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.
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.
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.