Forensic science now impugns an ambrotype image claimed to be Jesse Woodson James. The forensic report concludes the image is not America’s iconic historical figure at all.
A forensic science paper titled “Analysis of an Ambrotype to Find Out if it is an Authentic Image of Jesse James” was written and published by Mark David Bampton, a native of Great Britain. The paper first appeared on Academia.edu, and now is republished in its entirety below with permission.
Applying his knowledge of forensic science acquired over many years, Mark Bampton has made a name for himself in the U.S. as a forensic analyst of historical photographic images. His masterful forensic debunking of the Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax definitively lay to rest a claimed Jesse James tintype image as being a fraud.
Most recently, Bampton garnered more distinction when he applied his forensic science skills to an image claimed to be famed Mississippi blues man Robert Johnson. American musicologists who engaged the controversy beforehand have coalesced in the end behind Bampton’s meticulous analysis. In the case of the Robert Johnson image, Bampton’s analysis went beyond facial recognition alone so far as to scrutinize the hands of the blues artist.
THE RED FLAGS
The present ambrotype claimed to be Jesse James is owned by Patrick Taylor Meguiar. He has consigned the artifact for auction to Addison and Sarova, an antiquarian book dealer in Georgia.
Prior to consignment, Meguiar’s artifact and claim raised a host of red flags. When Meguiar sought the opinion of his artifact from the Jesse James family, he made claims that were not substantiated. When promoting the artifact on its web site, the auction firm furthermore relied upon and created fictionalized history, to promote the questionable artifact for auction sale.
Eric F. James had no difficulty pointing out what he perceived as significant discrepancies in Meguiar’s image and claim. James is the genealogist, family historian, and archivist of an archive of family documents pertaining to the Jesse James family. His archive includes 250 years of authentic James family images, plus an extensive archive of images that have claimed to be Jesse James or his brother Frank James, collected over the past 150 years. Recently, James produced a video showing the genetic physical characteristics of the men of the Jesse James family. On average, James receives 3-4 claimed images every month. Most all of them never are subjected to forensic science analysis.
FIRST RESPONSE OF THE JESSE JAMES FAMILY
Writing to Patrick Meguiar, James was quick with his replay and opinions.
“First to the image:
“Attached you will find a side by side comparison between your image and one of Jesse James.
“To the untrained eye, it would appear easy to see why your image might claim to be that of Jesse James. However, when left to scientific forensic analysis, there’s much to be said. I will simply address those particulars identifiable to me.
“Clearly, these two subjects are not the same age. Jesse James is about 16 when this image was taken. The subject of the claimed image appears to be almost a decade older at least. Forensic analysis would take this into account. Still, enough physical features can be compared.
“The forehead in a professional analysis would be measured for comparison of mathematical spatial metrics. From my view, they appear similar, but each displays a different hairline. There also appears to be some spatial formations that do not comport. The JJ image is broader. The claimed image appears more narrow in compactness. Again, mathematical metrics would measure this very precisely.
“The eyebrows are dissimilar. Typical of the Jesse James family, one eyebrow is arched and the other curved. Both are arched severely in the claimed image, very unlike any image to be found among the archive of images from the James family.
“The eyes are shaped differently in each. However, JJ’s eyes are more deeply set, more round than almond, and are not subject to as heavy an overhang of fatty eye tissue. The spatial relationship of the eyes to the nose also differ.
“The noses differ also, JJ’s being longer with the typical James base that arises up and forward from the area above the lip. The base of the nose on the claimed image does not rise, nor is it as widely spaced. The spatial relationships between lower nose and upper lip also differ.
“The cheekbones differ, too. By the time JJ was the age of the subject in the claimed image, his cheekbones would grow more pronounced.than that of the claimed subject. They also are more widely set. The same could be said of the upper jawbone, which among the James is as pronounced as that of the claimed image.
“Below the nose, the most telling discrepancies appears among the base jawline, jaw formation, lip formation, and their spatial relationships. Unlike the flat horizontal lower jaw of the James, the claimed image displays a rounded jaw line and bulbous jaw. The typical lip formation of the James, evident in the JJ image, of full lower lip and an indented upper lip drawn very widely beyond the width of the nose formation, does not appear the same in the claimed image, which is tight, lacks definition, and is no more wide than the width of the subject’s nose. No James image displays such a narrowly drawn lip.
“Below all this is the neck, JJ’s neck being elongated like most among his family, and the claimed image displaying a truncated neck depth.
“All of this leads me to conclude that you should not waste any money to have your image authenticated. I do not believe it to be an authentic image of Jesse Woodson James.”
A comparison of the initial perception by James with the measured and scientific analysis by Mark David Bampton reveal the two, not only arrived at the same conclusion, they arrived at the same conclusion for virtually the same reasons. Neither James nor Bampton had conferred with one another beforehand or during their independent analysis.
Initially, James casually considered the man in the ambrotype might be William Clark Quantrill under whose black flag Frank and Jesse James briefly served. Upon closer examination of his archive of authentic Quantrill images, James discarded the thought as improbable.
OR UNDER WHO ?
Following his reading of Mark Bampton’s paper, James revisited the question of who the man in the ambrotype might be.
A comparison of an image of Patrick Taylor Meguiar with his childhood image plus an image of Patrick Meguiar’s father, leads James to suspect the man in the ambrotype is a relative from Meguiar’s past. When James compared historical images of Patrick Meguiar’s, he noted remarkable similarities among Meguiar’s legitimate ancestors and the man in the claim image. None of the legitimate ancestry of Patrick Meguiar was known in the period to the ancestry of Jesse Woodson James.
James knows that forensic science has proved the man in the ambrotype is not Jesse Woodson James. The evidence and proof made public in Mark Bampton’s independent forensic analysis report is available for anyone to see. What remains unseen is the evidence and proof of Patrick Meguiar’s claim. Patrick Meguiar still must prove who is the man in his ambrotype.
An ambrotype, claimed to be Jesse James, has raised multiple red flags, particularly from the Jesse James family.
Patrick Taylor Meguiar wants to sell his ambrotype. He claims the subject of his picture is Jesse James. Patrick says the artifact was handed down from Jesse, through Patrick’s family, to him. Patrick also says he is Jesse’s cousin. Patrick’s ambrotype is waving red flags.
Patrick has two problems. Patrick cannot prove his kinship to Jesse. Moreover, Patrick cannot prove his ambrotype is Jesse James. Disregarding what may be wishful thinking, Patrick is taking his claimed Jesse James ambrotype to auction.
“Dear Cousin” – Red Flag # 1
Fatal flaws in Patrick’s wishful thinking first appeared when he solicited the Jesse James family. Emailing to Jesse James family historian and Stray Leaves publisher Eric F. James, Patrick wrote, “Dear Cousin Eric.”
A greeting like “Dear Cousin Eric” raises an immediate red flag among the James family. The common belief within the James family is that those who claim to be a relation most likely are not. Moreover, those who are a legitimate and genetic relation are not likely to admit it, let alone to talk about it. A greeting like “Dear Cousin” forewarns that something amiss is about to follow.
No Sources – Red Flag # 2
Writing to Eric F. James, Patrick staked his claim to Jesse James kinship, but he provided no genealogical details or sources as evidence of his claim.
“This is the image that has passed down in my family with the tradition that Cousin Jesse Woodson James gave this photo to my great great grandmother Sarah Mariah Martin Meguiar & her siblings in 1868. I descend twice directly from Sarah Hines Martin who was the sister of Mary Hines James the wife of William James.
“My line is as follows: John Hines had Sarah Hines who married John Martin. They had Robert Martin who married Sarah Jane Hoy. They had Sarah Mariah Martin who married Thomas William Meguiar. They had Thomas Charlie Meguiar who married Dorothy Robert Turner. They had Thomas Maynard Meguiar who married Allene Moore Hobdy. They had Thomas Maynard Meguiar, Jr. who married Eva Nell Groves. They had me, Patrick Taylor Meguiar.
“My second line is Sarah Hines married John Martin. They had Elizabeth Martin who married Martin Turner. They had Robert Williamson Turner who married Almira Lucetta Hammond. They had Dorothy Robert Turner who married Thomas Charlie Meguiar. (See the line above to continue to me).”
Muddy Ancestry – Red Flag # 4
At Stray Leaves, an independent genealogical investigation into Patrick’s claim revealed the particulars of his ancestry. The investigation also revealed Patrick’s knowledge of his own ancestry was somewhat muddy. Patrick’s wishful thinking attempted to graft his ancestral tree to the Jesse James family tree.
Research indeed confirmed the two lines of ancestry from Patrick to Sarah Hines that Patrick claimed, with a couple of muddy anomalies. Stray Leaves considers the discrepancies as minor and irrelevant to proving Patrick’s tree attaches to the James.
The principal point of grafting between the Meguiar and the James trees, Patrick says, occurs with Sarah Hines, Patrick’s second great-grandmother. Patrick claims Sarah and Mary Hines are sisters. As his evidence, Patrick cites the Douglas Register where the marriages of Sarah and Mary are identified.
The Douglas Register does not show evidence of Sarah Hines and Mary Hines being sisters, however. Just because the names of both girls named Hines appear among a list of marriages performed by Rev. William Douglas of St. James Northam Parish in Goochland County, Virginia, nothing in the Register substantiates that one Sarah Hines is a relation to another Mary Hines. In the Douglas Register, other James are listed who are not related to William James and wife Mary Hines.
Aggravating this artificial grafting point of two family trees, Patrick’s Sarah Hines appears to have unexplained ancestry in America. Whereas, evidence in the Jesse James family affirms Mary Hines was an immigrant from England. The James family cites the The Unites States Biographical Dictionary (Missouri Volume), U.S. Bio. Pub. Co. 1878.
Additionally, Joan Malley Beamis acknowledges in her essay “Unto the Third Generation,” which she wrote to the third generations of Jesse James’ descendants, that William James and Mary Hines may not be the progenitors of their Jesse James family at all. Joan acknowledges so many James families occupied Virginia in the Colonial period where the James lived. Joan M. Beamis researched and wrote Background of a Bandit between 1950 and 1970. The Kentucky Historical Society published Joan’s book in 1970. Joan is a great-granddaughter of Drury Woodson James, Jesse’s uncle. Eric F. James included the entire text of the Beamis essay “Unto the Third Generation” in his book Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence.
Ambiguous Affidavit – Red Flag # 5
Together with his ambrotype, Patrick submitted to Eric F. James an affidavit, dated February 24, 2014. The document, executed on the letterhead of Williams Galleries, American Art & Antiques, is written and signed by James E. Williams.
In the affidavit, Williams states in generalities but no details, “Using my many years of experience in historic research; artifact search and evaluation; exposure to a wide variety of historic expertise at universities, historic sites and museums; and specifically researching photographs of Jesse and Frank; my educated opinion is that a very sound case can be made that the subject in the ambrotype is Jesse James.”
Williams further concludes, “The preponderance of circumstantial evidence that has been collected to support the idea that this is a photo of Jesse is very impressive. Consequently, my opinion can be nothing else other than this is an ambrotype of Jesse Woodson James.”
Writing to James E. Williams, Eric F. James inquired,
“1. Did you conduct any further due diligence, other than what you state in the affidavit? What was the nature of that research?
“2. Did you subject the image to a scientific forensic investigation and analysis? If so, what was the outcome?
“3. Did Mr. Meguiar consign his artifact to you for sale, auction, or disposition? What was its outcome?”
When James E. William replied, he avoided the direct questions to say instead, “Considering much information Mr. Patrick Meguiar provided, it was my opinion that the ambrotype was an image of James. At no time did Mr. Meguiar consign the photo to me for sale, nor do I have financial interest in the photo, nor do I claim or want financial interest in the photograph. I’m sure Mr. Meguiar has the information that was evaluated and will go over the information with you. I have no interest in the photograph other than its’ potentially historical significance.”
For its lack of specificity and detail, the affidavit Meguiar provides to substantiate his claims amounts to no more than hearsay.
Inexpert Auction House – Red Flag # 6
Patrick strangely placed his claimed Jesse James ambrotype with the auction house of Addison & Sarova. The firm’s circle of expertise is antiquarian books. Its location in the state of Georgia is well beyond the customary locale and sphere for western artifact auctions.
A further lack of expertise is evident in Addison & Sarova’s promotional description of the Russellville Bank robbery, written to promote the sale of the artifact. Concocting a witless fiction, Addison & Sarova spins an unschooled tale straight out of pulp fiction from the 19th century. The uneducated fable is a contradiction, replete with historical falsehoods and gross inaccuracies regarding Jesse James and his factual history.
Fictional Promotion – Red Flag # 7
The fakery begins with Addison & Sarova’s assertion that Jesse James was a principal actor in the Russellville Bank robbery. No evidence supports this tall tale. In fact, at the time of the robbery Jesse was bedridden, lying on death’s doorstep. Two doctors attended Jesse. They were unable to remove the two bullets Jesse carried in his chest and lung.
The auction house clearly fashions its appeal to prospective bidders ignorant of facts or factual history.
The auction firm then spins another whopper, integrating the wishful thinking from Patrick Meguiar’s family stories. The fibbery has Jesse James casually meandering around town after the bank robbery, handing out his ambrotype. This he does in the place where he is so desperately hunted. The chicanery defies common sense. Why would a most hunted outlaw spread pictures of himself, risking that he might be identified?
Factual history records where Jesse James went. Jesse was sent to Paso Robles, California. There, his Uncle Drury Woodson James afforded Jesse the use of his ancient springs on the property of his El Paso de Robles Hotel. The ancient spring was long respected by local indigenous people for its healing properties.
When Eric F. James contacted Michael Addison, objecting to such gross distortions of factual history, Addison refused to be quoted. The due diligence Addison exercised consisted of corroborating Patrick Meguiar’s claimed genealogy using Find-a-Grave memorials. Find-a-Grave has been a notorious and flagrant abuser of the Jesse James family, allowing fraudulent memorials to remain published despite historical contradiction.
Addison produced laughter, however, when he placed so much emphasis on the ambrotype’s coloring. Reproducing blue eyes that Addison claims match the eyes of Jesse James, was all the evidence Addison needed apparently. Never mind the historical fact that color was not integral to an ambrotype image. Color was added as a post-production technique by a photographer or artist. If desired, an artist could have painted Jesse’s eyes purple.
Most significantly, Michael Addison confirmed his firm had not executed any scientific forensic analysis of Patrick’s claimed ambrotype.
The negligence of Addison & Sarova in failing to objectively assess the wishful thinking of Patrick Meguiar is not surprising at all. The firm wants a sale and will do whatever it takes to produce one.
However, now for the benefit of an auction bidding public, the James family will subject the claimed Jesse James ambrotype to the experienced commentary of the James family before the auction occurs. The James family also will provide to the public the commentary that first was provided to Patrick Meguiar, but which was ignored and disregarded. More rigorously, the family has retained a scientific forensic analyst to subject the auction artifact to an independent scrutiny. The James family will make the report of that independent inquiry and analysis publicly known and available.
“Whatever the determination of the resulting forensic report may be,” Eric F. James says, “authoritative information will be available to a prospective bidder, useful for making an informed decision. A bidder need not rely solely upon the wishful thinking of a consignor nor upon the sales promotion typical of auction house smoke and mirrors.”
We predicted months ago that the Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax is a set-up for a reality TV show. Now, Fox Business News proves that the fake photo promoted by Sandy Mills & Lois Gibson is headed, in fact, for reality TV as predicted.
Fox feeds on fake fodder. With Bill O’Reilly going on “vacation” after losing advertising support, Fox Business News brings the Mills-Gibson hoax to its reality TV show “Strange Inheritance,” hosted by Jamie Colby.
More Lies Than Legend
It appears that O’Reilly’s fake history show “Legends & Lies” about Jesse James was not fake fodder enough for the fake news network.
Anyone with factual knowledge of Jesse James history who views O’Reilly’s show knows instantly from the opening scene that O’Reilly’s show is a downhill downer. Debunking O’Reilly’s fake history about Jesse James, the outlaw Jesse James never shot anyone in the back.
In typical Fox fashion, Gaffney’s headline starts with two lies, necessary to the continuation of the Mills-Gibson hoax narrative. Debunking Gaffney’s headline, Sandy Mills is no heir of the Jesse James family, and her tintype is not a Jesse James photo.
However, wait. Maybe we should say the article opens with three lies. Who is this Brian Gaffney, the latest Mills-Gibson enabler to “friend” their hoax cabal?
Houston, We Have an Identity Problem
Long before the idea of a reality TV program came along, The Houston Chronicle introduced the fake claim of the Mills-Gibson hoax. A long list of enablers of the hoax tagged along for the ride. They have become known as the hoax cabal of alleged identity thieves. Like the hoaxers Sandy Mills and Lois Gibson, many suffered from issues of identity and veracity. It is not surprising that Fox Business News would find a publicity ally in Sandy Mills and Lois Gibson.
So now, the question must be asked. Who is Brian Gaffney? We know there is an identity problem.
Is this Brian Gaffney?
On LinkedIn, Brian Gaffney identifies himself as “Fox News Channel/Fox Business Network executive focusing primetime series, documentaries, 360 video and virtual reality.” He also identifies himself as a producer of “Strange Inheritance.” Despite having attended law school, virtual reality and reality TV are Gaffney’s medium.
Brian Gaffney is no stranger to identity politics, specifically those that affect the Fox Network. In 2015 Gaffney was engaged in protecting the network and defending Roger Ailes, soon to be fired from Fox arising from sexual harassment charges costing FOX $13 million in settlement fees. The Hollywood Reporter wrote about the sleazy identity games in its article “’Pawn Stars’ Producers Claim Fox News Network Execs Outed Gay Man in Reality TV Lawsuit.” It is not surprising Gaffney added the word “Controversial” in the title of Gaffney’s program announcement. Controversy is the grist of Fox media.
We are confident that, given Lois Gibson’s prodigious artist skills for photo imagery comparison, Gibson will prove both of these Brian Gaffneys as being one and the same person. In the moment, we take Gaffney’s own blog as evidence of who he is and will proceed on the basis of that identity.
REALITY TV or ALT-FACTS
Jamie Colby is the host of the forthcoming reality TV program. Colby is on the hunt for her next “shoot.” Trained as a lawyer, Colby sidesteps facts to sustain the corporate identity of the Fox Network that is “Fox Entertainment News.” Colby’s “Strange Inheritance” is not likely to produce any bonafide news.
Belying her lawyer training, Colby avoids substantive due diligence. Do not look for Colby to display any hard-hitting investigative reporting. Colby never contacted the Jesse James family regarding her show’s topic or the claims of the Mills-Gibson hoax. Reality TV is solely focused on diversion, advertising, ratings, and cash. Producing those results, and not necessarily facts or truth, is what matters to Jamie Colby and Brian Gaffney.
As did Bill O’Reilly, right from the start Colby sets facts aside. Colby’s alt-facts begin in her trailer teaser for the show. Less than sixty seconds into her program teaser, Colby displays an image long debunked by the Jesse James family as a fake.
Less than a minute and a half into Colby’s story, Sandy Mills changes the story that she has promoted for almost two years. Mills does not state she is a relative of Jesse James. Instead, Colby reports, “her forebears occasionally aided Jesse James.”
Auctioneer Robb Burley appears in the trailer, proclaiming “We’ve heard anything from $50,000 to a half million dollars.” That is a substantial reduction from “the millions” Mills formerly touted she was aiming to receive for her fake photo. If Burley’s estimate expectation was true, you would think Burley would salivate over collecting the customary seller’s fee following a successful auction. Curiously, Burley waived his fee, choosing instead to be compensated by his association with the notoriety of the Mills-Gibson hoax.
Bonafide Collector, Auction Shill, or Reality TV Conspirator?
The name Terry Verburgt is not one recognized among the known collectors of Jesse James artifacts or Western relics. Gaffney and Colby identify Terry Verburgt as the auction bidder who presumably paid $35,000 for Mills’ tintype. In the auction sale and purchase, there is no evidence of cash payment actually being made. Regulars who attend Burley auctions stated at the time of the sale that Verburgt was not a regular attendee at Burley auctions, nor was he known to them.
So, who is Terry Verburgt, who suddenly appears in circles where he should be known and recognized, but was not? We doubt Colby will investigate that in her show. Regardless, we have done some due diligence of our own.
Terry Verburgt is a resident of New Braunfels, Texas, where Robb Burley’s auction gallery is located. Verburgt appears to be a gold prospector who enjoys displaying his knowledge. Formerly, Verburgt was a VP and director of an aerospace supply company.
Most curiously, Terry Verburgt is a registered director of M. Windberg Galleries. The Windberg Art Center in Georgetown, Texas, is a seller of art supplies. In the art world, the track record, provenance, and reputation are always a prime consideration in regard to a prospective purchase. How aberrant is it that someone from an art supply company dishes out an exorbitant $35,000 ready cash to buy a questionable and controversial artifact that has no bonafide provenance, track record, or formal scientific authentication? Who would do so just on say-so? Was the say-so of artist Lois Gibson alone worth $35,000? This acquisition does not pass the smell test.
Now We Remember
Sandy Mills is not an heir of the Jesse James family, nor is she a relative. Her tintype is not Robert Ford and Jesse James.
Lois Gibson is not a forensic scientist who can produce a scientific forensic report to authenticate an historical image. Gibson is only an artist.
Robb Burley took no fee for his auction, but he had a film crew on site to video his auction. There is no evidence he actually received $35,000.
The buyer Terry Verburgt came our of nowhere. He’s in the art supply business like Lois Gibson. He was unknown to Burley’s auction regulars.
Now Fox Business News appears to create a reality TV show around all this nonsense. Where lies a legitimate business interest here?
Red flags were waving over this charade from the start. We foretold the Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax of Sandy Mills and Lois Gibson was headed for a reality TV show. Now it has come to pass.
The Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax is nothing more than a reality TV show, a hoax faked about a fake historical artifact for a network that specializes in fake news and now perhaps faked entertainment.
Now, do I hear a higher bid for all this fakery? I have one. It’s a book, titled Identity Thieves.
Employing scientific forensic analysis, Mark David Bampton of Great Britain further debunks the Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax made infamous by tintype seller Sandy Mills, artist Lois Gibson, and their enablers.
FREE DOWNLOAD the entire paper HERE or to read in larger pdf format. HOVER over the cover image below to turn the page.
ABOUT MARK BAMPTON:
“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
In his forensic analysis, titled “Jesse James, Robert Ford, and the Tintype,” Great Britain’s Mark Bampton poses his question about the controversy in typical British fashion – as a pun.
“Who are these four?”
Mark Bampton lives in Ampthill, which he describes as “a small Georgian town” in Bedfordshire, Great Britain. Prompted by the reaction of the Jesse James family to the Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax, promoted by Lois Gibson and Sandy Mills and their circle of supporters, Mark Bampton decided to apply his own scientific forensic analysis to the image controversy. Not surprisingly, Bampton arrives at a different conclusion than Lois Gibson.
“It took me a little longer than expected to look into Lois Gibson’s authentication material due to the number of problems with it. From the material that I could find, I could not identify any effective analysis process.”
Unlike the artist Lois Gibson who claims to have authenticated Mills tintype by employing imagined photo comparisons and artistry, Bampton is not an artist. Bampton’s field is industrial design and product engineering, a profession that Bampton says requires both “artistic and technical demands.”
Instead of artistry, Bampton applied the sciences of mathematics, linear technical analysis, and measurement testing. These are the same skills Bampton employs as a product engineer. They also are the skills that a trained scientific forensic scientist normally would apply in the formal analysis of an historical image or artifact.
“I could not identify any logical or justifiable reason why Lois Gibson would authenticate the tintype…”
Bampton soon discovered the Bob Ford/Jesse James controversy was not the only controversy involving the Houston-based artist. Lois Gibson also created a very similar controversy over an image she claimed was the famed bluesman, Robert Johnson. On the website Academia, Mark Bampton discovered that England’s newspaper The Guardian had reported on the Jonhson controversy in an article titled, “‘Robert Johnson’ photo does not show the blues legend, music experts say.”
Dr. Bruce Conforth, a university professor of American culture and a founding curator of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, was cited in The Guardian article as criticizing Lois Gibson’s authentication technique. “Historical scholarship relies on evidence,” Dr. Conforth said. “And if you look at the alleged authentication of that photograph there really wasn’t a piece of evidence, there was opinion. Historical fact is never validated by opinion; it can only be validated by evidence.”
Very familiar to Mark Bampton was the linear forensics applied to the Johnson image, that appeared in Dr. Conforth’s treatise.
Bampton decided to apply his own forensic skills upon the assumptive Bob Ford/Jesse James image.
“I intended to make my report factual and impartial although conclusions about the veracity of the authentication were largely inevitable.”
Using several applications of linear forensics, now fully and clearly outlined in Mark Bampton’s documented report, discrepancies proved to be multiple and evident. Not only were discrepancies revealed in the conjectural Jesse James image, they also became evident in Gibson’s uncertain Bob Ford image.
“If this is correct, $40,250.00 is a lot to pay for a picture of two unknowns, even if it is an old tintype! Personally, I’d move the decimal place at least three places to the left.”
Mark Bampton registered shock when told by the James family that Sandy Mills’ tintype had sold at auction for $35,000, plus auction fees. The James family was informed of the sale by two regular attendees at Burley Auction Gallery events. The regulars stated that the prize bidder was not recognizable and was unknown locally.
The James family alleges that the fraud that is evident in Gibson’s hypothetical authentication may extend to the auction, too. Prior to the auction, Stray Leaves publisher, and Jesse James family biographer Eric F. James was contacted by the Houston Chronicle to schedule an interview following the auction. Given the very surprising outcome of the auction, this result should have made a gigantic news story, attracting worldwide attention. No historical image of Jesse James or the James family has ever sold for more than two thousand dollars. Eric F. James is perplexed that the Houston Chronicle did not follow through and interview him afterward as planned. Nor did the newspaper report on the auction outcome as it had planned. This was even more perplexing given the fact that Dylan Baddour of the Chronicle had broken the story initially about the pretentious tintype. Baddour previously also reported on Gibson’s alleged authentication of the Robert Johnson image.
Not willing to accept one piece of oral testimony about the auction result alone, Mark Bampton uncovered secondary evidence of the auction’s outcome on icollector.com.
Of course, no evidence remains that the purchase money actually was paid, the image transferred, and the sale concluded. Nor has the winning bidder been publicly identified following the acquisition of such a prized auction artifact. Those unknowns in itself guarantees that this story will continue to be a controversy for a long time to come.
Initially, Mark Bampton titled his paper in true British fashion, using a very witty pun. He posed the question, “Who are these four?”
The literal answer to the pun is a fake Bob Ford, a fake Jesse James, and two authentic images of them. The non-literal answer is, whoever has benefited the most financially or in publicity from the promotion and sale. Among Lois Gibson, Sandy Mills, the auction house, and the Gibson-Mills ring of partners and supporters, a lot of unknown information remains. Ample room for conjecture is left. The wealth of criticism leveled at this controversy will not abate soon, at least not until the pun of the question finds authenticatable answers.
“I plan to do a separate paper for each of the two Robert Johnson photographs…I plan to follow a similar analysis for the Robert Johnson papers as for the Jesse James paper.”
This fall, Mark Bampton will visit America to present his paper on “Jesse James, Bob Ford, and the Tintype” before the James family, their friends, and associates at the annual conference of the National James-Younger Gang Inc. The conference will be held in Georgetown, Kentucky. The public is welcome to attend.
MEETMark Bampton: SIGN UP for notices to attend & meet Mark Bampton at the James-Younger Gang 2017 Conference.
FREE DOWNLOAD: Mark Bampton’s entire paper now appears on the Academia website and also is free for download HERE.
Two days ago (ed. Sept 30, 2015), the Houston Chronicle headlined a story, “Lost Photo of Jesse James, assassin Robert Ford is found. Authenticated. ” Here we go again, I thought. Another day. Another fake Jesse James photo. Another fake authentication. Another con artist, or two, or maybe more. The fact is, there are no photos of Jesse James or Bob Ford that are lost. Moreover, the ones claimed by the Chronicle are not authenticated. Here is why.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, Lois Gibson holds the world record for “most successful forensic artist.” Gibson is the chief forensic artist for the Houston Police Department. In my experience as genealogist and historian of the Jesse James family, Texas is the birthplace of numerous Jesse James hoaxes. Some have carried on for decades. Apparently, with three images of Jesse James, Robert Ford, and Zee Mimms-James, which Gibson claims to have authenticated, the 65-year-old Lois Gibson is an artist with a leg up on creating another Jesse James hoax in Texas.
Let us back up on Gibson’s story to my first encounter with Sandy Mills. Sandy is the owner of the image in question. Gibson claims this image was lost, now found, and she has authenticated it.
As happens with regularity in most any month here at Stray Leaves, images of all types believed to relate to the Jesse James family are submitted here for review, and opinion. Mills submitted her image to me for review in March of 2013. Mills stated, “I have a tin type photo of Jesse James sitting with another man, we think it is a first cousin Robert Woodson Hite. We are interested in showing you. Please contact me.” The email from Mills arrived under enhanced suspicion. Mills sent the email under an alias email account of Robyn Anderson. Con artists love alias names. Red flags were waving already.
In 2002, Jesse’s great-grandson, Judge James Randall Ross, and I founded the James Preservation Trust. Part of the mission of JPT is to archive the family history, as well as to address issues about the veracity of Jesse James family history, genealogy, images, and documents. Upon receipt of a claimed image, the image is circulated first for preliminary review among family, respected historians, and/or specific authorities most relevant to the image’s provenance. If the image is believed to be possibly verifiable as authentic, the image owner is referred for full forensic investigation and analysis to a reputable authority fully trained in the metrics of scientific forensic analysis and Jesse James history. The image owner then can chose to employ, or not to employ, such services.
The image Sandy Mills provided me was so blatantly false about being either Jesse James or Woot Hite, I told Mills not to waste any money for an authentication.
There exist only a handful of authentic images of the outlaw Jesse James. Those images appear variously on Stray Leaves and have done so for nearly 20 years.
I also included an authentic image of Woot Hite from the Joan Beamis Archive for Mills to compare with her claimed image.
MY EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE WITH SANDY MILLS
Hover for directional arrows – Click slide for full email
Under the alias of Robyn Anderson, Sandy Mills submits a claim to Eric F. James, the historian and archivist for the family of Frank & Jesse James. Mills claims the image is Jesse James and "another man."
Eric F. James replies, offering to review and comment on the image.
Again, under the alias of Robyn Anderson, Mills submits her photo image to James. Mills now identifies "another man" to be Wood Hite, a cousin of Jesse James.
James acknowledges receipt of Mills' images. He states neither of the image subjects is Jesse Woodson James or Wood Hite. He attaches an authentic image of Hite for comparison.
LOIS GIBSON & SANDY MILLS CONJOINED
The Houston Chronicle article now links Sandy Mills with Lois Gibson. This raises many questions and more red flags.
Who is conning whom? Did Mills inform Gibson of my reaction to the image? Did Mills offer other information to Gibson that Mills did not offer to me? On the other hand, did Gibson see another opportunity for self-promotion, as Gibson formerly did when she stated a tintype image of Billy the Kid was the authentic tintype of the widely circulated image of the Kid already known to be authentic. At that time, Gibson fell under intense scrutiny. She was widely derided among the western artifact collector community, another red flag.
Regardless of what remains unknown about the relationship between Mills and Gibson, what is known is that the images Lois Gibson states are authentically Jesse James, Robert Ford, and Zee Mimms-James cannot be authenticated as true when, in fact, they are fake.
LOIS GIBSON’S CASE FOR AUTHENTICATION
Customarily, a reputable authentication of any historical image is documented in abundant clinical detail in an image’s authentication report. The report usually bears the signature of a witness or witnesses, and/or a notary for formal and legal recognition. Gibson provides none – a red flag. The report will give a full account of the credentials of the expert performing the authentication, a full explanation of the scientific techniques applied, the entire known provenance of the image and its condition. Gibson pretends to do so, but provides none – another red flag. The report concludes with arguments and resulting findings, which the applied forensic analysis produced.
No evidence exists that Lois Gibson performed any scientific authentication of image assessment, or that she is qualified to do so. In her biographical statement, Gibson says she is a forensic artist. At first glance, her record as an artist is impressive. She claims no forensic science training, though – a significant red flag.
What Lois Gibson has proudly produced from her palette of artist tricks is a deception intended to fool the eye of the indiscriminate viewer and a public un-knowledgeable about Jesse James. Gibson’s deft artwork is intended to convince you she has authenticated the subject image when fact it does not – an additional red flag.
Gibson’s cardinal sin was first to alter the image to her preference by a process of image reversal. Lois Gibson reverses the images presented to me in 2013 by Sandy Mills. In the field of legal evidence, this is termed “tampering,” – a most compelling red flag.
In a series of plates Gibson next manufactures and develops her suppositions with no reference to actual history that is known or recognized.
BREAKING DOWN LOIS GIBSON’S ARGUMENT
In Plate 1, Gibson describes the spare provenance provided by Sandy Mills. Neither one addresses Mills own genealogy or the personal family background or circumstances that might offer the slightest explanation for how this image fell into the Mills family’s possession. Gibson proceeds to compare Mills’ image to the authentic wedding photo of Jesse James. Mills’ fake Jesse James is cross-eyed, something Jesse was not. Although Jesse suffered from “lazy eye” in his youth, the condition corrected itself by his adulthood. Mills references no relevant history about the condition.
The most telling giveaways of the Mills image are the spatial relationships and physical features. A reputable scientific forensic analysis would have applied a grid system, mathematics, and spatial metrics. Such analysis would have identified the discrepancy in forehead, hairline, eyebrows, eye formation, and nose that is all too evidently wrong in the fake photo.
In Plate 2, Gibson commits the authenticator’s crime of comparing one fake photo to another fake photo. She misidentified the comparison fake photo as being “Historically accepted group shot of Jesse James and cohorts, circa the 1880s.” Mills cites no recognized authorities for this false claim.
A check of the clock informs the most unknowledgeable person that Bob Ford assassinated Jesse James in 1882. Jesse’s popular death photo reveals his physical features. They resemble the fake comparison photo, not in the least. Jesse, in fact, was a bit chubby when killed. A check of any Jesse James history book also tells us Jesse had no cohorts in the early 1880s, other than the despicable Ford brothers.
Most egregiously, Gibson fails to discuss the physical discrepancies between her fake Jesse James and the fake comparison Jesse James. Between those two fake images, forehead, eyes, nose, ears, and facial width is all different.
Here is the quintessential question everyone looks for in claimed pictures of Jesse James. Where is Jesse’s famous missing fingertip in the comparison fake Jesse James? Mills’ fake Jesse James image displays a full set of unharmed digits.
“Historically,” Gibson’s comparison fake Jesse photo was rejected already as a fake. The actual image exists in the collection of Robert G. McCubbin, a reputable collector of Western memorabilia. The photo is of a group of Texas Rangers, identified as (Standing, from left) Robert “Bob” Speaks and Jim Putman, (Seated, from left) Alonzo Van “Lon” Oden and John R. Hughes. The rangers were sent to Texas after a shootout in 1892.
The image of Lon Orden went to auction in 2002 when it was claimed to be Jesse James. At that time, Jesse’s great-grandson, Judge James R. Ross, lodged his written complaint with Swann Galleries in New York that was auctioning off the image. The image sold for a paltry sum to a man from Kentucky. I met that collector a few years later. The auction house had not informed him of the written opinion issued by Judge Ross. Proper and full disclosure might have influenced the bidder not to buy.
Plate #3: Remember that shell game where three shells move around while you try to remember under which shell a pea was placed? Artist Gibson plays this game to fool the unsuspecting eye. She is not alone in deploying such tricks. We recently encountered the same technique by an auction house that was trying to sell a fake Jesse James image for an advertised $40,000 to $60,000 windfall expected. Some fool actually anteed up $12,000 for an image known publicly to be worthless. The price of ignorance in the Jesse James artifact market can be dear.
While Gibson focuses the unsuspecting eye on her fake image, a knowledgeable eye is asking, “Where did this other fake image come from?” Gibson present a fake image of Jesse James never seen by anyone before. Neither Gibson or Mills cites no origination of this previously unknown image. No one among the Jesse James community ever has seen this second claimed image of Jesse James. Not ever among the Jesse James family. Certainly not among Jesse James historians. Not even among the public. Again, Gibson produces one fake image to compare against yet another fake image. The image she identifies as “Jesse James, 1870s, Webb City, Missouri” is another of Gibson’s gallery of Jesse James fake photos.
In Plate #4, Gibson performs her same slight of the eye trickery. However, the physical features at the start of her slide characterization are not the same as at the end. If Gibson had simply looked at the photo of Bob Ford and his wife Dot Evans that appears on page 311 of my book, Jesse James Soul Liberty, Volume I, she might have surrendered her gambit to fool the Jesse James family. That photo of Bob Ford, never published before, has been in the possession of the James family for more than a century. That image of Bob Ford should have been integral to Mills’ authentication, had she tried.
Plate #6: Incredibly, stunningly, and arrogantly, Gibson no longer can control her hoax. She goes full-bore con game. Lois Gibson not only introduces a third, previously unknown, and additional fake image of Jesse James, Gibson throws in a fake image of Zee Mimms-James, Jesse’s wife, to boot. To the trained eye, this third Jesse looks nothing like Gibson’s other two fake Jesse James photos. Nor does it compare to any known and authenticated historical image of Jesse and his wife.
At this point, Gibson loses all objectivity. She clearly has no knowledge of James family genealogy. Nor has she made an effort to know it. Jesse’s wife Zee is, in fact, a James family descendant herself. Zee’s mother is Mary James, Jesse’s aunt. The couple is first cousins. They share the same genetic DNA that marks their physical appearances with shared identical physical features. Those physical features have been accounted and quantified across five generations of the James family. In physical appearance, Gibson’s fake Jesse James couple share no common physical features that match the proven genetics of the James.
HOW CAN THIS HOAX GO SO WRONG?
The simple answer is environment and enablers, whether actual conspirators or not Texas is home to nefarious con artists who have preyed upon the Jesse James family and its identity for generations. From Orvis Hauk, to J. Frank Dalton, to Betty Dorsett Duke, Texans lift up their tall tales as they throw factual history into the trash. Texas legislators actually do this with schoolbooks, too.
The true Jesse James family in Texas goes unrecognized. Around Granbury, authentic members of the real Jesse James family who live there roam in confident privacy and anonymity. They can do this because Granbury would rather fete its fake Jesse James internment there. Authentic Jesse James family members populate Texas terrain and cemeteries from Red River to the gulf coast. No Texan celebrates Geneva James who taught Willie Nelson in grammar school in Waco. Nobody in Johnson County knows of John James of Alvarado unless they follow Stray Leaves or read my book. Texas has yet to recognize the kinship shared between Houston’s George W. Bush and the Jesse James family.
But Lois Gibson and Sandy Mills can find ample news coverage for fake Jesse James photos by the Houston Chronicle, whom we now must acknowledge as an enabler of bogus Jesse James imagery, along with their correspondent Dylan Baddour who broke the story.
We contacted Dylan Baddour and asked for his defense of what he wrote. He provided the following statement: “Lois Gibson, who identified the photo, is one of the world’s most credible sources for facial recognition. She’s a forensic artist and analyst with the Houston Police Department who has garnered a Guinness world record and features in national media for her success. When it comes to identifying faces, there is no higher authority. Every auction house we spoke with found it very compelling that Gibson made the ID, and couldn’t immediately refute it.”
What motivated Baddour to inquire of an auction house and not of reputable Jesse James family, historians, or authorities? When it comes to Jesse James artifacts, we repeatedly take auction houses to the woodshed for their inflated and inaccurate claims, not to mention their despicable practices of deceit. In all of Jesse James auction history, there has been only one auction that performed ethically and responsibly; and, ironically, Heritage Auctions is in Texas.
We also reached out to Sarah Laskow, a news aggregator for Atlas Obscura. She replied, stating, “I used the Houston Chronicle as a source for this short post, as well as the analysis that Lois Gibson had posted. If there’s countervailing evidence about the authenticity of the image, I’d be interested to hear about it.”
Arden Dier harvested the story for republication for Newser, whose slogan is “Read less. Know more.” Really? We found no contact information for Arden Dier.
There is more to this hoax than is clear at this moment. New information is being researched and developed. More revelations will come.
In the end, this hoax will enter history under the names of Sandy Mills and Lois Gibson. No matter how long it takes, history always gets to the truth. Sandy Mills and Lois Gibson will stay on our watch list of tricksters, con artists, and frauds for some time.
The family of Frank and Jesse James maintains the fraudulent actions of Dylan Baddour and Lois Gibson, and their sycophants engage in identity theft. A like reaction will probably come from the family of bluesman Robert Johnson. Music historian Bruce Conforth, identified in the Texas Monthly article has been friends with Johnson’s descendants. Conforth publicly acknowledges the Johnson family’s assessments that Gibson’s claimed Johnson photo, like the Bob Ford/Jesse James claimed image, is a fake.
The article above is a re-publication of a post to Leaves of Gas that first appeared on October 2, 2015. After the initial publication of “Lost Jesse James/Bob Ford Photo – Not Lost, Not Authenticated,” the Leaves of Gas blog was hacked. The hack occurred on the day on which the Houston Chronicle published an addition to the story. The hack prevented public access to this post when the Chronicle’s new article was being published. This post represents the James family’s rebuttal to the falsehoods presented in the Chronicle story. Moreover, the hack appeared to have emanated from Houston, Texas, the home base of this Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax.