Category Archives: Opinion

Jesse James, Robert Ford, & the Tintype by Mark David Bampton

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:

Mark Bampton
Mark David Bampton of Ampthill, England

“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.”

Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Arts Degree in Industrial Design, Class 2 (1) Honours

  • Diploma in Management Studies, with Distinction

  • Prince 2 Project Management

RELATED:

Lois Gibson-Sandy Mills Tintype Controversy Puzzles Great Britain – but not for long

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?”

True Jesse James and Bob Ford-Fake Jesse James and Bob Ford
Cover image from Mark Bampton’s discourse, “Jesse James, Robert Ford, and the Tintype.”

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.”

 

Mark Bampton
Mark Bampton of Ampthill, England

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.”

 

Robert Johnson image controversy
Disputed image of famed bluesman Robert Johnson

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.”

Bampton soon discovered the reason why Lois Gibson would authenticate the claimed Bob Ford/Jesse James tintype.  when he read another article written by Dr. Bruce Conforth, that also was published on Academia. In writing “A New Analysis of the Two Accepted Photos of Robert Johnson and the Alleged 3rd Photo,” Dr. Conforth lays out the story of the Johnson image, its discovery, and Gibson’s record of association with it. This article followed two previous publications by Conforth. “Another Robert Johnson Photo Debunked” documents Conforth’s disgruntlement with the fakery surrounding the Johnson image. “The Business of Robert Johnson Fakery” is another Conforth article published in Living Blues magazine.

To Mark Bampton, the Conforth’s story already was  a familiar one. Dr. Conforth’s story of the Johnson image reflected almost precisely the sad saga of the Bob Ford/Jesse James image as related in the James family’s rebuttal to Gibson’s authentication.

Linear forensics applied to claimed Robert Johnson image
Linear forensics applied to Lois Gibson claimed image of Robert Johnson

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.”

Linear forensics applied to authentic image of Jesse James with a claimed image
Linear forensics applied by Mark Bampton to Lois Gibson’s alleged authentication of the claimed Jesse James image yields numerous discrepancies that are plainly visible.

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.

Linear forensics applied to authentic image of Bob Ford with a claimed image
Linear forensics applied by Mark Bampton to Lois Gibson’s alleged authentication of the claimed Bob Ford image yields plainly visible discrepancies.

“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.

icollector bid report
Sale report for the fake Bob Fork/Jesse James tintype is identified on icollector website

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.”

Georgetown College
Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky

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.

MEET Mark 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.

CONTACT Mark Bampton

Burley Auction Gallery Partners in Jesse James Hoax

Burley Auction Gallery adSavvy collectors of historical photos and artifacts took no time at all to alert the Jesse James family about the next stage in the ongoing Bob Ford-Jesse James photo hoax. The latest hoax partner is the Burley Auction Gallery, aka Burley Auction Group Inc. located in New Braunfels, Texas. The only suspense left to this promotion of fraudulent Jesse James imagery is, who will be the next sucker to fall for this auction’s photo fraud?

The auction announcement clearly identifies who is the present sucker. The Burley Auction Gallery advertisement identifies the estate of Tommy & Sara Jane Howell as the present dupe to have fallen for the scam.

SON OF A CON JOB

Fake photo claimed to be Bob Ford and Jesse James
Fake Bob Ford-Jesse James Photo

The flimflam originated with Sandy Mills, Lois Gibson, and others. The Jesse James family has published and documented a blistering indictment of Mills and Gibson, describing in compelling detail why the claimed image is a hoax. The James also have identified the cabal who have partnered, enabled, and supported Mills and Gibson’s hoax.

The Howells appears to have owned or acquired the artifact less than a year ago. Next in line, they now have consigned their fraudulent tintype to Burley Auction Gallery to dispose of it.

When and how the Howells came into possession of the fake photo is not clear. The photo was last available and being promoted for sale in January of 2016. Sandy Mills and her boyfriend were publicly intent upon selling the fake image for, as Mills’ boyfriend greedily stated in one televised interview on KREM2 in Spokane, Washington where Mills lives, “we’ve heard numbers in the millions.”

At that time, Bobby Livingston, executive vice-president of RR Auction in Amherst, New Hampshire, judiciously sidestepped the opportunity of auctioning the photo. Or did he?

Livingston certainly did not shy away from promoting the sham. In a newspaper interview, Livingston stated that if the image was authentic the photo might fetch up to $2 million. A surprising statement from an auction house, since due diligence by any auction house would reveal that no authentic image of Jesse James has sold for more than $1,500. Bobby Livingston is under indictment in a lawsuit for fraud, misrepresentation, and presenting fake historical images as authentic. Livingston and RR Auction go to trial on January 17, 2017.

Questions remain. How did the Howells come into possession of the subject artifact? How much did they pay? Why now are they so quick to rid themselves of a tintype claimed to be so valuable?

Burley Auction Gallery grandiosely expects the Howell image to fetch $50,000 to $1 million. The value estimate apparently has plummeted precipitously since Mills’ original claim “in the millions.” The James family predicts Burley will find a new sucker willing to pay far less than the predicted amount – if anything at all.

Burley Auction Gallery - Big Expectation
Burley Auction Gallery says, “Hey, big spender!”

FAILURE IN DUE DILIGENCE

Clearly, Burley Auction Gallery failed to conduct any due diligence in arriving at its estimate of value. Nor did Burley assess the tintype’s authenticity or legitimacy. Burley astutely refers to the image as “Photograph Attributed to Jesse James & Bob Ford.” Burley does not state the image is Jesse James and Bob Ford.

Burley Auction Group
Burley Auction Gallery, New Braunfels, Texas

Burley also cites the auction image was “Inherited from a cousin of Frank James wife.”  According to the Jesse James family, Sandy Mills’ claim that she is kin to the Jesse James family is as bogus as her tintype.

Mills never has published her genealogy publicly or made it subject to any peer review.  The Jesse James family does not know Mills family personally, or even informationally. Neither Mills nor her family appears in the official Jesse James genealogy on the James family’s web site Stray Leaves that has been published for 20 years, despite the fact that there are some Mills who in fact are related to the James. Burley Auction Gallery stepped away from conducting any due diligence regarding this claim of kinship whatsoever.

Robb Burley
Robert Wilson Burley, aka Robb Burley

How much malpractice Robb Burley, the auction gallery’s owner, may be on the hook for is yet to be determined. If Burley conducted any due diligence at all, Burley never contacted the James family for its opinion. Nor did Burley contact the family about the image of Bob Ford handed down through their family. The James family’s image of Bob Ford first was published in 2012 in Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I., an authorized history of the Jesse James family.  Nor has Burley contacted any collector of Jesse James artifacts and images known to the family. Those collectors are a tightly knit group. Most all enjoy a personal relationship with the James.

TX Dept of Regulation
Texas Department of Regulation

A CONFLICT OF INTEREST ?

One of the ironies of the Burley auction is the fact that the fake Bob Ford-Jesse James photo will be auctioned together with “Part II of the Texas Ranger Collection.”

Texas Rangers, 1892
Los Gibson’s original hoax promotion shown here compared the hoax Jesse James to Texas Rangers in 1892. The actual Rangers image is in the collection of renown western artifact collector Robert G. McCubbin, who is well known to the James family. The Rangers appearing in the 1892 image are (Standing, from left) Robert “Bob” Speaks and Jim Putman. (Seated, from left) Alonzo Van “Lon” Oden and John R. Hughes.

Burley’s promotion makes no mention of Lois Gibson’s original “authentication.” Then, Gibson cited an actual image of Texas Rangers taken in 1892, a decade after Jesse James was dead. Gibson asserted one of the Texas Rangers to be Jesse James. She favorably compared Sandy Mills’ claimed Jesse James tintype to the Texas Rangers’ image. The individual Gibson asserted was Jesse James, in fact, is known to factual history to be Texas Ranger Robert “Bob” Speaks, not Jesse James.

Why has such an invaluable authentication comparison been ignored and not cited in Burley’s promotion? The answer may reside at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum.

The rotating banner on the museum’s website displays the  Texas Ranger image from 1892 that Gibson claimed includes Jesse James. The banner image is titled “The History of Early Texas Rangers.” No one in America believes that Jesse James was a Texas Ranger after he was killed in 1882.

Web site of the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum, highlighting the 1892 image of Texas Rangers that Lois Gibson claimed included Jesse James.

In a slide show, Burley does rely upon Gibson’s comparisons of Bob Ford’s actual image to Mills’ claimed image. A degree in forensic science that would employ mathematical analysis to assess similarities and dissimilarities of physical features in historical imagery is not needed here. Plainly visible in Gibson’s comparison is the dissimilarities between the actual photo and fake photo regarding hairline, forehead, eye, ear, and nose structure, lips and jawline. The two plainly are not identical.

True and fake images of Bob Ford
Left appears an actual photo of Bob Ford. Right appears the fake photo of Bob Ford.

Furthermore, the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum takes great pains to caution the public against fake Texas Ranger badges. Fake Ranger badges are as rampant apparently as fake Jesse James photos. In this auction, the Howells have consigned to Burley Auction Gallery a number of Texas Ranger badges to be auctioned with the Bob Ford-Jesse James photo hoax. Assuming the Howell’s Ranger badges are bonafide, is it any wonder why Burley Auction Gallery would make no mention of Gibson’s egregiously and flagrantly flawed Texas Ranger image comparison?

THIS BOB FORD-JESSE JAMES PHOTO IS A HOAX

The Jesse James family formerly debunked the Mills-Gibson-Howell fake and stands by its allegations. The family further has documented the cabal of sycophants that has supported and promoted this bogus photo. The Jesse James family restates its willingness to support anyone who may have a claim they are defrauded by the known principals and supporters of this Bob Ford-Jesse James photo hoax.

Burley Auction Gallery is on the hunt for the next sucker in this proven swindle. The James family now adds Burley Auction Gallery to its listed cabal of those – and their successors – who enable, promote, and disseminate fraudulent and fake Jesse James imagery in their exercise of Jesse James family identity theft.

Jesse James, Prince of Robbers!

BOOK REVIEW: Wybrow, Robert J. Jesse James, Prince of Robbers! A Collection of Essays on the Noted Missouri Outlaw and His Times. (London: The English Westerners’ Society, 2015) 485 pp., illustrations, notes, index. Paperback, $32.00.

By  Nancy B. Samuelson

This is a valuable collection of James gang literature. One trademark of Mr. Wybrow’s work is his in-depth research. Even though he lives in England, he knows how to find things in U.S. archives and newspapers.  The number of resources he has consulted is truly impressive.

Jesse James Prince of Robbers-book cover
Jesse James, Price of Robbers by Robert J. Wybrow

This collection includes articles about some more obscure robberies and raises questions about the participation of the James boys in the Columbia, Ste. Genevieve and Concordia bank robberies.  There is one article about the Youngers in the state of Texas, and this article contains some intriguing information about an illegitimate son of Cole Younger in Louisiana. One article is devoted to Dick Liddil’s supposed wife, Mattie Collins. Mattie has always been a rather mysterious lady and this article explores her many escapades in depth. Another article deals with the 1875 raid on the James/Samuel farm that killed young Archie Samuel and caused the amputation of Zerelda James Samuel’s arm. This raid produced a great deal of sympathy for the James boys throughout the state of Missouri.

This book presents information from many obscure sources and at times disagrees with material that has been presented by other well-known authors. Everything in the book is informative and often thought-provoking.  I highly recommend this book; this should be in the library of everyone with more than just a passing interest in the James-Younger gang. This book will serve as an outstanding resource for anyone that is interested in doing further research on the James-Younger gang and their associates.

Robert J. Wybrow is a graduate of the University of London and has worked for the British Gallup Poll for over forty years. He is a long time member of The English Westerners’ Society and began to write and publish articles about the James gang in 1969. Most of his work has appeared in the publications of The English Westerners’ Society. A lot of his articles and booklets are now rare collector’s items and are very difficult to find. He has selected the best of his works about the James gang and related subjects and published updated versions in this book. Some 15 of his articles are included in this collection, and there are also four appendixes. The appendixes are: “From the Pen of a ‘Noble Robber’—The Letters of Jesse Woodson James”, “Dick Liddil’s Confession”, “Clarence Hite’s Confession” and “List of Original Articles”. This final appendix is a complete list of all of the articles about the James gang written by Wybrow.

TO PURCHASE: e-mail Ray Cox, secretary of English Westerner’s Society: rymd.cox@gmail.com. Domestic postage rates in the UK or USA may apply.

Confederates in Montana Territory

BOOK REVIEW: Robison, Ken, Confederates in Montana Territory: In The Shadow of Price’s Army, (South Carolina: The History Press, 2014.) 190 pp., photos, illustrations, bibliography/notes, index. ISBN 978-1-62619-603-2, paperback, $19.99

By Nancy B. Samuelson

Confederates in Montana Terrirtory-Ken Robison
Confederates in Montana Territory: In the Shadow of Price’s Army by Ken Robison

I was eager to dig into this book as I am a long time student of Missourians in the Civil War. However, I was very disappointed in the book. It is an attractive book with a lot of good photos and illustrations, but the research is only skin deep.  The title of the book is misleading as only about four of the men discussed in the book served in Price’s Army. The author does not have a very good grasp on the history of Price’s Army and the guerrilla units associated with Price. The book contains several errors. In the forward to the book, 1859 is given as the year California entered the Union. The correct year is 1850. Colonel Thoroughman was said to have been taken to a prison in Quincy, Illinois after he was captured. There was no Union prison at Quincy, he most likely was taken to the prison at Alton, Illinois. The Moore brothers were said to have gone south into Kentucky and spend a night with John M. James, the grandfather of Jesse James. A good trick indeed, as John M. James died in 1827.

Confederates in Montana
An early tintype, owned by Ken Robison, showing unidentified Confederate soldiers in Montana Territory.

There are two stories in the book concerning supposed Quantrill men. The first story is about James Berry. This chapter is reasonably close to the facts; Berry did serve with Quantrill for a short time. He also did participate in a robbery with the Sam Bass gang and was killed when there was an attempt to apprehend him. The author states that Berry’s family survived to become prominent in Montana history, but leaves the reader completely in the dark about the family’s contribution to the state’s history.

Ken Robison, author
Author Ken Robison

The chapter about Langford “Farmer” Peel, is titled “When Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction”. A good title, since this tale is almost entirely fiction. Langford Peel never served with Quantrill or anybody else during the Civil War. He hung out in mining camps in California, Utah, Nevada and Montana during the time of the Civil War. He was a rough customer and was accused of several murders. He was finally shot and killed in Montana. The tale about some of Quantrill’s men hijacking a steamboat to come after Peel is from a newspaper article from the Great Falls Tribune of April 30, 1922. The story is complete fiction.

There were a number of men from Price’s Army who did go to Montana and who became prominent men. John C. C. “Coon” Thornton and Thomas L. Napton immediately come to mind, but the author ignored these men. Several Quantrill men are known to have gone to Montana too, one served as the Sheriff of Lewis and Clark County. These folks are also ignored. The book is an easy read but it is history light-weight.

________________________________

This book review is co-published with the James-Younger Gang Journal.

35 Shades of the James Coat of Arms

Repeatedly, the mother of Frank and Jesse James seated her sons in front of the evening fire to drill them in their family heritage. With so little to tell, she only could have wished to have 35 shades of the James coat of arms to show her sons.

Zerelda Cole James
Zerelda Elizabeth Cole-James

Over and over, Zerelda Elizabeth Cole-James made a point of saying to her boys, “Never forget. You are descended from Royalty.” However, Zerelda never could say how that occurred. Nor could she provide her sons with any proof or evidence of what royal and to whom they were related. So, she referenced King James of England. A James coat of arms to display to her children might have helped.

Black Horse Inn
Black Horse Inn, Midway, Kentucky – Birthplace of Frank & Jesse James’ mother, Zerelda Elizabeth Cole

In her childhood, growing up in Woodford County, Kentucky, many wealthier neighbors of young Zerelda possessed a family coat of arms. The coat of arms they proudly presented or displayed was a relic, long held since family ancestors broke rank with the mother England in the American Revolution. Some possessed their coat of arms longer, for generations before. Such was not the case for the Cole family to whom young Zerelda was born.

However, as a teenager when Zerelda seized upon an upstart preacher named Robert Sallee James, she knew what everyone knew about his James family. The James descended from high stock. If Zerelda married that Georgetown College student with all his family connections and a bright career in ministry before him, she could escape her hardscrabble life as a servant girl in her family’s roadhouse ordinary. Zerelda could rise on the economic scale. And when she bore Robert children, her children would descend from royalty, too.

The Prophecy of the Two Bastards

The royal family history, which Zerelda presented to Frank and Jesse, was skeletal at best, and somewhat tarnished.  Jesse’s great-grandson, Judge James Randall Ross, wrote about the story that Zerelda repeatedly told in his book, I, Jesse James. Jim Ross grew up in the household of his grandfather, Jesse Edwards James Jr. He was privy to all the family stories his cousins never heard. Jesse Jr. made Jim promise to keep the story alive among his progeny. The story appears in Jim’s book in mother Zerelda’s words as “The Prophecy of the Two Bastards.”

James R. Ross
Judge James Randall Rosse, great-grandson of Jesse James, author of I, Jesse James
I, Jesse James-book
I, Jesse James by Judge James R. Ross

The prophecy always began with Ma’s description of those who had migrated to the Virginia colony in the early years…Many in the Virginia colony were running from something or somebody. Outcasts, robbers, bandit, bastards and the like were the backbone of the Virginia colony.

”Flowerdieu, Virginia in September 1622, Ma would say, was a place that harbored such people.”

…In September of that long ago year, two brothers William and John were arguing about William’s future…William had insisted on returning to his land [following an Indian raid] rather than staying in the stockade with his brother John…As John tried to convince William to stay, William pointed out that he must return to his land “Because it is my job, John. It is my heritage – our heritage given to us by our father.”

John replied, “Don’t be bitter about duty, William. We both agreed before we left England that we were giving up any rights we had there in exchange for the land and our start here in the new world. But it’s no use losing your life over your land.”

William answered with considerable bitterness. “Yes, a lot of ‘rights’ either of us had as bastards, except for causing the good King James a lot of snickers at court!”…”Oh, I know in his way he thought he was doing the right thing” he continued, “And damn it all that’s why I’m going to make it on my own land and sire my own family under the name of James! If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for my family.”

Background of a Bandit

Background of a Bandit-book
Background of a Bandit by Joan Beamis

In 1970, Joan Malley Beamis published the first genealogy of the Jesse James family, Background of a Bandit. Joan is a first cousin of Frank and Jesse, and a great-granddaughter of their uncle, Drury Woodson James. Joan discovered no royal coat of arms for her James family relatives to claim. Joan further ascertained that William James is the immigrant of the James family, and John was his son.

Nearly fifty years later, Investigation of Joan’s research files revealed her personal doubt about the genealogy she wrote and published. Joan wrote that, for lack of evidence, she still questioned whether William was the immigrant at all. Too many James families occupied the Virginia colony just before the Revolution. For all of them she deduced, the James family might have been in America for generations earlier. The family, too, might have been much larger than she alone could establish.

Stray Leaves

Twenty years of new research since reveals the immigrant John James, an arrival in America in the year 1620. Stray Leaves began publishing this genealogy in 1997, subjecting new research findings ever since to rigorous peer scrutiny on a worldwide basis. Today, the known, documented and established results of these conclusions support Joan’s doubt. They also disclaim Ma Zerelda’s family lore about King James.

Although the land the James family acquired in Colonial Virginia was granted through Alexander Spotswood from Charles II, a grandson of James I, King of England, no other kinship link to King James can be established.

However, through generations of royal courtiers, none bearing the James name, the lineage of Frank and Jesse James indeed can be traced back to their 19th great-grandfather King Edward II of Caernarvon, Wales and beyond. The boys also are descendants of the Plantagenet Kings Edward I, III, and IV, as well as King Henry VII of Pembrokeshire, Wales.

35 Shades of James Coat of Arms

coadbSeeking what coat of arms the Jesse James family might claim, Stray Leaves consulted the eminent coat of arms website, derived from the ancient and reliable records of Burke’s Peerage – coadb.com (Coat of Arms Database). There, on a page specifically devoted to the James surname, were found more than 35 shades of the James coat of arms.

Selecting which coat of arms might apply became an exercise in historical knowledge. Apparently, coats that reflect James of Irish origin were eliminated promptly. Next eliminated were those that reflect nothing relating to what is known of the documented history of the James family in America.  What remained are the two coats of arms that reflect Pembroke, Wales and Somerset, England.

From the study by Joan Beamis, she claimed that William James was an immigrant from Pembrokeshire, Wales. However, in the fifty years of additional research since, no link with Pembroke, Wales or any James family history can be established from Pembrokeshire.

Moreover, Terry Wells, the archivist of the Carmarthenshire Archive Service in Wales formerly has queried Stray Leaves regarding the origin of the claim that William James is the progenitor of the Jesse James family in America. In 2014, he wrote the following to Stray Leaves:

“The reason I was asking was that every so often someone turns up to research the ‘Welsh ancestry’ of the James family, but we have never found any evidence to support the theory at all, at least it is so for west Wales, I can’t answer for north Wales. But, I am not surprised, as in the wealth of supposed James family history to be found there is a dearth of evidence to support the supposed eighteenth-century ancestors.

“I had assumed that the idea had originated from Background of a Bandit. Interesting that the author later doubts both the Welsh connection and that she was an ancestor of the James family. Trusting to family lore is always a risky business.”

What remains to consider are these two coats of arms from Somerset in England.

coats of arms, Somerset 2 james-coat-arms-10-Somerset2

The black background common to both crests symbolizes grief and resistance, powerful emotions that continue to infuse James family members today. The fish that graces the crest represents bravery and steadfastness. Moreover, the fish also accounts for Christian faith, constituting a genuine, generous spirit. The fish also represents economy and science. In the one, the bull replicates bravery and generosity. Its horns replicate strength and fortitude with undertones of patience, humility, and sacrifice connected. The bull topping the crest may represent the landed gentry while the dolphin at the top may represent seafaring gentry, as well as swiftness, diligence, charity, and love. It is believed that John James the immigrant arrived in America from Wales as a captain with a ship of his own. The family’s founding of Somerset in Pulaski County, Kentucky evidences the James family’s continued strong tie to its ancient motherland.

From Longshanks to Courtiers

King Edward II of Caernarvon, Wales, and his father Edward I known as Longshanks, present crests of royal heritage.  Variations of the crest have been adopted by royal courtiers and extended family, all of whom appear in the ancestry of the James family.

Edward II coat of arms
Arms of Edward II
Queen Isabella-arms
Arms of Queen Isabella, wife of Edward II

 

 

 

 

 

Edward I Longshanks-arms
Arms of Edward I, Longshanks
Queen Eleanor-arms
Arms of Queen Eleanor, wife of Edward I, Longshanks

A Modern James Family Coat of Arms

If the James family adopted a coat of arms for use in the contemporary era, the coat would have to reflect the fundamental character, personality, behavior, and soul, which the James family typifies. That panoply of character now is documented and appears in the family’s official biography Jesse James Soul Liberty. A modern crest for the James would have to include escutcheons for education, faith, and service to community. Ironically, these are the modern equivalents of service once provided by kings and courtiers.

book
Education, learning teaching, knowledge
community symbol
Community, public service, equality, social justice
cross smbol
Faith, ministry, charity, compassion

The passage of several hundred years may have caused the use of a coat of arms to fade into past glory and romance. There remains, however, the modern equivalent. Being descended from royalty, as Ma Zerelda instructed her sons Frank and Jesse James, still carries the burden of social responsibility, protection, and defense for living a peaceful, productive, and beneficial life for both one’s self and community.

Hey, Jesse James family, you still do what is necessary, but what will you be wearing on your tee shirt now?