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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The selected authors will focus on the conference theme, “What happened in Missouri began in Kentucky.”
Guerrilla raids and warfare, John Hunt Morgan, social culture that led to war…all vie with personal history written by family descendants about ancestors. These authors bring a unique perspective to the history of the James-Younger Gang and their families that only is found in a meeting like this.
FAMILY PERSPECTIVE AUTHORS
SUE KELLY BALLARD
In My Blessed, Wretched Life, Rebecca Boone’s Story, Sue Kelly Ballard writes a captivating, gut-wrenching, story about Daniel Boone’s wife, Rebecca Ann Bryant. Rebecca and Daniel Boone are 5th great-grandparents of the descendants of Jesse James Jr. and Stella McGowan.
“Ballard captures every mood and moment of Rebecca’s life in the backwoods and on the frontier with accuracy and passion, with authenticity and beauty, and at a pace that keeps the reader diving headlong into each new page eager to swallow up what happens next… it takes a skilled frontier woman…to keep everyone and everything moving along together.”
Born in Kentucky, Sue Kelly Ballard is a Board Director of the Boone Society and co-edits the Society’s Compass newsletter. A member of the Filson Historical Society and DAR, she recently received the DAR Award for Women in the Arts. Ballard is an “army brat,” having lived in several states and overseas. Recently, she retired as a professor emerita of chemistry.
ERIC F. JAMES
In This Bloody Ground, Eric F. James writes a leading-edge history about John M. James, the grandfather of Frank and Jesse. In the epic style of his award winning Jesse James Soul Liberty quintet, Eric draws upon a cornucopia of unexplored sources to reveal for the first time an historical record too long ignored.
This Bloody Ground steers the reader deeply into the Kentucky wilderness with John M. James and his self-exiled bunch of rebel Baptist preachers, from John’s first meeting with Daniel Boone through the resistance and trials of the American Revolution. Facing persistent Indian raids and certain death on this unforgiving frontier, John nearly loses his family. Joined by the families of Lindsay, Cole, Pence, Nalle, Scholl, Hite, Vardeman and others, all bind to one another for self-survival and self-rule. Conspirators threaten and abound. The choice is dire. John’s selection engulfs him. Stay under a repressive Virginia, or join Kentucky to Spain. With statehood overriding, John rises as a political founder and legislative representative. But, ruin remains his destiny. Under threat of revelation, John retreats to Rogue’s Harbor (later called Logan County) to live in anonymity and a new family of his own. Facing death, John M. James still yearns for more revolution. This time, against banks.
Eric writes and publishes Stray Leaves, the official website and blog for the family of Frank & Jesse James. Volume I of his quintet was recipient of the Milton F. Perry Award.
In I Knew Frank, I Wish I knew Jesse, and in Guerrillas and Other Curiosities, Dan Pence edits and compiles a unique personal historical record harvested by his grandfather, the author Samuel Anderson Pence. As an inveterate collector of historical minutia and as a personal friend of many among the Jesse James community, S.A. Pence presents a story with infill information that every historian writing on this subject wishes he knew.
Dan Pence is the present president of the James-Younger Gang.
In Widder’s Landing, Eddie Price writes a story of life, love and survival set against the rugged Kentucky frontier. Craig Ridgeway, a 21-year old gunsmith from Pennsylvania, rides a flatboat down the Ohio River to Kentucky to try his hand at farming. Through an accidental association with a notorious widow (the past proprietor of a liquor vault and prostitution den), he inherits a patch of rich bottomland, embraces a nearby family, and falls in love with the abandoned wife of a violent outlaw. Overcoming inexperience and hardships, Craig builds a promising new life, learning how to raise corn, tobacco and hemp. Inspired by the “Widder’s” recipe, he and his wife Mary manufacture bourbon whiskey, which he markets profitably in New Orleans. A new steamboat embarks on its first journey down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, ushering in a new economic era.
In a way, Ridgeway’s journey mirrors the arrival of Anthony Lindsay and his family. Lindsay’s young son saw only desperation in the wilderness ahead. If he did not marry a girl from the Quissenberry family on their flatboat, he never would find a wife in the wilds or have a family of his own.
Eddie’s book Widder’s Landing received the Gold medal for “Best Historical Fiction” in the 2013 Reader’s Favorite Awards. In 2015, he received the National Literary Habitat Award for “Best Historical Fiction.” Aside from being an award winning author, Eddie Price is a speaker for the Kentucky Humanities Council Speakers Bureau. His topics cover a variety of subjects, most concerning the era up to and including 1812. Soon, Eddie’s next book will be published. In An Unlikely Trio, Eddie writes about the 1913 Kentucky Derby when a thoroughbred, jockey, and breeder-trainer made racing history. In Chautauqua presentations, sponsored by the Kentucky Humanities Council, Eddie portrays jockey Roscoe Goose. For more about Eddie Price see his website.
WARFARE PERSPECTIVE AUTHORS
In Thus Fell Tecumseh, Frank Kuron chronicles the battles and hardships of forces on both sides of the early-American conflict of 1812. Specifically, he targets the eighteen month period leading up to the Battle of the Thames in October of 1813 when the great Shawnee leader Tecumseh was killed. Over 160 primary accounts from diaries, newspapers, and letters of troops involved at the Thames provide the reader with the opportunity to solve the mystery now over 200 years old. How and by whose hand was Tecumseh slain? Was it Col. William Whitley, the frontier neighbor of John M. James at Crab Orchard, who killed Tecumseh? Or, was it Richard Mentor Johnson of Ward Hall?
Frank Kuron is a lifelong resident of Toledo, Ohio. He has written history newspaper columns about the War of 1812 for the Toledo Free Press. Frank writes in a personal and engaging style, bringing to light lesser-known people, events, and the aftermaths of the war. He now is researching material for his next book about the frontier life of early America. As a board member of the Fallen Timbers Battlefield Preservation Commission, Frank encourages public awareness of this key, yet nearly forgotten, American & Native American confrontation.
GERALD W. FISCHER
About Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Kentucky, Gerald W. Fischer writes, “Usually when people think about guerrilla activity during the Civil War, the border conflicts between Kansas and Missouri come to mind, enhanced by tales of Quantrill’s Raiders and Bloody Bill Anderson preying upon innocent townsfolk and civilians. However, guerrilla forces roamed throughout the border states and beyond throughout the entire war. Similar tales can be found in Kentucky, the Virginias, and other areas at a time when loyalties could be found for both North and South. This is especially true for the Heartland of Kentucky…Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Kentucky explores the real guerrilla fighters of the region, their exploits and their eventual demise, along with some of the infamous lawmen and soldiers assigned to bring them to justice.”
Gerald also has authored Battletown Witch, and co-written the book Meade County Families and History. He blogs for the Meade County Area Chamber of Commerce, and writes a weekly history feature for the Meade County Messenger. He is a regular contributor to the Kentucky Explorer magazine. Born in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Gerald studied history, archeology and anthropology at the University of Louisville, earning two undergraduate degrees in history and anthropology. Graduating with honors from Spalding University with an M.A. in teaching, Gerald taught school in Florida and Kentucky.
WILLIAM A. PENN
In Kentucky Rebel Town, William A. Penn examines Cynthiana, “that infernal hole of rebellion” where John Hunt Morgan’s last Kentucky raid ended calamitously. With Morgan went the Confederacy’s best chance, as Morgan himself opined, “to hold Kentucky for months.” Penn probes the divided loyalties and tense conflicts that wracked the picturesque Bluegrass town during four years of upheaval. Penn traces the local confrontations between Unionists and Rebels with aplomb, giving close attention to the shifting allegiances and fortunes of leading community figures. Penn concludes that a majority of Cynthiana’s white citizens maintained their rebel sympathies throughout the war and far into its aftermath.
Penn examines topics ranging from enlistment and conscription to early confrontations over federal encampments around Cynthiana. Petty jealousies and personal rivalries animate its central characters as much as grandiose claims to Southern honor or devotion to the Union. Penn is at pains “to explore the effects of the war” on all local residents. Drawing from an impressive amount of letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, and federal records, Penn highlights the daily physical and psychological struggles that those on the home front endured and the shattering personal losses that were all too common during wartime.
Reviewers say, Embattled Capital is a must-read for students of the conflict seeking an intimate look at how the war affected life in a slave-holding border-state. The book shows that the citizens of Frankfort, Kentucky experienced a much different war. Allegiance was fluid and could change depending on who maintained power. The book’s strength lies in the author’s ability to vividly convey the city’s wartime experiences through the excellent use of primary sources. His skill tells the story of Frankfort’s Civil War and postwar story through the eyes of the local community.
James M. Prichard is the former Research Room Supervisor at the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. Presently, he works in the Special Collections Department of the Filson Historical Society. He is a regular contributor to Civil War Times, North and South, and True West magazines. His essays have appeared in the Kentucky Encyclopedia, The Encyclopedia of Louisville, Biographical Dictionary of the Union, Heidler’s Encyclopedia of the Civil War, The Worl Encyclopedia of Slavery, Confederate Generals in the Western Theater, Kentuckians in Gray, and Virginia at War: 1863.
RONALD WOLFORD BLAIR
Wild Wolf, The Great Civil War Rivalry is the Story of Col. Frank Wolford, the celebrated Civil War cavalier and rival of Confederate raider John Hunt Morgan. Written by Wolford’s second great-nephew, Ronald Wolford Blair, the book discusses in detail Wolford’s heroic leadership in part of more than 300 battles and skirmishes and his notable rivalry with Morgan’s Raiders during which Wolford was wounded seven times. Additional details about Wolford’s political career and personal life are reviewed, plus little-known facts about his staunch opposition and policy dispute with President Abraham Lincoln over the use of black soldiers in the Union forces.
Ronald Wolford Blair is a contributing author of the book, Kentucky’s Civil War: 1861-1865, which won a Governor’s Award, as well as the book, Kentucky Rising, written by his friends, Dr. James A. Ramage and Dr. Andrea Watkins. Ron has written for as the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Lexington Herald-Leader. He is a member of the Civil War Trust for the preservation of Civil War Battlefields. Ron also is a member of several Civil War roundtable organizations, the Kentucky Historical Society, Friends of Henry Clay, and Morgan’s Men Association, among other organizations.
An ambrotype, claimed to be Jesse James, has raised multiple red flags, particularly from the Jesse James family.
Patrick Taylor Meguiar wants to sell his ambrotype. He claims the subject of his picture is Jesse James. Patrick says the artifact was handed down from Jesse, through Patrick’s family, to him. Patrick also says he is Jesse’s cousin. Patrick’s ambrotype is waving red flags.
Patrick has two problems. Patrick cannot prove his kinship to Jesse. Moreover, Patrick cannot prove his ambrotype is Jesse James. Disregarding what may be wishful thinking, Patrick is taking his claimed Jesse James ambrotype to auction.
“Dear Cousin” – Red Flag # 1
Fatal flaws in Patrick’s wishful thinking first appeared when he solicited the Jesse James family. Emailing to Jesse James family historian and Stray Leaves publisher Eric F. James, Patrick wrote, “Dear Cousin Eric.”
A greeting like “Dear Cousin Eric” raises an immediate red flag among the James family. The common belief within the James family is that those who claim to be a relation most likely are not. Moreover, those who are a legitimate and genetic relation are not likely to admit it, let alone to talk about it. A greeting like “Dear Cousin” forewarns that something amiss is about to follow.
No Sources – Red Flag # 2
Writing to Eric F. James, Patrick staked his claim to Jesse James kinship, but he provided no genealogical details or sources as evidence of his claim.
“This is the image that has passed down in my family with the tradition that Cousin Jesse Woodson James gave this photo to my great great grandmother Sarah Mariah Martin Meguiar & her siblings in 1868. I descend twice directly from Sarah Hines Martin who was the sister of Mary Hines James the wife of William James.
“My line is as follows: John Hines had Sarah Hines who married John Martin. They had Robert Martin who married Sarah Jane Hoy. They had Sarah Mariah Martin who married Thomas William Meguiar. They had Thomas Charlie Meguiar who married Dorothy Robert Turner. They had Thomas Maynard Meguiar who married Allene Moore Hobdy. They had Thomas Maynard Meguiar, Jr. who married Eva Nell Groves. They had me, Patrick Taylor Meguiar.
“My second line is Sarah Hines married John Martin. They had Elizabeth Martin who married Martin Turner. They had Robert Williamson Turner who married Almira Lucetta Hammond. They had Dorothy Robert Turner who married Thomas Charlie Meguiar. (See the line above to continue to me).”
Muddy Ancestry – Red Flag # 4
At Stray Leaves, an independent genealogical investigation into Patrick’s claim revealed the particulars of his ancestry. The investigation also revealed Patrick’s knowledge of his own ancestry was somewhat muddy. Patrick’s wishful thinking attempted to graft his ancestral tree to the Jesse James family tree.
Research indeed confirmed the two lines of ancestry from Patrick to Sarah Hines that Patrick claimed, with a couple of muddy anomalies. Stray Leaves considers the discrepancies as minor and irrelevant to proving Patrick’s tree attaches to the James.
The principal point of grafting between the Meguiar and the James trees, Patrick says, occurs with Sarah Hines, Patrick’s second great-grandmother. Patrick claims Sarah and Mary Hines are sisters. As his evidence, Patrick cites the Douglas Register where the marriages of Sarah and Mary are identified.
The Douglas Register does not show evidence of Sarah Hines and Mary Hines being sisters, however. Just because the names of both girls named Hines appear among a list of marriages performed by Rev. William Douglas of St. James Northam Parish in Goochland County, Virginia, nothing in the Register substantiates that one Sarah Hines is a relation to another Mary Hines. In the Douglas Register, other James are listed who are not related to William James and wife Mary Hines.
Aggravating this artificial grafting point of two family trees, Patrick’s Sarah Hines appears to have unexplained ancestry in America. Whereas, evidence in the Jesse James family affirms Mary Hines was an immigrant from England. The James family cites the The Unites States Biographical Dictionary (Missouri Volume), U.S. Bio. Pub. Co. 1878.
Additionally, Joan Malley Beamis acknowledges in her essay “Unto the Third Generation,” which she wrote to the third generations of Jesse James’ descendants, that William James and Mary Hines may not be the progenitors of their Jesse James family at all. Joan acknowledges so many James families occupied Virginia in the Colonial period where the James lived. Joan M. Beamis researched and wrote Background of a Bandit between 1950 and 1970. The Kentucky Historical Society published Joan’s book in 1970. Joan is a great-granddaughter of Drury Woodson James, Jesse’s uncle. Eric F. James included the entire text of the Beamis essay “Unto the Third Generation” in his book Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence.
Ambiguous Affidavit – Red Flag # 5
Together with his ambrotype, Patrick submitted to Eric F. James an affidavit, dated February 24, 2014. The document, executed on the letterhead of Williams Galleries, American Art & Antiques, is written and signed by James E. Williams.
In the affidavit, Williams states in generalities but no details, “Using my many years of experience in historic research; artifact search and evaluation; exposure to a wide variety of historic expertise at universities, historic sites and museums; and specifically researching photographs of Jesse and Frank; my educated opinion is that a very sound case can be made that the subject in the ambrotype is Jesse James.”
Williams further concludes, “The preponderance of circumstantial evidence that has been collected to support the idea that this is a photo of Jesse is very impressive. Consequently, my opinion can be nothing else other than this is an ambrotype of Jesse Woodson James.”
Writing to James E. Williams, Eric F. James inquired,
“1. Did you conduct any further due diligence, other than what you state in the affidavit? What was the nature of that research?
“2. Did you subject the image to a scientific forensic investigation and analysis? If so, what was the outcome?
“3. Did Mr. Meguiar consign his artifact to you for sale, auction, or disposition? What was its outcome?”
When James E. William replied, he avoided the direct questions to say instead, “Considering much information Mr. Patrick Meguiar provided, it was my opinion that the ambrotype was an image of James. At no time did Mr. Meguiar consign the photo to me for sale, nor do I have financial interest in the photo, nor do I claim or want financial interest in the photograph. I’m sure Mr. Meguiar has the information that was evaluated and will go over the information with you. I have no interest in the photograph other than its’ potentially historical significance.”
For its lack of specificity and detail, the affidavit Meguiar provides to substantiate his claims amounts to no more than hearsay.
Inexpert Auction House – Red Flag # 6
Patrick strangely placed his claimed Jesse James ambrotype with the auction house of Addison & Sarova. The firm’s circle of expertise is antiquarian books. Its location in the state of Georgia is well beyond the customary locale and sphere for western artifact auctions.
A further lack of expertise is evident in Addison & Sarova’s promotional description of the Russellville Bank robbery, written to promote the sale of the artifact. Concocting a witless fiction, Addison & Sarova spins an unschooled tale straight out of pulp fiction from the 19th century. The uneducated fable is a contradiction, replete with historical falsehoods and gross inaccuracies regarding Jesse James and his factual history.
Fictional Promotion – Red Flag # 7
The fakery begins with Addison & Sarova’s assertion that Jesse James was a principal actor in the Russellville Bank robbery. No evidence supports this tall tale. In fact, at the time of the robbery Jesse was bedridden, lying on death’s doorstep. Two doctors attended Jesse. They were unable to remove the two bullets Jesse carried in his chest and lung.
The auction house clearly fashions its appeal to prospective bidders ignorant of facts or factual history.
The auction firm then spins another whopper, integrating the wishful thinking from Patrick Meguiar’s family stories. The fibbery has Jesse James casually meandering around town after the bank robbery, handing out his ambrotype. This he does in the place where he is so desperately hunted. The chicanery defies common sense. Why would a most hunted outlaw spread pictures of himself, risking that he might be identified?
Factual history records where Jesse James went. Jesse was sent to Paso Robles, California. There, his Uncle Drury Woodson James afforded Jesse the use of his ancient springs on the property of his El Paso de Robles Hotel. The ancient spring was long respected by local indigenous people for its healing properties.
When Eric F. James contacted Michael Addison, objecting to such gross distortions of factual history, Addison refused to be quoted. The due diligence Addison exercised consisted of corroborating Patrick Meguiar’s claimed genealogy using Find-a-Grave memorials. Find-a-Grave has been a notorious and flagrant abuser of the Jesse James family, allowing fraudulent memorials to remain published despite historical contradiction.
Addison produced laughter, however, when he placed so much emphasis on the ambrotype’s coloring. Reproducing blue eyes that Addison claims match the eyes of Jesse James, was all the evidence Addison needed apparently. Never mind the historical fact that color was not integral to an ambrotype image. Color was added as a post-production technique by a photographer or artist. If desired, an artist could have painted Jesse’s eyes purple.
Most significantly, Michael Addison confirmed his firm had not executed any scientific forensic analysis of Patrick’s claimed ambrotype.
The negligence of Addison & Sarova in failing to objectively assess the wishful thinking of Patrick Meguiar is not surprising at all. The firm wants a sale and will do whatever it takes to produce one.
However, now for the benefit of an auction bidding public, the James family will subject the claimed Jesse James ambrotype to the experienced commentary of the James family before the auction occurs. The James family also will provide to the public the commentary that first was provided to Patrick Meguiar, but which was ignored and disregarded. More rigorously, the family has retained a scientific forensic analyst to subject the auction artifact to an independent scrutiny. The James family will make the report of that independent inquiry and analysis publicly known and available.
“Whatever the determination of the resulting forensic report may be,” Eric F. James says, “authoritative information will be available to a prospective bidder, useful for making an informed decision. A bidder need not rely solely upon the wishful thinking of a consignor nor upon the sales promotion typical of auction house smoke and mirrors.”
When Frank and Jesse James appeared in the family history of Tony Johnson, he turned to DNA. Tony wanted to learn and know the truth of his family’s story. The story was told to each generation for over 150 years.
In 1975, I had a high school project requiring me to build a family tree. I reached out to my grandmother, Effie Ramsey. She shared what she knew. Then quickly, she referred me to her cousin, Cleburne G. “Pat” Pound of Seminole, Oklahoma.
Grandmother Effie said Pat was our family historian. He spent most of his life doing family research. Pat visited places throughout the country. He wrote letters to various history centers and libraries. Numerous genealogy chronicles published his work.
I met with Pat first. Then we corresponded through letters. Every year, Pat shared more information with me. My family records started to come together, especially the records for our Pound cousins and James ancestors. This was before the use of computers for record keeping.
Pat knew how to educate. Not too long ago, one of Pat’s daughters mentioned to me how amazed she was that her classmates would waste a summer break visiting a place like Disneyland. Why didn’t they go to cemeteries? Or rummage through dusty courthouse basements, like she and her father did?
In no time at all, I took up the torch to be educated, too. I had two full storage crates of material, plus what Pat had accumulated. Suffice it to say, my torch fizzled out rather quickly. I was finishing high school. I had my career before me. I put away the documents for almost 30 years.
Now, it is the 21st century. My own son is heading to college. My wife says that I really need to get a hobby. She does not know. Already I am dusting off the old records, documents, and research. I am looking at them with fresh eyes.
Throughout Pat’s research, a famous name pops up time and again. The name repeats itself through Pat’s interviews with family and with townspeople, stories especially about my third great-grandfather, Jeremiah James of Franklin County, Arkansas. The family stories tell that Jeremiah was related directly to Frank and Jesse James.
Moreover, among Primitive Baptist ministers in Pat’s own Pound family, this story was family lore, too. It was Jeremiah’s daughter, Nancy J. James, who married into the Pound family. These men of the cloth shared stories of the James gang being at their home, visiting their blacksmith shop, and being related to wife and sister-in-law, Nancy Jane (James) Pound.
Here are some notes and quotes from Pat’s notes and files:
“Our James family ties in to the above James family (Robert and Zerelda James) in Virginia. In our home, my brothers and sisters and I grew up in the knowledge that we were related by blood to the outlaws Frank and Jesse James, the connection being through our father’s mother, Nancy Jane James, whose father, Jeremiah James, was said to have been a first cousin to the bandits.“
In 1945, Pat received a letter from William Thomas James. The writer was the 80-year-old grandson of William Russell James, a brother of Jeremiah James. In the letter, William Thomas James confirms that his ancestors were cousins to Frank and Jesse James.
“Another verification of our connection with the James family of Logan County, Kentucky, was Mr. Walter Harris, late historian of Franklin County, Arkansas, legislator, school teacher, and author of a history of Franklin County. A few years ago, he took me to the grave of great-grandfather Jeremiah James. On the way, he said, ‘I guess you know that you are kin to some pretty famous people, don’t you?’ I remarked that I did, and he proceeded to tell me the same thing that W. T. James had.”
“Our Grandfather, Isaac S. Pound, a Primitive Baptist preacher and a blacksmith at Alma, Crawford County, Arkansas, was awakened one night at midnight by two men who needed their horses shod. My grandfather told them that he did not usually shoe horses at that time of night. They told him he would when they told him who they were. They were Frank and Jesse James. He shod their horses.” This Isaac S. Pound married Nancy Jane James, joining the James and Pound families together.
So now, in the 21st century, I have a computer, Google search, and Ancestry.com to enhance my research skills. I also have our persistent family story. I am pursuing new leads.
In my revived research, I came across Mary Helen Simon, Pat Pound’s sister. She lives in Colorado and just recently turned 93 years old. I flew out to meet her. I wanted to hear the stories that she and Pat heard in their childhood.
I told Mary that I wanted to prove the family lore about Frank and Jesse. With that, I started looking for a male relative who bore the James surname. It took a couple of years. I finally found the family line that was descended from Jeremiah James’ brother. Amazingly, their five generations grew up in Arkansas in the same location as Jeremiah.
Receiving approval to have a DNA test performed on one of these James cousins, I purchased a Y111 test from Family Tree DNA. Impatiently I waited for the test results.
At the same time, I also contacted Eric James of “Stray Leaves” fame. I inquired about having DNA compared to known members of the Frank and Jesse James family.
Eric already had the uniform results of the principle lines of the James family on file. The James conducted their own DNA study between 2002 and 2006. Eric said the results were private for now, except for the troubled DNA of Sam Walton, a James family descendant; and for the Ross DNA of Judge James R. Ross, Jesse’s great-grandson. Knowing the DNA of Judge Ross revealed the Ross family history that Judge Ross never knew. Eric write about this in his book, Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence. The James DNA results done between 2002-2006 have not yet been made public. For now, Eric could not reveal their DNA profile. But Eric did offer that, if an outside DNA profile was submitted for comparison, he could confirm or deny if the external profile was a match or not.
I thought I was impatient while waiting for the initial test results from Family Tree DNA. I quickly realized that I was anxious again, now waiting to hear from Eric after I had sent off my cousin’s alleles for his comparison and review.
Sadly, the results were not positive, but that is what research is all about. Genealogy is about proving the data, the family stories, and the lore. Suffice it to say, that now that I have become our family historian, my cousins are a bit skeptical about my information. Of course, they will always believe that Frank and Jesse are in our blood, if not at least in our hearts.
Official website for the family of Frank & Jesse James
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