Category Archives: James in the Arts

History Authors to Meet James-Younger Gang

James-Younger Gang-2017 Conference logo

A lineup of impressive book and history authors will welcome registrants to the annual 2017 Conference of the James-Younger Gang & family reunion.

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

 

James-Younger Gang History 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.

James-Younger Gang History Authors

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.

James-Younger Gang History Authors

DAN PENCE

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.

James-Younger Gang History Authors

EDDIE PRICE

In Widder’s Landing, Eddie Price writes of a widow’s journey on a flatboat down the Ohio River and arrival in the unknown and bedeviling frontier of Kentucky. She faces destiny alone. The widow’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

 

James-Younger Gang History Authors

FRANK KURON

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.

James-Younger Gang History Authors

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.

James-Younger Gang History Authors

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.

William A. Penn, editor of the Harrison Heritage News, has published articles in Northern Kentucky Heritage and the Ohio Genealogical Society Quarterly. He is a board member of the Historic Midway Museum, and operates its store in Midway, Kentucky.

James-Younger Gang History Authors

JAMES M. PRICHARD

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.

James-Younger Gang History Authors

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.

What Happened in Missouri began in Kentucky

RELATED

Program for the Conference and Reunion

Registration to Attend

C. M. James – Artist, Poet, Publisher

C. M. James - Artist, Poet, Publisher
C. M. James – Artist, Poet, Publisher

His family name is Charles Michael James. As an artist poet, and publisher, Mike is known among the art world and literary circles as C. M. James.

Mike was born in Somerset, Kentucky, a second great-grandson of Rev. Joseph Martin James and Permellia Estepp. He attended Youngstown and Ohio State Universities.

As a poet, artist, and illustrator, Mike founded Fantome Press. He began to publish poets of the Beat Generation. He also published classic American and British poets.

Robert Lewis Stevenson by C. M. James
Robert Lewis Stevenson by C. M. James

A retrospective of his work as an artist brought the following comment:

“Several of his pictures are offered in different sizes, combinations, and colors, offering surprise after surprise. An element is offered alone and is quite sufficient. Later, admiring a patterned work of almost ornate intricacy, it is amazing and a little disconcerting to find it composed of repetitions of that element.”

Poet Lawrence Ferlingetti writes to C. M. James
Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti writes to C. M. James

The Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti wrote to Mike:

“Dear James – You’ve done a beautiful job of my poems on your tiny press. Please thank everyone involved. Ad thanks for all the copies. I didn’t expect as many.

“Confused–

Lawrence Ferlinghetti”

As a book collector, Mike assembled a vast library of books on the subject of the tattoo.

William Blake poetry published by C. M. James

Poems of William Blake published by C. M. James

CURRICULUM VITAE

Since 1989: Artist in residence, Trumbull Art Gallery, Warren OH

1988 Board of Directors, Trumbull Art Gallery

1988 Kenneth Patchen Literary Festival Committee, Warren, OH

1987 A.A. Degree with emphasis in painting, Kent State University, Trumbull Campus, Warren OH

1976 Founded Fantome Press

1971 Youngstown State University, graphic design & life drawing

1966-1968 Ohio State University, major in graphic design

1947 Born Somerset, KY on January 20

C. M. James, aka Charles Michael James
C. M. James, aka Charles Michael James

EXHIBITIONS

1990 One man exhibition: Ohio Historical Society Museum of Labor & Industry, Youngstown, OH

1989-1990 Butler Institute of America Art Area Annual

1990 Performance piece at Picture Show Gallery, Warren, OH

1988-1990 American Cancer Society Annual Art Show, Warren OH

1989-1990 Exhibition: Park Hotel lobby, Warren OH for 6 months

1990 Mahoning Bank Building, Warren OH for 3 months

1990 Installation at Dimitri’s Restaurant, Warren OH

1989 Trumbull Art Gallery Annual, Warren OH (Award for Painting)

1988 Exhibition: Block prints & Fantome Press material, Library of Trumbull Campus of Kent State University, Warren OH

1988 Exhibition: Trumbull New Theater Gallery, Niles, OH

1988 Exhibition: Youngstown Playhouse, Youngstown, OH

1988 One Man Show: Eastwood Mall, Niles, OH

1988 Exhibition: Celebration of the Square Festival in downtown Warren, OH

1986-1988 Trumbull Art Gallery Annual, Warren, OH

1981 “Art of the Macabre” Exhibition, Ashtabula Arts Center, Ashtabula, OH

1973 Butler Institute of America Art 35th Area Artists Annual, Youngstown, OH (Award for Painting)

1973 Group Exhibit: Avalon Inn, Howland, OH

Jack London, illustrated by C. M. James
Jack London, illustrated by C. M. James

COLLECTIONS

Covellie Enterprises, Warren OH

Jack Gibson Company, Warren OH

The University of California at Santa Cruz Library, Special Collections

I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of the World) Permanent Collection, Chicago, IL

J. Abronovich, New Jersey

William Mullane, Warren OH

Ohio Historical Society, Museum of Labor & Industry

Drs. Joseph & Ann Chester

Trumbull Memorial Hospital

GRANTS & AWARDS

Recipient of Regrat: Fine Arts Council of Trumbull County for feasibility study & model for Labor Memorial for Trumbull County

Award: Trumbull Art Gallery Annual, 1989

Award: Butler Institute of American Art, 35th Area Artists Annual, 1973

Charles Michael James
Charles Michael James

Mike’s ARCHIVES are found at the Ohio State University, Rare Books and Manuscripts Library,   Identification: Spec.cms.315

“The C. M. James/ Fantome Press Collection consists of documents, publications, video tapes, cassette tapes, correspondence, etc. all relating to the small press owned by C. M. James, The Fantome Press, and the cassette distribution project he ran, called the Underground Culture Vultures. The Fantome Press has been operating in Warren, Ohio since 1976 and publishes original works by various authors including C. M. James.”

Since suffering a stroke in 1993, Mike has retired from writing and publishing.

Hart Crane poem illustrated and published by C. M. James
Poetry of Stepnen Crane illustrated and published by C. M. James

Book Review – Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol.I

BOOK REVIEW:  Jesse James, Soul Liberty. Volume I. By Eric F. James. Published by Cashel Cadence House, Danville KY. 2012. 411 pages, $36.95, reviewed by Bobbi King of Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter, June 23, 2013. Reprinted here by permission.

________________________________________________

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter-Dick Eastman

             “Mr. James has conquered the Everest                             of writing a family history genealogy book                                         that is interesting enough                                 for the rest of us to want to read.”

___________________________________________________

Eric F. James was asked to take on the task of researching and writing the story of the James family, specifically the many members of the family who merited fair consideration distinct from the myth and legend of the notorious outlaw brothers Frank and Jesse.

Mr. James succeeds in acquainting us with a family of characters who do deserve to be featured apart from the tarnished brothers. The book’s subtitle, “Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence” offers a not-so-subtle hint on the family’s take on their historical connection. Apparently, the more well-informed members of the family vigorously sought to put the kibosh on any kinship to Frank and Jesse James when naïve queries arose.

Mr. James introduces the family:

“In the emerging democracy of colonial Virginia, the early Kentucky frontier, and throughout the American heartland, the James were renowned as community builders, public office holders, ministers of faith, financiers, educators, writers, and poets. From these roots shot Frank and Jesse James.

“Following the Civil War, Frank and Jesse James eclipsed the family’s destiny. War may have splintered the family ideologically, but Frank and Jesse James disjoined the family’s compass and direction, casting a longer and darker shadow on the James family, like no other.

“Like their royal ancestors of old when beset by crisis, the James family turned suspicious and distrustful of its own. The larger James family kept apart from one another, holding in muted reverence what relic of itself that it could. The line of Frank and Jesse James was left isolated, unsupported and abandoned.”

Goaded by family in-laws, the Jesse James family withdrew into a citadel of its own. Their ostracism was enforced by every other family line of the James.

Bobbi king
Bobbi King

Mr. James’ book locates the various families’ residences, describes their personal occupations, details relationships and kinship to one another (a six-generation descendant chart is included), chronicles their military service, catalogs their movements about the regions, and quotes a good deal of material from their letters and journals, which always evokes a personality, a spirit, a temperament.

Mr. James’ research appears to be extensive across a wide variety of sources, with references at the end of the book that contain explanatory tidbits adding even more to the story. The photographs and illustrations, even those blurred by age and decomposition, are vivid and well produced, summoning up their subjects and places.

Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I
Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence, by Eric F. James

Mr. James, along with Judge James R. Ross, a great-grandson of Jesse James, is a co-founder of the James Preservation Trust. He writes and publishes on the official website of the James family, and is without a doubt the family cheerleader.

His writing is strong, perhaps a bit hyperbolic for my taste, but this is a good book for fans of Western history who want to know the real story. His research supports a claim to authenticity, and his writing keeps us reading.

Mr. James has conquered the Everest of writing a family history genealogy book that is interesting enough for the rest of us to want to read.

The Smack & Zing of This Bloody Ground

This Bloody Ground, Volume II of the Jesse James Soul Liberty quintet
Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. II, This Bloody Ground

Daniel Boone and John M. James are ancestors of today’s descendants of Jesse James. In the present film documentary Daniel Boone & the Opening of the American West, Boone once more cuts a path and trail for Jesse’s grandfather John M. James, again today as Boone did in the past. The film is worth viewing as a preview of the smack and zing of John’s own history, soon to come in my book This Bloody Ground.

In recent years, as I sat in Danville, Kentucky, writing the story of Frank & Jesse James’ grandfather as the second book of my Jesse James Soul Liberty quintet, Kent Masterson Brown was in Lexington, Kentucky, beginning his journey of three years to bring Boone to film.

Both my book and Brown’s film cover the same period, the same territory, many of the same people, and a lot of the same history. However, each of us delivers a different view. Much of Boone’s story, as Brown tells it, is located north of the Kentucky River. The story of John M. James in This Bloody Ground, as might be expected, resides south of the Kentucky River.

Brown credits Boone in part with opening the Northwest Territory that became everything from Ohio west to Minnesota. John M. James and his band of rebel Baptist preachers, not only opened the West from colonial Virginia to Missouri Territory, but also way beyond into the Far West, to the Rockies and California.

Daniel Boone is a star in history’s firmament, replete with legend and misleading mythology, which Brown goes to great length to extinguish in a shower of facts. John M. James, for the most part, is unknown to legend, mythology, or fact. Equally, unknown is the origination in John’s Kentucky of many of those families affiliated with John who later spawned their own history of the American West.

Kent Masterson Brown
Kent Masterson Brown

I have enjoyed the former historical work of Kent Masterson Brown. Brown resembles for me the often fabled Kentucky lawyer whose telling of a good history lesson, more than a trial, vindicates justice. His voice that speaks through grit is invaluable. Brown and I are in the same business. Maybe that explains our mutual fondness for a neat and tidy bow tie.

Scitt New as Daniel Boone
Scott New portrays Daniel Boone

As a boy, John M. James tried to join Daniel Boone, when Boone stood beside his wagon in Stevensburg, Virginia, seeking recruits to enter the dark and unknown wilderness. Though John was too young for Boone to accept, each man became a pioneer. Each did so in his own way. Each has had a lasting effect on American history.

In This Bloody Ground, I will argue, however, that John M. James was more an average person’s pioneer. John M. James, not Daniel Boone, produced a more lasting effect relative to the common person. The legacy of John M. James endures in the social, religious, and political culture of America.

The marriage of Jesse’s son Jesse Edwards James Jr. to Estella Frances “Stella” McGowan might have appeared surprising at the time. It should not. He is a great-grandson of John M. James. She is a third great granddaughter of Daniel Boone. Their marriage represents the reunion of Daniel Boone and John M. James. For today and all tomorrows, the descendants of Jesse James will be the progeny of a star pioneer and a pioneer of the common man.

To view the entire program of Daniel Boone and the Opening of the West, and to savor the smack and zing of This Bloody Ground coming this year, CLICK HERE. The program may not be available for very long.

Serendipity Encounters at the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference

Months ago, I answered the Call for Papers from Ohio Genealogical Society (OGS), intending to broaden the audience for my book Jesse James Soul Liberty. My proposal offered a presentation about the unique methodology adopted in my twelve years of researching and writing my genealogy and history of the Jesse James family. Illness stopped me once before from presenting my talk Jesse James’ Genealogy Is Not For Crackpots Any More to the Minnesota Genealogical Society. With OGS, I was expecting a second chance.

Ohio Genealogical Society, 2015 Conference
Ohio Genealogical Society, 2015

My expectation was thwarted. OGS was not excited about the genealogy of Jesse James. Fair enough. Not everyone is.

Looking for a backup, I defaulted to the two talks I finally did present at OGS – How to Write a Family History Everyone Wants to Read. I also produced a companion presentation – How to Publish, Sell, or Give Away a Family History Everyone Wants to Read. Still steadfast to promote my book, I also subscribed to an exhibit table at OGS, where I’d display the letters of the Jesse James family from the Joan Beamis Archive, as the James family wrote to one another, trying to identify and define their genealogy and family history.

Ohio Theater, Columbus, Ohio
Ohio Theater, Columbus, Ohio

Arriving at the luxurious Sheraton Hotel in Columbus, Ohio, I encountered my first serendipity. I literally had to drive around the block twice to make sure my eyes had not deceived me. Right around the corner from the Sheraton was the Ohio Theatre. Back in the late 1960s I appeared in that beautiful theatre for two years in a row while touring in the hit Broadway shows, Generation and Impossible Years. Thirty-five years later now, I was booked for two more appearances. However, this was not my only serendipity at OGS.

Mark Gideon
Mark Gideon

The first person to stop and talk with me at my exhibit table was Mark Gideon. Mark’s family farm sits outside of Northfield, Minnesota. I’d expect to meet Mark in Minnesota, but never in Ohio. There he was, telling me about the Gideon family’s experience following the Northfield robbery by the James-Younger gang. Jesse James had appeared at the fence of the Gideon farm. As fast as the Gideons spotted Jesse, he disappeared. Who would expect to hear that Jesse James story in Ohio?

Craig R. Scorr
Craig R. Scorr

Next, Craig R. Scott stopped by my table. Craig is president of Heritage Books, Inc., the largest seller of genealogical books in the nation. He lives in North Carolina. Craig was speaking at OGS about Researching Your Revolutionary War Ancestor and Beyond the Compiled Military Record. At my table, Craig was most interested in telling me about his Woodson ancestry. Craig has a double Woodson ancestry, one from Robert “Potato Hole” Woodson, plus another in a different Woodson line. The only Woodson I would expect to encounter in Ohio was one who descended from Sally Hemmings and Thomas Jefferson. Those Woodson cousins have resided in Ohio since Jefferson died. Serendipity instead produced James-Woodson cousin, Craig R. Scott.

Pam, a Hite family relative
Pam, a Hite family relative

Serendipity then began to swirl. Pamela, whose last name escapes me now, stopped by to pick up a copy of my book. She has Hite cousins. Pamela informed me well about Russellville. Another book buyer told me their family in St. Louis knew the blacksmiths named Butcher who tended to the horses of Frank James.

Standing Turkey-Cunne Shote-Francis Parsons 1762-Gilcrease MuseumJodie L. Logan, president of the Huron Chapter of OGS, bought my book.  A day later, she had read parts of it already and informed me about Lillie James and Jodie’s Choctaw kinfolk from the Trail of Tears. She mentioned Cherokee warrior Oconostota, whom some believe may have been the son of Chief Moytoy. James family member Mark New is a descendant of Chief Moytoy. Jodie also claims kinship with Chief Standing Turkey. Reading about the Choctaw in my book, Jodie delivered me a note, joking, “Oh my! Certain I’m an outlaw.”

Rena Goss
Rena Goss

Jodie was not the only one reading my book at the OGS conference. Within hours of buying a copy, Rena Goss reported she already had read the first chapter. Rena thought Joan Beamis was quite an extraordinary woman. Rena talked at length about a bundle of letters she inherited, titled “Percy’s Letters,” which describe in rich detail the raunchy life in a Colorado frontier town. I told her, without reading the letters, I was ready to publish them.

Martha Gerdeman
Martha Gerdeman

Serendipity then closed in on me, big time. Martha Gerdeman, a professional genealogy researcher at Climbing Family Trees, in Dickson, Tennessee stopped by. We talked about the James families there, who will appear in Forks of the Road, Volume III of Jesse James Soul Liberty. The James in Tennessee always have known they were kin to Frank and Jesse James, though they’ve never known how. Volume III will show how. I was very excited to meet Martha, and plan to revisit with her my next time in Tennessee.

Rick Hollis & Eric F. James
Rick Hollis & Eric F. James

Then as my stay was winding down, Rick D. Hollis appeared from Clarkesville, Tennessee. We had communicated briefly many years ago after I researched there. Rick sat with me for a very long talk, as Rick waited for the banquet dinner and his induction into one more of the twenty lineage societies of which he is a member. Rick formerly was married to a James.

Like Martha Gerdeman, Rick also knew about the James in Tennessee and their claimed kinship to Frank and Jesse. I previewed for him, some of the information that will be in my forthcoming Volume III. Rick added many interesting details I had not known. He also invited me to visit him in Tennessee for more. I’ll definitely be taking him up on the offer as soon as Volume II is published this year.

Society of the Descendants of Washington’s Army at Valley Forge
Society of the Descendants of Washington’s Army at Valley Forge

Rick also is deputy president general of the General Society of the War of 1812. I filled in Rick about the James and Hite family who defeated the Native-Americans at Chillicothe, two generations before the Hite and James fought as the James Gang. I also alerted Rick to the religious and socio-political influence of the James family and their community in the War of 1812, and their defeat of Chief Tecumseh. Rick said he may have to book me for a talk about that.

Next year, Rick Hollis becomes president of The Society of the Descendants of Washington’s Army at Valley Forge. We then discussed the meeting of the grandfathers of the James and Younger brothers at Valley Forge, again two generations before the two families came together again as the James Gang. Since we both were sitting there in Ohio, I also had to tell Rick about the James family who were captured when John Hunt Morgan crossed the Ohio River from Kentucky to meet his defeat in Ohio.

Genealogy always leads the family historian, who then must follow. I know this too well. Never does the family historian lead the genealogy.  Doing so, a family historian sometimes experiences revelations of a spiritual nature. The hand of some “other” at times directs the family historian. Occasionally the slap of spirituality is so forceful, the notice to alter course is impossible to ignore. My slap of serendipity at the 2015 annual conference of the Ohio Genealogical Society tells me, time is now to get crackin’ on Forks of the Road, Volume III of Jesse James Soul Liberty.

Sons of Liberty Take History Channel to the Woodshed

History logoHistory, the network for male entertainment formerly called the History Channel, is taking steps not be chastised again for producing bogus historical accounts. The effort appears as honest as a baby step.

The website for its upcoming mini-series Sons of Liberty sports a link called the “Historian’s View.” Therein lays History Channel’s disclaimer. “SONS OF LIBERTY is a dramatic interpretation of events that sparked a revolution. It is historical fiction, not a documentary.” So much said for History to set the record straight, but is it?

join or die-sons of liberty

Apparently not enough, for The Journal of the American Revolution. The Journal ‘s TV reviewer Thomas Verenna got an early preview of Sons of Liberty. He was drowned by the network in a sea of promotional material. Despite the appearance of credentialed historians in the series, Verenna observed, “Understandably, one might get the impression from these sneak peeks that this is some sort of docu-drama. Well, it’s not that at all. You have to dig a bit to find it (it’s never explicitly stated in the trailers or promotional content)… actually, it’s more of an alternate history…”

Sons of Liberty logo

Over the years, we’ve taken History to the woodshed a number of times, recently in 2013 for “making [up] history every day” regarding productions relating to Jesse James. Challenging History has stopped it from producing more Jesse James fictional invention. Realistically, though, we expect the network will continue to develop more fictional entertainment around Jesse in the future. Jesse James is too appealing just to give up.

Unfortunately, neither historians of Jesse James, nor historians. in general, carry the political clout of the family of John F. Kennedy, as we reported. The Kennedy clan effectively put a cease and desist order on the network with only the threat of going to court. History has since dropped any proposals altogether of producing fictional history around the personage of President John F. Kennedy.

Journal of the American Revolution

The Journal admits that the production values of the mini-series are pretty good. The show is entertaining. But the show also is flawed, sufficiently enough to warrant a lengthy list of fact checking on its historical facts. The Journal breaks down each episode here, as we’ve done here in the past.

Nothing would please us better than, not to be the guardian of the History Channel’s truancy. If only the network had changed its name from the History Channel to Wishful History. Then there would be no need to disclaim its productions. As it persists in its brand of flawed, interpretative, alternate, or downright bogus history, the network and its productions must continue to be monitored for a chronic lack of integrity masquerading as an authority.

Sons of Liberty principals