Yesterday the Neosho Daily News, south the Kansas City in Missouri, ran a blog on its website asking, “Why the acclaim for Jesse James?”The blog had some nice things to say about the James family’s website Stray Leaves. But I felt the blog missed the point in answering the question. So I posted a rather lengthy response, that as of today has earned a couple of Likes. You may want to post a response with your ideas yourself.
In his book, Desperate Measures, Ralph P. Ganis falsely claims a relationship between Frank & Jesse James and the Ku Klux Klan.
The book was debunked by reputable historians as well as by the James Preservation Trust representing the James family. His publisher, Tarheel Press, formerly fell silent and stopped fulfilling orders for the book. Now Mr. Ganis has resurfaced to sell his book again. This time in Stanly County, North Carolina. To refresh interest in his book, Ganis promotes a new falsehood. Ganis now claims he himself is related to Frank & Jesse James.
For the record, Ralph P. Ganis never has produced any documentary evidence to the James family, or to the James Preservation Trust, verifying his claim of family relationship. In his assertion, Mr. Ganis joins a long list of James family claimants, all of whom ultimately share a common destiny as shameless self-promoters and charlatans.
The following book review for Mr. Ganis’ book appeared in the James-Younger Gang Journal, Fall 2007, pp. 4-5.
BOOK REVIEW: Desperate Measures: Jesse James and the Klan Battles of Reconstructionby Ralph P. Ganis with Julie Hampton Ganis, Jerry D. Shouse, Jr. and Matthew C. Bumgartner. Tarheel Press, Hickory, North Carolina 2007 ISBN#; NONE
In spite of the title, this book as a very small amount of information about Jesse James. The book’s real focus is on the Kirk-Holden War in North Carolina during Reconstruction. Before the Civil War, W.W. Holden had been a strong advocate for secession. After the War, Holden became a Radical Republican and was appointed Governor of North Carolina. Holden ran again during the first post-war election but was not elected. A term later he was elected governor of the state. Holden’s administration was very corrupt; he was eventually impeached and removed from office.
The Union and Loyal Leagues became very strong in part of North Carolina and the local population fought back in a number of ways, through the Klan, and other like organizations. The Union/Loyal Leagues were lead by Whites from the North and they organized local Blacks and made sure they voted for Radical Republicans. Some of these Union/Loyal Leagues also encouraged barn-burning and other illegal activities by Blacks. When the white population organized activities to stop these illegal actions by Blacks, Gov. Holden declared a state of insurrection in two counties. Holden then hired one ex-Union officer named George Kirk (a thoroughly unsavoury and brutal character) to form a private army (about 1,000 strong) to retaliate against the local White population.
The authors of this book jump to conclusions that because several families from this section of North Carolina settled in or near Clay County, Missouri, the home of the James boys, that the James boys had some active role in Klan activities in North Carolina and elsewhere.
This would be exciting stuff if the authors had any real evidence to back up their suppositions. Instead, the book uses a lot of oral history and traditional tales that have been handed down through the generations instead of hard evidence. There are many statements that say things like, “It is believed,” “It is documented that,” “It is logical to assume,” “It is possible,” etc., etc. Then there is little or no documentation to back up these statements.
1. Jim Cummins (a sometime James Gang member) had a brother-in-law that rode with Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. (Forrest was widely believed to be the commander of the Klan throughout the entire South.) “This may have relevance of James connection to the Klan.” No supporting documentation is offered to show any connection with the Cummins’ brother-in-law, Gen. Forrest, of the Klan.
2. “James connections to North Carolina are highly significant and extensive.” Again, no evidence for this is presented. Early in the book, the authors mention a statement by Frank James during his trial in 1883. They quote Frank: “My intention was to go into North Carolina and remain there.”
This quote is taken from a summary of Frank’s trial in George Miller, Jr.’s book, “The Trial of Frank James.” The newspapers that reported Frank’s trial do not use this quote. Frank went to North Carolina looking for work. He did not find a job and quickly moved on. Readers are advised to remember also that Frank went to North Carolina after Jesse was killed in 1882. The authors offer no documented evidence that Frank James was anywhere in North Carolina during the Kirk-Holden War or at any other time during the Reconstruction troubles.
3. “North Carolina provided the James boys safe harbor as illustrated by the number of North Carolina families in Clay County, Missouri.” On page 15 the authors provide a list of more than 25 family names in Clay County, Missouri, that supposedly account for significant Klan connections to the James Gang during Reconstruction. I checked these family names against the 1860 census for Clay County. Several of these names do not appear on the 1860 census for Clay County. Several others of these family names have multiple listings that give the birthplaces of the parents in the family in Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, Maryland, etc. as well as some in North Carolina. Some of these family names even list the birthplace as another country.
4. The authors also list several names of the supposed Klansmen who fled North Carolina and went to Clay County, Missouri, during the Kirk-Holden War. I have checked these names against the genealogical extracts from the Liberty Tribune from 1868 through 1874. I found no evidence of numerous visits to Clay County by people from North Carolina during this period. In fact, several of these family names were not even listed in the index to these records. Furthermore, thousands of people left North Carolina during Reconstruction. It would not be surprising to find that some of them joined relatives in Missouri. Moving to Missouri, however, is not proof of Klan activities by those who made the move or by the James Gang.
In summary, this book makes a lot of unsupported claims and contains no new material that expands our knowledge of the James Gang. This book does not present any data that supports or proves any Klan activity by any of the James Gang in North Carolina or elsewhere.
UPDATE: April 5, 2018
FRAUDSTERS GO DEEP… After 21 years of monitoring Jesse James fraudsters, con artists, conspiracy fanatics, & alt-historians, one thing has been very clear. They never stop digging the holes they are in.
Now, Ralph P. Ganis has resurfaced again, this time with a new conspiracy theory about JFK.
No need to buy or read this book. Citing the author’s record of producing alt-history that has no basis in fact, our book reviewer for Stray Leaves won’t even review it.
We’re still waiting for an autobiography by Mr. Ganis. We look forward to his explanation of how he paid off the million dollar judgement against him that resulted from his shadow Blackwater-related activities.
The History Channel is building a record for spreading bogus history.
In their former program American Experience about Jesse James, they falsely linked Jesse to the Ku Klux Klan. Worse yet, they put that false information in the materials they distribute to schools to be used with schoolchildren in history classes.
Now comes their production Jesse James’ Hidden Treasure. Also comes more bogus history.
The fake history starts with the opening lines, which claim Jesse stole $5 million. Detailed analysis by reputable historians account a total under $250,000.
From this point on, the History Channel falls off the foundation of factual history into the fantasy lives of treasure hunter Ron Pastore, and Hollywood hopeful Ralph Ganis, who represents himself as an historian.
Pastore’s record of treasure hunting includes digging up a deceased individual to prove he is the real Jesse James, grabbing the deceased’s dna to no avail, and operating a small town museum filled with fake artifacts, that his Oklahoma neighbors ruefully call his “fifteen minutes of fame.”
Ganis is a former career Air Force serviceman, with a claimed service record that doesn’t jibe with Air Force verifications. He was a mercenary in the unjustified Iraq War. He, too, has put fake and questionable artifacts in museums. Now, Ganis hopes to cut a swath in Hollywood as a Jesse James authority, based on two books he’s self published that are debunked by professional historians.
Pastore and Ganis are made for one another. Hardly a line in the History Channel script doesn’t begin with the phrase “Pastore believes…” The books by Ganis are filled with phrases like “It is believed…” and “It is possible…” To these two, facts are irrelevant. Truth requires no logic, nor explanation. Just take their word for it.
For all that Pastore and Ganis present, everything is secret, or a former secret, apparently known only to them. Astoundingly, all of the secrets they know have eluded the most intense scrutiny and investigation by professional investigators, criminologists, forensic scientists, historians, writers, and educators, for over 125 years.
Once more, Ganis introduces his fantasy of Jesse being part of the KKK. But no explanation follows. Just like Pastore, who doesn’t explain his fantasy of why Jesse hides treasure in Kansas, or why and how Jesse buried and hid gold coins in jars manufactured after 1910, thirty years after Jesse died. Logic? They don’t need no stinkin’ logic!
The failures and inconsistencies in the multiple fantasies of Pastore and Ganis are cumulative and monumental, if not pathetically pathological. Their script is expected to be debunked, dismantled and de-constructed, line by line, in a different kind of forum, yet to come.
When the message is so bad, the usual caveat warns against shooting the messenger. In this case. the lie that is being put to factual history is so egregious that The History Channel well deserves to be shot, as do their guns for hire.