Through the years, not every Christmas turns out to be perfect. This year, we are sadly disappointed that our special holiday present for you was ruined in delivery. Instead, we bring you the poem “A Christmas Wish,” specially written by Frank Younger for this Christmas season. Also, we re-gift you with a Christmas package of presents from years past.
A CHRISTMAS WISH by Frank Younger
Soon we celebrate again that festive Christmas Day With our fellowship, joy, song and love, And tiny Baby Jesus in His manger filled with hay, A chorus of angels from above.
There's food and decorations. There's Santa and his toys, And families gathered from far and wide - Mom and Pop and cousins, aunts and uncles, girls and boys All congregated around the warm fireside.
Let the spirit of this special time be with us all the year, Let the gladness in our hearts guide what we do. Let our smiles and generosity sincerely shine forth clear - Let the Christmas Spirit live each day in me and you.
From a Christmas past, an ever-present and a timely tale to not let Christmas presents get in the way, lest we forget the true meaning of Christmas.
A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES by Dylan Thomas
Lastly, never to forget dear Mrs. Prothero nor especially our James family’s ancestral roots in Wales…
Not everyone is happy with a Christmas present received. Not everyone can give the Christmas present they want. What matters, in the end, is to share with family the love and meaning of the Christ child, no matter who is your family.
Dan James gave Charlie Chaplin the unique American verbiage the British actor required when Dan co-wrote The Great Dictator with Chaplin. His story is featured in the chapter “All For the Underdog” in Volume I of Jesse James Soul Liberty.
Each time I must enter the passing of another James family member into the master genealogy database for Stray Leaves, I do so with a measure of sadness. On rare occasion, such as in recent minutes, I do so with difficulty.
Barbara Pierce Bush was not of James blood. She is an in-law to her Bush family who is our blood. Like many in-laws of our family, Barbara Bush was a stellar influence whose impact never will be under-measured but celebrated instead.
For those among our family who found themselves at odds with Bush politics, none that I know ever found themselves at odds with the political understanding and insights that Barbara provided. She connected the dots with effective savvy and sometimes necessary glue.
Barbara Bush is a unique American treasure. Prayers will be left for those she left behind. For each tear, there will be a smile, followed by the music of laughter. She is a person well worth remembering and celebrating.
Smith denies he is a third great-grandson of Susan Prudence James & John Wesley Smith, despite bearing all the customary genetic physical features of James descendants, including the telltale ear formation.
Smith is not the first to deny his kinship. Nor will he probably be the last. His art is rather ironic since it is constructed around the use of mirrors and reflective imagery. On the other hand, outside of Stray Leaves research into Smith’s ancestry, his art may be his only reflection of his self-constructed identity.
Beware Minnesota Historical Society & Good Riddance as Executive Director of Kentucky Historical Society Departs
Former Executive-Director Kent Whitworth is the fool who bamboozled the Board of Directors of the Kentucky Historical Society into filing a lawsuit against its own members! He charged me and other members with trying to create a shadow government. Really! After filing his frivolous lawsuit, he then failed to prosecute it.
This week Mark Griffin queried me. Mark is the reference specialist at the Logan County Public Library in Russellville, Kentucky. Mark questioned, “Have you come across any information saying Gov. Thomas Crittenden of Missouri ever met with Gov. Luke Blackburn of Kentucky in Louisville to discuss the matter of Jesse James?”
My answer was as follows:
“I don’t know of any specific meeting, however, the following is known. Thomas T. Crittenden was a close ally and supporter of the James family, the family relationship stretching back at least a couple of generations and closer, following the killing of Jesse James. Crittenden had put out the $10,000 reward for Jesse’s capture, not for his murder.
“Dr. Luke Pryor Blackburn, born in Woodford County, Kentucky, contained two epidemics in Natchez, Mississippi in 1848 and in1854, one of yellow fever and another pf cholera. He also was a physician to Gen. John Anthony Quitman. Next to Quitman’s plantation on St. Catherine St. was the Forks of the Road slave market, operated by three brothers of the James family – Thomas Green, David Daniel, & John Duke James. The father of the James brothers, Thomas James, was a charge d’affaires to the Spanish government. Later he retired to Hyde’s Landing in Nashville, Tennessee where Frank and Jesse visited and lived periodically. Blackburn and the James surely would have known one another in this period.
“During the Civil War, Blackburn served with Sterling Price together with A.J. James. A.J. was attorney general under Gov. Beriah Magoffin when Magoffin refused to send four regiments to Lincoln for the war. During the war, Magoffin’s descendants are a first cousin of Blackburn. A.J. James served under Preston Leslie, and it is said under Gen. Joseph Orville “Jo” Shelby, who is Blackburn’s nephew. After the war, James would become Secretary of State. In retirement, A.J. James was president of the Farmers Bank of Frankfort, with Blackburn’s cousin Edmund Haynes Taylor on its Board of Directors.
“In the Civil War period, Blackburn shipped infected clothing to the North and to Lincoln, in particular, intending to kill him. Months after the war ended, Quantrill and the James brothers rode through Kentucky en route to Washington. It is said they intended to assassinate Lincoln. They were halted by Maj. James Bridgewater. Quantrill was killed. Frank James surrendered. Blackburn’s nephew Jo Shelby testified at Frank’s trial and Frank was exonerated.
“Blackburn is related to a small number of James. He also is kin to Presidents George Washington, James Madison, and the Lee family of Virginia of Gen. Robert E. Lee, as well as V.P. Richard Mentor Johnson. He also is related to my second wife through her grandfather R. J. Reynolds. Most of these kinships are in the third to fifth cousin categories.
“Given all of these relationships, it is entirely possible that Dr. Luke Pryor Blackburn talked with Gov. Crittenden.”
I referred Mark Griffin to Dr. Thomas J. Sabetta of the University of Kentucky, who recently was a panelist at the 2017 James-Younger Gang & Family conference. Dr. Sabetta currently is writing two books, one about Capt. Delos T. “Yankee” Bligh who pursued the James Gang, and another on “Dynamite” Dick Mitchel, a rider with John Hunt Morgan, Basil Duke, Sue Munday, and Sam Berry.
In this historic home in Paris, Kentucky grew up Elizabeth “Betsy” Wright, the spouse of Justice John Thomas James, a son of Capt. John James & Dinah Allen. Their long line of James descendants includes living family today. Notable among them is Richard “Dick” Overgard, who first contributed the data on this line to Stray Leaves almost 20 years ago.
Other notables in this line also include Sheriff John Payne Kelly Sr. of Kelly’s Ford in Culpeper County, VA., made famous in the Civil War. The Sheriff married Betsy’s daughter Margaret Wright James. Their son Granville James Kelly Sr. was postmaster at Kelly’ Ford and the father of Alexander Doniphan Kelly. At Kelly’s Ford, this family essentially knew everyone personally in and around Kelly’s Ford, including those associated with the escape of John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincon’s assassin.
From this citadel, the Hite-Bowman family entered the frontier of Kentucky to inform, direct, and protect Frank & Jesse James’ pioneer grandfather John M. James in the wilderness. The keynote speaker is Richard Hite, whose book Sustainable Genealogywe have reviewed and recommended.
Matrilineal Ancestry Key to Choctaw & Chickasaw Descendants of the James Family
Our new and most recent research at Stray Leaves has taken a decided turn towards our James descendants of Choctaw & Chickasaw blood. Recently, we mounted a new searchable genealogy database, devoted to these two lines of unique James descendants.
A key thing to know when learning about the Choctaw and Chickasaw is how they differ fundamentally from our Anglo bloodlines.
In traditional Anglo bloodlines, power, family, and identity flow through the male paternal side of ancestry. Among those of Choctaw & Chickasaw blood, just the opposite is true. These Native-American tribes take their power, family, and identity from their female ancestry.
You can learn more about this matriarchal structure below where you will find a number of links and videos.
The eBay find of Justin Whiting of the UK was promoted worldwide as being an image of Jesse James. Decrying Whiting as a fraud and a merchant of identity theft, the James family enjoined Mark David Bampton of Great Britain to analyze the image and make public his findings. Below is Bampton’s entire report for free download, plus highlights of his findings.
MARK DAVID BAMPTON’S FORENSIC ANALYSIS
DOWNLOAD Mark David Bampton’s paper in pdf format.
DOWNLOAD Kent Gibson’s & Will Dunniway’s declarations for comparison
HOVER over slideshow for directional pages.
There is generally good alignment for most lines.
• Top of the head
• Centre of the eyes
• Bottom of the nose
• Edge of the top lip
• Where the lips join
• Edge of the bottom lip
• Bottom of the chin
• Top of the shirt collar
The distance between the bottom two lines indicates that the man on the left has a significantly longer neck than the man on the right.
The parts of the yellow line marking the tops of the shoulders are significantly below the shoulders highlighted with red lines. This is consistent with the significant difference between the top of the shirt collar and the bottom of the chin and confirms that the man on the right has a much shorter neck than the man on the left.
There is considerable misalignment of the template and the lower part of the lapel in the right hand photograph is significantly wider than in the left photograph. The lower part of the lapel is also much longer as highlighted by the length of the yellow template line.
In contrast to what the experts say these are definitely different jackets in each photograph.
The horizontal lines are drawn through the following features although the top of the head is obscured by the brushed back hair.
• Top of the hairline at the parting
• Centre of the eyes
• Bottom of the nose
• Where the lips join
• Edge of the bottom lip
• Bottom of the chin
There is generally good alignment although the man on the right has a thicker bottom lip than Jesse James.
Vertical lines are created on the lower picture of Jesse James and continued up over the other photograph. They mark the following dimensions.
• The distance from ear edge to ear edge
• The distance between the centres of the eyes
It is not possible to align both eyes in the photograph at the top right so his right eye is
aligned. The left eye centre is noticeably inside the other vertical line indicating that his eyes
are closer together.
Coincidentally his right ear is aligned with the relevant vertical line but there is a significant gap between his left ear and the other vertical line. Together with the shorter distance between the eyes this indicates that the man in the top right photograph has a much narrower head than Jesse James.
It is clear from my analysis that there are significant differences proving that Justin Whiting’s photograph is not an authentic one of Jesse James…
His two photographs were taken with different photographic processes and include two different men wearing different jackets. There is nothing left to indicate that they were taken on the same day by the same photographer.
In the worldwide publicity Justin Whiting promoted, Whiting advertised that his “7£ eBay find” was headed to Christie’s in London. There, Whiting imagined he would reap at auction a $2 million dollar windfall that the experts Whiting consulted told him to expect.
On March 31, 2018, Christie’s notified Whiting in writing that his artifact was not suitable for consignment. Christie’s further requested that Whiting refrains from associating Christie’s name with his promotion.
In America, the New York Post formerly followed The Telegraph in first reporting the Justin Whiting’s story. Now The Post walks away from the story, too.
The story of Justin Whiting and his “7£ eBay find” is a story of self-delusion, false hope, and cognitive dissonance, abetted by unscrupulous enablers, all whom wilfully sidestep reason and critical thinking for the dream of fleecing the public of an exorbitant amount of money. That is a crime unworthy of the name of Jesse James.
“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.”
Bachelor of Arts Degree in Industrial Design, Class 2 (1) Honours
The selected authors will focus on the conference theme, “What happened in Missouri began in Kentucky.”
Guerrilla raids and warfare, John Hunt Morgan, social culture that led to war…all vie with personal history written by family descendants about ancestors. These authors bring a unique perspective to the history of the James-Younger Gang and their families that only is found in a meeting like this.
FAMILY PERSPECTIVE AUTHORS
SUE KELLY BALLARD
In My Blessed, Wretched Life, Rebecca Boone’s Story, Sue Kelly Ballard writes a captivating, gut-wrenching, story about Daniel Boone’s wife, Rebecca Ann Bryant. Rebecca and Daniel Boone are 5th great-grandparents of the descendants of Jesse James Jr. and Stella McGowan.
“Ballard captures every mood and moment of Rebecca’s life in the backwoods and on the frontier with accuracy and passion, with authenticity and beauty, and at a pace that keeps the reader diving headlong into each new page eager to swallow up what happens next… it takes a skilled frontier woman…to keep everyone and everything moving along together.”
Born in Kentucky, Sue Kelly Ballard is a Board Director of the Boone Society and co-edits the Society’s Compass newsletter. A member of the Filson Historical Society and DAR, she recently received the DAR Award for Women in the Arts. Ballard is an “army brat,” having lived in several states and overseas. Recently, she retired as a professor emerita of chemistry.
ERIC F. JAMES
In This Bloody Ground, Eric F. James writes a leading-edge history about John M. James, the grandfather of Frank and Jesse. In the epic style of his award winning Jesse James Soul Liberty quintet, Eric draws upon a cornucopia of unexplored sources to reveal for the first time an historical record too long ignored.
This Bloody Ground steers the reader deeply into the Kentucky wilderness with John M. James and his self-exiled bunch of rebel Baptist preachers, from John’s first meeting with Daniel Boone through the resistance and trials of the American Revolution. Facing persistent Indian raids and certain death on this unforgiving frontier, John nearly loses his family. Joined by the families of Lindsay, Cole, Pence, Nalle, Scholl, Hite, Vardeman and others, all bind to one another for self-survival and self-rule. Conspirators threaten and abound. The choice is dire. John’s selection engulfs him. Stay under a repressive Virginia, or join Kentucky to Spain. With statehood overriding, John rises as a political founder and legislative representative. But, ruin remains his destiny. Under threat of revelation, John retreats to Rogue’s Harbor (later called Logan County) to live in anonymity and a new family of his own. Facing death, John M. James still yearns for more revolution. This time, against banks.
Eric writes and publishes Stray Leaves, the official website and blog for the family of Frank & Jesse James. Volume I of his quintet was recipient of the Milton F. Perry Award.
In I Knew Frank, I Wish I knew Jesse, and in Guerrillas and Other Curiosities, Dan Pence edits and compiles a unique personal historical record harvested by his grandfather, the author Samuel Anderson Pence. As an inveterate collector of historical minutia and as a personal friend of many among the Jesse James community, S.A. Pence presents a story with infill information that every historian writing on this subject wishes he knew.
Dan Pence is the present president of the James-Younger Gang.
In Widder’s Landing, Eddie Price writes a story of life, love and survival set against the rugged Kentucky frontier. Craig Ridgeway, a 21-year old gunsmith from Pennsylvania, rides a flatboat down the Ohio River to Kentucky to try his hand at farming. Through an accidental association with a notorious widow (the past proprietor of a liquor vault and prostitution den), he inherits a patch of rich bottomland, embraces a nearby family, and falls in love with the abandoned wife of a violent outlaw. Overcoming inexperience and hardships, Craig builds a promising new life, learning how to raise corn, tobacco and hemp. Inspired by the “Widder’s” recipe, he and his wife Mary manufacture bourbon whiskey, which he markets profitably in New Orleans. A new steamboat embarks on its first journey down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, ushering in a new economic era.
In a way, Ridgeway’s journey mirrors the arrival of Anthony Lindsay and his family. Lindsay’s young son saw only desperation in the wilderness ahead. If he did not marry a girl from the Quissenberry family on their flatboat, he never would find a wife in the wilds or have a family of his own.
Eddie’s book Widder’s Landing received the Gold medal for “Best Historical Fiction” in the 2013 Reader’s Favorite Awards. In 2015, he received the National Literary Habitat Award for “Best Historical Fiction.” Aside from being an award winning author, Eddie Price is a speaker for the Kentucky Humanities Council Speakers Bureau. His topics cover a variety of subjects, most concerning the era up to and including 1812. Soon, Eddie’s next book will be published. In An Unlikely Trio, Eddie writes about the 1913 Kentucky Derby when a thoroughbred, jockey, and breeder-trainer made racing history. In Chautauqua presentations, sponsored by the Kentucky Humanities Council, Eddie portrays jockey Roscoe Goose. For more about Eddie Price see his website.
WARFARE PERSPECTIVE AUTHORS
In Thus Fell Tecumseh, Frank Kuron chronicles the battles and hardships of forces on both sides of the early-American conflict of 1812. Specifically, he targets the eighteen month period leading up to the Battle of the Thames in October of 1813 when the great Shawnee leader Tecumseh was killed. Over 160 primary accounts from diaries, newspapers, and letters of troops involved at the Thames provide the reader with the opportunity to solve the mystery now over 200 years old. How and by whose hand was Tecumseh slain? Was it Col. William Whitley, the frontier neighbor of John M. James at Crab Orchard, who killed Tecumseh? Or, was it Richard Mentor Johnson of Ward Hall?
Frank Kuron is a lifelong resident of Toledo, Ohio. He has written history newspaper columns about the War of 1812 for the Toledo Free Press. Frank writes in a personal and engaging style, bringing to light lesser-known people, events, and the aftermaths of the war. He now is researching material for his next book about the frontier life of early America. As a board member of the Fallen Timbers Battlefield Preservation Commission, Frank encourages public awareness of this key, yet nearly forgotten, American & Native American confrontation.
GERALD W. FISCHER
About Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Kentucky, Gerald W. Fischer writes, “Usually when people think about guerrilla activity during the Civil War, the border conflicts between Kansas and Missouri come to mind, enhanced by tales of Quantrill’s Raiders and Bloody Bill Anderson preying upon innocent townsfolk and civilians. However, guerrilla forces roamed throughout the border states and beyond throughout the entire war. Similar tales can be found in Kentucky, the Virginias, and other areas at a time when loyalties could be found for both North and South. This is especially true for the Heartland of Kentucky…Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Kentucky explores the real guerrilla fighters of the region, their exploits and their eventual demise, along with some of the infamous lawmen and soldiers assigned to bring them to justice.”
Gerald also has authored Battletown Witch, and co-written the book Meade County Families and History. He blogs for the Meade County Area Chamber of Commerce, and writes a weekly history feature for the Meade County Messenger. He is a regular contributor to the Kentucky Explorer magazine. Born in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Gerald studied history, archeology and anthropology at the University of Louisville, earning two undergraduate degrees in history and anthropology. Graduating with honors from Spalding University with an M.A. in teaching, Gerald taught school in Florida and Kentucky.
WILLIAM A. PENN
In Kentucky Rebel Town, William A. Penn examines Cynthiana, “that infernal hole of rebellion” where John Hunt Morgan’s last Kentucky raid ended calamitously. With Morgan went the Confederacy’s best chance, as Morgan himself opined, “to hold Kentucky for months.” Penn probes the divided loyalties and tense conflicts that wracked the picturesque Bluegrass town during four years of upheaval. Penn traces the local confrontations between Unionists and Rebels with aplomb, giving close attention to the shifting allegiances and fortunes of leading community figures. Penn concludes that a majority of Cynthiana’s white citizens maintained their rebel sympathies throughout the war and far into its aftermath.
Penn examines topics ranging from enlistment and conscription to early confrontations over federal encampments around Cynthiana. Petty jealousies and personal rivalries animate its central characters as much as grandiose claims to Southern honor or devotion to the Union. Penn is at pains “to explore the effects of the war” on all local residents. Drawing from an impressive amount of letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, and federal records, Penn highlights the daily physical and psychological struggles that those on the home front endured and the shattering personal losses that were all too common during wartime.
Reviewers say, Embattled Capital is a must-read for students of the conflict seeking an intimate look at how the war affected life in a slave-holding border-state. The book shows that the citizens of Frankfort, Kentucky experienced a much different war. Allegiance was fluid and could change depending on who maintained power. The book’s strength lies in the author’s ability to vividly convey the city’s wartime experiences through the excellent use of primary sources. His skill tells the story of Frankfort’s Civil War and postwar story through the eyes of the local community.
James M. Prichard is the former Research Room Supervisor at the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. Presently, he works in the Special Collections Department of the Filson Historical Society. He is a regular contributor to Civil War Times, North and South, and True West magazines. His essays have appeared in the Kentucky Encyclopedia, The Encyclopedia of Louisville, Biographical Dictionary of the Union, Heidler’s Encyclopedia of the Civil War, The Worl Encyclopedia of Slavery, Confederate Generals in the Western Theater, Kentuckians in Gray, and Virginia at War: 1863.
RONALD WOLFORD BLAIR
Wild Wolf, The Great Civil War Rivalry is the Story of Col. Frank Wolford, the celebrated Civil War cavalier and rival of Confederate raider John Hunt Morgan. Written by Wolford’s second great-nephew, Ronald Wolford Blair, the book discusses in detail Wolford’s heroic leadership in part of more than 300 battles and skirmishes and his notable rivalry with Morgan’s Raiders during which Wolford was wounded seven times. Additional details about Wolford’s political career and personal life are reviewed, plus little-known facts about his staunch opposition and policy dispute with President Abraham Lincoln over the use of black soldiers in the Union forces.
Ronald Wolford Blair is a contributing author of the book, Kentucky’s Civil War: 1861-1865, which won a Governor’s Award, as well as the book, Kentucky Rising, written by his friends, Dr. James A. Ramage and Dr. Andrea Watkins. Ron has written for as the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Lexington Herald-Leader. He is a member of the Civil War Trust for the preservation of Civil War Battlefields. Ron also is a member of several Civil War roundtable organizations, the Kentucky Historical Society, Friends of Henry Clay, and Morgan’s Men Association, among other organizations.