Category Archives: James in the News

Jesse James, Robert Ford, & the Tintype by Mark David Bampton

Employing scientific forensic analysis, Mark David Bampton of Great Britain further debunks the Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax made infamous by tintype seller Sandy Mills, artist Lois Gibson, and their enablers.                             

FREE DOWNLOAD the entire paper HERE or to read in larger pdf format. HOVER over the cover image below to turn the page.

ABOUT MARK BAMPTON:

Mark Bampton
Mark David Bampton of Ampthill, England

“I was born and have always lived in the UK. Since 2000, I have lived in Ampthill, which is a small Georgian town in Bedfordshire.

“From my formative years, I was interested in a mixture of the arts and technical subjects, moving on to complete an art foundation course. There I decided to pursue a career in industrial design, combining both artistic and technical demands.

“My career progressed into product engineering and development. I became interested in quality management and moved into this discipline through establishing management systems and achieving ISO9001 certification for my employers. This included some project management.

“I have always worked in manufacturing industries, involving automotive accessories, motorcycle and industrial safety equipment, though the majority of my time has been spent in the medical device manufacturing industry.”

Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Arts Degree in Industrial Design, Class 2 (1) Honours

  • Diploma in Management Studies, with Distinction

  • Prince 2 Project Management

RELATED:

Lois Gibson-Sandy Mills Tintype Controversy Puzzles Great Britain – but not for long

In his forensic analysis, titled “Jesse James, Robert Ford, and the Tintype,” Great Britain’s Mark Bampton poses his question about the controversy in typical British fashion –  as a pun.

 “Who are these four?”

True Jesse James and Bob Ford-Fake Jesse James and Bob Ford
Cover image from Mark Bampton’s discourse, “Jesse James, Robert Ford, and the Tintype.”

Mark Bampton lives in Ampthill, which he describes as “a small Georgian town” in Bedfordshire, Great Britain.  Prompted by the reaction of the Jesse James family to the Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax, promoted by Lois Gibson and Sandy Mills and their circle of supporters,  Mark Bampton decided to apply his own scientific forensic analysis to the image controversy.  Not surprisingly, Bampton arrives at a different conclusion than Lois Gibson.

“It took me a little longer than expected to look into Lois Gibson’s authentication material due to the number of problems with it. From the material that I could find, I could not identify any effective analysis process.”

 

Mark Bampton
Mark Bampton of Ampthill, England

Unlike the artist Lois Gibson who claims to have authenticated Mills tintype by employing imagined photo comparisons and artistry, Bampton is not an artist. Bampton’s field is industrial design and product engineering, a profession that Bampton says requires both “artistic and technical demands.”

Instead of artistry, Bampton applied the sciences of mathematics, linear technical analysis, and measurement testing. These are the same skills Bampton employs as a product engineer. They also are the skills that a trained scientific forensic scientist normally would apply in the formal analysis of an historical image or artifact.

“I could not identify any logical or justifiable reason why Lois Gibson would authenticate the tintype…”

 Bampton soon discovered the Bob Ford/Jesse James controversy was not the only controversy involving the Houston-based artist. Lois Gibson also created a very similar controversy over an image she claimed was the famed bluesman, Robert Johnson. On the website Academia, Mark Bampton discovered that England’s newspaper The Guardian  had reported on the Jonhson controversy in an article titled, “‘Robert Johnson’ photo does not show the blues legend, music experts say.”

 

Robert Johnson image controversy
Disputed image of famed bluesman Robert Johnson

Dr. Bruce Conforth, a university professor of American culture and a founding curator of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, was cited in The Guardian article as criticizing Lois Gibson’s authentication technique.  “Historical scholarship relies on evidence,” Dr. Conforth said. “And if you look at the alleged authentication of that photograph there really wasn’t a piece of evidence, there was opinion. Historical fact is never validated by opinion; it can only be validated by evidence.”

Bampton soon discovered the reason why Lois Gibson would authenticate the claimed Bob Ford/Jesse James tintype.  when he read another article written by Dr. Bruce Conforth, that also was published on Academia. In writing “A New Analysis of the Two Accepted Photos of Robert Johnson and the Alleged 3rd Photo,” Dr. Conforth lays out the story of the Johnson image, its discovery, and Gibson’s record of association with it. This article followed two previous publications by Conforth. “Another Robert Johnson Photo Debunked” documents Conforth’s disgruntlement with the fakery surrounding the Johnson image. “The Business of Robert Johnson Fakery” is another Conforth article published in Living Blues magazine.

To Mark Bampton, the Conforth’s story already was  a familiar one. Dr. Conforth’s story of the Johnson image reflected almost precisely the sad saga of the Bob Ford/Jesse James image as related in the James family’s rebuttal to Gibson’s authentication.

Linear forensics applied to claimed Robert Johnson image
Linear forensics applied to Lois Gibson claimed image of Robert Johnson

Very familiar to Mark Bampton was the linear forensics applied to the Johnson image, that appeared in Dr. Conforth’s treatise.

Bampton decided to apply his own forensic skills upon the assumptive Bob Ford/Jesse James image.

 “I intended to make my report factual and impartial although conclusions about the veracity of the authentication were largely inevitable.”

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 numerous discrepancies that are plainly visible.

Using several applications of linear forensics, now fully and clearly outlined in Mark Bampton’s documented report,  discrepancies proved to be multiple and evident. Not only were discrepancies revealed in the conjectural Jesse James image, they also became evident in Gibson’s uncertain Bob Ford image.

Linear forensics applied to authentic image of Bob Ford with a claimed image
Linear forensics applied by Mark Bampton to Lois Gibson’s alleged authentication of the claimed Bob Ford image yields plainly visible discrepancies.

“If this is correct, $40,250.00 is a lot to pay for a picture of two unknowns, even if it is an old tintype! Personally, I’d move the decimal place at least three places to the left.”

Mark Bampton registered shock when told by the James family that Sandy Mills’ tintype had sold at auction for $35,000, plus auction fees. The James family was informed of the sale by two regular attendees at Burley Auction Gallery events. The regulars stated that the prize bidder was not recognizable and was unknown locally.

The James family alleges that the fraud that is evident in Gibson’s hypothetical authentication may extend to the auction, too. Prior to the auction, Stray Leaves publisher, and Jesse James family biographer Eric F. James was contacted by the Houston Chronicle to schedule an interview following the auction. Given the very surprising outcome of the auction, this result should have made a gigantic news story, attracting worldwide attention. No historical image of Jesse James or the James family has ever sold for more than two thousand dollars. Eric F. James is perplexed that the Houston Chronicle did not follow through and interview him afterward as planned. Nor did the newspaper report on the auction outcome as it had planned. This was even more perplexing given the fact that Dylan Baddour of the Chronicle had broken the story initially about the pretentious tintype. Baddour previously also reported on Gibson’s alleged authentication of the Robert Johnson image.

icollector bid report
Sale report for the fake Bob Fork/Jesse James tintype is identified on icollector website

Not willing to accept one piece of oral testimony about the auction result alone, Mark Bampton uncovered secondary evidence of the auction’s outcome on icollector.com.

Of course, no evidence remains that the purchase money actually was paid, the image transferred, and the sale concluded. Nor has the winning bidder been publicly identified following the acquisition of such a prized auction artifact. Those unknowns in itself guarantees that this story will continue to be a controversy for a long time to come.

Initially, Mark Bampton titled his paper in true British fashion, using a very witty pun. He posed the question,  “Who are these four?”

The literal answer to the pun is a fake Bob Ford, a fake Jesse James, and two authentic images of them.  The non-literal answer is, whoever has benefited the most financially or in publicity from the promotion and sale. Among Lois Gibson, Sandy Mills, the auction house, and the Gibson-Mills ring of partners and supporters, a lot of unknown information remains. Ample room for conjecture is left. The wealth of criticism leveled at this controversy will not abate soon, at least not until the pun of the question finds authenticatable answers.

“I plan to do a separate paper for each of the two Robert Johnson photographs…I plan to follow a similar analysis for the Robert Johnson papers as for the Jesse James paper.”

Georgetown College
Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky

This fall, Mark Bampton will visit America to present his paper on “Jesse James, Bob Ford, and the Tintype” before the James family, their friends, and associates at the annual conference of the National James-Younger Gang Inc. The conference will be held in Georgetown, Kentucky. The public is welcome to attend.

MEET Mark Bampton:  SIGN UP for notices to attend & meet Mark Bampton at the James-Younger Gang 2017 Conference.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Mark Bampton’s entire paper now appears on the Academia website and also is free for download HERE.

CONTACT Mark Bampton

Defamation Alleged by Burley Auction Gallery

With a little bit more than twenty-four hours before Burley Auction Gallery puts up the fraudulent Bob Ford-Jesse James tintype for auction, Robb Burley the auction house owner dispatched an email to Stray Leaves publisher Eric F. James, alleging defamation and threatening James with a lawsuit.

Shortly before, the auction gallery sent out a public relations release, still promoting the bogus artifact. Now a new question arises. Is Burley’s auction a legitimate one?

Email:Burley to James
Defamation threat of Robb Burley to Eric F. James, Thursday, January 12, 2017, 3:32 pm EST. Full text copied below.

BURLEY CLARIFIES

In setting off his defamation charge, Burley clarifies several ambiguities related to the auction item.

BURLEY CLARIFIES that Nikki Thibodeaux is, in fact, an associate of his. Thibododoux placed Burley’s PR piece on PRWeb

Thibodeaux & Burley-Threaten Defamation
Nikki Thibodeaux and Robb Burley image provided by Robb Burley, “so you can update your blog.”

BURLEY CLARIFIES the Thibodeaux photo that appeared in the cabal of hoaxers on Stray Leaves is mistaken. The person is not the same as his associate. The mistaken photo since has been removed. Robb Burley provides an image of his associate Nikki Thibodeaux instead, “so you can update your blog.”

The offer perplexes. Is Burley admitting that he and Thibodeaux are joined abettors? Burley’s Thibodeaux image since has replaced the mistaken image.

BURLEY CLARIFIES more importantly that the consignor of the hoax photo is, in fact, Sandy Mills, the original hoax claimant still lingering in Burley’s shadow.

This answers why no former sale of the artifact was known or could be found. It also removes Tommy & Sara Jane Howell from the cabal list as being the consignors whom Burley prominently identified in advertising.

BURLEY CLARIFIES finally that the auction of Sandy Mills’ artifact is not, in fact, an arms-length business transaction. Burley clearly states he is not charging a seller’s fee to Mills.

Burley’s auction has an alternative motive. Burley states, “I took the contract to take down a bully, plain & simple.” The bully Burley considers is Eric F. James.

By Burley’s admission, the auction of the Mills artifact itself may be a contrivance and a sham altogether. This calls into question whether Burley is employing his auction license to legitimate effect. Or, is Burley’s license being misused?

BURLEY’S COLLEAGUES

Burley Auction Gallery Colleagues
Auction house colleagues of Burley Auction Gallery

To threaten a lawsuit is commonplace among auction houses, especially as the auction date grows near. It also is especially true when troubling questions arise about authenticity.

Robb Burley proudly provides a list of his auction house colleagues. They are advertised in his marketing.  Two on Burley’s list have threatened the James family with lawsuits before. None materialized.  One alone on his list has worked with the James family to bring bonafide Jesse James artifacts to the completion of a successful auction. The James family respects and endorses that auction house for its professionalism, due diligence, faultless promotion, and ability to generate a satisfactory sale.

BURLEY THREATENS

The following is the full text of Robb Burley’s threatening email charging defamation, as it is written. Answers to most all of the questions Burley poses have long appeared on Stray Leaves available to anyone willing to read and get acquainted.

DEFAMATION

Eric James,

Thank you for the good laugh this morning. You are apparently as wrong about Nikki Thibodeaux’s photo as you are about the tintype. I am attaching a photo of Nikki & I so you can update your blog. At least you got my photo right (even if you did trim out former Texas Governor/ incoming Secretary of Energy Rick Perry).

Before we discuss the photo, you have several other egregious lies that you need to be addressed immediately. The Howell Family does not own the tin type, Sandy Mills does. The photo, Shelby GT350 & the Texas Ranger collection are being sold alongside the estate collection. Thats why the estate is listed PLUS the Texas Ranger collection PLUS the Jesse & Bob photo. You never called to ask. You just went to printing lies. So you have slandered the name of a late client because your facts were wrong. Not that facts matter to you.

You list something about another auction house getting indicted & fake Ranger items, none of which happened here or ever had anything to do with me. You try to slander by guilt through mention, not even association. We stand behind everything we sell here & always have. I will gladly put my reputation up against anyone in the auction industry. Just the month before last we were listed among the top 15 gun auction houses by True West magazine. We work hard for our sellers, but take extraordinary efforts to protect our buyers. We only sell a clients collection once, But our buyers will be with us for life. Most of our sellers are previous buyers, or recommended by previous buyers. Anyone who is interested in the photo will have a 30 day period to return for any reason. Anyone that has been serious about the photo is aware of your opinion, they just don’t believe you. I am not trying to convince anyone of anything. I simply present the evidence provided by identification & history/genealogy expert & let the bidders decide. You claim I am part of some grand “hoax”, yet I am not charging Sandy Mills a sellers fee. I have never met Lois Gibson or Freda Hardison, & only met Sandy Mills once when I picked up the photograph. What exactly am I getting out of this, other than being slandered by a blogger with a very common last name? You are used to everyone taking your lies & not fighting back. That’s about to change drastically. You have slandered anyone that disagrees with you. The list is long & prestigious compared to what you bring to the table.

You are correct in one matter, there as many fake Ranger badges as there are fake Jesse James items. We only sell authentic Texas Ranger items. That is why we have had the pleasure of selling more real Texas Ranger items than anyone over the past few years, including Texas Ranger Captain & U.S. Marshal Jack Dean’s collection. (photos attached from our last auction).

This isn’t the first James related item to be brought to us, but it is the first one we have agreed to offer at auction. Several years back a Colt pistol showed up here with a bloated file folder full of pedigree. After months, I sent it back to the consignor because for all its pedigree, it didn’t add up. The gun ended up in a major east coast auction house with a massive a large estimate on it. I thought I had made a mistake until I saw they had to pull it from the sale. We turn down far more “historic” items than we sell here. We are selective in what we offer our buyers

As for my due diligence, I read your blog post in regards to the photo a year ago. While I agreed with some of your points & questions raised, I couldn’t take it seriously because it was negative character assassinating rant wrapped in a computer hack conspiracy. The main reason I took Lois’ assessment over yours was there was no good reason to listen to yours. Why should I or anyone else? What qualifications, certifications, or degrees do you have?  When you say the Jesse James family, what does that actually mean? You speak for every family member? Who gave you that authority?  Who appointed you? Are you elected? How often are you elected or is more of a dictatorship of title? What are your qualifications? How are you related to Jesse James? What other “experts” examined the photo? Who are they? What are their qualifications? I understand that you made friends with Jesse’s grandson & started a blog, but what else gives you the expertise you claim to have?  None of those questions can be answered from the information you have on your blog. Someone should really take a hard look at that before giving credence to your opinion. No wonder you are trying so hard to kill this item, it may end up proving how little your opinion matters. Someone may actually take a closer look at what it is you actually do. Your actions are far from professional by any measure.

The fact is the photo has two legitimate experts that back it with provable genealogical ties, & a blogger/supposed relative against it. The problem is you have slandered the item to such a point that you have greatly hurt the value of the item among top photo collectors, though you have not completely killed it. The problem is the defamation of my name, perpetrated by you will remain long after the auction Saturday. I will seek rectify that through the courts soon enough. I didnt take the contract to make a bunch of money (no seller fees charged). I took the contact to take down a bully, plain & simple. After reading your blog & how you attempt to intimidate, accuse, & slander anyone that differs from your opinion, you are used to being a bully hiding behind a computer screen. That will not work for you this time. Correct your lies. You have a right to believe what you chose, but it does not give you the right to slander those that disagree with you. You may just end up meeting that person face to face some day.

You will be hearing from me.

Best Regards,

Robb Burley

ANOTHER FINAL GAVEL

Eric F. James denies Robb Burley’s allegation of defamation and questions who’s identity is being defamed. James does not know if Burley will make good on his threat, or not. He notes Burley is putting out additional promotion nearing the stretch. Burley and Sandy Mills may set a  reserve that is too untenable and a bar to a sale. Mills still may be expecting “in the millions.” They also may be setting up James for their fall. James notes, if Burley does proceed with his threat, it is Burley who may find himself self-defeated.

Like other artifacts of questionable authenticity in James’ experience, he says the item may or may not sell at auction. If there is no reserve attached, he expects it will sell. If it does not sell, the auctioneer may continue to effect a private sale behind the open market.

In his final comment, James concludes, “We’re talking about an auction here. In an auction, reality always falls somewhere between bluster and the real deal.”

Burley Auction Gallery Partners in Jesse James Hoax

Burley Auction Gallery adSavvy collectors of historical photos and artifacts took no time at all to alert the Jesse James family about the next stage in the ongoing Bob Ford-Jesse James photo hoax. The latest hoax partner is the Burley Auction Gallery, aka Burley Auction Group Inc. located in New Braunfels, Texas. The only suspense left to this promotion of fraudulent Jesse James imagery is, who will be the next sucker to fall for this auction’s photo fraud?

The auction announcement clearly identifies who is the present sucker. The Burley Auction Gallery advertisement identifies the estate of Tommy & Sara Jane Howell as the present dupe to have fallen for the scam.

SON OF A CON JOB

Fake photo claimed to be Bob Ford and Jesse James
Fake Bob Ford-Jesse James Photo

The flimflam originated with Sandy Mills, Lois Gibson, and others. The Jesse James family has published and documented a blistering indictment of Mills and Gibson, describing in compelling detail why the claimed image is a hoax. The James also have identified the cabal who have partnered, enabled, and supported Mills and Gibson’s hoax.

The Howells appears to have owned or acquired the artifact less than a year ago. Next in line, they now have consigned their fraudulent tintype to Burley Auction Gallery to dispose of it.

When and how the Howells came into possession of the fake photo is not clear. The photo was last available and being promoted for sale in January of 2016. Sandy Mills and her boyfriend were publicly intent upon selling the fake image for, as Mills’ boyfriend greedily stated in one televised interview on KREM2 in Spokane, Washington where Mills lives, “we’ve heard numbers in the millions.”

At that time, Bobby Livingston, executive vice-president of RR Auction in Amherst, New Hampshire, judiciously sidestepped the opportunity of auctioning the photo. Or did he?

Livingston certainly did not shy away from promoting the sham. In a newspaper interview, Livingston stated that if the image was authentic the photo might fetch up to $2 million. A surprising statement from an auction house, since due diligence by any auction house would reveal that no authentic image of Jesse James has sold for more than $1,500. Bobby Livingston is under indictment in a lawsuit for fraud, misrepresentation, and presenting fake historical images as authentic. Livingston and RR Auction go to trial on January 17, 2017.

Questions remain. How did the Howells come into possession of the subject artifact? How much did they pay? Why now are they so quick to rid themselves of a tintype claimed to be so valuable?

Burley Auction Gallery grandiosely expects the Howell image to fetch $50,000 to $1 million. The value estimate apparently has plummeted precipitously since Mills’ original claim “in the millions.” The James family predicts Burley will find a new sucker willing to pay far less than the predicted amount – if anything at all.

Burley Auction Gallery - Big Expectation
Burley Auction Gallery says, “Hey, big spender!”

FAILURE IN DUE DILIGENCE

Clearly, Burley Auction Gallery failed to conduct any due diligence in arriving at its estimate of value. Nor did Burley assess the tintype’s authenticity or legitimacy. Burley astutely refers to the image as “Photograph Attributed to Jesse James & Bob Ford.” Burley does not state the image is Jesse James and Bob Ford.

Burley Auction Group
Burley Auction Gallery, New Braunfels, Texas

Burley also cites the auction image was “Inherited from a cousin of Frank James wife.”  According to the Jesse James family, Sandy Mills’ claim that she is kin to the Jesse James family is as bogus as her tintype.

Mills never has published her genealogy publicly or made it subject to any peer review.  The Jesse James family does not know Mills family personally, or even informationally. Neither Mills nor her family appears in the official Jesse James genealogy on the James family’s web site Stray Leaves that has been published for 20 years, despite the fact that there are some Mills who in fact are related to the James. Burley Auction Gallery stepped away from conducting any due diligence regarding this claim of kinship whatsoever.

Robb Burley
Robert Wilson Burley, aka Robb Burley

How much malpractice Robb Burley, the auction gallery’s owner, may be on the hook for is yet to be determined. If Burley conducted any due diligence at all, Burley never contacted the James family for its opinion. Nor did Burley contact the family about the image of Bob Ford handed down through their family. The James family’s image of Bob Ford first was published in 2012 in Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I., an authorized history of the Jesse James family.  Nor has Burley contacted any collector of Jesse James artifacts and images known to the family. Those collectors are a tightly knit group. Most all enjoy a personal relationship with the James.

TX Dept of Regulation
Texas Department of Regulation

A CONFLICT OF INTEREST ?

One of the ironies of the Burley auction is the fact that the fake Bob Ford-Jesse James photo will be auctioned together with “Part II of the Texas Ranger Collection.”

Texas Rangers, 1892
Los Gibson’s original hoax promotion shown here compared the hoax Jesse James to Texas Rangers in 1892. The actual Rangers image is in the collection of renown western artifact collector Robert G. McCubbin, who is well known to the James family. The Rangers appearing in the 1892 image are (Standing, from left) Robert “Bob” Speaks and Jim Putman. (Seated, from left) Alonzo Van “Lon” Oden and John R. Hughes.

Burley’s promotion makes no mention of Lois Gibson’s original “authentication.” Then, Gibson cited an actual image of Texas Rangers taken in 1892, a decade after Jesse James was dead. Gibson asserted one of the Texas Rangers to be Jesse James. She favorably compared Sandy Mills’ claimed Jesse James tintype to the Texas Rangers’ image. The individual Gibson asserted was Jesse James, in fact, is known to factual history to be Texas Ranger Robert “Bob” Speaks, not Jesse James.

Why has such an invaluable authentication comparison been ignored and not cited in Burley’s promotion? The answer may reside at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum.

The rotating banner on the museum’s website displays the  Texas Ranger image from 1892 that Gibson claimed includes Jesse James. The banner image is titled “The History of Early Texas Rangers.” No one in America believes that Jesse James was a Texas Ranger after he was killed in 1882.

Web site of the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum, highlighting the 1892 image of Texas Rangers that Lois Gibson claimed included Jesse James.

In a slide show, Burley does rely upon Gibson’s comparisons of Bob Ford’s actual image to Mills’ claimed image. A degree in forensic science that would employ mathematical analysis to assess similarities and dissimilarities of physical features in historical imagery is not needed here. Plainly visible in Gibson’s comparison is the dissimilarities between the actual photo and fake photo regarding hairline, forehead, eye, ear, and nose structure, lips and jawline. The two plainly are not identical.

True and fake images of Bob Ford
Left appears an actual photo of Bob Ford. Right appears the fake photo of Bob Ford.

Furthermore, the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum takes great pains to caution the public against fake Texas Ranger badges. Fake Ranger badges are as rampant apparently as fake Jesse James photos. In this auction, the Howells have consigned to Burley Auction Gallery a number of Texas Ranger badges to be auctioned with the Bob Ford-Jesse James photo hoax. Assuming the Howell’s Ranger badges are bonafide, is it any wonder why Burley Auction Gallery would make no mention of Gibson’s egregiously and flagrantly flawed Texas Ranger image comparison?

THIS BOB FORD-JESSE JAMES PHOTO IS A HOAX

The Jesse James family formerly debunked the Mills-Gibson-Howell fake and stands by its allegations. The family further has documented the cabal of sycophants that has supported and promoted this bogus photo. The Jesse James family restates its willingness to support anyone who may have a claim they are defrauded by the known principals and supporters of this Bob Ford-Jesse James photo hoax.

Burley Auction Gallery is on the hunt for the next sucker in this proven swindle. The James family now adds Burley Auction Gallery to its listed cabal of those – and their successors – who enable, promote, and disseminate fraudulent and fake Jesse James imagery in their exercise of Jesse James family identity theft.

Mary Louise James Tags Early Buildings of Paso Robles

In 1947, the long-widowed Mary Louisa James Burns wrote to R. C. Heaton in Paso Robles, California. She sent him a history of her father, Drury Woodson James, a founder of the town. In 1905, Heaton had purchased the home Drury Woodson built for his family, the same home in which Mary Louise was born.  The residence was one of many buildings Drury Woodson James built as part of his El Paso de Robles Hotel, around which he built the town of Paso Robles. In one correspondence, written by her granddaughter Mary Joan Malley Beamis, Mary Louise James identifies and tags the early building of Paso Robles.

engraving-identification-1948

Mary Louise James Burns identifies landmark locations of the buildings of the El Paso de Robles Hotel, built by her father Drury Woodson James in Paso Robles, California. The locations are pictured in an engraving published by The Paso Robles Journal, Oct. 6, 1948.
Mary Louise James Burns identifies landmark locations of the buildings of the El Paso de Robles Hotel, built by her father Drury Woodson James in Paso Robles, California. The locations are pictured in an engraving published by The Paso Robles Journal, Oct. 6, 1948.

Joan Beamis transcribes the identification tags dictated by her grandmother Mary Louise James…

This is from a wood cut. I have the original copy.

  1. D. W. James Home – 1969 or 70. I was born in this house. A very good likeness considering.
  2. South Cottage where your “Nana” was married (long cottage).
  3. Original Hot Springs Hotel.
  4. Patsy Dunn store. (Ed.: D.W.J.’s father-in-law Patrick Dunn) My father moved this and we used it for storage for many years. It was torn down in 1960.
  5. The Ralston Cottage, or at least its location.
  6. Bath House – original – another was built here but burned in about 1910.
  7. Club House
  8. Tenth Street
  9. Old Stage Road, now Spring St.
  10. Tenth St.
  11. Park Water Station
  12. (does not appear)
  13. Stagecoach approaching
  14. Sunnyside Cottage, or Cottage A                                      

______________________________________________

r-c-heaton-ad-paso-robles-1948-red

LETTER FROM R. C. HEATON TO MARY LOUISE JAMES BURNS

Paso Robles, Cal.    April 20th, 1948

Mrs. E.F. Burns

Somersworth, N.H.

Dear Mrs. Burns: Thank you for the copy of your father’s history sent me by the Paso Robles chamber of commerce at your request. I have it filed away in the history of San Luis Obispo county.

Letter from R.C. Heaton to Mrs. Edward Frederick Burns (Mary Louise James), daughter of Drury Woodson James, founder of Paso Robles, California. References to Carolina F. "Carrie" James Maxwell and Helen "Hattie" James Bennett, sisters of Mary Louise James. "UncLe Jim Blackburn" refers to James Hanson Blackburn, brother of Daniel Drew "D.D." Blackburn, both partners of D.W. James. Heaton owned the El Paso de Robles Hotel property following its destruction by fire in 1910.
Letter from R.C. Heaton to Mrs. Edward Frederick Burns (Mary Louise James), daughter of Drury Woodson James, founder of Paso Robles, California. References to Carolina F. “Carrie” James Maxwell and Helen “Hattie” James Bennett, sisters of Mary Louise James. “UncLe Jim Blackburn” refers to James Hanson Blackburn, brother of Daniel Drew “D.D.” Blackburn, both partners of D.W. James.

Thinking that you would like to see a picture of the old home place as it was in your younger days I had some copies made and am enclosing one to you. I sent one to Carrie.

Please tell me when the house was built and when your folks moved in – also anything that you recall about the place.

Frank and Jesse James were out to California twice but I do not have the record of what years or where they stayed.

This would be interesting to some people.

The visit of Carrie and Hattie B.* last year with us is a happy remembrance.

Too bad that your father could not have ended his days peacefully in the grand old hotel** he had the faith and courage to build in those early days.

Too few people appreciate what he and that other active generous citizen – Uncle Jim Blackburn – done for this community and its old time residents.

Best wishes,

R.C. HEATON

* The references to Carrie and Hattie is to Mary Louise’s sisters Carolina F. James Maxwell and Helen James Bennett.

** The reference to the grand old hotel is to the larger resort hotel D. W. James built in the rear of the original pioneer stagecoach hotel. The Springs Hotel burned to the ground in 1910.

_________________________________

In 2002, the friends and family of Frank & Jesse James reunited at the Paso Robles Inn to celebrate Drury Woodson James.

John W. Mimms Jr. Daguerreotype – Now on the Market

Leonard Hall is the owner of a daguerreotype appearing to be that of John W. Mimms, Jr. Hall wants to put his image on the market and make it available for acquisition.

case and daguerreotype of John W. Mimms Jr.
Daguerreotype presumed to be of John W. Mimms Jr.

There’s a hitch, though. Mr. Hall’s preferred customer is a member of the Jesse James family or its related families. His backup choice is an historical institution that would make the image available to the public, or a collector of Jesse James-related or Western memorabilia.

Who is John W. Mimms Jr.?

John W. Mimms Jr. is the son of John Wilson Mimms Sr. and Mary James, making Junior a descendant of the James family, also. Mary James is the daughter of John M. James and Mary “Polly” Poor, grandparents of Frank and Jesse James, making Mary James and John Wilson Mimms Sr.  an aunt and uncle of the James brothers, and making John W. Mimms Jr. their first cousin.

John Wilson Mimms Jr daguerreotype
Daguerreotype of John W. Mimms Jr.

When John M. James and Mary “Polly” Poor died between 1826 and 1827 within months of one another, the couple left behind nine orphan children, ranging in age from a few months to Mary, who was the eldest at age seventeen. Among the orphan clan was Robert Sallee James, the father of Frank and Jesse James.

Mary’s uncle is Drury Woodson Poor from her Poor ancestry on her mother’s side. He became the executor of the estate of John M. James. Within weeks, D. W. Poor immediately became guardian to Mary and her siblings.

An immediate problem arose to confront Drury Woodson Poor. He had nine children of his own. Now, he was given charge of eight more. Besides,  he had just launched his career as a Kentucky legislator and state representative from Logan County. Poor had the confidence of his community. Known as the “Lion of Whippoorwill Creek,” Poor had served Logan County as its sheriff before his election. His judgement was respected. Poor’s resolution to his problem was to marry off Mary James, the eldest orphan, to John Wilson Mimms Sr.

case cover
Exterior of the daguerreotype case

For almost thirty years thereafter, John Wilson and Mary James Mimms operated a tobacco farm in Adairville in Logan County, Kentucky. After being ordained in the Missionary Baptist Church as a Methodist minister, Rev. Mimms removed his family from Kentucky in 1856 to join Mary’s brother Thomas Martin James in Missouri.

For the benefit of the orphan clan, D. W. Poor purchased the family Bible of John M. James and Mary “Polly” Poor and gave it to Mary James-Mimms. Before the Bible burned in a storage room fire, its’ genealogy entries were copied into the family Bible of Robert William Mimms. Ultimately this Bible was passed down to Ruth Ethyl Waers, a granddaughter of Robert William Mimms.  Ruth married Col. Harold Burton Gibson. The Bible is presumed to have stayed in the Gibson family.

History knows little about the life of John W. Mimms Jr. other than he was born in Logan County, Kentucky on July 14, 1831. He married Cornelia Dobbins on Dec. 22, 1859, in the company of his siblings Robert William and Lucy Frances Mimms. Then he died shortly after that in February of 1863.

The Mimms Daguerreotype Cannot be Authenticated

Since no photographic images exist of the closest family of John W. Mimms Jr., no forensic analysis can determine if the picture of him is scientifically authentic. The earliest known images of these James-Mimms descendants occurs among their grandchildren.

Also, since no authentic documents exist to show comparison evidence of the image or of the handwriting of John W. Mimms, Jr. to the signature in the daguerreotype case, the handwriting cannot be ascertained as authentic, either. Forensic analysis, however, should be able to verify the paper stock and ink as being in the period, or not.

Some evidence of ownership or subject identification of “John W. Mimms Jr.” can be found in the inscription “H_ _per, Kentucky.” These two identifiers appear written on the case interior underneath the daguerreotype. The written name and location must be taken at face value.

John W. Mimms Jr signature inside
Inscription – “John W. Mimms Jr. H __per, Kentucky”

What can be authenticated in this artifact, in fact, is the town in Kentucky that is inscribed in the case, despite the evident appearance of puncture damage to the town’s name. The town is Hesper, Kentucky. This fact is little known except to historians of the Jesse James family and the James Preservation Trust. The identification is found in a letter from Lutie Mimms to Joan Malley-Beamis. Lutie identifies J. W. Mimms Jr. as a “merchant in Hesper, Ky.” Lutie is the granddaughter of John Wilson Mimms Sr. and Mary James-Mimms. Joan Beamis is a great-granddaughter of Drury Woodson James, an uncle of Frank and Jesse James.. Beamis also is the author of Background of a Bandit, the first genealogy of the Jesse James family by the Kentucky Historical Society.

Provenance of the Daguerreotype

In his original query to Stray Leaves about his daguerreotype,  Leonard Hall attested to the following provenance.

“I was in Martha’s Vineyard this summer (where the Presidents hang out for vacation) and Island off Cape Cod…..and I am an ex~photographer and picker….I was at a flea market that I normally visit and saw this at an Antique vendors table…I bought it as he seemed to realize it had some connection but said he had if for a few years and wanted to sell it as he dealt in high-end jewelry…..he said he got it in Miami where he summers…..that’s the origin as far as I’m concerned…”

Image Comparisons

In this circumstance, an authenticity rests in the eye of the beholder.

case back inside
Rear interior of case manufactured by Littlefield, Parsons, & Co.

Regarding the case, it is a widely and well-known fact that Littlefield, Parsons, & Co. made photographic casings of this type in a variety of sizes, covers, similar fabric and imprints. The company’s casings were available throughout the nation, both North and South. Similar cases are known to host photographic images of Civil War partisans from both sides.

While it is assumed the identification of the company, paper, ink, and other related materials are authentic, only a formal scientific forensic analysis can ascertain definitively. The costs of such analysis well could exceed the cost of acquiring the image.

What is left to assess is a comparison between the  daguerreotype and known Mimms family images. While the physical characteristics of the Mimms are not known to be catalogued, a catalogue of physical characteristics of the James does exist. After all, the subject  image of the daguerreotype and the following photographic images of related Mimms family members are all descendants of the James family, too. These Mimms display identifiable James family physical features.

Multiple images exist of Zerelda Amanda “Zee” Mimms a younger sister of John W. Mimms Jr. Zee Mimms also is the wife of Jesse Woodson James. Sarah Ann, or Sallie Mimms, was born after Zee. Drury Lilburn Mimms was born before Zee and Sallie and immediately following John W. Mimms Jr.

John W Mimms Jr-siblings Zerelda Amanada-Sarah Ann-John Robert Lilburn Mimms 600x
Siblings Zee Mimms-James, Sallie Mimms, Drury Lilbrun Mimms

From generations that follow the Mimms siblings, Maj. Gen. Harold B. Gibson Jr. is the son of Ruth Ethel Waers-Gibson who inherited the Mimms Bible. Lutie Mimms, whose full name is Lucille Ethel Mimms-Gray, is a daughter of the eldest and firstborn of the Mimms siblings, Robert William Mimms.

Harold B Gibson-Lutie Mimms-John W Mimms Jr
Mimms descendants Maj. Gen. Haorld B. Gibson Jr., Lucille Ehtyl “Lutie” Mimms, and the image subject John William Mimms, Jr.

Does the daguerreotype of John W. Mimms Jr. resemble images of the Mimms siblings and family?

Interested in Acquisition? 

Email me at ericjames@ericjames.org and express your family or social affiliation with the James family. I’ll be happy to refer you directly to Leonard Hall.