Tag Archives: award

New Things at My Book Signing in Midway, Kentucky

This coming weekend, you’ll find me at the Midway Fall Festival in Midway, Kentucky. Come meet me at the Historic Midway Museum Store. I’ll be signing my book Jesse James Soul Liberty. Last year at this event I signed books under the tent show in the picture. This year I’ll be inside the store where it’s cool.

This will be the first time that I’ll be signing books with the new book jacket which ports the Milton F. Perry Award medallion. I’m very proud of this award because it recognizes the abundance of new research that appears in the book.

This also will be the first event debut for the new Jesse James Soul Liberty tee-shirt. Christian James produced this limited edition tee and proceeds from sale will go to maintaining and improving our Stray Leaves website.

See you there !

Family Member Charges Jesse James Book with “Incorrect facts”

In lectures and writing, I’ve often referred to the ability of the Jesse James family to confound expectations. Now I have the example that beats them all. And it’s more than the oxymoron of “incorrect facts.”

Milton F. Perry Award


Last week, Jesse James Soul Liberty hit a new high and a low.

The high was receiving the prestigious Milton F. Perry Award for ground breaking history and writing, following numerous rave book reviews.

The low appeared in the worst book review possible, posted to the Customer Reviews page for the book on Amazon.com.

The confounding part is, the bad review was written by a James family member who contributed to the content of the book.


amazon customer review

Never mind the blatant oxymoron, and the editorial errors of improper capitalization and misspelling, in contradiction to a complaint of “lack of editing,” plus the fact this James family member appears not have read the entire book. Is this really a book review? Or is it something else? Is there something flying here beneath the radar of detectability? How confounding is this?

I’m no stranger to criticism. From schoolyard bullies to my show business career when everything I did was reviewed and criticized; to my real estate business when powerful interests attempted to sabotage my success critically, competitively, and politically; to my work in the political arena of public service which always invites confrontation; and today to my dedication to the James family through my work with Stray Leaves, Leaves of Gas, and the James Preservation Trust, I’ve experienced it all. Criticism of me and what I do always has been in the public eye.

I know from this experience what criticism is good. I also know what criticism is worthless, and how to differentiate the two.

Most criticism I’ve received, relating to the James family, has come from claimants and impostors. Year after year, they have been as relentless as they are worthless. Their accusations of attempted murder by me, conspiracy to murder by me, and imaginary FBI investigations of me prove so. All of their public posturing is false, fraudulent, and totally without proof.

When conducting the exhumation of Jesse James’ twin children for the James family, public criticism branded me a grave robber and a treasure seeker.  Totally wrong, again. The event resulted from the promise of Jesse James Jr. to his mother to fulfill her lifelong wish to be reunited with her children. The promise was handed down from Jesse Jr. to Judge James R. Ross, Jesse’s great grandson, who in turn entrusted the job to me. The business was conducted in compliance with the law, with full oversight by governing authorities.

LinkedIn invitation

A former president of the Friends of James Farm, Marvin “Butch” Leslie, publicly branded me a pedophile once. He banned me from the Friends’ website on Delphi Forums, and from Delphi Forums altogether. This was done in much the same way as when Sen. Joseph McCarthy blacklisted Daniel Lewis James as a Communist, on the hearsay of one demagogue alone, without one scintilla of evidence ever being produced.

As my book, Jesse James Soul Liberty shows, these kinds of attacks have wrecked the James family with division, self-destruction, and disunion for decades. Joan Beamis stated, “I was specifically warned not to try any correspondence at all with any relatives in Missouri.” My own contact with some among James family was met with the same silence and obstruction which Joan had met. One family member specifically told me to mind my business. Not everyone in the James family wishes to discuss the family’s history.

Virginia Jacques Church
Virginia J. Church

So, I was pleased to have the cooperation of my Amazon critic, Virginia J. Church. In our written interviews, she provided valuable history about her part of the James family. She also provided photographs not seen before. Researching her content independently afterward, most everything she offered checked out as true. What could not be verified was left out of the book. Our relationship, I thought, was cordial, constructive, and friendly. I take pride in the James family who participated in my book, and the relationships with them that have resulted.

Needless to say, I was chagrined by the harsh comments I then saw on Amazon. Immediately upon reading the criticism by Virginia J. Church, I wrote to her promptly as follows:

Eric James email quote

To date, there has been no reply.

To argue over such a small part of the book may seem frivolous. However, more than a decade of diligent and financially costly research, that will never be recouped, has been conducted to make this book a totally factual history, and error free. On each page of its 400+ pages appear no less than 25 facts per page, and more often than not, more. The book contains 175 photos and images. There are 381 notes and source citations with a bibliography of 220 sources. The devotion of this book was to create a factual record, and nothing less.

If the biting criticism of Virginia Church is so valid, why does she not offer the corrections necessary?

Absent whatever corrections Virginia J. Church might want to see, the book which she finds filled with “Incorrect facts” and of so little value in her personal estimation – though it is clear she has not read the entire book – remains the record of history, as written.

This event painfully bears out a fundamental theme of the book with unmistakable evidence. Jesse James Soul Liberty continues to show the ability of the Jesse James family to confound expectations. The book also continues to bring to life in real-time the self-inflicted fragmentation by some among the James family, who so easily and so readily attack their own.

As the jacket back of Jesse James Soul Liberty, states, “Think you know Jesse James? Wait until you meet his family.”

Jesse James Family Wins Distinguished Milton F. Perry Award

An epic history of the family of Frank & Jesse James has garnered the esteemed Milton F. Perry Award.* The James-Younger Gang Conference of 2013 conferred the prestigious award upon author Eric F. James. His book, Jesse James Soul Liberty, is the first of five volumes the author is writing about the family stigmatized by their outlaws. The author’s acceptance, below, paid tribute to the James family, whom the author says defines what it means to be American in their actions, character, and soul. The James family alone, says the author, reveals why Jesse James endures as a cultural America icon.

Milton F. Perry Award

I thank the James-Younger Gang for this award. For a long time, I was aware this award is given only to those who make some ground- breaking contribution to the historical record. That makes this award special, and one well worth having. Especially gratifying to me are my friends and colleagues who advanced the candidacy of my book. I thank them, too.

When first publishing my research and genealogy findings for public review on our website Stray Leaves, starting in 1997, I fully expected assassins to come out gunning for me. Indeed, they did. Over ten years, mostly blank pot shots were fired, principally by claimants, charlatans, and detractors with no foothold in the facts. But there were others, too, who also came forth. They were more firmly grounded in factual history and evidence collecting. They offered contributions of their own, making the data, even more, bullet proof. I thank those contributors, also.

Curiously, I thought I would have received this award years ago when the ground-breaking genealogy for this book first was made known. When I last addressed you in Northfield, Minnesota in 2005, though, I was made keenly aware that not everyone wants to deal with the hardcore, dry data, which irrefutable genealogy provides.  I will never forget the words of Rex McBeath. Before me and all of you, Rex took dead aim at me and said, “Old Eric there, he’s only interested in who begot who. I’m interested in who be-shot who.” I recognized then that the new history my genealogy research possessed would have to find its audience in some other way.  So, this narrative history was begun. Then, one book turned into two books, and quickly into three, and now into four books. For the history book now, and the three yet to come, thank you, Rex McBeath.

Judge James Randall Ross
Judge James R. Ross

I next want to thank Jesse’s great grandson, the late Judge James R. Ross. Jim followed my study intently and avidly. He was always prompting me for the “evidence.” Little did I expect that after I had presented him an abundance of it, Judge Ross would hand me a 10-year sentence. “Why don’t you write a book about our family,” Jim asked. “Everyone writes about Frank and Jesse. No one ever writes about the family.” Meeting the James family, it was quickly clear. The James family had lost its history and its identity. One family line could not recognize another. I thank Jim and his wife Rosemary, and their next generation of Jesse James’ great grandchildren, for all of their continuing support.

This award deserves to be shared with the Jesse James family itself. After 130 years of self-imposed silence and self-inflicted anonymity, they finally broke their silence to recapture their lost identity and to reunite themselves in this effort. By offering me their documents, personally written memoirs, letters, and photos, and by making themselves available for long and intensive interviews, the Jesse James family now self-defines who they are, and what the James family is all about. As no historian can, the James family alone presents us the personality, character, and soul that they genetically share with the two disreputable family members who stigmatized and imprisoned them for so long.

Barbara James
Barbara James

Individually, I’d like to thank Barbara James, daughter of Daniel Lewis James, the Hollywood screenwriter, blacklisted as a Communist by the House on Un-American Activities Committee of the U. S. Congress. When Dan wrote his award-winning book Famous All Over Town, using his assumed pen name of Danny Santiago, Dan James was exposed and additionally brown-listed by the Hispanic literati. Thanks to Barbara’s first-hand testimony, the chapter in my book about Dan James was commissioned to be made into the play produced by Chicago’s Tony-winning Steppenwolf Theater. The award-winning Hispanic playwright Carlos Murillo has written the play and production is pending. Ironically Carlos lives on the same street, two blocks away from where I grew up. Carlos and I share a common belief that some divine hand has directed our works.

Joan Beamis
Joan Malley Beamis

Among other descendants of Drury Woodson James, I additionally thank J. Mark Beamis for making me custodian of his mother’s research records. The writings of Joan Beamis show clearly she knew there were much more James family genealogy and history to be known than what she had published in Background of a Bandit. Illness and death overcame Joan’s attempt to write a biographical history of the James family. I’m privileged and grateful to pick up what Joan left uncompleted.

Rev. James B. Malley S.J.
Fr. James B. Malley S.J.

Thanks, too, to Joan’s brother, Father James Burns Malley, a Jesuit priest in Boston. Father Jim provided his biography, showing how those among the James, who intentionally performed good works still became the targets of the government, social persecution, and ostracism – just like their notorious cousins. Like Father Jim, Judge Ross also was made a pariah. When Jim handed down the first judicial decision in America to help gay rights, Judge Ross was driven from his bench by masked political forces. The first purpose of Frank and Jesse to defend people’s rights continues today. For Father Malley and Judge Ross, we all should be grateful.

The many others whom I thank, you will find in the “Acknowledgements” chapter of my book. I’m sorry I could not be with you tonight. When informed of this award ceremony, I already had pre-scheduled commitments. I thank Charlie Broomfield for standing in.

Charles Broomfield
Charles Broomfield, Director, Clay County (MO) Parks & Recreation

In closing, many among the James family denied me access, as they did before with Joan Beamis. Joan wrote, “I was specifically warned not to try any correspondence at all with any relatives in Missouri.” I was told more strictly, “to mind my business.” Hopefully now, your approval and the imprimatur of your award upon this new history, will serve as a standing invitation to those among the James family, still dis-joined. It’s never too late to hold a family reunion. Without any doubt, there is more Jesse James family history to come.

More than my book, it is the James family who defines Jesse James’ soul liberty. More than my book, it is their stories, their deeds, and their history that represent in no uncertain terms what it means to be American. The James family alone elucidates why Jesse James endures as a cultural America icon.

My thanks to them, and my thanks to you.

Milton F. Perry & President Harry Truman
Milton F. Perry with President Harry S. Truman


* The Perry Award is named after Milton F. Perry, the founder and curator of the Harry S. Truman Library.

Perry also founded and was the first curator of James Farm & Museum in Kearney, Missouri.


Second Book Award Nomination for Jesse James Soul Liberty

wild west history associationMORE GOOD NEWS…Jesse James Soul Liberty has received its second nomination for a book award.

Previously, the book received a nomination for the Spur Award, given by the Western Writers of America. See the earlier announcement.

This nomination  is for the best non-fiction biography, given by the Wild West History Association.

Television viewers are well acquainted with WWHA’s members. Many of them are sought-after authorities by cable TV channels such as History and Discovery.  Look forward to the final announcement of winners this summer.