Category Archives: Places

El Paso del Robles & La Panza Rancho of Drury Woodson James

“Rodeo scene taken on the LaPanza Ranch about 1893.” Joan Beamis Archive, James Preservation Trust.

On May 22, 1971, Mary Louise James-Burns dictated her memory of her father Drury Woodson James and his La Panza Rancho. Her dictation was taken and put in writing by Mary Louise’s granddaughter Mary Joan Malley-Beamis.

_______________________________

Paso de Robles Grant

 

While the story of “Drury Woodson James by His Daughter Mary Louise James-Burns” briefly outlines what Mary Louise James recalled about her father’s connection to the fabled La Panza Rancho, much of the rancho’s history was left untold.

Today, history can fill in the saga of this legendary land that reveals so much of California’s most colorful past.

As La Panza Ranch stands on the brink of new ownership, La Panza affirms the true treasure it is. The worth of La Panza far exceeds any amount that it costs.

This is the history of the La Panza Rancho.

Mission San Miguel, Arcangel

Mission San Miguel, Arcangel was founded in 1797 by Fr. Fermin Francisco de Lasuen, who succeeded Fr. Junipero Serra, the founder of a chain of missions spanning California from north to south. The era of the missions compelled the Native-American population of the area either into isolation or into cooperation.

In 1842, Mexican Governor Manuel Micheltorena granted to Pedro Narvaez nearly 26,000 acres of the El Paso de Robles Rancho.

El Paso de Robles Claim of Petronilo Rios

Plat of Rancho Paso Robles

Historian Wallace V. Ohles, who attended and spoke at the 2002 family reunion of the Jesse James family in Paso Robles, California, wrote in his book The Lands of Mission San Miguel that in 1852, Petronillo Rios filed a claim for El Paso de Robles. His claim would take 14 years to be patented!

When California became a United States territory, and later a state, outstanding land claims had to be settled. The Board of Land Commissioners, sitting in San Francisco, rendered a decree of confirmation in favor of Rios in 1855.

Rios did not have clear title to the land he then sold to the brothers Daniel D. and James H. Blackburn with Lazare Godchaux in 1857. Rios received $8,000 from the Blackburns and Godchaux. Rios transferred the land, fully disclosing his receipt of the land from Pedro Narvaez and Gov. Manuel Micheltorena.

Rios did not receive his land patent until 1866. It was granted by President Andrew Johnson. That year Thomas McGreel [alternately McGreal] acquired one-half of the rancho for $10,000 from Daniel D. Blackburn. McGreel then sold his interest to Drury Woodson James for $11,000.

in 1860, D.W. James and John G. Thompson had purchased 10,000 acres of government land for $1.25 per acre. They stocked it with 2,500 head of cattle. This was the nucleus of the La Panza-Carissa Ranch, which in time grew to 50,000 acres.

“On Duty-Taken on the La Panza about 1900.” Joan Beamis Archive, James Preservation Trust.

The Paunch

La Panza – In Spanish, the word means “the paunch,” the belly and its contents.

The vaqueros of old Rancho La Panza used belly parts of slaughtered cattle as bait, to trap, lasso, or poison the California grizzly bear. From the bear hunting country surrounding the rancho, the captured bear was shipped north to battle bulls in the gaming arenas of San Francisco.

The Still House

“Home of Dr. Still-LaPanza Ranch. Post Office was here. Photo 1892.” Joan Beamis Archive, James Preservation Trust.

“The picturesque old stone building is still called the Still House, although no gin or red eye was ever distilled there. It is the sole surviving member of a complex of buildings owned by Dr. Thomas Still, a pioneer at La Panza.

“Dr. & Mrs. Thomas C. Still. My grandparents came into the LaPanza mines in 1879-about 5 miles from LaPanza Ranch house. Land adjoined LaPanza Ranch.” Joan Beamis Archive, James Preservation Trust.

 

“Still, a physician born in Tennessee in 1833, brought the family across the plains in 1863 in an ox-drawn wagon, wintering at bleak Honey Lake in northeastern California. He first settled on a claim near Mt. Diablo, then moved to Sebastopol, where a sawmill accident almost cost him his hand [hidden in this photo]. Luckily his wife had bandages and pine oil handy and this rude treatment kept the fingers attached.

“From Sebastopol, he took his family to San Luis Obispo County in 1867 and to Palo Prieto (later Annette) in Kern County in 1872. The news of the gold rush at La Panza caused him to pull up stakes again in 1879. He went to La Panza, then a ‘lively town,’ and mixed the practice of medicine with farming and stock raising.

The Post Office

“He was also Postmaster of La Panza from November 4, 1879, when the post office was set up, until June 15, 1908, when it was discontinued. Actually, his wife, Martha, and daughter carried on as Postmistresses, for the sawbones was away on cases. Re-established April 29, 1911, the Post Office continued until April 20, 1935, when it was closed for good and mail delivered to Pozo instead…

Gold

“La Panza is a country of many legends and little (written) history. Old-timers will tell you of Mexicans and Indians mining gold there long before the 1878 rush. Today, Do La Guerra Canyon – once people with 250 miners – cannot even be located. In 1882 a prospector named Frank H. Reynolds mined on Navajo Creek but he is a ghostly figure…

“The Painted Rock about 1890. Paintings were along inside walls which can be seen at right.” Joan Beamis Archive, James Preservation Trust.

The first official report of gold production was not made until 1882 when $5,000 was reported taken out. By 1886 the region was producing $9,164 a year bit it dropped to $1,740 in 1887. In 1888 and 1889 the sum of $3,000 and $6,200 respectively and the following year it was $8,800. Another drop occurred in 1891 to $1,785 and it continued to $1,097 in 1892 and a mere $600 the next year. Then it was $1,200, $3,000, and $3,000. In 1897 the figure was $2,500 as, ‘on account of the limited water supply the mines were worked only in the rainy season.’ It was an even $1,000 for the ‘Year of the Spaniards.’ No reports were made in 1899 or 1900, but in 1901 a puny $300 was mined. A revival in 1902 and 1903 brought it up to $2,399 and $1,840, then another slump sent production to only $630 in 1904 and $300 the following year. The last two years’ worth reporting showed but $316 taken out in 1907 and $124 in 1913.

“Inside of Painted Rock about 1920.” Joan Beamis Archive, James Preservation Trust.

Cattle Country

“…After the gold rush petered out, this land reverting to sheep and cattle country again…

“Jim Jones and Jake Schoenfeld bought the ranch from D.W. James and added the Carissa Ranch to it, operating both spreads as one. With the death of Jones in 1903, the partnership was dissolved. His heirs took the Carissa Ranch and Jake kept the La Panza Ranch.

Jake Schoenfeld Residence, La Panza Ranch. Joan Beamis Archive, James Preservation Trust.

“Frank Fotheringham, who was born in Sutter Creek in 1861, came to La Panza after grammar school training in Sacramento and high school education in San Francisco. He found it a great sheep and cattle country already, going to work for his brother-in-law, Jacob M. Jones, who owned about 25,000 acres. Frank worked as foreman until he was 30. Then he became superintendent of Schoenfeld and Jones’ twin ranches, the Carissa and La Panza.

“When the ‘NO Fence’ law went into effect Fotheringham had to bring in enough wire from San Looey [San Luis Obispo] to circle 45,000 acres. He did a tremendous job in stringing it in only 6 months. In 1897 he leased different ranches to tenants, but after 2 years turned back into cattle range. As early as 1886 he had raised and fattened herds of cattle. He would ship them in feeders from Mexico and Arizona by the trainload. He would turn them out in a year ‘fat and fit.’ His own Durhams and Herefords were veritable butterballs, too.

“In the old days around La Panza, Frank used to see more deer, mountain lyons, coyotes, and grizzlies than human neighbors. And a few of his two-legged neighbors were anything but neighborly. Perhaps they wanted to imitate Joaquin Murrieta or Tiburcio Vasquez, both of whom hid out in San Luis Obispo’s backwoods. In any case, Frank first visited Los Angeles in 1883 at the tail end of a long chase of horse thieves who had raided his La Panza remuda and gone south with the stock. In 1916 Fotheringham finally bade La Panza adios, resigning from the ranch to go to Santa Marguerite to live.

“Rodeo scene on the LaPanza Ranch about 1892.” Joan Beamis Archive, James Preservation Trust

“When the ranch was sold to Henry Cowell of the Cowell Lime & Cement Company of Santa Cruz & San Francisco around World War I, Walter Dunning became for many years foreman of the La Panza Ranch. When he died, his wife, Dolly Dunning, became foreman until Clarence Jardine took over. The ranch is now a 34,000 spread, eased by Jake Martens and Bill Vreden. Jake Martens is the managing resident partner. It is partly farmland, partly grazing land for cattle. Irrigation and alfalfa have been introduced but otherwise, it is pretty much the way it looked when whiskey men in muddy Levis were working with sluice boxes, rockers, and gold pans along La Panza Creek.

La Panza in 1960

“Still’s Dairy. Stone building on Still Ranch-LaPanza Post Office in background-Photo about 1910.” Joan Beamis Archive, James Preservation Trust.

“La Panza is pretty quiet now. Dr. Still’s inn, stage stop, and post office are gone, leaving only the old stone dairy. It is hard to realize that the road which winds past…was once one of the most heavily traveled stage roads between the Coast and the San Joaquin. Marica’s Saloon, the gathering place for the old-time California cattlemen and American Chinese and Mexican miners, is no more. It is gone with the miners and the outlaws. Tales of violence cling to the stones of the old house at La Panza, however. There is believed to be a grave in the long-forgotten graveyard where an outlaw was buried after losing an argument with one of his peers. And several miners are said to have been murdered for their caches of gold, their belonging scattered about their corpses and their tents or shacks torn up…

“Or O.M. McLean will tell you of the night his grandfather, Dr. Still, was called to the door by an urgent incessant knocking. When he opened it, a man asked him to come with him quickly to treat and wounded friend. When the physician asked him what happened, the visitor blurted out, ‘I shot a man.’ He quickly changed it to ‘A man has shot himself,” however. The wounded man was in bad shape and condition, but Dr. Still operated, successfully removed the bullet, and then warned the man’s friend that the gunshot wound might prove fatal if he were moved. Nevertheless, when the Doctor returned the next day to see how his patient was doing, he found that both men, on the run from the law, had disappeared afraid that he would report the incident to the sheriff.”

Excerpts from “La Panza” by Richard H. Dillon, The Grabbon Press, San Francisco, September 26, 1960

La Panza Today

The Carrisa Plains portion of historic La Panza:

RELATED

Drury Woodson James – Follow the Money

La Panza Ranch

Mary Louise James Tags Early Buildings of Paso Robles

El Paso de Robles Hotel

End of an Era – The Undoing of Drury Woodson James

Paso Robles Inn Today

Drury Woodson James Slide Show

Research Updates for Jesse James Soul Liberty

The publication in 2012 of Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence, did not end research into all the subject matter in the book. The accumulation and publication of past biography and living James family history continue. Here are some recent research updates to Jesse James Soul Liberty to begin 2019, plus a couple of previews of what more is to come.


New Photo

The Final One Possibly Before Tragic Destruction

Paso Robles Hotel, 1935
In the 1935 Pioneer Day parade the royalty rode horseback. Marshal Daniel S. Lewis flanked by Belle Hazel Kuhnle on his right and Queen Anna Baker on his left.

Recognize this place?  It’s the Paso Robles Hotel built in California by Drury Woodson James. The sign in front says room rates start at $1.50 per night. This 1935 image surfaced recently among publicity for the annual Pioneer Day held in Paso Robles. Five years later in 1940, Drury’s Paso Robles Hotel would be no more.


Coffeyville Welcomes Joseph McJames

Research Update – More Details Learned

Joseph McAlister James arrives in Coffeyville
Newspaper account of the arrival of Joseph McJames in Coffeyville, Kansas

The story of Joseph McAlister James, aka Joseph McJames, appears in Jesse James Soul Liberty in the chapter “Goodland.” Stray Leaves first introduced Mack’s time in Goodland, as well as his time in Coffeyville and the capture of his son in the Dalton Gang’s raid on the Condon Bank. Now, new details come to light.

This republished newspaper clipping informs us of Mack’s welcome to Coffeyville, Kansas in 1878. We also learn that Mack expected to bring two sons with him, as well as a brother who formerly managed Mack’s holdings in Goodland, Indiana.

We further learn that Mack’s son, John R. James, attended Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, the town Mack was leaving. Centre is the same college attended earlier in 1853 by Coleman Purcell Younger, a first cousin of the Younger Gang, and by Thomas T. Crittenden. As a lawyer, Younger later foreclosed on a large number of properties in Paso Robles owned by Drury Woodson James. The numerous foreclosures triggered Drury’s financial collapse during the Long Depression and the Panic of 1893. Later as Governor of Missouri, Crittenden organized the bounty to capture Jesse James that tragically resulted in the assassination of the outlaw.

Joseph McAlsiter James obituay
Obituary for Joseph McJames

In this obituary, the reference to Mack’s three sons includes George Thomas James 1853-1938, Daniel Ephraim “D.E.” James 1845-1913 who was captured in the Dalton Gang’s raid on the Coffeyville bank, and Francis Marion “F.M.”/Marion James Sr. 1843-1910, great-grandfather of Stray Leaves‘ publisher Eric F. James.


Rev. John R. James, son of Joseph McJames

Research Update – Mack Maintains Press Relations

John Robert James ordination in the news
Newspaper account of the ordination of Rev. John R. James

A son of Joseph McJames was the Baptist minister Rev. John Robert James. He attended Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.

However, he was ordained at the age of 27 in Lancaster in Garrard County, Kentucky. In 1782, Garrard County was the arrival destination of the Traveling Church, that included many of rebel the Baptist preachers who self-exiled from Colonial Virginia into the forbidden western frontier of the Kentucky District. Among these dissenters was Rev. James’ great-grandfather John M. James.

Lancaster was a good place for a novice preacher to start his ministry. There, John could get a leg up. The parents of John’s wife, Annie Wearen, owned and operated a furniture store in Lancaster. Within the store, they provided undertaking services and managed the local cemetery.

Following his ordination, Rev. James visited his father in Coffeyville. There, he preached to a congregation of the local Methodist church who welcomed him warmly, as they later would when members of the Younger family visited in Coffeyville.


Rev. John R. James Killed

Research Update – An Early and Untimely Loss

A newspaper in Paris, Kentucky, where Rev. James was serving the First Baptist Church,  announced his tragic passing.

REV. JOHN R. JAMES KILLED
He Jumps From a Buggy, is Knocked Unconscious and Dies Without Speaking.
“WE KNOW NOT THE DAY NOR THE HOUR.”

About 5 o’clock last evening Rev. John R. James, pastor of the Baptist church in the city, started to Millersburg in a buggy in company with WM. M. GOODLOE, and when near the residence of RUSSELL MANN their horse frightened and ran off. MR. JAMES jumped from the buggy, fell on the pike, and was unconscious until 12 o’clock at which time he died. MR. GOODLOE remained in the buggy and was not hurt.

Mr. James had an appointment to deliver a sermon at Millersburg, and expected to return home after the service. They were driving the Mexican pony of MISS LUCY ___LLER, and he was thought to be very gentle. The deceased had only been a resident of this city for the past three weeks, taking charge of the Baptist church on the first Sunday of this month. He came here from Kirksville, Madison County, but was lately of Danville, Ky. His age was 28 years and he leaves a wife and two children, who had lately taken possession of his parsonage.

Rev. Mr. James was winning golden opinions from all who heard him. He had been here only a month, but in that time had delivered a number of the best and most striking discourses ever heard here, and was recognized as a valuable accession to the ministry of our city. The Thanksgiving services were to have been held at the Baptist church tomorrow and MR. JAMES was to deliver the sermon. When the news of the accident reached town, the whole community was shocked and many persons went down to MR. MANN’s to render him all the assistance possible.

His wife and children were taken to him soon after the occurrence, but he never recognized them, being unconscious from the time he was hurt until his death. His father, JOSEPH MC JAMES  was telegraphed, to Westervelt Ohio, their old home, and her mother, MRS. WEARING, to Kirksville.


James City, Virginia

Query of the Day – Opens Door to Vol. III of JJSL

Sept. 15, 2018
When I was a child about (1954) we had a boy (Ray James) who was a foster kid staying at my aunts house near Warrenton, Va. He said he was kin to Jesse James. His family lived in the area near “James City” which is in Madison Co. Va. A few years ago I went to photograph the “Ghost Town” of “James City” and also went into a little local museum of “James City” and read an article that stated that “Frank James” had visited relatives in “James City” some years before he died. Also that the “Ford” family came from this area too. Can you verify that this connection is true?

Reply

Thank you for your query. I wish you still were in contact with Ray James. I’d love to talk with him.

I’d guess that Ray did not know exactly how he was related to Frank & Jesse James. It’s taken me nearly 20 year to figure it out myself. I had a lot of help from DNA, though. I know Frank & Jesse had no idea about all of their early Virginia ancestries that reach back to UK royalty around 1620, and still further beyond to the prophets of the biblical period.

In September 2017 the Graves family of Graves Mountain and Graves Mill in Madison County VA assembled here in Woodford County, KY to hear all about their kinship to the Jesse James family. I gave a slide presentation that took up an entire morning, peppered with endless questions. I have yet to mount that presentation for our website Stray Leaves. However, here (below) is a little introduction video with some photos from my talk.

The story of these James and their descendants will be told in Volume III of my Jesse James Soul Liberty quintet. Expect publication in about 3-4 years.

James City, Virginia (now renamed Leon) was founded by Rev. Daniel James 1764-1845. You will find him listed in our SURNAMES search genealogy database on Stray Leaves. Frank & Jesse James became future cousins of this ancestral James line which the brothers never knew.

Descendants of Rev. James who left Virginia migrated into the Kentucky frontier to become tobacco & hemp planters, bankers, riders with John Hunt Morgan, captives of the Union, and bluegrass blue blood. Others went further into Louisiana Territory to become charge d’affairs for Spain, Natchez slave traders, Mississippi and Nashville bankers. They receded in time as bankrupts.

https://youtu.be/KKm0wKBefaU
James City, founded by Rev. Daniel James Sr. 1764-1845

Hazel Goes to Egypt

Upcoming Feature – Budding New Family Author?

On pages 221-222 of Jesse James Soul Liberty appear the McGreevy-Harmon descendants of Thomas Martin “T.M.” James.

T.M.’s second great-grandson, Jamie Harmon, has been taking his family on annual global vacations. Right now the family is in Giza in Egypt, staying next to the pyramids. Jamie and his wife Ashley have been sending back extraordinary photos of their experiences that include their children Hazel and Hugh Harmon.

Back in 2011, Hazel debuted on Stray Leaves in the excellent photos taken at Hazel’s birth. In Egypt now, Hazel is making local friends and really enjoying the sights.

Jamie’s imaginative photos showing Hazel’s fun and delight prompted me to suggest that Hazel should share her vacation adventure with other children who cannot easily go to Egypt. Hazel could write a children’s book about her adventure now, and write about her future vacation adventures in the coming years. The first in this new series of Hazel’s children’s books could be Hazel Goes to Egypt. Easily, Hazel could join others among the James family who are notable book authors.


A Most Unusual Christmas Gift

Research Update Opens the Another Door to Vol. III

A most unusual Christmas gift arrived. On this recent Christmas day, Stray Leaves learned of the passing of Dorvan Paul James.

Although Dorvan died two years ago in 2016, his obituary was not discovered sooner, and for good reason. In the obituary, Dorvan is identified by his nickname of Buddy James. Ironically, that’s the same family nickname given to Eric F. James, publisher of Stray Leaves.

D. D. James
David Daniel “D.D.” James Sr. 1819-1902, great-grandfather of Dorvan Paul James and his siblings

D.P. James, as he was known locally in Texas, is a 3rd cousin, once removed of Frank & Jesse James. On his mother’s side of the family, D.P. James also is a 6th cousin, twice removed of the Younger brothers.

The first great-grandfather of Dorvan is David Daniel “D.D.” James, one of the three brothers who operated the Forks of the Road slave market in Natchez, Mississippi prior to the Civil War.

Their father Thomas Graves James, Dorvan’s 2nd great-grandfather, ran away from the James family home in Culpeper, Virginia, after having a disagreement with his father Joseph James, the Elder. Runaway behavior seems almost genetic among men of the James family. Another sibling, Joseph James the Younger, also ran away from home citing, his disagreement, too, with the elder Joseph James. 

Going South and West, Thomas Graves James became wealthy serving Spain as a charge d’affairs in Georgia and in Choctaw lands of Mississippi territory. He acquired much land, most notable of which was Hyde’s Landing in Nashville, a retreat pictured below where Frank and Jesse James on occasion resided.

In 2014, Dorvan’s brother Gene Dale James pre-deceased Dorvan. Their sister, Sara Ann James-Bowers, survives. The unusual story of this not-so-usual family, reunited by DNA testing with the James ancestry they lost, will appear in Volume III of Jesse James Soul Liberty, The Forks of the Road.


https://youtu.be/WuB6_vH8Fm0

Jesse James oul Liberty, Vol. I

Last Photo of Jesse Edwards James Jr. – Son of Jesse James

Jesse Edwards James Jr., son of Jesse Woodson James, Norwalk State Hospital, 1949

The James Preservation Trust has received the contribution of what is believed to be the last photo taken of Jesse Edwards James Jr., son of America’s iconic outlaw Jesse Woodson James.

The photo was taken in 1949 during Jesse Jr.’s confinement in the Norwalk State Hospital in Norwalk, California. Months later, Jesse Edwards James Jr. died on March 26, 1951 at the age of seventy-five.

In the same image also is pictured Jesse Jr.’s caregiver at Norwalk. He is Luther Garlin Henderson. The contribution of this historic photographic was made by Henderson’s son, Bruce Henderson, a retired attorney.

Luther Garlin Henderson 1903-1958, caregiver to Jesse James Jr. at Norwalk State Hospital

“My father suffered a heart attack in 1947, and was forced to cease employment in his industry. To support his wife, and infant son (me), he found less physically demanding work at Norwalk State Hospital, Norwalk, California.”                                                                                           – BRUCE HENDERSON ESQ. 

NORWALK HOSPITAL – THEN and NOW

In the beginning, Norwalk Hospital was called Norwalk State Mental Hospital. Often it was referred to as a sanitarium.

Opened in 1916, the facility housed 105 patients with 21 employees, all administered by one physician. The 305 acre property included a farm, worked by the patients, most all of whom were unemployable men. The hospital had its own cemetery.

Then & Now – Norwalk State Hospital, Norwalk, California

Shortly after Jesse’s Jr.’s passing, the name of the facility was changed in 1953 to the Metropolitan State Hospital, housing 1,900 patients. Marilyn Monroe’s mother Gladys was a patient there. In 1955, actor Bela Lugosi was admitted for ninety days for treatment of his morphine addiction.

Today the facility is dramatically changed. Gone is the farm. Much of the land surrounding the Norwalk Hospital where Jesse Jr. was committed now is an industrial park. The old hospital has been replaced by a modern facility. Inside, treatment is administered to conservator patients with psychiatric disabilities, felony defendants found incompetent, parolees treated for mental disorders, and patients judged not guilty by virtue of insanity. A long history of abuse and negligence continues to be alleged.

The Norwalk Hospital Jesse Jr. knew sits abandoned. A walk of the grounds displays the apparent decay. The place is advertised as a location site for film makers.

CONDITIONS  IN JESSE JR.’S TIME

Little, if any, documentation exists that records the experience of Jesse Jr. at Norwalk. Hospital records remain sealed. They even are unavailable to surviving family.

An insight into what Jesse Jr. may have experienced at Norwalk can be found in the book Life Writing and Schizophrenia: Encounters at the Edge of Meaning by Mary Elene Wood. On page 290, the author records the memory of one of Norwalk’s patients. 

“I lay in bed a lot.  It was horrible. There weren’t enough beds for everyone so women were lined up in the hallway. We were all so scared but they didn’t do anything to reassure or comfort us. We would all talk about what would happen to our kids, we were all worried about that. Some of the women lost their kids altogether. Some of the patients got electroshock therapy. I didn’t have to have that, I was lucky. They were scared about it. The whole time I kept thinking those horrible thoughts.”

 

Jesse Edwards James Jr. with caregiver Luther Garlin Henderson, Norwalk State Hospital, 1949

Reverse copy from photo of Jesse Edwards James Jr. & Luther Garlin Henderson, Norwalk State Hospital, 1949

 

 

ELECTROCONVULSION THERAPY

An electro shock terminal used at Norwalk

Electro shock therapy, sometimes more aptly called electro-convulsion, was one of two therapies commonly applied to Norwalk patients. The second was hydrotherapy ice bath immersion.

Given his history of nervous disorder, Jesse Jr. very likely was administered electro shock therapy while at Norwalk.

However, the lingering question is, was Jesse Jr. ever subjected to a procedural lobotomy? The procedure was a popular application in the period, as evidenced by the tragic experience of Rosemary Kennedy, sister of President John F. Kennedy.

Death certificate for Jesse Edwards James Jr.

Lo Angeles Death Index citation for Jesse Edwards James Jr.

RELATED

Book Review: The Trial of Jesse James Jr.

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.

_________________________________________________

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.