BOOK REVIEW: Myers, Jack, Knight’s Gold: The Largest Documented KGC Treasure Ever Discovered (Jack O’Llantern Press, 2016) pp. iv +498, illustrations, endnotes, no bibliography or index, ISBN 9781539896562, soft cover $18.95
Like a lot of books about the Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC) and the tales about treasure that the KGC supposedly buried to finance a second Civil War, this work contains a lot of speculations, garbles a lot data, and contains a ton of misinformation. The book is tedious to read, everything the author says he repeats at least three times.
A lot of the book deals with two treasure troves found in Baltimore, Maryland. Both of these troves are believed by the author to have been buried in basements by members of the KGC. Little factual data and a lot of questionable information is given to support this theory. We are asked to believe that two teenagers who found the first trove carried five thousand gold coins home in their pockets and shoes! A practice problem from the book, New Practical Arithmetic, published in Boston in 1875 is construed by the author to be a coded message by the agents of the Knights of the Golden Circle in Baltimore concerning the buried treasure.
Another reported treasure trove is located within Victorio Peak in New Mexico. This area is now on the White Sands Test Range. A lot of various stories are related about this reported treasure trove. The odor of fraud permeates almost all of what is reported about this supposed treasure location.
The most bizarre “treasure” parts of the book deal with none other than America’s most famous bandit, Jesse Woodson James.
The James boys did not spend their loot but socked it away to help fund the Knights of the Golden Circle and the second Civil War. No mention is made of all the race horses the James brothers bought, raced and bet on.
Almost all of the off the wall stuff published about Jesse James is trotted out in this book. Orvis Houk, Del Schrader, Ron Pastore, Henry J. Walker and a variety of other questionable James literature is quoted.(Somehow Betty Duke and her claim that her great-grandfather, James L. Courtney, was the real Jesse James got left out. This must have been an oversight.) This specious material is jumbled in with material from well written and well researched books. The author makes no effort to select the wheat from the chaff in any of this.
The James material is all a total tangle of out and out falsehoods, misinformation and speculation. One fiction novel even is cited to support some of this material.
Examples of some of this material are: (1) William Clark Quantrill was head of the KGC’s Knights of the Iron Hand; (2)John Newman Edwards wrote dime novels after the war; (3) After the war Jesse James worked as a bounty hunter and tried to go straight; (4) Gov. Crittenden appointed Sheriff James Timberlake as a deputy U. S. marshal (these are federal appointments); (5) Sheriff Timberlake went to New Mexico after he collected his reward and likely helped stash some of the Victorio Peak treasure; (6) Albert Pike started the KKK: etc. etc. etc. The nonsense boggles the imagination!
BOOK REVIEW: Baker, L. C., The Ones That Got Away: Knights of the Golden Circle Exposed (no publication information given) pp.177, some photos and illustrations, no endnotes, bibliography, or index. ISBN 978149959393, soft cover $14.99
The Knights of the Golden Circle seems to attract all kinds of strange people and theories. This book, indeed, contains some strange theories and a lot of misinformation. The writing is littered with errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. The photographs and illustrations used are of very poor quality. The author gives little or no information about where he got his material.
The author would have us believe that Lewis Cass, who resigned as Secretary of State because Buchanan took little or no action against the secessionists, and Illinois Senator Orville Browning were connected with the Knights of the Golden Circle. He hints that both men may have had something to do with Lincoln’s assassination. He also makes the preposterous accusation that Browning, a close friend and confidante of Lincoln for many years, carried on a lengthy love affair with Mary Todd Lincoln!
There is a lot of misinformation about Ben Ficklin and his association with Sen. William M. Gwin of California and the freighting firm of Russell, Majors and Waddell. He says Ficklin was a West Point graduate. This is not so, Ficklin graduated from Virginia Military Institute (VMI). Ficklin was acquainted with Sen. Gwin and Gwin did back the Pony Express, which was first Ficklin’s idea. Gwin was a farsighted man who fought long and hard for all sorts of development on the Pacific Coast that would benefit California and the nation. Gwin was, as one author put it, “adept at reconciling contradictory forces for his own political advantage”. However, to state that Gwin was trying to obtain a monopoly in the opium trade to raise money for the Knights of the Golden Circle is way out there in left field.
The author’s idea that Russell, Majors and Waddell and Ficklin had a monopoly of freighting during the “Mormon War” and made a fortune is completely wrong. Russell, Majors and Waddell lost a half million dollars when their wagons and livestock was stolen or destroyed by the Mormons and the Indians. The Pony Express also lost money and the company went broke and sold out to Ben Holladay.
Jesse James gets into the story in the chapter on Captain Logan Enyart. Enyart served in Company G. of the First Missouri C.S.A. He was married to a sister of Col. Richard B. Chiles, his commanding officer. Chiles later joined Quantrill’s Raiders and was killed during the war. Enyart probably knew Frank and Jesse James during the war. The author would have us believe Jesse James made regular visits to Enyart’s home in Nebraska City, Nebraska after the war. The author states that is was a well known fact that Enyart had a secret underground passage between his house and stables over 100 yards long to give the James gang entrance to his house. (He must have borrowed this one from some Dalton Gang mythology.) The author did not, however, seem to know that Enyart did invite Frank James to stay at his home when Frank was an official race starter in Nebraska City in August 1909.
Many other examples of bad information in this book, could be pointed out. The above should be enough to tell the discerning readers to save their book money for something more worthwhile.
Forensic science now impugns an ambrotype image claimed to be Jesse Woodson James. The forensic report concludes the image is not America’s iconic historical figure at all.
A forensic science paper titled “Analysis of an Ambrotype to Find Out if it is an Authentic Image of Jesse James” was written and published by Mark David Bampton, a native of Great Britain. The paper first appeared on Academia.edu, and now is republished in its entirety below with permission.
Applying his knowledge of forensic science acquired over many years, Mark Bampton has made a name for himself in the U.S. as a forensic analyst of historical photographic images. His masterful forensic debunking of the Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax definitively lay to rest a claimed Jesse James tintype image as being a fraud.
Most recently, Bampton garnered more distinction when he applied his forensic science skills to an image claimed to be famed Mississippi blues man Robert Johnson. American musicologists who engaged the controversy beforehand have coalesced in the end behind Bampton’s meticulous analysis. In the case of the Robert Johnson image, Bampton’s analysis went beyond facial recognition alone so far as to scrutinize the hands of the blues artist.
THE RED FLAGS
The present ambrotype claimed to be Jesse James is owned by Patrick Taylor Meguiar. He has consigned the artifact for auction to Addison and Sarova, an antiquarian book dealer in Georgia.
Prior to consignment, Meguiar’s artifact and claim raised a host of red flags. When Meguiar sought the opinion of his artifact from the Jesse James family, he made claims that were not substantiated. When promoting the artifact on its web site, the auction firm furthermore relied upon and created fictionalized history, to promote the questionable artifact for auction sale.
Eric F. James had no difficulty pointing out what he perceived as significant discrepancies in Meguiar’s image and claim. James is the genealogist, family historian, and archivist of an archive of family documents pertaining to the Jesse James family. His archive includes 250 years of authentic James family images, plus an extensive archive of images that have claimed to be Jesse James or his brother Frank James, collected over the past 150 years. Recently, James produced a video showing the genetic physical characteristics of the men of the Jesse James family. On average, James receives 3-4 claimed images every month. Most all of them never are subjected to forensic science analysis.
FIRST RESPONSE OF THE JESSE JAMES FAMILY
Writing to Patrick Meguiar, James was quick with his replay and opinions.
“First to the image:
“Attached you will find a side by side comparison between your image and one of Jesse James.
“To the untrained eye, it would appear easy to see why your image might claim to be that of Jesse James. However, when left to scientific forensic analysis, there’s much to be said. I will simply address those particulars identifiable to me.
“Clearly, these two subjects are not the same age. Jesse James is about 16 when this image was taken. The subject of the claimed image appears to be almost a decade older at least. Forensic analysis would take this into account. Still, enough physical features can be compared.
“The forehead in a professional analysis would be measured for comparison of mathematical spatial metrics. From my view, they appear similar, but each displays a different hairline. There also appears to be some spatial formations that do not comport. The JJ image is broader. The claimed image appears more narrow in compactness. Again, mathematical metrics would measure this very precisely.
“The eyebrows are dissimilar. Typical of the Jesse James family, one eyebrow is arched and the other curved. Both are arched severely in the claimed image, very unlike any image to be found among the archive of images from the James family.
“The eyes are shaped differently in each. However, JJ’s eyes are more deeply set, more round than almond, and are not subject to as heavy an overhang of fatty eye tissue. The spatial relationship of the eyes to the nose also differ.
“The noses differ also, JJ’s being longer with the typical James base that arises up and forward from the area above the lip. The base of the nose on the claimed image does not rise, nor is it as widely spaced. The spatial relationships between lower nose and upper lip also differ.
“The cheekbones differ, too. By the time JJ was the age of the subject in the claimed image, his cheekbones would grow more pronounced.than that of the claimed subject. They also are more widely set. The same could be said of the upper jawbone, which among the James is as pronounced as that of the claimed image.
“Below the nose, the most telling discrepancies appears among the base jawline, jaw formation, lip formation, and their spatial relationships. Unlike the flat horizontal lower jaw of the James, the claimed image displays a rounded jaw line and bulbous jaw. The typical lip formation of the James, evident in the JJ image, of full lower lip and an indented upper lip drawn very widely beyond the width of the nose formation, does not appear the same in the claimed image, which is tight, lacks definition, and is no more wide than the width of the subject’s nose. No James image displays such a narrowly drawn lip.
“Below all this is the neck, JJ’s neck being elongated like most among his family, and the claimed image displaying a truncated neck depth.
“All of this leads me to conclude that you should not waste any money to have your image authenticated. I do not believe it to be an authentic image of Jesse Woodson James.”
A comparison of the initial perception by James with the measured and scientific analysis by Mark David Bampton reveal the two, not only arrived at the same conclusion, they arrived at the same conclusion for virtually the same reasons. Neither James nor Bampton had conferred with one another beforehand or during their independent analysis.
Initially, James casually considered the man in the ambrotype might be William Clark Quantrill under whose black flag Frank and Jesse James briefly served. Upon closer examination of his archive of authentic Quantrill images, James discarded the thought as improbable.
OR UNDER WHO ?
Following his reading of Mark Bampton’s paper, James revisited the question of who the man in the ambrotype might be.
A comparison of an image of Patrick Taylor Meguiar with his childhood image plus an image of Patrick Meguiar’s father, leads James to suspect the man in the ambrotype is a relative from Meguiar’s past. When James compared historical images of Patrick Meguiar’s, he noted remarkable similarities among Meguiar’s legitimate ancestors and the man in the claim image. None of the legitimate ancestry of Patrick Meguiar was known in the period to the ancestry of Jesse Woodson James.
James knows that forensic science has proved the man in the ambrotype is not Jesse Woodson James. The evidence and proof made public in Mark Bampton’s independent forensic analysis report is available for anyone to see. What remains unseen is the evidence and proof of Patrick Meguiar’s claim. Patrick Meguiar still must prove who is the man in his ambrotype.
Two new articles about Frank James drew our attention last week. The Wild West History Association just published an informative article in their WWHA Journal, March 2017, about Frank James in Oklahoma. The article is written by Roy B. Young. The article shows Frank James was framed.
The face of the article, which is more about Frank James than Jesse James, presents an old-timey vibe, reminiscent of western pulp magazines of more than fifty years ago when sensationalism was the rage. Regretfully, the article then begins with the fake-news subject of treasure hunting for Jesse James hidden gold in Oklahoma. You have to leap past that hurdle and another hurdle at the end to get to the meat of Young’s story that is bonafide and new.
Roy B. Young employs the current rage of culling old newspapers, many now online, to tell a story either overlooked, forgotten, or not present in today’s history consciousness. Having culled most of these papers myself in their original depositories for a couple of decades, I noted a lot of familiar information in Young’s story. My forthcoming Volume IV of Jesse James Soul Libertyquintet is a biography of Frank James in his retirement years.
Informed as I think I am, Roy B. Young found lost history I did not know about. I’ve expressed my thanks to him for writing it. Nothing tickles a historian more, than learning something new he didn’t know.
Excerpt – The Jameses decided to bid on farm land in the Indian Pasture Reserve two and a half miles northwest of Fletcher, Oklahoma just inside the southern border of Caddo County. On November 9, 1960, a Lawton newspaper announced that Frank was seen in that city with a “companion” driving a two-horse buggy “bidding a few friends goodbye on the fly and drove out of town under whip.” The article continued, “Just as the buggy rounded the curve of Fifth Street, east of the courthouse, James doft his big white sombrero so that his long gray locks fluttered in the breeze and he gave a yell as in days of old.”
Regrettably, Young ends his well-done story of Frank James, writing about the Jesse James imposter J. Frank Dalton. Why Oklahoma feels it necessary to include fake news as a necessary component to its true history is beyond me. Sensationalism calls into question any factual or true history associated with it.
This article would have truly been a superior one had it not been for the bookends of treasure hunting and J. Frank Dalton, framing it.
Forget for now Frank James being framed in this manner. Grab the fresh history Roy B. Young now offers anyway. Then wait for Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. IV, Frank James in Retirement to address Young’s speculation and provide you even more unknown history about Frank James in his retirement years.
The second article about Frank James comes from the Osage County News. Wendi Bevitt writes about the visit of Frank James to Burlingame, Kansas and the 1899 Osage County Fair.
Prior to writing her story, Wendi queried us about Burton Allen James, Indian Agent from the James family for the Sac and Fox Reservation. She also queried about Perry Fuller, the onetime business partner of Frank and Jesse’s uncle Thomas Martin James, whom I also wrote about in Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I.
Since Volume IV of JJSL will address Frank James in his retirement, I was pleasantly surprised to read the outcome of Wendi’s article. Much of her story is focused upon Frank James in his career as a public speaker and as a race starter when he appeared in 1899 at the Osage County Fair.
Like Roy Young’s reporting on Frank James, Wendi Bevitt’s article brings fresh history into view. The freshness is in the details, such as how Frank James started a race.
Excerpt – He would stretch an immense rubber rope across the track and when the racers were at their mark, he would let the rope fly free.
Interesting, too, is the behind the scenes arrangements of a Frank James speaking engagement. History like this has not been published before and is a welcome addition to the historical record.
WENDI BEVITT is the owner-operator of Buried Past Consulting LLC, a firm specializing archaeological surveys, historical research and report preparations for both public and private sector clients.
Official website for the family of Frank & Jesse James
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