Beating the Bushes for How Daniel Lewis James Jr. Died
Who says how you die? Over the weekend I was talking with Martha Diehl, the granddaughter of Daniel Lewis James Jr. Dan is the blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter and subject of the chapter “All for the Underdog” inJesse James Soul Liberty. Martha commented about Dan and how he died. “He died instantly of an aneurysm in his kitchen while fetching a piece of bread for his pet rabbit.” That was how Martha received the news of Dan’s passing from her mother, Barbara James.
The New York Times reported Dan’s passing far less personally.
OBITUARY New York Times DANIEL LEWIS JAMES IS DEAD AT 77; WROTE ABOUT LOS ANGELES BARRIO By EDWIN MCDOWELL Published: May 21, 1988 LEAD: Daniel Lewis James, who startled the literary world when he was revealed to be the author of a prize-winning novel about a Mexican-American family in a Los Angeles barrio, died Wednesday at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula in Monterey, Calif.
Martha complains, “Dan died at home, not at CHOMP,” i.e. Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula.
And yet, Dan’s death certificate, issued by Monterey County in California, produced a third and entirely different story. Monterey County cites the cause of Dan’s death in clinical terms as a heart attack and “severe coronary atherosclerosis.”
Somehow, all three reports perfectly reflect the multi-dimensional personality of Daniel Lewis James Jr. who practiced the art of multiple identities. You can suspect Dan scripted the three scenarios himself, each for a different audience.
Here’s laughing with you, Daniel Lewis James Jr.
Hunting for Elk Run Farm of Capt. John James 1708/09-1778 & Dinah Allen 1716-1800
Thanks to the recent appearance of an old map, the location of their Elk Run farm and its James cemetery can now be identified. This has been a hunt in progress for years. This also is where the Capt. James and Dinah Allen are presumed to be buried.
Elk Run Farm is central to the triangular points of the Potomac River, Washington D.C. and the town of Culpeper. From this location, the James family financed George Washington with specie during the Revolution.
This family also is a progenitor of Benjamin James, the Indian Trader, whose children Susannah and Benjamin James “of the Choctaw” went forward to become integral elements of the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations.
Furthermore from Elk Run Farm, their daughter Elizabeth James and her spouse John “Old Wisdom” Bradford migrated into the Kentucky frontier where John Bradford founded the Kentucky Gazette. The newspaper recorded the events surrounding the early founding of the Commonwealth and remains a seminal course of Kentucky’s first history.
As well, Capt. John James and Dinah Allen of Elk Run Farm are 2nd great grand uncle & aunt of Frank & Jesse James, as well as of John James “of Alvarado.” Among the James family, Elk Run Farm is an important key factor and geographic location point in the genealogical origination of the James family.
Susannah James-Colbert and Jane James-Wilson are a granddaughter and a 2nd great-granddaughter respectively of Capt. John James and Dinah Allen. For more on their kinship, both can be found in the special Choctaw/Chickasaw genealogy database on Stray Leaves.
Recently, young filmmakers used Ward Hall as a backdrop for the film short below. We wish we had known these talented young filmmakers when we visited Georgetown. Back then we were looking for someone to video our events. Maybe another time.
DALTON GANG PHOTOGRAPHER ALSO PHOTOGRAPHED THE JAMES
An incoming photographic artifact to the James Preservation Trust, courtesy of James family descendant Geoff Saunders, amplifies the story of Joseph McJames and the Dalton Gang robbery in Coffeyville. Mack’s son Daniel Ephraim James was captured in the robbery while it was in progress. The story also appears in Chapter Three of Jesse James Soul Liberty, titled “Goodland.” Contributor Geoff Saunders is a 2nd great-grandson of Mary Ellen James and a 3rd great-grandson of Joseph McJames.
Mack’s daughter, Mary Ellen James who is Daniel Ephraim James’ sister, had her photo portrait taken in Coffeyville. Her photographer was W.H. Clark. He is the same photographer who took the iconic image of the dead Dalton Gang body lineup following the robbery. Clark’s son, Ray H. Clark known as Champ, also appears in the body lineup photo. Champ Clark is peering over his hand through the fence, as his father took the historic photo.
Later, W.H. Clark purchased Bob Dalton’s gun from Dalton’s estate. The gun was used in the robbery. Clark’s son, Ray H. “Champ” Clark, inherited the pistol on his father’s passing. Champ then bequeathed the gun to his step-son Richard H. McGregor, whose widow put the gun up for auction in 2005 with proceeds to be donated to charity.
Exploring State Representative A.J. James in the Old Kentucky State Capitol
I’ve sat in this legislative chamber of the Old State Capitol in Kentucky a couple of times before. In honor of President’s Day this year, the Kentucky General Assembly did the same.
Usually, I was alone as I tried to imagine the chamber filled with legislators. Among them was Andrew Jackson “A.J.” James who was a state representative from 1855 to 1857. There would be observers in the balcony then. The chamber was smokey, crowded, and loud, even when someone was speaking. Stateliness was not a requirement in the antebellum era.
Democrats from Pulaski County nominated their favorite son A.J. James in 1875 to succeed Gov. Preston Leslie. Under Leslie, A.J. served as Kentucky’s Attorney General. He also had been Secretary of State under Gov. Beriah Magoffin and mayor of Frankfort. Ultimately, A.J. lost the nomination to James McCreary. Family lore says A.J’s wife didn’t want A.J. to run. Instead, McCreary was elected Governor of Kentucky. By then, I believe, A.J. was ready to walk away from political life. He withdrew to become President of Farmer’s Bank of Frankfort.
Louisville International Airport to be Renamed for Our James Cousin, Muhammad Ali
Recent research by Stray Leaves established that Muhammad Ali is a 2nd cousin, 3 generations removed of Frank & Jesse James. Ali also has a second line of supporting kinship to the James brothers through Rev. Jeremiah Vardeman.
Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Ali has been Louisville’s favorite son for a long time. He is widely honored. Renaming Louisville International Airport for Ali could not be a more appropriate honor. Muhammad Ali is one of Louisville’s finest exports.
Land Patents of This Bloody Ground
Readers of This Bloody Ground, the forthcoming Vol. II of the Jesse James Soul Liberty quintet, will get a heavy dose of source data about the Kentucky frontier life of Jesse & Frank James’ grandfather, John M. James. Early Land Patents of Kentucky were culled extensively in preparation for the book. This voluminous research took more than a decade. These patents will give you an idea of the sources that were consulted. These are sources that have gone ignored for too long by the traditional historians of the Jesse James story. This is one reason why This Bloody Ground will be a ground-breaking history of its own when it is published. Get ready to have your preconceptions of Jesse James rattled when you read this history that has never been researched, written, or told.
The publication in 2012 of Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence, did not end research into all the subject matter in the book. The accumulation and publication of past biography and living James family history continue. Here are some recent research updates to Jesse James Soul Liberty to begin 2019, plus a couple of previews of what more is to come.
The Final One Possibly Before Tragic Destruction
Recognize this place? It’s the Paso Robles Hotel built in California by Drury Woodson James. The sign in front says room rates start at $1.50 per night. This 1935 image surfaced recently among publicity for the annual Pioneer Day held in Paso Robles. Five years later in 1940, Drury’s Paso Robles Hotel would be no more.
Coffeyville Welcomes Joseph McJames
Research Update – More Details Learned
The story of Joseph McAlister James, aka Joseph McJames, appears in Jesse James Soul Liberty in the chapter “Goodland.” Stray Leaves first introduced Mack’s time in Goodland, as well as his time in Coffeyville and the capture of his son in the Dalton Gang’s raid on the Condon Bank. Now, new details come to light.
This republished newspaper clipping informs us of Mack’s welcome to Coffeyville, Kansas in 1878. We also learn that Mack expected to bring two sons with him, as well as a brother who formerly managed Mack’s holdings in Goodland, Indiana.
We further learn that Mack’s son, John R. James, attended Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, the town Mack was leaving. Centre is the same college attended earlier in 1853 by Coleman Purcell Younger, a first cousin of the Younger Gang, and by Thomas T. Crittenden. As a lawyer, Younger later foreclosed on a large number of properties in Paso Robles owned by Drury Woodson James. The numerous foreclosures triggered Drury’s financial collapse during the Long Depression and the Panic of 1893. Later as Governor of Missouri, Crittenden organized the bounty to capture Jesse James that tragically resulted in the assassination of the outlaw.
A son of Joseph McJames was the Baptist minister Rev. John Robert James. He attended Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.
However, he was ordained at the age of 27 in Lancaster in Garrard County, Kentucky. In 1782, Garrard County was the arrival destination of the Traveling Church, that included many of rebel the Baptist preachers who self-exiled from Colonial Virginia into the forbidden western frontier of the Kentucky District. Among these dissenters was Rev. James’ great-grandfather John M. James.
Lancaster was a good place for a novice preacher to start his ministry. There, John could get a leg up. The parents of John’s wife, Annie Wearen, owned and operated a furniture store in Lancaster. Within the store, they provided undertaking services and managed the local cemetery.
Following his ordination, Rev. James visited his father in Coffeyville. There, he preached to a congregation of the local Methodist church who welcomed him warmly, as they later would when members of the Younger family visited in Coffeyville.
Rev. John R. James Killed
Research Update – An Early and Untimely Loss
A newspaper in Paris, Kentucky, where Rev. James was serving the First Baptist Church, announced his tragic passing.
REV. JOHN R. JAMES KILLED He Jumps From a Buggy, is Knocked Unconscious and Dies Without Speaking. “WE KNOW NOT THE DAY NOR THE HOUR.”
About 5 o’clock last evening Rev. John R. James, pastor of the Baptist church in the city, started to Millersburg in a buggy in company with WM. M. GOODLOE, and when near the residence of RUSSELL MANN their horse frightened and ran off. MR. JAMES jumped from the buggy, fell on the pike, and was unconscious until 12 o’clock at which time he died. MR. GOODLOE remained in the buggy and was not hurt.
Mr. James had an appointment to deliver a sermon at Millersburg, and expected to return home after the service. They were driving the Mexican pony of MISS LUCY ___LLER, and he was thought to be very gentle. The deceased had only been a resident of this city for the past three weeks, taking charge of the Baptist church on the first Sunday of this month. He came here from Kirksville, Madison County, but was lately of Danville, Ky. His age was 28 years and he leaves a wife and two children, who had lately taken possession of his parsonage.
Rev. Mr. James was winning golden opinions from all who heard him. He had been here only a month, but in that time had delivered a number of the best and most striking discourses ever heard here, and was recognized as a valuable accession to the ministry of our city. The Thanksgiving services were to have been held at the Baptist church tomorrow and MR. JAMES was to deliver the sermon. When the news of the accident reached town, the whole community was shocked and many persons went down to MR. MANN’s to render him all the assistance possible.
His wife and children were taken to him soon after the occurrence, but he never recognized them, being unconscious from the time he was hurt until his death. His father, JOSEPH MC JAMES was telegraphed, to Westervelt Ohio, their old home, and her mother, MRS. WEARING, to Kirksville.
James City, Virginia
Query of the Day – Opens Door to Vol. III of JJSL
Sept. 15, 2018 When I was a child about (1954) we had a boy (Ray James) who was a foster kid staying at my aunts house near Warrenton, Va. He said he was kin to Jesse James. His family lived in the area near “James City” which is in Madison Co. Va. A few years ago I went to photograph the “Ghost Town” of “James City” and also went into a little local museum of “James City” and read an article that stated that “Frank James” had visited relatives in “James City” some years before he died. Also that the “Ford” family came from this area too. Can you verify that this connection is true?
Thank you for your query. I wish you still were in contact with Ray James. I’d love to talk with him.
I’d guess that Ray did not know exactly how he was related to Frank & Jesse James. It’s taken me nearly 20 year to figure it out myself. I had a lot of help from DNA, though. I know Frank & Jesse had no idea about all of their early Virginia ancestries that reach back to UK royalty around 1620, and still further beyond to the prophets of the biblical period.
In September 2017 the Graves family of Graves Mountain and Graves Mill in Madison County VA assembled here in Woodford County, KY to hear all about their kinship to the Jesse James family. I gave a slide presentation that took up an entire morning, peppered with endless questions. I have yet to mount that presentation for our website Stray Leaves. However, here (below) is a little introduction video with some photos from my talk.
The story of these James and their descendants will be told in Volume III of my Jesse James Soul Liberty quintet. Expect publication in about 3-4 years.
James City, Virginia (now renamed Leon) was founded by Rev. Daniel James 1764-1845. You will find him listed in our SURNAMES search genealogy database on Stray Leaves. Frank & Jesse James became future cousins of this ancestral James line which the brothers never knew.
Descendants of Rev. James who left Virginia migrated into the Kentucky frontier to become tobacco & hemp planters, bankers, riders with John Hunt Morgan, captives of the Union, and bluegrass blue blood. Others went further into Louisiana Territory to become charge d’affairs for Spain, Natchez slave traders, Mississippi and Nashville bankers. They receded in time as bankrupts.
Hazel Goes to Egypt
Upcoming Feature – Budding New Family Author?
On pages 221-222 of Jesse James Soul Liberty appear the McGreevy-Harmon descendants of Thomas Martin “T.M.” James.
T.M.’s second great-grandson, Jamie Harmon, has been taking his family on annual global vacations. Right now the family is in Giza in Egypt, staying next to the pyramids. Jamie and his wife Ashley have been sending back extraordinary photos of their experiences that include their children Hazel and Hugh Harmon.
Back in 2011, Hazel debuted on Stray Leaves in the excellent photos taken at Hazel’s birth. In Egypt now, Hazel is making local friends and really enjoying the sights.
Jamie’s imaginative photos showing Hazel’s fun and delight prompted me to suggest that Hazel should share her vacation adventure with other children who cannot easily go to Egypt. Hazel could write a children’s book about her adventure now, and write about her future vacation adventures in the coming years. The first in this new series of Hazel’s children’s books could be Hazel Goes to Egypt. Easily, Hazel could join others among the James family who are notable book authors.
A Most Unusual Christmas Gift
Research Update Opens the Another Door to Vol. III
A most unusual Christmas gift arrived. On this recent Christmas day, Stray Leaves learned of the passing of Dorvan Paul James.
Although Dorvan died two years ago in 2016, his obituary was not discovered sooner, and for good reason. In the obituary, Dorvan is identified by his nickname of Buddy James. Ironically, that’s the same family nickname given to Eric F. James, publisher of Stray Leaves.
D.P. James, as he was known locally in Texas, is a 3rd cousin, once removed of Frank & Jesse James. On his mother’s side of the family, D.P. James also is a 6th cousin, twice removed of the Younger brothers.
The first great-grandfather of Dorvan is David Daniel “D.D.” James, one of the three brothers who operated the Forks of the Road slave market in Natchez, Mississippi prior to the Civil War.
Their father Thomas Graves James, Dorvan’s 2nd great-grandfather, ran away from the James family home in Culpeper, Virginia, after having a disagreement with his father Joseph James, the Elder. Runaway behavior seems almost genetic among men of the James family. Another sibling, Joseph James the Younger, also ran away from home citing, his disagreement, too, with the elder Joseph James.
Going South and West, Thomas Graves James became wealthy serving Spain as a charge d’affairs in Georgia and in Choctaw lands of Mississippi territory. He acquired much land, most notable of which was Hyde’s Landing in Nashville, a retreat pictured below where Frank and Jesse James on occasion resided.
In 2014, Dorvan’s brother Gene Dale James pre-deceased Dorvan. Their sister, Sara Ann James-Bowers, survives. The unusual story of this not-so-usual family, reunited by DNA testing with the James ancestry they lost, will appear in Volume III of Jesse James Soul Liberty, The Forks of the Road.
The final Sift and the year-end roundup of 2018 have produced some surprises. Then again, Stray Leaves never fails to produce surprises. To receive future Sift surprises as they happen, LIKE Stray Leaves on Facebook.
Mimms and Pence Bombed at Pearl Harbor
December 7 is the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. On that fateful day, Wyatt Leon Mimms was stationed in Pearl Harbor, serving the US Navy.
Wyatt is a 3rd cousin, one generation removed of Frank and Jesse James.
After the war, Wyatt remained for some time in Hawaii, working as a police officer and later a special agent with GTE Telephone. He was married six times in his lifetime. He returned to the States and died in Placerville, California.
Wyatt’s father, Eddie Bernard Mimms, brought his family to Salinas, California from Crawford County, Kansas, and Oklahoma where Wyatt was born.
Archibald Bernard Pence Sr. served onboard the USS Oklahoma in the US Navy as Chief Petty Officer. The Oklahoma was docked in Pearl Harbor on that fateful day. Arch was blown overboard. Later, he was picked up by another serviceman in a small boat. They proceeded to pull fellow servicemen from the water.
Archibald Bernard Pence Sr. is a third cousin, two generations removed of Bud and Donnie Pence of the James gang.
Buy the Russellville Bank
The Russellville Bank with its stately attached residence of bank cashier Nimrod Long is back on the market. This time it can be purchased directly from the owner and retired attorney Joe Clark.
Joe and his wife gave me a tour of this beautiful home in 2016 when I spoke before the Southern Kentucky Pastfinders inside the old Logan County Courthouse. Locally, it was claimed, my appearance was the first and only time a James was brought to court and held accountable for the assault on Nimrod long and the James gang’s robbery of the Russellville Bank.
The Carters have executed a wonderful restoration of the historic building. Located in the Russellville Historic District, the restored property combines historical authenticity and preservation with a modern sensibility for high style and luxury Southern comfort.
Anyone interested in an investment partnership with yours truly to turn this into an Airbnb tourism destination?
New Photos of Rhoda James-Hattler
Courtesy of James descendant Gearld Willis, we now have several new images of Rhoda Ann James & spouse Charles Colfax Hattler and their children Glee Estes and Jewell Irene Hatler. Rhoda Ann is a daughter of Cyrenius Waite James and the youngest sister of John James of Alvarado.
Marriage Announcement for Francis Marion James Jr. & Anna Emelian Knaff
Look what showed up on Facebook, thanks to cousin Tom Walden who is the administrator of the THOLL family group on Facebook. This is the 1908 wedding announcement of my grandparents.
New information from this is Anna’s residence address, plus her middle name of Emelian,. Formerly she was documented by their family as Emalia. It turns out the name Emelian is Norwegian in origin, and Emalia is the male version of the name. Anna was not Norwegian. Her Knaff family immigrated in 1848 to Wisconsin from the Duchy of Luxembourg, where Knaff cousins still are influential in the state government. Em-ELL-ee-ah is the pronunciation of the name. I’m still looking for the meaning behind the name.
The Early Death of Reno Conley Herrin
RENO CONLEY HERRIN 1919-1940 is a great-grandson of the “talented, but erratic” Rev. Joseph Martin James & Rhoda May. His grandparents are Susan Harriet James & Joseph Allen Herrin, pictured here.
From Terry Joseph White, a 3rd great-grandson of Joseph Martin James, to Eric F. James, May 14, 2011:“I just came across the photo booklet that Aunt Virgie (Reno’s sister Virgie Lucille Herrin Fuller) did a few years ago of the Herrin family. Here’s a summary of what she wrote about Reno: ‘Reno had lung problems all of his life and missed a lot of school due to health issues. He was an excellent basketball player, even tho doctors warned him not to play. Reno refused to go to school unless he could play. Reno collapsed on the ball court two months before he was to graduate. When the doctors inserted a needle to draw fluid from his lungs, the needle punctured his heart, which was enlarged, and caused his death’.”
The eldest sibling of Reno also died too early and tragically. Leslie Raymond Herrin 1902-1930 died by drowning at the age of 28.
Obituary of Maj. George Burns Hite
Maj. George Burns Hite 1825-1891 is the husband of Nancy Gardner James, an aunt of Frank & Jesse James.
Two of their sons, Robert Woodson & Clarence Jeff Hite, associated with Quantrill’s guerrillas and the James Gang.
A third son, John William Hite, associated with Morgan’s Men in the company of John Hunt Morgan, and David Hunt James and his brother Richard Skinner James who were captured and sent to Camp Douglas in Chicago where Richard died.
Seeking authentication experts of convenience doomed Justin Whiting & his fake Jesse James photo to failure.
When Justin Whiting’s “7£ eBay find” was rejected by the Jesse James family as a fake image of Jesse James, Whiting turned to experts of convenience. Whiting believed the experts he chose would provide the validation required to bring his tintype to auction. His experts would provide Whiting a path to the financial windfall he expected.
Whiting’s experts of convenience, however, fell far short of the task. Flaws hidden in their backgrounds and abilities proved to equal Justin Whiting’s flaws of expectation.
Rejected by Jesse James Family
In email salted by bad grammar, misspellings, and chronic badgering, Whiting repeatedly plagued the James family’s historian, Eric F. James, with conflicting claims related to several old photographic images Whiting owned. Once Whiting settled on the best image he thought was Jesse James, he requested the family historian’s concurrence without offering justification or reason.
In short order, James informed Whiting his image, in fact, was not an authentic image of Jesse James. James further advised Whiting that any effort to secure an authentication would be a waste of time, effort, and money.
Whiting abruptly switched to other images in his possession that he also claimed was Jesse James. Whiting’s incoherence quickly turned into an annoyance for James. The irritation turned into exasperation when Whiting informed James he would consult Lois Gibson for an authentication of his image.
Rejected by Lois Gibson
Lois Gibson was known to James as the haywire authentication artist in the Bob Ford/Jesse James Photo Hoax of 2017. James warned Whiting to be wary of whom he associated with, lest Whiting acquire the reputation of a con artist himself.
Months past before Whiting returned to James. When he did, Whiting complained that Lois Gibson did not believe his image was a match for Gibson’s Jesse James image authenticated in her hoax. Why would they, James questioned. You can’t compare a fake image of Jesse James to another fake image of Jesse James that was authenticated as a match for yet another fake image of Jesse James. Whiting’s rabbit hole of foolishness was laughable.
Regardless any reason, or the lack thereof, Lois Gibson offered to authenticate Whiting’s image for $750 plus an additional $750 to authenticate Whiting’s comparison image.
Whiting told James he would align with James in branding Gibson a fraud if only James would approve his image. At this point, James ceased responding to Whiting’s chronic email.
Accepted by Experts of Convenience
In time, Whiting returned once more to James to announce he had found an authenticator more expert than the Jesse James family. His authentication expert accepted Whiting’s image as a match to an image of Jesse James known by James. Shortly, Whiting expected, his image would be fully authenticated in writing so he could proceed to the auction market.
William Dunniway is not an expert in Jesse James photography. He is not an expert in photo image authentication, nor is he trained in any photographic forensic science. This did not stop Justin Whiting from seeking William Dunniway as his second expert after Lois Gibson to authenticate his fake image of Jesse James.
William “Will” Dunniway gave up historical re-enacting to pursue his interest in wet collodion photography
For 25 years, Will Dunniway, as he is known, was a re-enactor of history. Today, Will no longer does re-enactments. Instead, his time is devoted to his interest in wet collodion photography, an old style of photographic image creation that differs entirely from the tintype photography of Justin Whiting’s image.
Like Justin Whiting, inexperience in the forensic science of image authentication did not stop Will Dunniway from stepping beyond the boundaries of his abilities. When he did, Dunniway exposed his own deficiencies.
Recently, Will Dunniway was called upon to assess an image claimed to include Billy the Kid. The National Geographic Society produced a documentary about the find.
The image since has become highly controversial and has divided the community of western historians. Dunniway’s opinion revealed the limitations of his expertise.
The tintype itself was analyzed by noted wet-plate collodion photographer Will Dunniway…He date-stamped the croquet photo to a plate made between 1877-1881. The chemical process used to make the plate tells the tale. Residue and a close look at the media material itself is consistent with photographs made in that time frame. Dunniway also confirms McWilliams findings that clothing worn in the period is correct.”’
Such was Will Dunniway’s sole findings.
Will Dunniway suggested that period clothing and an estimated date of 1877-1881 says the third person from the left is Billy the Kid.
Of Dunniway’s two findings – one, the date stamp of a collodion image compared to a tintype, and two, the identification of period clothing – neither of these findings authenticate anything regarding the primary question. Does the image include Billy the Kid?
Dunniway’s Expert “Authentication” for Whiting
Wisely, Dunniway begins the written affidavit of his findings for Whiting’s Jesse James tintype. He boldly states, “…I am NOT a facial recognition expert.”
This statement alone should have disqualified Dunniway as an expert in forensic science suited to assess and write an image authentication. Any opinion Dunniway might produce was doomed to be rendered unworthy.
Regardless, Dunniway persisted in Whiting’s authentication charade. Dunniway stated, “The age of the image was about 1861-1862.” He offered no explanation for his declaration.
Again without evidence, Dunniway speculated as if fact, about Whiting’s comparison image. Dunniway stated, “It [the comparison image] appears to have been printed of a collodion glass negative…” Then Dunniway added one more disqualifying pointless absurdity, “This is only conjecture…”
In conclusion, Dunniway’s imagination took flight like that of Justin Whiting. “I believe it was taken on the same day by the same photographer. This is very evident by the face, hair cut [sic], jacket, shirt, and tie that this is the same image of Jesse James at 14 years old.” How this imaginary deduction is made, Dunniway left entirely unexplained.
In the end, Dunniway excused himself and his valueless declarations. “I recommend that Justin follow up with a facial forensic comparison…” With that, the buck was passed from Justin Whiting’s second expert to his third expert, Kent Gibson.
A public watchdog, says Kent Gibson “has never met a photo he didn’t authenticate as a famous person. His most famous pratfall was the bogus Amelia Earhart.”
Under the name of Forensic Audio, Gibson markets himself as “Certified Forensic Audio Examiner.” His impressive show business resume boasts abundant credentials limited to the field of audio.
Nothing in Gibson’s resume reveals any training, expertise, or experience in forensic science, historical photography, photographic analysis, or history.
Like many in show business, Gibson prefers to put forward a younger, more attractive image of himself. The photo of Gibson that appears on his website is a much younger version of the middle-aged persona one meets in person.
Gibson also fudges the location of his business. On his website, Gibson advertises, “My studio laboratory is in the Hollywood Hills.” His actual address, that appears on the same web page, exposes Kent Gibson’s fundamental difficulty with veracity.
Kent Gibson’s studio is not located among the glamorous, star-studded, multi-million dollar mansions and estates of the Hollywood Hills with its stunning views and coveted seclusion. Gibson’s actual studio and home are in the workaday neighborhood of the Hollywood “flats.” Originally populated by crowded orange and avocado groves, Gibson’s neighborhood today is beset by heavy traffic, closely knit homes, and apartment buildings.
Whenever Kent Gibson is shown an old photographic image, Gibson exits the neighborhood of reality and enters a world of fantasy. Like Justin Whiting, Gibson dreams of discovering the historic photo that will make his name as popular as a celebrity subject he attaches to it. No explanation or justification for this is required in Gibson’s world of expertise.
Photo Identification Slip-ups
Despite his lack of scientific forensic credentials, Kent Gibson already has established a record of highly questionable photo “authentications.” One attached him with Will Dunniway to the disputable Billy the Kid. The other, more egregiously, finds Kent Gibson declaring an unknown image as the lost aviatrix Amelia Earhart. His Earhart declaration has been brutally disproved.
In 2017, the New York Times published a fake photo story, typical headline and all, that claimed Will Dunniway and Kent Gibson had authenticated Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett in the image above. The image owner, Frank Abrams previously had hawked the image as including Jesse James. Not finding believers in the claim to Jesse James, Abrams turned to Gibson and Dunniway to produce the altered claim of the Kid and Pat Garrett.
About the same time, Gibson’s authentication of the Billy the Kid croquet image was debunked. Gibson had claimed to discover the location where the image was taken. The location and timeline of the image were disproved. Amateur debunkers became more expert in debunking than the experts were in authenticating.
The image’s owner was revealed to be a shopper of photo experts. One abettor was a coin dealer and auctioneer, who stood to benefit by the sale of the artifact. Other auctioneers previously had passed on the artifact.
An unwitting abettor was the National Geographic Channel that was conned into producing a documentary of the discovery. Embarrassment followed for the Society when the discovery was debunked.
Gibson’s expertise in the artifice was downgraded after his Billy the Kid location identification was found to be an impossibility. Gibson had to admit his identification was not good enough to hold up in a court of law. Finally, Gibson’s reach into extreme fantasy to identify Amelia Earhart also was debunked.
Caught by the Short Hairs of Amelia Earhart
The face of Amelia Earhart is recognizable worldwide. Only an expert of convenience like Kent Gibson would dare identify a person showing no identifiable facial features, who is photographed from the back, as the famed aviatrix.
Gibson reached for worldwide recognition when he falsely judged this image for the History Channel. What he earned was worldwide mortification.
A post-mortem of Gibson’s debacle by the Center for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) summarized numerous flaws by Gibson and his abettors in the Amelia Earhart farce when the image was proved to be taken two years before Earhart’s disappearance.
‘I don’t know what to say,’ says Kent Gibson, the facial-recognition expert that the History Channel hired to analyze the photograph for Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence. ‘I don’t have an explanation for why [the photograph] would show up two years early.’”
In the documentary, Gibson said that based on the facial and body proportions of the two Caucasians, he said it was “very likely” that the photograph contained Earhart and Noonan [ed. her co-pilot].
In a phone interview with National Geographic, Gibson added that since the documentary filmed, he has acquired new facial-recognition software that signals a match between the photograph’s Caucasian man and Fred Noonan. His previous software had indicated that there were too few pixels in the photograph to successfully perform the analysis. (In a follow-up email, Gibson declined additional comment.)
Gibson’s “Authentication” for Whiting
Not skilled in the meticulous metrics and analytics of photo analysis that applies forensic science techniques which are extensive and time-consuming, Kent Gibson prefers to rely solely upon photo comparison software for the quickie authentications he proclaims.
Such software today is used to trick the eye, as one auctioneer tried to do in 2014. More commonly today, such software is deployed on Facebook to harvest metrics for advertisers by fooling Facebook subscribers to transform their photo images into historic persons, the opposite sex, art, or cartoon characters. (The same software could be employed to transform an image of Kent Gibson into an image of Lois Gibson. After all, the two never have been seen together.)
When addressing Justin Whiting’s image, Kent Gibson acted impulsively as he does routinely. Digital Trends reported,
…Gibson didn’t need long to reach his conclusion. “I could tell immediately,” he said after running the picture through several facial recognition programs. “It scored off the charts.”
Gibson is also hyperbolic in his assessment of the value of Whiting’s image. As the BBC reported,
Mr. Gibson said: ‘”All power to Justin. An authentic photograph of outlaw Billy the Kid sold for $5m (£3.6m) in 2015 so the sky’s the limit…Jesse James is a very famous outlaw so this is obviously a valuable image.”
Con artists of fake Jesse James images feed off of one another.
In Regina, Canada, Rob & Karen Baron produce a YouTube channel called “Bargain Barons.” They are promoting their latest discovery – a tintype they claim is Jesse James.
The Barons say,
We have put the word out to several people. We very quickly heard back from Forensic Audio & Video Examiner KENT GIBSON. According to Kent: “Dear Rob & Karen: I ran your tin through one of my 5 different facial recognition programs and your photo is plausible.”
The Con Artist’s Template
So far, Rob & Karen Baron are making all the mistakes, following the typical template of a Jesse James photo con artist.
The Barons claim discovery of a tintype of Jesse James like Justin Whiting
The Barons found the tintype on the internet like Whiting
The Barons compare their tintype to fake images of Jesse James like Whiting
The Barons are shopping for experts of convenience like Whiting
The Barons claim Kent Gibson believes their claim like Whiting
Without a doubt, once the Barons have an authentication in hand, issued by an expert of convenience like Kent Gibson, the Barons may seek to become merchants of identity theft like Justin Whiting. They may seek an expected financial windfall, too.
If they do, the Barons will find the Jesse James family waiting for them to discredit their image and expose another fraudulent Jesse James photo misadventure.