Category Archives: Videos

Jesse James Family Reunion 2002 Video – Pt. 4

As families gather for the holiday season, I’ll be adding ten more videos from the Jesse James family reunion in 2002 to thto the reunion playlist on our YouTube channel. I’ll bet when you watch them, you’ll be wishing, “Maybe we should do that again.” 

You know, some Christmas wishes do come true.

Watching this video, not having viewed it for some time, I was struck at how polite Stanley was in his initial reference to Drury Woodson James. Stanley states Drury may have “tired” of all his property when it Frederick Augustus Hihn acquired it all. Holy understatement, Batman!

When this reunion occurred, I think Stanley was only a couple of years into the gigantic task he had undertaken in archiving the Hihn-Younger files bequeathed by Marion Stowell Younger. Though we had communicated for more than a year, the reunion was our first  meeting in person. I’m not sure if Stanley had yet plumbed the depths of his archive enough to know what was known already to us. Had he known, or had we been better known to one another, Stanley certainly could have been more candid and forthcoming than the politeness of his casual remark portrayed.

Frederick Augustus Hihn
Frederick Augustus Hihn

The fact is, Drury Woodson James indeed was probably tired, but it was not due to his age. As we know today, F.A. Hihn, aided in no small part by Charles Bruce Younger Sr. a first cousin of the Younger Gang brothers, foreclosed on the properties Drury Woodson James had established.

Drury’s loss at the time, however, was not his alone to bear. Like many Americans who lost home and property across the nation in 2008, Drury suffered his loss because of policies established by his own federal government with regard to the banking interests, the stock market, and railroads. Among his many interests, Hihn was a railroad owner and developer. The Panics of 1893 and 1896, and the lingering Recession of 1899-1900 were replays of the Depression of 1815-1821 that doomed Drury’s father John M. James, leading to the James family’s first antipathy towards banks.

Charles Bruce Younger Sr.
Charles Bruce Younger Sr.

To continue building his town of Paso Robles and to develop the El Paso de Robles Hotel simultaneously into a world-class resort, Drury Woodson James was leveraged to his financiers to the hilt. Retirement on the San Francisco knob became an appealing invitation.

The irony was, Drury legally was stripped of all his property and was decimated financially by a cousin of the Youngers.


Don’t Keep Your Genes in the Closet

Living free is much better than living with secrets, or in secret.

Witness the freedom celebrated and achieved by the LGBT community when those among them take their genes out of the closet.

Every family has secrets. Secrets are kept about everything, not just about who is gay or straight. The multitude of secrets a family keeps is never discovered. Usually, they are strictly enforced, whether by one or by many. Wherever secrets exist, harm exists also.

Usually, those who create, maintain, or propagate secrets, knowingly or unknowingly, rarely are aware of what harm they inflict. The harm is left for the victim of a secret to suffer, and if fortunate to discover.

Some secrets can inflict violence of a significant magnitude upon families and their members for generations, if not centuries as occurred among the family of Frank and Jesse James. This is particularly true about secrets that are taken to the grave.

For others, like this world-famous geneticist, the discovery can give humor, but, more importantly, answers, explanations, and his release from the family secret the world knew, but he didn’t.

Book Review – Sustainable Genealogy by Richard Hite

Richard Hite, author
Richard Hite

Legendary families often can prove troublesome. That’s what Richard Hite found out when he confronted his family genealogy as a presumed descendant of Hans Jost Heydt, well-known to the Jesse James family as the progenitor of their cousins, Wood & Tuck Hite, and the Hite brothers’ father, George Burns Hite, who married the outlaw brothers’ aunt, Nancy Gardner James.


book-Sustainable GenealogyThe unique subtitle of Richard’s book Sustainable Genealogy reads as: “Separating Fact from Fiction in Family Legends.” Legendary families come with all the baggage possessed by families not so famous. Every family is burdened with family lore, genealogy, and stories that should be scrutinized by every generation, especially if one’s intention is to produce an exact and true genealogy of family history. The information handed down by one’s own family may not be correct. The Jesse James family certainly has wrestled with this problem for over 130 years.

Genealogy today is big business. The marketing of genealogical services tricks novices and professionals alike into believing one’s family genealogy will be produced with a simple subscription and a few clicks of a computer keyboard. That’s a deception. Many times commercial genealogy is as riddled with errors as one’s own family lore. Likewise, the genealogy one buys needs as much scrutiny and correction as the genealogy one inherits.

As an archivist for the Rhode Island State Archives, Richard Hite wasn’t going to fall into that trap. Like every serious genealogist, Hite knew that due diligence is the only means for achieving bullet proof results. In Hite’s experience, Hite quickly grasped that every exciting discovery leads to more discoveries that are just as exciting. And every disappointing error, that is proved to be error, raises the possibility of other wrong information that needs to be investigated, studied, and not overlooked.

Along Richard Hite’s path of discovery, Hite developed an extraordinary bag of tricks for verifying inaccurate information, that he now shares in his book. For each commonly encountered problem, Hite offers his unique solution. For uncommon problems, Hite offers uncommon solutions. Hite’s skills could become the envy of any private investigator. Genealogists will continue to use this book as a reference source when confronted by difficult brick walls.


Sustainable Genealogy: Separating Fact from Fiction in Family Legends
By Richard Hite (Genealogical Publishing Inc. 2013) 110 pp. soft cover, $18.95
ISBN: 9780806319827


Jesse James Gang & Family Reunion 2002 Video – Pt. 3

D. W. JamesThe third video in our series of “home movies” from the Jesse James family reunion in 2002 is now available for viewing. In this one, I offer a half hour presentation, talking about Jesse’s uncle Drury Woodson James, who founded Paso Robles, California, and who almost became governor of California, had not his wife Louise stopped it.

My talk was based upon the slide show about Uncle Drury that I had published on Stray Leaves in 2001. Our technology setup at the Paso Robles Inn went awry, and I could not project the slide show on the screen behind me. That’s why you see me reading off the small screen of my laptop, and why the various reference slides pop up in the video from the slide show. You still can review the slide show at your leisure, and read the text that accompanies each slide.

This video also will give you a preview of Volume V of Jesse James Soul Liberty, which will be devoted entirely to the biography of Drury Woodson James, far more comprehensively than you find in either this video or the slide show.

Jesse James Family & Gang Reunion 2002 Video – Pt. 1

YOU’RE INVITED… to view family reunion videos from today’s family of Frank & Jesse James, as they celebrated James Founders Days in 2002 in Paso Robles California, & Drury Woodson James, founder of the town. These videos have only been seen by the James family and their friends before. Now they’re available for you. Here’s the first. There’ll be more. Have a look, LIKE the video, and your comments are welcomed. Thanks.

The Caravaggio Discovery of Joan McGreevy Green & Her Father

Jean Green
Joan “Jean” McGreevy-Green

Jean Green, who appears in the chapter “Underrated Men & Unleashed Feminists” of the Jesse James family in my book Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I, appears here in a video, produced by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. Jean speaks about her and her father’s discovery of a Caravaggio masterpiece and its subsequent acquisition.

UPDATE: Feb 2, 2015

I’m in receipt of a letter from Joan McGreevy Green, dated Jan. 30, 2015. In the letter, Mrs. Green corrects the headline to this post which formerly stated, “The Caravaggio Donation of Milton N. & Joan McGreevy Green.” Mrs. Green writes,

The Caravaggio picture was not donated by my parents, my father or me. The painting was purchased by the William Rockhill Nelson Trust.”

I am grateful for the new information Mrs. Green has provided and most appreciative for her guidance in providing an exact factual record about the painting’s acquisition.  Per Mrs. Green’s request, the former headline to this post stands corrected.

Ron Hansen Revealed

Ron Hansen’s novel The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was published in 1983. In 2009, actor Brad Pitt turned the novel into a stunning film that sadly flopped at the box office.

Both Hansen’s book and Pitt’s movie are fictional depictions. Yet both survive as the most representative of their genres regarding the accuracy of their subject icon and his factual history.

When writing Jesse James’ Soul Liberty, author Eric James twice attempted to contact Ron Hansen, seeking an interview. Soul Liberty is a history of the James family. Knowing the connections of the James family to the Catholic order of the Jesuits and that Hansen taught at a Jesuit school, the author wanted to compare notes with Hansen about the spiritual life of the James family. No response came from Hansen.

The following video is about the closest Ron Hansen comes to revealing the spirituality that guides his life and connects him to his subject matter.

Watch Catholic Writer Ron Hansen on PBS. See more from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

Northfield, MN, Rakes in the Cash off Jesse James

Every year the Minnesota town of Northfield places its civic pride on display in a three day festival called the Defeat of Jesse James Days. The town celebrates its historic dismantling of the James-Younger Gang following their robbery of the First National Bank of Northfield on September 7, 1876, two days after Jesse James’ 29th birthday. The Younger brothers were captured, convicted, and imprisoned. Five years later, Jesse James was assassinated.

Since then, Northfield ironically has been the only place to truly capitalize on the James-Younger Gang’s exploits with phenomenal success. For any cash that was lost on the day of the robbery, Northfield has recouped its losses in spades.

One of the town’s most favorite events is the re-enactment of the Northfield robbery. The actors authentically recreate the event with historical accuracy gleaned from first hand accounts. The only thing missing is dirt in the street.

Words Spoken by Charlie Chaplin-Written by Daniel Lewis James

Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin

Daniel Lewis James Jr. co-wrote The Great Dictator with Charlie Chaplin. The two were neighbors in Hollywood and often played tennis together. Dan James is a cousin of the notorious Civil War partisan and outlaw Jesse James.  The British Chaplin needed an American who could translate Chaplin’s ideas into American colloquialism to be better understood by Chaplin’s American audience.

Like most warriors of democracy, Dan James found himself persecuted for his speech. He was blacklisted by the House on Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). His career was forced underground to write B-movies based on allegories and metaphors for social justice.

Dan’s story is told by his daughter Barbara James in the award-winning history of the Jesse  James family, Jesse James’ Soul Liberty, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence.

Charlie Chaplin in The Great Didtator

New Ad Promotes Jesse James Farm & Museum

Clay County has issued a new promo for Jesse James Farm in Kearney, and the Bank Museum in Liberty, Missouri. It’s always enjoyable to see something new about the farm, but this just seems to fall flat. Kind of like reading classified ads. But I’m sure those less acquainted with James Farm will enjoy it.