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.
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.
This is another rehash of the Northfield Bank Robbery and the escape of Frank and Jesse James. The author used several creditable sources for the book, but he also used a lot of newspaper articles as sources. The newspapers are often from areas far removed both geographically and in time from the crimes which they described. It stretches the imagination to believe newspapers from Vermont or Florida forty years after the incident would be considered as accurate sources.
The author repeats many of the more garish tales about the James and Younger gang members and often says that what he repeats is probably just a story. For example the tale of Cole Younger checking out his new Enfield rifle. Cole supposedly lined up fifteen Kansas Jayhawkers and kept shooting until he killed them all. Competent historians have long dismissed this story as a complete myth.
The author repeatedly proves that his knowledge about the state of Missouri is not very comprehensive. He makes the statement that Missouri was a slave state with most slaves in the southern part of the state. In fact, most of the slaves in Missouri were along the Missouri River in the area often referred to as “Little Dixie.” When Jesse James is living in St. Joseph, Missouri, the author states he was living there in the “Cracker Neck District”. The Cracker Neck area was located in Jackson County, near Independence, Missouri, not in St. Joseph.
Jesse James is made out to be a most brutal man. He reportedly shot and killed a “St. Louis drummer” who was just walking down the street out of pure wantonness. Jesse was also a real ladies man and had liaisons with hundreds of women. He supposedly had a daughter living in Howard County, Missouri at the time of his death. And Jesse also killed Ed Miller because Miller caught Jesse fooling around with his girlfriend. Ed Miller was a married man, but I guess he might have had a girlfriend too.
Bill Anderson’s men always rode under the Black Flag. And when Anderson’s men killed Major Johnson and his troops during the Centralia raid, they shot Johnson and all 148 men in the head.
Two new members of the James gang are revealed in this book, Sam Kaufman, and Sam Hill. None of the most reliable books about the James gang every mentions these two names. This author also claims the notorious liar, Kit Dalton, is a friend of Jesse James. This is very unlikely although Kit Dalton did know Frank James in later years.
This book has little to recommend it. The book is full of inaccuracies, has misspelled words (deputy marshal is consistently deputy Marshall) and contains some dubious photos. It is very disappointing to see McFarland & Company publishing such a poor quality book at such an outrageous price.
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.
April 19, 2017 – Dan Pence and Tom Nall, president and past president of the International James-Younger Gang Inc., will arrive at the 200-year-old Hemp House here in Danville today. Then for three days, we will tour Kentucky and preview historic sites in preparation for the speaking events and tours that are scheduled for the 2017 annual conference in Georgetown come September.
Today, we will begin at Constitution Square. We will talk about the enduring relationship between John M. James, Frank & Jesse’s grandfather, with Judge Harry Innes, his clerk & later Justice Thomas Todd, & Benjamin Sebastian of the Spanish Conspiracy. We will also address what role John M. James may have had in the ten Danville Conventions and how the Spanish Conspiracy led to his ruin.
Next, we will retrace the ride of Frank James, the Younger & Pence brothers with William Clark Quantrill when they rode through Danville in 1864 on a mission to “visit” President Lincoln.
We will tour their escape route from Danville to Perryville and up to Sally Van Arsdall’s farm outside Harrodsburg. There, Maj. James Bridgewater, whose wife was a Pence, caught up with the band and attacked them in the middle of a cold January night. Four of the band was killed. Previously, the James-Younger Gang Journal published my account of this event, “Why, Maj. Bridgewater?”
We will then tour Oakland Church cemetery where Quantrill ordered their fallen men to be buried. We also will visit Spring Hill Cemetery in Harrodsburg, where Frank James and Black Jack Chinn exhumed their slain from Oakland Church Cemetery and re-interred them in the Confederate plot at Spring Hill around 1898.
Returning to Danville, we will visit Bellevue Cemetery and the grave site of the grandparents of Clell Miller, Henry Logan Thurmond & Mary Kenley-Thurmond. Clell Miller was one of the James-Younger Gang. He was killed in the Northfield Bank robbery.
We will round off today’s tour in Danville with visits to Weisiger Park next to the Boyle County courthouse where Joseph McAlister James, aka Joseph McJames, operated the St. James Hotel. We also will stop by the parking lot on Third St. backing up to the Boyle County jail where Joseph McJames owned and operated James Hall, Danville’s first and original theater, and convention center.
In the coming two more days, we plan to tour in Woodford and Scott Counties.
DAY TWO on TOUR
April 20, 2017 – Yesterday, after a full day of touring numerous historic sites relating to the pioneer settlement of John M. James in Kentucky and his pioneer families of Pence, Nalle, Vardiman, & Sallee, we ended our tour at Bellevue Cemetery in Danville.
Standing before the graves of Clell Miller’s grandparents, I received the ultimate compliment from Dan Pence. Turning to me, Dan said, “My grandfather would have loved to have known you.”
Dan’s grandfather is Samuel Anderson Pence, the author of I Knew Frank…I Wish I had Known Jesse. This book and its companion book Quantrill’s Guerillas 1861-1865 compiles Pence’s lifetime accumulation of history, stories, facts, and data relating to Pence’s personal relationship with the social communities and family of Frank & Jesse James. Dan edited and published his grandfather’s book posthumously. So much of Dan’s book is new and previously unpublished history. I have used this book often in my own research and writing.
I was thrilled to think Dan thought so kindly about my research and writing. Dan’s generous compliment could not have thrilled me more.
Today, we continue our tour in Georgetown and Midway and the historic site related to the James family there.
DAY THREE on TOUR
April 21, 2017 – So far, very few complications have arisen regarding our programming for the September conference. Everything is working out well and in some cases better than first thought. This conference is going to be great!
However, while conducting our tour, revelations have occurred to us which surprised us. There really is no reason why the three of us, all raised in the upper Midwest, should find ourselves bound together by Jesse James. Yet, here we are.
Yesterday, Dan revealed his story “You have to go to Kentucky.”
As a trained chemist, grown up In Michigan, Dan knew nothing of his connections to Jesse James. Not until Dan’s son brought home a book one day about Jesse James and Dan began to look at his grandfather’s box of memorabilia, did Dan begin to follow his path of spiritual discovery.
Following the neglected leads left to him, Dan began his journey. Dan’s door of discovery opened when a near stranger instructed him “You have to go to Kentucky. When Dan did, like me Dan discovered the unexpected.
In the Kentucky corporate offices of Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Dan met with Bill Samuel. Bill showed Dan Bill’s own neglected box of family memorabilia. Among the artifacts in Bill’s box were photos of Dan’s grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather.
Ever since then Dan has been on his own personal tour to discover what meaning Jesse James holds for him. Even on this preview tour of historic sites in Kentucky and after publishings his grandfather’s books, Dan is still learning more.
The three of us boys from the upper Midwest agree. We are traveling a curious path of divinity. We fully expect more revelations to come. Come to Kentucky, and you can, too. Join us and tour with us at the 2017 annual conference of the James-Younger Gang.
Official website for the family of Frank & Jesse James – Living lives, telling the story. Knowing self.
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