Category Archives: Photos

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

My Loveable but Unrestrainable Grandfather, Stanley D. Smith

Stanley Smith
Stanley D. Smith 1902-1961
                        My Loveable but Unrestrainable Grandfather                    Stanley D. Smith

by Dennis Smith

Della Belle Malcomson
Della Belle Malcomson, 1868-1902, mother of Stanley D. Smith who died from complications of his birth

My great-grandmother Della Belle Malcomson-Smith died from complications when she gave birth to my grandfather Stanley D. Smith. My great-grandfather Arthur Kingsley Smith blamed Stanley for his wife’s death. He would not have much to do with Stanley until seven years later when he remarried and had a new wife.

Stanley’s grandparents, Oliver M. Smith and Elizabeth Shaw, raised Stanley. Oliver was a veteran of the Civil War. In Oliver’s household, Stanley’s four aunts spoiled him. They had a lot of influence on his upbringing.

Oliver M. Smith
Oliver M. Smith 1837-1906, grandfather of Stanley D. Smith
Elizabeth Shaw-Smith
Elizabeth Shaw-Smith 1844-1938, spouse of Oliver M. Smith and grandmother of Stanley D. Smith

Stanley Smith grew to manhood in Braytown in Switzerland County, Indiana. His maternal grandparents, John Shaw Malcomson and Emily Jane Thiebaud, were very prosperous farmers who farmed the historic Thiebaud farmstead.  When they died, Stanley received a large inheritance.

Stanley married Grace Barnes Adams and spent his entire inheritance on her. He took Grace to Europe, but when the money was gone, Grace was gone, too. For the rest of his life, Stanley never proved himself a good money manager.

In his broke status, Stanley married a second time to my grandmother, Geneva Curry. The Curry farm was not too far from where Stanley grew up. When Stanley’s father took Dollie Turner as his second wife, Arthur reconciled with his seven-year-old son. When Stanley married for his second time to Geneva, Arthur built them a small house on his land to live in. Having watched his son squander an inheritance making bad financial decisions, Arthur never deeded the land to Stanley. It was in this house where my father, Arthur William Smith, was born.

Arthur Kingsley Smith
Arthur Kingsley Smith 1868-1945, father of Stanley D. Smith who held Stanley responsible for the death of his wife Della Belle Malcomson

Next to this small house, Stanley built and ran a small gas station and store. He also, farmed and did custom butchering in the fall of the year. Occupied as he was, Stanley began drinking and going to bars in Vevay and Madison, Indiana. Sometimes he would take Geneva and the children, only to leave them outside in the car. My aunt Elizabeth remembered going into a tavern to get her father and the bartender giving her fresh fried potato chips.

When Stanley’s money would run out, he was known to pass a bad check, only to be arrested. Geneva would sell a cow to get Stanley out of jail. This went on for several years until Geneva had enough of it. Even though she was pregnant at the time, my mother Geneva filed for divorce from StStanley in 1939.

John Shaw Malcomson & Emily J. Thiebaud
John Shaw Malcomson 1842-1914 & wife Emily J. Thiebaud 1842-1919, grandparents of Stanley D. Smith who left Stanley an inheritance which he squandered.

Geneva’s divorce from Stanley was final in 1940 when my uncle, Paul Edward Smith, was born. Stanley was to pay child support for Paul. According to my Aunt Elizabeth, he never did.

Stanley D. Smith & Geneva Josephine Curry
Wedding photo of Stanley D. Smith & Geneva Josephine Curry, November 23, 1937, Switzerland County, Indiana, grandparents of author Dennis Smith

Stanley moved to Indianapolis, Indiana with his son Arthur, my father. They lived with a cousin, Harold Mains, who was working for the Indianapolis Street Car Company. Harold and Stanley were raised together in Switzerland County. They were lifelong friends. Stanley’s store and gas station reverted to Arthur and Dollie and Stanley’s half-sister Reba Smith. They continued to run it for several more years.

In Indianapolis, Stanley married for the third time to Laura Woolford, bringing my father Arthur together with his new step-sister Myrtle Woolford. Stanley managed a parking garage, and my father Arthur worked for him parking cars. Stanley continued to drink but more responsibly. He had a hobby wood shop in the basement of his home, where he cut off part of his fingers on his left hand. I remember watching his hand when I was a small boy, with amazement as he ate his breakfast with missing parts of his fingers.

Stanley D. Smith & Laura B. Woolford
Stanley D. Smith and his third wife Laura B. Woolford 2007-1983

As his grandsons, my brother Randy and I always were treated well by Stanley. We stayed many a night at his house with Laura. Myrtle babysat us. Myrtle always likes to tell the story of me at age five when I told Stanley that teenage Myrtle had begun smoking. I suggested she should be spanked. Stanley did not spank her, but he did tell Myrtle’s mother Laura. Ironically, Laura and Stanley were heavy smokers. I remember Laura, smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee and play solitaire. She was always, Grandma Smith to me.

Sadly, Stanley D. Smith brought on his own death. He got diabetes. Stanley would not stay on his diet, which caused him to have a stroke. I saw him at his home then. We hugged. He was slender and frail. The damage was done. He had a second stroke and then a heart attack killed him at his home in 1961. I went to his funeral and burial. No matter what flaws my grandparents had, I still loved them.

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FREE DOWNLOADThe Ancestry & Kinship of Stanley D. Smith

Arthur William Smith – Purple Heart Recipient

“William Arthur Smith, His Military Life & Purple Heart” is a new installment series, revealing a New Found Line for Stray Leaves.         Written by Dennis Smith, a first cousin of Frank & Jesse James, Dennis traces his ancestry in personal family stories through each generation. He reaches back to his ancestors Anthony Lindsay III &  Ailsey Cole, Richard  James Cole & Anne Hubbard, and Anthony Lindsay Jr. & Rachel Ann Dorsey.  The series culminates in the story of the author’s cousin Dr. James V. Scruggs, the doctor and family relative who was the first to arrive on the bloody scene of the Pinkerton Agency raid on James Farm in 1875. 

Arthur William Smith-Purple Heart

by Dennis Smith, his son

 

Arthur “Art” Smith had already dropped out of school prior to his marriage to Lois Roberta Roberts. He worked at various jobs to support his new family. That included working for his father Stanley D. Smith, parking cars. Stanley managed a parking garage in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Arthur William Smith
Arthur William Smith 1928-2009 – Third Great-Grandson of Anthony Lindsay & Ailsey Cole; first cousin of Frank & Jesse James

Art and Lois R. Smith were now living with Nellie Roberts, his mother-in-law, on the east side of Indianapolis, in a half of a double at 251 S. Gray St. Nellie Roberts was paying most if not all of the bills. My brother, Randall Robert Smith, was born there on March 23, 1947.

Art Smith and George Thayer, a first cousin of Lois, decided that they would enlist into the U.S. Army, together in September of 1948. According to military records, they entered the U.S. Army in Madison, Indiana.

George Thayer related that they left for basic training from Indiana to Fort Lewis in the State of Washington. On the train ride to Fort Lewis, Art and George visited one of the stores at a train stop and they took some candy without paying for it. They were caught and the U.S. Army had to pay for the candy. Art and George were not allowed off the train at any other stops.

AirborneWhile at Fort Lewis, Art and George decided to go into the Airborne together, but George got injured in basic training. Art was transferred to the 82nd Airborne in Fort Bragg, North Carolina after basic training. George stayed at Fort Lewis. During this time, Art received Airborne training, even though George related later they had to push Art out of the airplane every time they took him up to jump.

In 1949, the 82nd Airborne had the rare opportunity of going to Philadelphia for a parade. President Truman visited the parade and Art was one of the guards along the president’s parade route. Art’s photo was in the newspaper together with Harry Truman that year.

While at Fort Bragg, Art missed his wife Lois and son Randy. He had them come and live with him on the base. Lois related that Art did not make enough money as a private to take care of the family. She said Art ate in the mess hall. All she had to eat one night was a candy bar. She wrote her mother for a train ticket home. Her mother, Nellie Roberts, sent the ticket.

Art Smith had been friends with Chuck Hughes since he was a teenager in the Westside of Indianapolis. Chuck Hughes and two other unknown friends had come to Fort Bragg to visit Art about the same time Lois was preparing to return to Indianapolis. They had driven down in an old car. They were running low on gas money. Art, Chuck Hughes, and their friends talked Lois into cashing in the train ticket her mother sent her, and use it instead for gas money. Lois and son Randy drove back with Chuck Hughes back to Indianapolis. Art stayed at Fort Bragg. This was in the late summer of 1949.

Lois Roberts
Lois Roberta Roberts-Smith 1921-2011

On the drive back, Lois related she had used an outhouse at a rest stop where she was attacked by a rooster. Blood was running down her leg where the rooster had spurred her. Chuck Hughes knocked the chicken out with a dirt clod. The farmer who owned the rooster was upset because it was his fighting rooster. They high-tailed it from the rest stop.

By late 1949, Lois was back in Indianapolis. She lived with her mother Nellie at 316 S. Gray St. on the east side. Lois was pregnant again. Art no longer wanted to be in the U.S. Army. He asked Lois to get him out on a “hardship discharge,” because he had a wife, son and a baby on the way. Lois went to the Red Cross in early 1950 and the Red Cross got Art Smith out of the Army by the Spring of that year.

Art’s Father, Stanley D. Smith drove Lois to the hospital in an old pickup truck, on the day I was born. Stanley drove a little faster every time Lois had a labor pain. After I was born, Art and Nellie Roberts were in the living room at 316 S. Gray St., where they gave me the name of Dennis Smith. My grandfather Stanley always kept a good relationship with his grandson’s.

Art Smith-Lois Roberts-Geneva Curry
Art & Lois Smith, with Art’s mother Geneva Joseph Curry-Smith

To explain in one word, the marriage of Art and Lois turned “volatile”. They fought the whole time. Lois threw a bottle at Art as he was walking away from her and hit him in the back. Art, Lois, sons Randy and me continued living with grandmother Nellie in the small two bedroom house on Gray Street.

Art was working in Auto Body Repair but he went out for cigarettes and a newspaper one day. He never returned. Nellie Roberts who was making less than $20.00 a week took care of her daughter Lois with grandsons Randy Smith and me while paying all the bills. There was no welfare in Indiana at that time.

My mother Lois searched Indianapolis for Art. She found him on the Westside, lying on a couch with a blond girl that looked like the actress “Doris Day”. She asked him to return home but he refused.

Lois then went to the Red Cross to see what they could do to help with her financial situation. They could not help her but they were upset that Art Smith was not living with his family and informed the U.S. Army. Lois R. Smith then consulted with an attorney and filed for divorce and support in June/July 1950, her only recourse. In June 1950, the United States went to War with Korea. On 22 Sept 1950, the divorce of Arthur William Smith and Lois Roberta Smith was final, with custody and child support of Randall R. Smith and me, Dennis Smith, going to our mother.

Lois R. Smith then consulted with an attorney and filed for divorce and support in June/July 1950, her only recourse. In June 1950, the United States went to War with Korea. On 22 Sept 1950, the divorce of Arthur William Smith and Lois Roberta Smith was final, with custody and child support of Randall R. Smith and me, Dennis Smith, going to our mother.

Art Smith's Bronze StarOn 25 Sept 1950, the U.S. Army sent Arthur William Smith to Fort Hood, Texas. By Oct 1950, Arthur William Smith was on his way to the Korean conflict. He had requested to be returned to the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg. The U.S. Army refused his request. Arthur William Smith was sent to the front lines of the Korean War.

Art was sent on patrols and guard duty. One time he was disconnected from his company and he found himself in the midst of North Koreans and Chinese. He covered himself with dead bodies to evade capture. Then on Jan 7, 1951, Arthur W. Smith received the Bronze Star. The U.S. Army had Art’s service record number incorrect in this order. He never received or knew of his Bronze Star. An attempt to get this corrected has been filled with an Indiana Senator.

Art Smith's Purple Heart
The Purple Heart, conferred upon Arthur William Smith

Art sent a letter to his mother. Nine days later, Arthur W. Smith received the Purple Heart, for getting wounded in the buttocks from friendly fire. Korea had the worst winter in history with the temperature going 30 below zero at night.Geneva Curry Smith in Madison, Indiana telling her “he doesn’t expect to survive”, he has body lice, his feet are frozen and his friends are dying around him. An army colonel had taken their blankets away because he thought they had it too soft. By Jan. 22, 1951, Art was in a hospital in Osaka, Japan.

After his somewhat physical recovery, Art Smith was assigned to Osaka, Japan as a pay clerk until March/May 1951. Then he was sent to Wake Island to work as a clerk. They did not send him back to the front line because of his prior military service and the short time left in his enlistment. Art finally was discharged on Nov. 10, 1951 in Camp Carson, Colorado.

Stanley Smith
Stanley D. Smith 1902-1961

My grandfather Stanley was living at 1330 Naomi St. in Indianapolis in 1951, with his wife Laura Smith and stepdaughter Myrtle Woolford. When Art got out of the Army he lived with his father, stepmother, and stepsister. Art had post-traumatic stress, from his experience in the war. He was hard to wake up. Stanley had to throw a glass of water on him and run. Art would always come up fighting.

Art’s drinking increased. He was a bartender in several rough and seedy bars, one being “Blake’s Tavern.” Once, he claimed he played cards in the back room after closing with “Elvis Presley,” This could not be confirmed. It was possible, though, since the owner of Blake’s was an entertainment promoter.

Art started racing motorcycles and stock cars. He raced stock cars at the old “Art Zipps” or now Speed Drome on Kitley Road. He married a second time to Margie Louise Moore on Sept. 2, 1956. The marriage soon ended in divorce. It is said that she tried to shoot Art.

Army record for Arthur William Smith
U.S. Army military record of Arthur William Smith.

Art’s drinking led him to have a stroke before he was 30. The stroke left one side of his face paralyzed for a while.

He dated several women until he met Lorene Kellams Sodrell, who had a young son. He married Lorene on Aug. 31, 1958.

Randy Smith
Randall Robert “Randy” Smith 1947-2001, son of Arthur William & Lois Roberts-Smith, & brother of the author Dennis Smith

He remained married to her until his death in 2009. Art helped raise her son but he remained estranged to his own son’s his entire life. He rarely paid any child support for me and Randy. This put a huge strain on grandmother Nellie Roberts who mostly raised us. She never complained.

It is believed Art blamed Lois for his return to the Army and for his being sent to Korea. It is believed this resentment was directed against his sons, too. The casualties of War extend far beyond the battlefield.

Art deserved his Purple Heart and Bronze Star, but he would not have been in Korea if he had just stayed home and taken care of his family.

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SMITH FAMILY TODAY

Dennis Smith-Cory Smith-Lane Smith
Author Dennis Smith, with grandson Cory Smith and great-grandson Lane Smith

Arthur William Smith was born Nov. 15, 1928, in Switzerland County, Indiana.

On Aug. 31, 1946, Arthur William Smith married Lois Roberta Roberts, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Arthur was 17 years old and Lois was 16 years old. Lois was pregnant with Randall Robert Smith. They were living on the westside of Indianapolis, Indiana.

Arthur W. Smith was the son of Stanley D. Smith and Geneva Curry Smith. Stanley divorced Geneva in 1940. Stanley remarried to Laura B. Woolford. They lived in Indianapolis. Geneva later remarried to Edgar Fredenburgh. They lived in Madison, Indiana. Arthur’s sister Elizabeth A. Smith lived with Geneva Curry Smith Fredenburgh. 

Lois Roberta Roberts-Smith’s mother was Nellie Plummer-Roberts. She had married John D. Roberts but John Roberts left her and Lois Roberta Roberts in 1941 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Lois’ father moved to Mississippi to train troops for WWII, where he married another woman.

Nellie P. Roberts never remarried.

______________________________________________

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, DENNIS SMITH

______________________________________________

FREE DOWNLOADThe Ancestry of William Arthur Smith

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Old Photos Found of First Jesse James Museum

Jesse James Museum
The First Jesse James Museum, Somerset, Pulaski County, Kentucky

For 20 years, I have searched for any old photos of this James family home that became the first Jesse James museum. James family lore had spoken about the museum for years. Recently Curtis Gilliland, a cousin who is vice-president of the Pulaski County Historical Society in Somerset, Kentucky notified me about a new accession received by the Society that arrived right before Christmas, 2016. At last, now we can see what the first Jesse James museum looked like.

D.A.R. HISTORIAN UNCOVERS ARCHIVE

Helen Vogt Greene
Helen Vogt Greene, museum historian of the Lake Worth Historical Museum, 414 Lake Avenue, Lake Worth, Florida

Helen Vogt Greene, curator and museum historian of the Lake Worth Historical Museum in Lake Worth, Florida, donated the accession to the Pulaski County Historical Society.

Greene is an award-winning historian. In April of 2016, the Palm Beach Historical Society awarded Greene the coveted Fannie James Pioneer Achievement Award. The award is named for an African-American pioneer (of no known relationship to the Jesse James family) who served as the first postmistress of the post office in the settlement of Jewell, now Lake Worth.

In October of 2016, the Florida State Daughters of the American Revolution also recognized Greene for her demonstrated record of 45 years as a “historical, educational, social, religious, political, scientific, and cultural innovator.”  The National Society of the DAR honored Past Honorary Regent Greene as one of its “Women in American History.”

THE RECOVERY

The photo accession includes several photographic images, personally written notations, a business card, and Helen Vogt Greene’s written letter statement of provenance and donation.

In my personal interview with Mrs. Greene, she confirmed the facts of the letter and explained more of the story behind the photos. Greene, who was 7 years old when her family took these images around 1943, stated that a group from Poland had visited Somerset and Pulaski County in Kentucky at that time. The interest group was attracted to the county’s name and its namesake of Casimir Pulaski. Greene’s family joined their tour.

Casimir Pulaski
Count Casimir Pulaski of Poland, 1745-1779

I informed Mrs. Greene that John M. James, a founder of Pulaski County and the grandfather of Frank and Jesse James per local lore, selected the name for the county. In the American Revolution, John M. James was a supplier to the Patriot cause together with Joshua Logan Younger, grandfather of the Younger brothers of the James gang. Also as a spy for Gen. Washington, John M. James was a great admirer of Casimir Pulaski as an American Patriot from Poland.

Helen Greene stated that she was unpacking some boxes recently when she uncovered the photographs that had been long stored away. As an historian cleaning house, Greene determined her family photos should return to their place of origination. So, she donated them to the Pulaski County Historical Society.

TEXT OF THE DONATION LETTER

December 31, 2016

Pulaski County Historical Society

304 South Main Street

Somerset, Ky 42501

 Dear Mr. Elmore, President

Since 1980, I have been associated with the small Historical Museum of the City of Lake Worth, Florida. In all that time, first as the Curator and now as the Historian, I have never been able to tell families what they should save and what in the world do other people want? I add myself to that list.

donation letter
Donation and provenance letter of Helen Vogt Greene

Enclosed you will find three c. 1943 pictures and an advertising card for the Oak Leaf Tourist Cmp. I am quite certain we were traveling through. My father traveled from place to place working on government projects. He was an Electrical Supervisor. He wanted his family with him and we lived in a trailer. These pictures were just ‘unpacked”. If these are not ‘keepers”, please feel free to use File #13.

I find the card quite interesting.  If you still have cabins for 50 cents a night, we may visit you…when it is warmer. Success in all that you do to protect and preserve your history.

Blessings and a Happy New Year…2017

(S)  Helen Vogt Greene

Contact information of address, telephone number, and email for Helen Vogt Greene are redacted here.

HISTORY OF THE JESSE JAMES MUSEUM

When I first visited the site of the old Jesse James museum, it was in 2001. Cousin Virgie Herrin-Fuller 1922-2009, a James descendant and retired schoolteacher, took me there. Virgie lived on the same road as the old museum, just a few minutes away. Virgie grew up in Shopville, in the home that her grandparents Joseph Allen Herrin and Susan Harriett James had built on the original land of John M. James.

Museum ruins
Ruins of the Jesse James Museum, 2001

Virgie said at that time that she always recalled the old log cabin where we stood was used as a Jesse James museum. It was a tourist attraction. She further stated that the log cabin originally was built on the land of John M. James in Shopville where she grew up.

As we looked around that day, all that was left of the old museum were two standing brick chimneys. Virgie confirmed that the museum had burned down years ago. Everything that the museum contained, that was collected from the James homes in Shopville, was consumed by the flames.

Jesse James Museum ruins
Alternate view of the ruin of the Jesse James Museum, 2001

In further research, I found many others among the James family and in the town of  Somerset who recalled the old museum as Virgie did. Nowhere I looked did I ever find someone who could provide photographic evidence of the building’s existence. Now, thanks to Helen Vogt Greene, that is changed.

GRAFFITI CONFIRMS JAMES FAMILY LORE

Now the lore of the James family is confirmed by the newly recovered photographic images. Graffiti painted on the building walls in the period, presumably when the structure became a museum, tells the story of the building.

Jesse James Museum
Jesse James Museum, front facade graffiti

This house built in 1816 was

123 years old when rebuilt in 1938.

Jesse James Funeral (illegible)

Rev. J.M. Martins (illegible)

I have chosen this day

24th chapter of (illegible)

44th verce (sic)

Rhoda May-James
Rhoda May-James 1806-1889. No photographic image of Rev. Joseph Martin James ever has been found. The James family’s archives, however, do include an image of one is his wives, Rhoda May, and an abundance of photos of his children and their families.

John M. James settled the land on Buck Creek that became Shopville, from two land grants he acquired in 1799. John’s son, Rev. Joseph Martin James operated a store house on nearby Flat Lick Creek, that gave the area its name.

The reference to a reverend is unclear. The text could refer to Virgie’s great-grandfather Rev. Joseph Martin James, at times referred to as Martin among his congregation, at other times referred to as Joe among his family. For many years, Rev. Joseph Martin James served as pastor of the Flat Lick Baptist Chruch, of which his father was a founder. A history of Flat Lick Church acknowledges the James in the formation and operation of the church, and also in their relationship and kinship with Frank & Jesse James. Rev. James later founded the First Baptist Church of Somerset, Kentucky, also serving there as pastor. Joseph Martin James was a very popular preacher.

Rev. James was the son of John M. James and Clarissa “Clara” Nall. The congregation of Flat Lick Church defrocked Rev. J. M. James due to his becoming an alcoholic bigamist who sired 24 children, among three wives, his last four children being born in consecutive years by two alternate wives, one of whom was a teenager from his congregation. Remaining very popular nonetheless after his demise in 1848 for his preaching ability, his congregation memorialized him as being “talented, but erratic.”

Zee Mimms-James Bible
Bible of Zee Mimms-James, inscribed on the day her husband Jesse Woodson James was killed

The biblical reference that appears on the museum building is reminiscent of the notation Jesse’s wife Zee Mimms-James made in her bible, following Jesse’s assassination. In very precise handwriting, Zee inscribed her bible, “Jesse killed this day April 3, 1882, in St. Joseph.” Her inscription appeared below the bible verse: I Thessalonians, Chapter V: “But of the times and seasons, Brethren,  you have no need that we write to you, for you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord is to come as a thief in the night.”

A side view of the building reveals additional graffiti, which states:

Jesse James Museum
Jesse James Museum, side graffiti

The hangout house of Jessie (sic) & Frank James

Moved from Shopville & reblt.

A letter from Frank James telling how

They began their life.

We began slaying Yanks one by one

We joined Quantell (sic). He had 37 men.

We made things hot

Now & then.

 ADDITIONAL CONFIRMATION FOUND

 Around the time of the discovery of the of the Zee James Collection of historical images and artifacts by Al King of Somerset, Mr. King found himself at an estate sale on Main St. in Somerset. A small number of items attracted King’s attention. The seller stated the items came from the Jesse James Museum on North Route 1247 outside Somerset when the museum went out of business. Mr. King purchased a photo, not knowing who was pictured in the image.

Mary Harriet James
Mary Harriet James-Owens 1843-1935

During the first meeting with Mr. King to authenticate the artifacts he purchased from the historical home of Judge James Madison Lindsay, King alerted me to the photo he had bought on Main St. King asked me if I could identify the person in the photograph. When the photograph was produced, I knew instantly who was in the picture. The photo was of Mary Harriett James, a daughter of Rev. Joseph Martin James and Rhoda May. The image reflected other known images of Mary Harriet James in the family archives. This was corroborating evidence that the first Jesse James Museum actually contained artifacts produced from the Shopville homes of the James family.

 

__________________________________________________

The James family expresses its deepest appreciation to historian Helen Vogt Greene for this valuable contribution to our James family history.

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OAK LEAF TOURIST CAMP & S. L. WILSON

The former site of the first Jesse James Museum was part of the Oak Leaf Tourist Camp, N. Rt. 1247 near Abbott Rd., 3 miles north of Somerset, Kentucky. Except for two remaining brick chimneys, the site sits vacant today, but conitnues to be talked about and visited.

Oak Leaf Tourist Camp-Business Card
Oak Leaf Tourist Camp

Free DOWNLOAD

The Ancestry & Kinship of S. L. Wilson

First Jesse James Museum site-2017
The former site of the Oak Leaf Tourist Camp and first Jesse James museum today, 2017.

 

Defamation Alleged by Burley Auction Gallery

With a little bit more than twenty-four hours before Burley Auction Gallery puts up the fraudulent Bob Ford-Jesse James tintype for auction, Robb Burley the auction house owner dispatched an email to Stray Leaves publisher Eric F. James, alleging defamation and threatening James with a lawsuit.

Shortly before, the auction gallery sent out a public relations release, still promoting the bogus artifact. Now a new question arises. Is Burley’s auction a legitimate one?

Email:Burley to James
Defamation threat of Robb Burley to Eric F. James, Thursday, January 12, 2017, 3:32 pm EST. Full text copied below.

BURLEY CLARIFIES

In setting off his defamation charge, Burley clarifies several ambiguities related to the auction item.

BURLEY CLARIFIES that Nikki Thibodeaux is, in fact, an associate of his. Thibododoux placed Burley’s PR piece on PRWeb

Thibodeaux & Burley-Threaten Defamation
Nikki Thibodeaux and Robb Burley image provided by Robb Burley, “so you can update your blog.”

BURLEY CLARIFIES the Thibodeaux photo that appeared in the cabal of hoaxers on Stray Leaves is mistaken. The person is not the same as his associate. The mistaken photo since has been removed. Robb Burley provides an image of his associate Nikki Thibodeaux instead, “so you can update your blog.”

The offer perplexes. Is Burley admitting that he and Thibodeaux are joined abettors? Burley’s Thibodeaux image since has replaced the mistaken image.

BURLEY CLARIFIES more importantly that the consignor of the hoax photo is, in fact, Sandy Mills, the original hoax claimant still lingering in Burley’s shadow.

This answers why no former sale of the artifact was known or could be found. It also removes Tommy & Sara Jane Howell from the cabal list as being the consignors whom Burley prominently identified in advertising.

BURLEY CLARIFIES finally that the auction of Sandy Mills’ artifact is not, in fact, an arms-length business transaction. Burley clearly states he is not charging a seller’s fee to Mills.

Burley’s auction has an alternative motive. Burley states, “I took the contract to take down a bully, plain & simple.” The bully Burley considers is Eric F. James.

By Burley’s admission, the auction of the Mills artifact itself may be a contrivance and a sham altogether. This calls into question whether Burley is employing his auction license to legitimate effect. Or, is Burley’s license being misused?

BURLEY’S COLLEAGUES

Burley Auction Gallery Colleagues
Auction house colleagues of Burley Auction Gallery

To threaten a lawsuit is commonplace among auction houses, especially as the auction date grows near. It also is especially true when troubling questions arise about authenticity.

Robb Burley proudly provides a list of his auction house colleagues. They are advertised in his marketing.  Two on Burley’s list have threatened the James family with lawsuits before. None materialized.  One alone on his list has worked with the James family to bring bonafide Jesse James artifacts to the completion of a successful auction. The James family respects and endorses that auction house for its professionalism, due diligence, faultless promotion, and ability to generate a satisfactory sale.

BURLEY THREATENS

The following is the full text of Robb Burley’s threatening email charging defamation, as it is written. Answers to most all of the questions Burley poses have long appeared on Stray Leaves available to anyone willing to read and get acquainted.

DEFAMATION

Eric James,

Thank you for the good laugh this morning. You are apparently as wrong about Nikki Thibodeaux’s photo as you are about the tintype. I am attaching a photo of Nikki & I so you can update your blog. At least you got my photo right (even if you did trim out former Texas Governor/ incoming Secretary of Energy Rick Perry).

Before we discuss the photo, you have several other egregious lies that you need to be addressed immediately. The Howell Family does not own the tin type, Sandy Mills does. The photo, Shelby GT350 & the Texas Ranger collection are being sold alongside the estate collection. Thats why the estate is listed PLUS the Texas Ranger collection PLUS the Jesse & Bob photo. You never called to ask. You just went to printing lies. So you have slandered the name of a late client because your facts were wrong. Not that facts matter to you.

You list something about another auction house getting indicted & fake Ranger items, none of which happened here or ever had anything to do with me. You try to slander by guilt through mention, not even association. We stand behind everything we sell here & always have. I will gladly put my reputation up against anyone in the auction industry. Just the month before last we were listed among the top 15 gun auction houses by True West magazine. We work hard for our sellers, but take extraordinary efforts to protect our buyers. We only sell a clients collection once, But our buyers will be with us for life. Most of our sellers are previous buyers, or recommended by previous buyers. Anyone who is interested in the photo will have a 30 day period to return for any reason. Anyone that has been serious about the photo is aware of your opinion, they just don’t believe you. I am not trying to convince anyone of anything. I simply present the evidence provided by identification & history/genealogy expert & let the bidders decide. You claim I am part of some grand “hoax”, yet I am not charging Sandy Mills a sellers fee. I have never met Lois Gibson or Freda Hardison, & only met Sandy Mills once when I picked up the photograph. What exactly am I getting out of this, other than being slandered by a blogger with a very common last name? You are used to everyone taking your lies & not fighting back. That’s about to change drastically. You have slandered anyone that disagrees with you. The list is long & prestigious compared to what you bring to the table.

You are correct in one matter, there as many fake Ranger badges as there are fake Jesse James items. We only sell authentic Texas Ranger items. That is why we have had the pleasure of selling more real Texas Ranger items than anyone over the past few years, including Texas Ranger Captain & U.S. Marshal Jack Dean’s collection. (photos attached from our last auction).

This isn’t the first James related item to be brought to us, but it is the first one we have agreed to offer at auction. Several years back a Colt pistol showed up here with a bloated file folder full of pedigree. After months, I sent it back to the consignor because for all its pedigree, it didn’t add up. The gun ended up in a major east coast auction house with a massive a large estimate on it. I thought I had made a mistake until I saw they had to pull it from the sale. We turn down far more “historic” items than we sell here. We are selective in what we offer our buyers

As for my due diligence, I read your blog post in regards to the photo a year ago. While I agreed with some of your points & questions raised, I couldn’t take it seriously because it was negative character assassinating rant wrapped in a computer hack conspiracy. The main reason I took Lois’ assessment over yours was there was no good reason to listen to yours. Why should I or anyone else? What qualifications, certifications, or degrees do you have?  When you say the Jesse James family, what does that actually mean? You speak for every family member? Who gave you that authority?  Who appointed you? Are you elected? How often are you elected or is more of a dictatorship of title? What are your qualifications? How are you related to Jesse James? What other “experts” examined the photo? Who are they? What are their qualifications? I understand that you made friends with Jesse’s grandson & started a blog, but what else gives you the expertise you claim to have?  None of those questions can be answered from the information you have on your blog. Someone should really take a hard look at that before giving credence to your opinion. No wonder you are trying so hard to kill this item, it may end up proving how little your opinion matters. Someone may actually take a closer look at what it is you actually do. Your actions are far from professional by any measure.

The fact is the photo has two legitimate experts that back it with provable genealogical ties, & a blogger/supposed relative against it. The problem is you have slandered the item to such a point that you have greatly hurt the value of the item among top photo collectors, though you have not completely killed it. The problem is the defamation of my name, perpetrated by you will remain long after the auction Saturday. I will seek rectify that through the courts soon enough. I didnt take the contract to make a bunch of money (no seller fees charged). I took the contact to take down a bully, plain & simple. After reading your blog & how you attempt to intimidate, accuse, & slander anyone that differs from your opinion, you are used to being a bully hiding behind a computer screen. That will not work for you this time. Correct your lies. You have a right to believe what you chose, but it does not give you the right to slander those that disagree with you. You may just end up meeting that person face to face some day.

You will be hearing from me.

Best Regards,

Robb Burley

ANOTHER FINAL GAVEL

Eric F. James denies Robb Burley’s allegation of defamation and questions who’s identity is being defamed. James does not know if Burley will make good on his threat, or not. He notes Burley is putting out additional promotion nearing the stretch. Burley and Sandy Mills may set a  reserve that is too untenable and a bar to a sale. Mills still may be expecting “in the millions.” They also may be setting up James for their fall. James notes, if Burley does proceed with his threat, it is Burley who may find himself self-defeated.

Like other artifacts of questionable authenticity in James’ experience, he says the item may or may not sell at auction. If there is no reserve attached, he expects it will sell. If it does not sell, the auctioneer may continue to effect a private sale behind the open market.

In his final comment, James concludes, “We’re talking about an auction here. In an auction, reality always falls somewhere between bluster and the real deal.”