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.

It’s not just a flag, Betsy Ross

Not an Election Day passes without reminders of the numerous James family who served in elected or appointed pubic office. Subverted by the reputations of the wartime guerrillas Frank & Jesse James, or the vote riggers among their James family, Sam Ralston & Samuel Hughes Woodson, most all who were duly elected or appointed served honorably.

Some still serve today with distinction, without being elected or appointed. Like the family feminists Rev. Mollie Paine-McGreevy, an Episcopal priest serving the LGBT community, or Gail McGreevy-Harmon, who still fights today’s political battles as an attorney for Planned Parenthood and women’s rights.

All trace their roots to the soul liberty of John M. James and his band of rebel preachers, individuals forced into self-exile for their belief in the personhood of liberty.

In the elections of today as well as those in the future, liberty always will require guardianship. And be assured, there always will be a James – man or woman – to preserve the freedom of the individual.

The Book Which Rewrote What Its Author Planned

Books like to write themselves, probably because they don’t trust their parent. As author, my Chapter One for Jesse James Soul Liberty was a different chapter than this. For all the time I wrote this book, the book was being written to conform to a totally different structure and architecture, which I had meticulously planned.

Then arrived the defining moment when a critical decision had to be made. The book had grown too big in content, and too costly for publication. Choice One was to move forward as planned, and severely reduce the content of Jesse James Soul Liberty to fit into a single volume. Or Choice Two, to break up Volume I into two separate volumes and restructure the book accordingly. I surrendered everything I worked for and planned. I opted for Choice Two.

My forced decision was no less than divine inspiration. The book and its content claimed, “We can do better.” And so, it is. What remains unknown is this. Who is really writing my book?

Liberal Arts Education Defines Many of the Jesse James Family

Williams College

A liberal arts education is a core characteristic of many James family members who have had the benefit of an elite Eastern style education. Among schools attended by the James is Williams College, which has just been named America’s number one liberal arts school by U.S. News & World Report.

Vassie James’ daughter, Frances Ward, graduated Vassar, as did many of the feminists among the Jesse James family. Frances married Williams graduate George T. Olmsted Jr. George was a classmate of Frances’ brother, James Crawford Ward.

Following graduation, Jim Ward went on to work for G.H. Walker & Company, employed by owner George Herbert Walker, the grandfather of President George Herbert Walker Bush & great grandfather of President George W. Bush. Many years later, Jim ended his banking career as Vice-President of the Third National Bank of Nashville.

Following an impressive banking career himself, George T. Olmsted and Frances established an endowment at Williams College to support superior teaching. The Olmsted Award is granted annually. George & Frances also established the Williams College Summer Science Camp. As they said, “The kids come to understand that if you have a question…you can try to answer it yourself.”

You can read more about them in the chapter “Underrated Men & Unleashed Feminists” in Jesse James Soul Liberty. Vo. I.

The Bones of Elijah Craig & the Witches of Giddings Hall

The Witches of Giddings Hall

Happy Halloween!

It is said that one of the columns of Giddings Hall still holds the bones of Rev. Elijah Craig. You can read about the old “rebel preacher” who founded Georgetown College in Kentucky & his wild influence upon the James family in Jesse James Soul Liberty.

Beware the witches of Giddings Hall!

Author Eric F. James on HuffPostLIVE

Doing an appearance with HuffPostLIVE today, Oct. 30, 2012 at 5:30 EDT, on the topic of “The Untold History of the United States.” Focus of the show is Oliver Stone’s 10 part series for Showtime. My interest, of course, is entertainment & media acting as factual history, particularly with regard to the dissemination of fake history about Frank & Jesse James. Should be interesting. Join us & enter your own thoughts in the commentary stream.

UPDATE 6:59 PM

That was a surprising 45 minute broadcast! Firstly we were delayed a half hour. Then we were notified Oliver Stone himself would participate. Then Oliver arrived with his writing partner Peter Kuznick, whose book Oliver based his 10 part series on. Our moderator launched into their interview, announcing she would bring us in later in the broadcast. 15 Minutes past. 30 Minutes past. 40 Minutes past. Finally John Baysler and myself were brought into the conversation. John asked a question. I asked a question, Brief discussion more, and it all was over.

As we used to say in my days of stage, screen. & TV…Ahhhhhhhh, show biz!

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & Booksellers Now Sell Jesse James Soul Liberty


Jesse James Soul Liberty, Volume I, is now available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & most booksellers.

Personally, I’m not a fan of Amazon, mostly due to their business practices. However, I do appreciate the author page they provide.

Outside of allowing reviews & commentary – which readers also can post here on Leaves of Gas and on the Facebook page for the book – Amazon streams the postings from Leaves of Gas as “Most Recent Blog Posts.”

Readers who prefer to have a personally autographed copy can always order directly through Cashel Cadence House.

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & Booksellers Now Sell Jesse James Soul Liberty


Jesse James Soul Liberty, Volume I, is now available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & most booksellers.

Personally, I’m not a fan of Amazon, mostly due to their business practices. However, I do appreciate the author page they provide.

Outside of allowing reviews & commentary – which readers also can post here on Leaves of Gas and on the Facebook page for the book – Amazon streams the postings from Leaves of Gas as “Most Recent Blog Posts.”

Readers who prefer to have a personally autographed copy can always order directly through Cashel Cadence House.

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & Booksellers Now Sell Jesse James Soul Liberty


Jesse James Soul Liberty, Volume I, is now available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & most booksellers.

Personally, I’m not a fan of Amazon, mostly due to their business practices. However, I do appreciate the author page they provide.

Outside of allowing reviews & commentary – which readers also can post here on Leaves of Gas and on the Facebook page for the book – Amazon streams the postings from Leaves of Gas as “Most Recent Blog Posts.”

Readers who prefer to have a personally autographed copy can always order directly through Cashel Cadence House.

The Acknowledgements Chapter of Jesse James Soul Liberty

The chapter I dreaded writing most was my ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS chapter. Topping my recognition list was the Jesse James family itself, who broke 130 years of their historical silence to help me write this book. They were a given. But I had a lot more help than theirs alone.

Most Acknowledgement chapters are a dreadful list of names, meaningless to most book readers. For some exotic reason, acknowledgements usually appear before a book’s first chapter. I put mine in the rear, keeping the James family itself up front where they belong.

When I received my proof copy of the book, I had second thoughts about that arrangement. As I reread my acknowledgement chapter in the proof book, it was pretty interesting. I had tried to attach a story to everyone I recognized so my readers actually would read about the help I had. Of course, I wanted to avoid an Academy Award moment, where I’d neglect recognizing someone important as the music played me out. I think I accomplished that. But do read my Acknowledgement chapter. I could write a book about most everyone who helped to create this book.

J. Mark Beamis Endorses Jesse James Soul Liberty

ENDORSEMENT by J. MARK BEAMIS…Mark is the son of Joan Beamis who authored the first genealogy of the Jesse James family Background of a Bandit, first published by the Kentucky Historical Society in 1970, and replicated by others since. He and his mother are first cousins of Frank & Jesse James. Mark has just written the following, highly personal endorsement. The files Mark references are his mother’s original research files for her book. The opening chapter of Jesse James Soul Liberty addresses Joan’s first attempts to learn of her own relationship to the outlaws Frank & Jesse James, after her father let the cat out of the bag through a slip of the tongue.

“I first learned of Eric James and his literary endeavors in late 2002, early 2003. My uncle told me about him, as Eric had contacted him while doing research on his book, Jesse James Soul Liberty. He referred him to me as my mother had compiled over many years of research a voluminous amount of material concerning the ‘famous’ outlaw Jesse James and his connection to our family.

“As my mother had passed away several years earlier, I was carting around these boxes with really no clue as to what was in them. To make a long story short, I sent him over 40 lbs. of documents in the Spring of 2003. Thanks to his detailed knowledge of the subject matter, and his expert skills as a writer and researcher, I’ve learned more about my mother’s work and my family than I ever dreamed possible.

“Reading preliminary drafts of his chapters on my mother and her work has moved me to tears, and I have had no qualms about donating all of her research and source material to him for safekeeping. He’s a very interesting and talented man, and I endorse him without reservation.”

J. Mark Beamis, October 9, 2012

Vice-Presidential Debate Vid Highlights James Family Places

Two geographical sites, important to the James family, are shown in the following video about the Vice-Presidential debate 2012, held in Danville, Kentucky.

The video’s opening sequence highlights Constitution Square in Danville. In a log cabin there in 1784, John M. James attended the Danville Convention. Under Judge Harry Innes, the convention met to address the grievances of Kentucky’s frontiersmen against the Burgesses in Virginia who governed the western district. After multiple meetings spanning many years, the Convention decided to seek separation from Virginia to become its own independent commonwealth. John M. James stood at the side of Harry Innes as Innes drafted Kentucky’s petition. Later, the James married into the Innes family. So began the political career of John M. James that lead to his founding of Pulaski County, Kentucky, and to his service of three terms in the Kentucky State Legislature.

Also featured in the video is the site of the Boyle County Courthouse, built by Isaac Hite, a James family cousin. The park adjacent to the courthouse was the site of the St. James Hotel, owned & operated by Joseph McAlister James, aka Joseph McJames. The original hotel on the site was built in the late 1700s by Jeremiah Clemens, a relation of Sam Clemens, also known as Mark Twain. First called the Black Horse Inn, then as the Old Clemens House, the hotel was branded by Joseph McJames as the St. James Hotel. When the hotel burned down, Joseph McJames rebuilt a larger hotel, constructed of brick. He invited Jeremiah Clemens Jr., who was born on the site, to christen the new building.

In 1877, Joseph McJames traded many of his Danville properties for a bundle of ranches in Kansas. He then removed to Coffeyville, where his son Ephraim James was captured in the Dalton Gang raid on the Condon Bank.

The politics that became such an integral part of the James family’s character, though first generated in Colonial Virginia, matured at Grayson’s Tavern, also featured in the video. There, the Danville Political Club met to plot Kentucky’s course of governance. Numerous James family members have served in governments since.

The story of John M. James, as an early Kentucky pioneer, is told in Volume II of Jesse James Soul Liberty, to be published in 2013. The story of Joseph McJames ni Danville appears in Volume I, now in publication.

Pre-Orders for Jesse James Soul Liberty – Printing Now

PRE-ORDERS ARE PRINTING NOW…If you pre-ordered already, your copy of Jesse James Soul Liberty is being printed now, right here. These are the presses of Lightning Source, our printers located outside Nashville. No matter how big or small our book orders, these presses whip out the order in no time at all.

After your pre-order is received at Cashel Cadence House & personally autographed for you, your book will be coming your way.

Here are some early reviews….

Jesse James fanatics are going to be thrilled by this abundance of fresh new history. Soul Liberty is guaranteed to generate controversy & send historians scrambling for what they missed.
NANCY B. SAMUELSON
Reviewer, Wild West History Association
Author, The Dalton Gang Story

Soul Liberty presents new information never written about the Jesse James family before. This book must be read!
JOHN J. KOBLAS
Author, The Jesse James Northfield Raid
Confessions of the Ninth Man
The Great Cole Younger & Frank James Wild West Show

Eric James’ gift for pulling new history out of genealogy is brilliant!
RUSSELL HATTER
Curator, Capital City Museum, Frankfort, Ky.
Co-Author, Historic Frankfort, Yesterday & Today
Frankfort Cemetery, The Westminster Abbey of Kentucky

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