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  1. I am trying to verify my relationship to Frank and Jesse James as my 9th cousins 3x removed. My 7th great grandfather is Edward Herndon who lived 1678-1758

  2. You can find all the known and documented relatives of Frank and Jesse James in our SURNAMES genealogy database. Please read the opening caveat.

    If you do not find your family there and if you have a documented genealogy, you can email your genealogy to me for review and possible inclusion.

  3. Can you clear up a question about Jesse’s grandfather Rev. John Martin James? In the book by Phillip Steele “Jesse and Frank James: the Family History” which I just bought at the birthplace museum, it states that the lineage begins with William James b: Wales in 1754 came to Goochland County VA, and married Mary Hines. It says their son John James was born in 1775 and married Mary Poor and they moved to Logan County KY. where Robert Sallee James was born.

    On one of your pages though, you show evidence that they were actually in Pulaski County in Shopville near Somerset, and that the Rev was born (Culpeper Va) in 1751 and died in Shopville in 1823. Somewhere it says his parents were John M. James and Clarissa Nalle. I’m confused, can you clear this up?

  4. Hi Shelley,

    Thank you for visiting and subscribing to Stray Leaves.

    First of all, no evidence exists to support the name of Martin as the middle name of John M. James, grandfather of Frank & Jesse James. The name as it appears in historical documents is simply John James.

    In the first genealogy of the James family – Background of a Bandit, researched, compiled, and written beginning in 1950 by John Malley Beamis a family relation, and published in 1970 by the Kentucky Historical Society – the name also appears simply as John James, as it does among historical documents.

    Today, the name John M. James is used as the common reference to the brothers’ grandfather. As recently as within the past month, the Logan County Historical Society claimed a privilege to publish the name using the unsubstantiated middle initial of M in its list of First Families of Logan County, based upon the common reference use of people living today.

    I have inherited the research archive of Joan Malley Beamis. I continue as its archivist today. I see nothing in her research files that supports a middle name of Martin, or a middle initial of M. In my 20 years of research regarding the James family, I too find no historical reference or justification for the middle initial. Where the use of the middle initial originated, I cannot say. I believe it may have originated on the internet in the late 1990s, when a floodtide of misinformation about the James appeared, and so continues today. This is only my opinion.

    Since the middle initial has established a common record of use and recognition among a public more interested in mythology or legends than factual history, at Stray Leaves we have made that accommodation in the same manner as the Logan County Historical Society, so the public may have a commonly used reference point. In our knowledge base, however, we continues to maintain and abide by the historical record.

    A secondary issue about John James regards the question of whether or not he was an actual ordained minister. Historically, John James is associated personally with numerous Baptist preachers and a couple of specific Baptist churches. However, no church record has ever been found to substantiate him as an ordained and ministerial practitioner.

    Now with regard to William James, no evidence exists to substantiate that William was a native of Pembrokeshire, Wales. Some references do exist to state only that the Jesse James ancestry originated in Wales, not necessarily with William James alone per se.

    In fact, Joan Malley Beamis wrote in her essay “Unto the Third Generation,” which she intended as her personal communication to the third generation of descendants of Jesse James, that numerous James families existed in Virginia outside of the one she documented. Joan professed in her essay that William may not have been the progenitor of the James at all. Her essay is published for the first time and shared publicly in my book, Jesse James Soul Liberty Vol. I.

    Today, we know Joan’s suspicion is historically and factually substantiated. 20 Years of new research, by myself principally with the support and contributions of countless others, into the genealogy of the Jesse James family has withstood publication and decades of peer review. That story is now being published in narrative format moreover for general public consumption in my five-volume history, Jesse James Soul Liberty.

    Furthermore, our James Family DNA Study has proven the new genealogy. Comparison DNA studies of other James families who in fact claim origination in Pembrokeshire, Wales, also proves they do not bear the same DNA genetics as the Jesse James family. Local genealogy repositories in Pembrokeshire, Wales repeatedly contact us about their consternation over Americans claiming the Jesse James family comes from Pembrokeshire. They possess no historical records to support the Americans’ claim. This is further vindication of Joan’s suspicion. Our DNA story and what became from it will be the topic of Volume III of JJSL, producing entirely new revelations of our James family that are truly stunning.

    To fully understand the story of the James beyond the skeletal genealogy, it is recommended to read and continue to read the Jesse James Soul Liberty quintet. By subscribing to Stray Leaves, you will continue to be kept in the loop of new information and understanding as it develops. You also may want to consider participation in our events, such as the forthcoming James Younger Gang and family reunion come September, 2017. The son of Joan Malley Beamis, J. Mark Beamis, will be an honored guest speaker.

    At the root of all this, you must remember that the topic of Jesse James and his family is subject fodder of lies, legends, and mythology. Behind it all, however, is an historical record of fact. The lies legends, and mythologies exist in stark contradiction to the facts.

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