Our first full day of lectures at the James Family Reunion in 2002 left us feeling a bit of cabin fever. What better relief than to take a day trip to visit the cabin that Frank & Jesse James occupied during their visit with their uncle Drury Woodson James between 1868 and 1869.
The cabin had been relocated to its present site. Local historians produced the research to verify the fact. They also aided us. They contacted the owner so we could meet with him. We then presented him a plaque and historical commemoration for the cabin. (If anyone can name the name of the owner in 2002 or the owner today, please email it to me. It’s been misplaced among my records.)
When Jesse & Frank visited Paso Robles, Drury Woodson James was not entirely welcoming of their visit. A preliminary visit by Frank was required to convince Uncle Drury to allow the visit for the purposes of Jesse using Drury’s ancient hot springs to recover from the two bullet shots he was carrying in his chest.
As Jesse gradually recovered and put on a little weight, Drury employed his nephew with his vaqueros who worked Drury’s La Panza Rancho. As much as Jesse would have like to be considered an experienced cattleman, the vaqueros knew better. Jesse’s ropes were brand new and not woven like the ropes of the vaqueros. They laughed at Jesse as they would at any tenderfoot.
During their visit, Frank and Jesse visited San Francisco. They also took an exploratory trip to Hangtown, in search of the burial site of their father, Rev. Robert Sallee James, who had died of cholera shortly after his arrival. A forest fire had ravaged the cemetery, burying many of wood grave markers and crucifixes, their father’s own among them. To present day, the exact burial site of Rev. Robert Salle James remains unknown.
The day trip ended at the Norman Vineyards. Owner Art Norman entertained us, showing us how wine is made. He then generously shared his product with us.