthermore claimed he has another old tintype of the Jim and Bob Younger of the Younger Gang.

Claimed to be Bob and Jim Younger of th Younger Gang by Justin Whiting
Justin Whiting says these two characters are Bob and Jim Younger of th Younger Gang. Whiting provides no substantiation.

 The Con Man Self-Revealed

In the full bloom of his self-delusion, Justin Whiting reached out to the Jesse James family for the approval and justification he needed. He queried the James family historian, Eric F James, publisher of the James family’s web site Stray Leaves that routinely debunks the fraud inflicted upon Jesse James history and the Jesse James family. James also is the author of the biographical history of the James family, Jesse James Soul Liberty. The James Preservation Trust, which James administers, archives a large collection of submissions claimed to be Jesse James that James receives routinely on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

James denied Whiting’s tintype is an image of Jesse James. In a series of email correspondence, Whiting repetitively pestered James with false claims and fake photos. James considered blocking Whiting’s email. Since Whiting had made no public claim, James left the line of communication open. Whiting since has been put on the James family’s watch list of Jesse James con artists.

The span of Whiting’s email, now on record, reveals Whiting’s delusion, his obsession, his childish crass belligerence, and hucksterism.

Justin Whiting taunts the Jesse James family who discredits his tintype as a fake Jesse James. “well I don’t see you saying anything ? where’s the fight you and the family said you was going to put up Been a week its all over the world news. You aint said nothing because you know now it genuine. justin”

In the experience of the James family, fraudsters like Whiting reveal themselves given time. Eric F. James perceives in Whiting’s most recent email  Whiting’s lack of education, an absence of basic grammar, and a narrow-minded, self-centered pathology.

Now that Whiting has gone public with his claim, soon the James family will publish the email correspondence between Whiting and James. The James family believes the general public can make its own, independent determination after reading Whiting’s own written record. Social media already has been falling in favor of the James family for a while.

Merchants of Identity Theft

NEXT INSTALLMENT: How Justin Whiting and his abettors became merchants of identity theft. To be notified, SUBSCRIBE above.

About My Second Great-Grandpa Nick Dawson

By Stephanie Dawson Morris

The story of the murder of Nick Dawson is told in the book Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol I. In the chapter “An Independent Free Man,” John James “of Alvarado” recounts his early days on the Texas prairie when Nick Dawson and his family, from Woodford County in Kentucky, were his neighbors.

Nicholas Henry “Nick” Dawson, born February 3, 1838, in Woodford County, Kentucky; murdered July 12, 1870, in Wise County, Texas.

In this multi-part series, Stephanie Dawson Morris updates the Dawson family history, revealing the undaunted character that defines  Dawson men from John Singleton Mosby to the Dawson Massacre and beyond.


One story I remember is that great grandpa Nick Dawson was shot 29 times with arrows before he died.  I have never been able to substantiate that, except for the story in the paper when they found the old pioneer cemetery. The story said he was “mutilated” when they found him.

I also remember hearing there was a saddle that was covered in silver conchos. The saddle was on the horse he was riding.  It was a gift from the townspeople for his services. I don’t know what kind of “services.”  Anyway, I asked what happened to the saddle. I heard it was cut up and divided among the Comanche who killed him.

Supposedly, that was how they found which of the Comanche were guilty. They still had the pieces of silver on their person.  Of course, I cannot verify this either.

Samuel “Sam” Houston Jr. 1793-1863. His father, Sam Huston Sr. 1745-1807, fought with Daniel Morgan’s Rifles in the American Revolution, besides the numerous rebel Baptists preachers who were supported by Frank & Jesse James father, John M. James. In Texas, Sam Huston Jr. commanded Jackson Bunyan Bradley, the father-in-law of John James “of Alvarado” who was Nick Dawson’s neighbor.
Sam Houston’s son, Samuel Houston III 1843-1894. It is unlikely Sam Houston attended the funeral of Nick Dawson since Sam Houston pre-deceased Nick. However, it is possible that Sam Houston III may have attended. During the Civil War, Sam Houston III was incarcerated in Camp Douglas Union Prison in Chicago together with David Hunt James and Richard Skinner James who were captured with John Junt Morgan.,


It was said that Sam Huston was greatly saddened by Grandpa’s death and attended the funeral…again, I don’t know if this is true.

Another story was that he and Great Grandma Mary had several children, as you know. They also had taken in an Indian child by the name of Blueberry.  Well, the story has it that while Grandpa Nick was away from home Blueberry had come flying through the door of the cabin and told Grandma that Indians had surrounded the cabin and were going to attack and raid.

Mary Elizabeth Morton Dawson 1833-1915, wife of Nick Dawson

Grandma had the lanterns all lit inside the cabin. She had all the children put on hats and jackets. They held sticks as if they were guns. Then they walked back and forth in front of the windows.  Grandma then would have them exchange clothing and walk in front of the windows of another room. So, on it went, to trick the Indians into thinking there were a lot of people in the house guarding it with weapons.  Apparently, the ruse worked because the next morning the Indians were gone. There was a sign of them having been there.

I do know that great-grandmother Mary filed for a government stipend to recover the value of the horses, saddle, and money of about a hundred dollars, or so.  It was some kind of recovery act. I did find the application.

She also applied for a Confederate Widows Pension which was signed with an X as Mary could not read or write.

Mary Dawson pension application
Pension application of Mary Dawson
Mary Dawson pension affidavit
Information affidavit of Mary Dawson’s pension application
Witness affidavit in Mary Dawson’s pension application. As the spouse of Frances Elizabeth “Fanny” Dawson, signatory Judge Griffin Ford was a son-in-law Nick and Mary Dawson. His son William Walter “Willie” Ford is a grandson of Nick and Mary.

None of us, still living, know what happened to the 1200 acres, or so, that were awarded to Grandpa Nick for enlisting in the Texas Rangers/Militia.  We assume it was sold to provide for the children.

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Belle Star’s visit to John James “of Alvarado” shortly after the murder of Nick Dawson.

Dawson DNA Project

FREE eBook: The Ancestry, Descendants, & Kinship of Nicholas Henry “Nick” Dawson

The Largest Knights of the Golden Circle Treasure Ever

BOOK REVIEW: Myers, Jack, Knight’s Gold: The Largest Documented KGC Treasure Ever Discovered (Jack O’Llantern Press, 2016) pp. iv +498, illustrations, endnotes, no bibliography or index, ISBN 9781539896562, soft cover $18.95

By Nancy B. Samuelson 

Like a lot of books about the Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC) and the tales about treasure that the KGC supposedly buried to finance a second Civil War, this work contains a lot of speculations, garbles a lot data, and contains a ton of misinformation. The book is tedious to read, everything the author says he repeats at least three times.

Knight’s Gold
Knight’s Gold: The Largest Documented KGC Treasure Ever Discovered by Jack Myers

A lot of the book deals with two treasure troves found in Baltimore, Maryland. Both of these troves are believed by the author to have been buried in basements by members of the KGC. Little factual data and a lot of questionable information is given to support this theory. We are asked to believe that two teenagers who found the first trove carried five thousand gold coins home in their pockets and shoes! A practice problem from the book, New Practical Arithmetic, published in Boston in 1875 is construed by the author to be a coded message by the agents of the Knights of the Golden Circle in Baltimore concerning the buried treasure.

Ray's New Practical Arithmatic
A coded treasure message published in 1875?


Another reported treasure trove is located within Victorio Peak in New Mexico. This area is now on the White Sands Test Range. A lot of various stories are related about this reported treasure trove. The odor of fraud permeates almost all of what is reported about this supposed treasure location.

The most bizarre “treasure” parts of the book deal with none other than America’s most famous bandit, Jesse Woodson James. 

The James boys did not spend their loot but socked it away to help fund the Knights of the Golden Circle and the second Civil War. No mention is made of all the race horses the James brothers bought, raced and bet on.

Almost all of the off the wall stuff published about Jesse James is trotted out in this book. Orvis Houk, Del Schrader, Ron Pastore, Henry J. Walker and a variety of other questionable James literature is quoted.(Somehow Betty Duke and her claim that her great-grandfather, James L. Courtney, was the real Jesse James got left out. This must have been an oversight.) This specious material is jumbled in with material from well written and well researched books. The author makes no effort to select the wheat from the chaff in any of this.

The James material is all a total tangle of out and out falsehoods, misinformation and speculation. One fiction novel even is cited to support some of this material.

Examples of some of this material are: (1) William Clark Quantrill was head of the KGC’s Knights of the Iron Hand; (2)John Newman Edwards wrote dime novels after the war; (3) After the war Jesse James worked as a bounty hunter and tried to go straight; (4) Gov. Crittenden appointed Sheriff James Timberlake as a deputy U. S. marshal (these are federal appointments); (5) Sheriff Timberlake went to New Mexico after he collected his reward and likely helped stash some of the Victorio Peak treasure;  (6) Albert Pike started the KKK:  etc. etc. etc. The nonsense boggles the imagination!

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Jesse James, Lost Treasure, & The Golden Circle – Where’s the Beef?

Making (Up) History Every Day

The Latest Fake History from Ron Pastore

James-Younger Gang Journal Pans Jesse James Hidden Treasure

Knights of the Golden Circle Exposed

Knights of the Golden Circle Exposed

BOOK REVIEW: Baker, L. C., The Ones That Got Away: Knights of the Golden Circle Exposed (no publication information given) pp.177, some photos and illustrations, no endnotes, bibliography, or index. ISBN 978149959393, soft cover $14.99

By Nancy B. Samuelson

Book jacket: The Ones That Got Away, Knights of the Golden Circle ExposedThe Knights of the Golden Circle seems to attract all kinds of strange people and theories. This book, indeed, contains some strange theories and a lot of misinformation. The writing is littered with errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. The photographs and illustrations used are of very poor quality. The author gives little or no information about where he got his material.

The author would have us believe that Lewis Cass, who resigned as Secretary of State because Buchanan took little or no action against the secessionists, and Illinois Senator Orville Browning were connected with the Knights of the Golden Circle. He hints that both men may have had something to do with Lincoln’s assassination. He also makes the preposterous accusation that Browning, a close friend and confidante of Lincoln for many years, carried on a lengthy love affair with Mary Todd Lincoln!

L.C. Baker
L.C. Baker, author of The Ones That Got Away, Knights of the Golden Circle Exposed

There is a lot of misinformation about Ben Ficklin and his association with Sen. William M. Gwin of California and the freighting firm of Russell, Majors and Waddell. He says Ficklin was a West Point graduate. This is not so, Ficklin graduated from Virginia Military Institute (VMI). Ficklin was acquainted with Sen. Gwin and Gwin did back the Pony Express, which was first Ficklin’s idea. Gwin was a farsighted man who fought long and hard for all sorts of development on the Pacific Coast that would benefit California and the nation. Gwin was, as one author put it, “adept at reconciling contradictory forces for his own political advantage”.  However, to state that Gwin was trying to obtain a monopoly in the opium trade to raise money for the Knights of the Golden Circle is way out there in left field.

The author’s idea that Russell, Majors and Waddell and Ficklin had a monopoly of freighting during the “Mormon War” and made a fortune is completely wrong. Russell, Majors and Waddell lost a half million dollars when their wagons and livestock was stolen or destroyed by the Mormons and the Indians. The Pony Express also lost money and the company went broke and sold out to Ben Holladay.

Jesse James gets into the story in the chapter on Captain Logan Enyart. Enyart served in Company G. of the First Missouri C.S.A. He was married to a sister of Col. Richard B. Chiles, his commanding officer. Chiles later joined Quantrill’s Raiders and was killed during the war. Enyart probably knew Frank and Jesse James during the war. The author would have us believe Jesse James made regular visits to Enyart’s home in Nebraska City, Nebraska after the war. The author states that is was a well known fact that Enyart had a secret underground passage between his house and stables over 100 yards long to give the James gang entrance to his house. (He must have borrowed this one from some Dalton Gang mythology.) The author did not, however, seem to know that Enyart did invite Frank James to stay at his home when Frank was an official race starter in Nebraska City in August 1909.

Many other examples of bad information in this book, could be pointed out. The above should be enough to tell the discerning readers to save their book money for something more worthwhile.

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Jesse James, Lost Treasure, & The Golden Circle – Where’s the Beef?

Making (Up) History Every Day

The Latest Fake History from Ron Pastore

James-Younger Gang Journal Pans Jesse James Hidden Treasure