Category Archives: Letters

Final Sift and Year-End Roundup of 2018

The final Sift and the year-end roundup of 2018 have produced some surprises.  Then again, Stray Leaves never fails to produce surprises. To receive future Sift surprises as they happen, LIKE Stray Leaves on Facebook.


Swain's Jesse James Tent Show

Mimms and Pence Bombed at Pearl Harbor

Wyatt Leon James, survivor of Pearl Harbor
Wyatt Leon James 1917-2005

December 7 is the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. On that fateful day, Wyatt Leon Mimms was stationed in Pearl Harbor, serving the US Navy.

Wyatt is a 3rd cousin, one generation removed of Frank and Jesse James.

After the war, Wyatt remained for some time in Hawaii, working as a police officer and later a special agent with GTE Telephone. He was married six times in his lifetime. He returned to the States and died in Placerville, California.

Wyatt’s father, Eddie Bernard Mimms, brought his family to Salinas, California from Crawford County, Kansas, and Oklahoma where Wyatt was born.

Archibald Bernard Pence Sr.., survivor of Pearl Harbor
Archibald Bernard Pence Sr..

Archibald Bernard Pence Sr. served onboard the USS Oklahoma in the US Navy as Chief Petty Officer. The Oklahoma was docked in Pearl Harbor on that fateful day. Arch was blown overboard. Later, he was picked up by another serviceman in a small boat. They proceeded to pull fellow servicemen from the water.

Archibald Bernard Pence Sr. is a third cousin, two generations removed of Bud and Donnie Pence of the James gang.


Buy the Russellville Bank

Russellville Bank, robbed by the James Gang
The Southern Bank of Kentucky became better known as the Russellville Bank after it was robbed by the James Gang.

The Russellville Bank with its stately attached residence of bank cashier Nimrod Long is back on the market. This time it can be purchased directly from the owner and retired attorney Joe Clark.

Joe and his wife gave me a tour of this beautiful home in 2016 when I spoke before the Southern Kentucky Pastfinders inside the old Logan County Courthouse. Locally, it was claimed, my appearance was the first and only time a James was brought to court and held accountable for the assault on Nimrod long and the James gang’s robbery of the Russellville Bank.

The Carters have executed a wonderful restoration of the historic building. Located in the Russellville Historic District, the restored property combines historical authenticity and preservation with a modern sensibility for high style and luxury Southern comfort.

Anyone interested in an investment partnership with yours truly to turn this into an Airbnb tourism destination?


New Photos of Rhoda James-Hattler

Courtesy of James descendant Gearld Willis, we now have several new images of Rhoda Ann James & spouse Charles Colfax Hattler and their children Glee Estes and Jewell Irene Hatler. Rhoda Ann is a daughter of Cyrenius Waite James and the youngest sister of John James of Alvarado.


Marriage Announcement for Francis Marion James Jr. & Anna Emelian Knaff

wedding announcement of Frank James & Anna Knaff
1908 Wedding announcement of Francis Marion James Jr. 1880-1931 & Anna Emelian Knaff 1883-1954

Look what showed up on Facebook, thanks to cousin Tom Walden who is the administrator of the THOLL family group on Facebook. This is the 1908 wedding announcement of my grandparents.

New information from this is Anna’s residence address, plus her middle name of Emelian,. Formerly she was documented by their family as Emalia. It turns out the name Emelian is Norwegian in origin, and Emalia is the male version of the name. Anna was not Norwegian. Her Knaff family immigrated in 1848 to Wisconsin from the Duchy of Luxembourg, where Knaff cousins still are influential in the state government. Em-ELL-ee-ah is the pronunciation of the name. I’m still looking for the meaning behind the name.


The Early Death of Reno Conley Herrin

Reno Herrin
Dedication of Shopville School Annual to Reno Conley Herrin 1919-1940 who died an early and untimely death.
Allen Custer Herrin & Susan Harriett James
Allen Custer Herrin & Susan Harriett James, parents of Reno Conley Herrin

RENO CONLEY HERRIN 1919-1940 is a great-grandson of the “talented, but erratic” Rev. Joseph Martin James & Rhoda May. His grandparents are Susan Harriet James & Joseph Allen Herrin, pictured here.

From Terry Joseph White, a 3rd great-grandson of Joseph Martin James, to Eric F. James, May 14, 2011:“I just came across the photo booklet that Aunt Virgie (Reno’s sister Virgie Lucille Herrin Fuller) did a few years ago of the Herrin family. Here’s a summary of what she wrote about Reno: ‘Reno had lung problems all of his life and missed a lot of school due to health issues. He was an excellent basketball player, even tho doctors warned him not to play. Reno refused to go to school unless he could play. Reno collapsed on the ball court two months before he was to graduate. When the doctors inserted a needle to draw fluid from his lungs, the needle punctured his heart, which was enlarged, and caused his death’.”

Reno Herrin-Shopville School
Reno Conley Herrin at Shopville School

The eldest sibling of Reno also died too early and tragically. Leslie Raymond Herrin 1902-1930 died by drowning at the age of 28.


Obituary of Maj. George Burns Hite

Maj. George Burns Hite 1825-1891 is the husband of Nancy Gardner James, an aunt of Frank & Jesse James.

Two of their sons, Robert Woodson & Clarence Jeff Hite, associated with Quantrill’s guerrillas and the James Gang.

A third son, John William Hite, associated with Morgan’s Men in the company of John Hunt Morgan, and David Hunt James and his brother Richard Skinner James who were captured and sent to Camp Douglas in Chicago where Richard died.

Thelma Duncan Barr’s Letter of Apology to Joan Beamis

The following letter of apology  written by Thelma Duncan Barr to Joan Malley Beamis is transcribed as written. No editing has been applied.

Thelma Duncan Barr is the spouse of Henry Lafayette Barr, a grandson of Jesse Woodson James. Joan Malley Beamis is the great-granddaughter of Drury Woodson James, an uncle of Jesse Woodson James, America’s iconic outlaw.

env-thelma-barr-joan-beamis-10-27-1970Overland Park, Kansas

Oct. 26, 1970

Mrs. John F. Beamis

7 Hamilton Street

Somersworth, N.H., 03878

Letter of Thelma Duncan Barr to Joan Beamis, Oct. 26-27, 1970, page 1
Letter of Thelma Duncan Barr to Joan Beamis, Oct. 26-27, 1970, page 1

Dear Mrs. Beamis.

My name is Thelma Duncan Barr. My husband is Lawrence H. Barr.

We were in Los Angeles, Calif. In Oct. on our way home from Hawaii. We visited several days with our cousins, the daughters of Aunt Stella James. Ethel Rose Owens gave me your letter, Sept. 1970, to read. I wanted to write you and offer an explanation for my husband not answering your letter of several years ago?

I am sorry he did not see fit to answer your letter. You have no idea how many inquiries he gets through the mails. He simply didn’t want to be bothered. I told him at the time he should have answered your letter.

However, he does not know very much about the historical facts of the family. Mother Barr would not let it be “talked about” in her home. Now Forster has always been interested in the “James Stories” and got into his possession all he could find about Jesse James. He has all the keepsakes, historical data, pictures (what there are) etc. Lawrence has very, very little about his grandfather! Only in the past few years has he become interested. If all I recall correctly you were asking for a picture of Drury Woodson James.

-2-

Letter of Thelma Duncan Barr to Joan Beamis, Oct. 26-27, 1970, page 2
Letter of Thelma Duncan Barr to Joan Beamis, Oct. 26-27, 1970, page 2

He did not have it and has only very few pictures of his mother. What we do have is in books we have had to buy and newspaper clippings. Forster was always the one who answered people’s letters. Now that is the best excuse I can give him, which is true, believe me.

However, in the past three years I have been doing a Genealogy of “my” family. I started with my mother’s family and then my father’s family. They both came from the early day settlers of Mo. They came from Virginia to Kentucky, to Mo. About 1820 & 1825. This, to me, has been most interesting. I am not finding very many stories or historical events. It is mostly lineage.

A long time ago, when on a trip to Calif., we went to see Lutie Mimms. She gave me, to bring home with me a Genealogy of the Mimms family. She & Mother Barr were double cousins. At that time it was all in a gig-saw puzzle to me. I read, read, & read it before I could begin to understand it. When I finished copying it I found a “gap” in it that directly linked the Mimms & the James families together. She (Lutie) said he niece had it. I never did get it from Lutie, her niece, or Aunt Stella.

We went to the nursing home to see Aunt Stella & she did know us!

-3-

Letter of Thelma Duncan Barr to Joan Beamis, Oct. 26-27, 1970, page 3
Letter of Thelma Duncan Barr to Joan Beamis, Oct. 26-27, 1970, page 3

In the research of some of the related families to my direct lines I came across a James family in the “Germanna Records” of Richmond, Va. But Dr. B. C. Holtzclaw said he did not think there was a connection with the Rev. Robert Sallee James.

In Ethel Rose’s letter you spoke of a book, or pamphlet, that you and your co-author Mr. William E. Pulliam, were going to publish! Has it been published yet? You said you were going to give them away to historical societies, libraries, D.A.R. of Washington D.A.C. of Texas.

I belong to the Clay Co. (Historical) Museum Ass. They are endeavoring to write a new history of Clay Co. of some of their earlier families. Of course they have not asked the Barr boys for the James Family because many, many books have been written about them. (There is a Jesse James Museum in Liberty. He makes money at it and seems to think he’ s an authority.)

Each month they have a resume of a family on their monthly letter. I wrote one on my Duncan family fr Jan. 1969 (I believe) it was. I also belong to Smithville Historical Society. They are compiling a lot of families. I have given them the Thomas Fry family; the McCullough Family; Capt. James Duncan; John Duncan and have a great deal on related families (which others are working on, too.) I don’t type so mine is all handwritten. It has been work. I know how to appreciate your labors, believe me!

-4-

Letter of Thelma Duncan Barr to Joan Beamis, Oct. 26-27, 1970, page 4
Letter of Thelma Duncan Barr to Joan Beamis, Oct. 26-27, 1970, page 4

I am interested in where you got your information on the exact connection of Mimms or (Mims) & James line. I “think” I have it figured out, but am not sure I am correct!

Do you get all the brothers & sisters that you can of each family or – do you just get direct lineage?

The only data we have on Drury Woodson James was that he was the youngest of 8 children (of John James who married Mary Polly Poor.) He was born Nov. 17, 1825 (also have another date from another source as Nov. 14, 1826.) Which is correct?

You no doubt have more authentic data than I do. What I have has been from books others have written. A Mr. Ed Knowles who in 1908 was at Topeka, Ks. on the “Topeka Capitol Journal”. He is no longer with them. He sent my husband a “copy” of a talk he gave at Clay Co. Museum meeting in Liberty. That is where I got my little on “Lindsay” and “Cole” family.

All I have on James Family is

I. Martin James married?

II. John James married Mary Polly Poore their ch.

1. Mary; 2. William; 3. John 4. Elizabeth; 5. Robert Sallee James; 6. Nancy; 7. Thomas and; 8. Drury Woodson.

III.          Gen. Robert Sallee James married Zerelda Cole

  1. Their children & on down to present day

Do you have any data back older than Martin James?

-5-

Letter of Thelma Duncan Barr to Joan Beamis, Oct. 26-27, 1970, page 5
Letter of Thelma Duncan Barr to Joan Beamis, Oct. 26-27, 1970, page 5

We have Carl Breihan’s book but didn’t think much of it. I couldn’t find the entire Genealogical history of Lindsay-Cole line in it. Has he written more than one book?

We thought “Jesse James was His Name” was a good book (as far as we know) that is.

If I have any data you don’t have I’d be willing to exchange with you. I would like for you to verify my connection between the Mimms & James family.  It isn’t in too good an order right now, but I could re-write it for you.

You see I have written so much these past three years that I have about ruined my right hand. I hurt a tendon in it over 3 yrs. ago. When I write too much it gets very sore.

I am corresponding with a Mrs. Sale on Ind. In respect to some mutual family connections. Also a woman in El Centro, Calif on a connection with a branch in my mother’s line. It seems to never end.

This week I had a request for some Barr data. It don’t have any to speak of so now I have to search for it. I think Forster has the Barr family Bible too.

I must quit for tonight.

If you are going to give out copies of your “James Family” I’d love to have one.

If you contact the Clay Co. Historical or Museum Ass. Don’t contact a Mrs. Eldridge. She is a “professional”. She gets her material

-6-

Letter of Thelma Duncan Barr to Joan Beamis, Oct. 26-27, 1970, page 6a
Letter of Thelma Duncan Barr to Joan Beamis, Oct. 26-27, 1970, page 6a

“free” then sells it. This woman in deed paid her $20.00 for research & got very little” for it.

The Clay Co. Museum told me about 2 yrs. ago they didn’t want mine because they at that time did not have a facility for handling them. No file system or anything. Of course mine was hand written and not printed. A book might be different. Mr. Donald Pharris is the Pres. He is rather up in years tho. He re-wrote some of my sketch & misspelled so many names it made me sick. He botches up nearly every one. He wanted another sketch but I wouldn’t give him another.

Are you a member of D.A.R. or D.O.C.? I can’t find proof of Dr. James Duncan in the Rev. War. He was; but I haven’t found the proof yet. They sent my money back twice. I’ll have to find another source. There were dozens of James Duncans, one in every generation!

It has been nice visiting with you. Please don’t think too harshly about my husband. He just doesn’t see the importance of our work. He thinks I’m wasting my time!

Most sincerely,

Thelma Duncan Barr

9519 El Monte

Overland Park, Kansas 66207

-6-

Letter of Thelma Duncan Barr to Joan Beamis, Oct. 26-27, 1970, page 6b
Letter of Thelma Duncan Barr to Joan Beamis, Oct. 26-27, 1970, page 6b

Next Day – Oct. 27, 1970

My husband finally dug out of his files, this morning, your letter that I asked him several times to hunt up for me.

You wrote him March 1, 1966/ He ans. You Aug. 21, 1966. Then you sent him an air mail card Sept. 23, 1966 & a Xmas greeting. You said you were going to send him copies of your research but we did not received them.

So he didn’t ignore your letter completely. He has an office in the basement. I never know who he writes to or anything about it.

He is retired now but “sits a lot.” Not me, I have to be up and doing things! This Genealogical work I have done on my family has been done by correspondence mostly. We do have a good library down town Kansas City; but it is hard for me to get there. It costs about $1.50 to park car. I always get so interested I forget to eat lunch. I stay so long I get caught in heavy traffic. Some trips you don’t find a thing you want – other times more than you can copy.

In re-reading your letter I see you do belong to D.A.R. I am eligible for D.O.C. but have not found proof yet on Duncan line for D.A.R. Duncan Tavern in Paris, Ky. Has it but can’t get it unless I go there.

Letter of Thelma Duncan Barr to Joan Beamis, Oct. 26-27, 1970, page 7
Letter of Thelma Duncan Barr to Joan Beamis, Oct. 26-27, 1970, page 7

(final unmarked page)

Do you have cousin Luties’nleice’s address?

Ruth Gibson?

Do you have the Mimms line back to Thomas Mimms who came to Lancaster Co., Va. In May, 1657?

END

Thelma Duncan Barr Residence, 1970
Residence of Thelma Duncan Barr in Overland Park, Kansas, 1970

Joan Malley Beamis Residence, 1970
Residence of Joan Malley Beamis in Somersworth, New Hampshire, 1970