Tag Archives: banks

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.


John M. James Appears Before The Kentucky Humanities Council in Restless for Revolution

Last week I had the opportunity to perform John M. James before the Kentucky Humanities Council. John M. James is my 4th great grandfather. See the video below.

Every year the Humanties Council contracts with five performers to add to its stable of historical performances. The Council then sends out the performers around the Commonwealth throughout the year to schools, organizations, and events, dramatizing Kentucky famed characters from the Commonwealth’s storied past.

John M. James is not as famous as some of the characters the Council usually books. Mary Todd Lincoln, Henry Clay, and Daniel Boone are the type of character stars the Council prefers. Even identifying John M. James as the grandfather of Frank & Jesse James, or the 2nd great grandfather of Walmart founder Sam Walton, or as the 5th great grandfather of J. Danforth Quayle, doesn’t carry the same historical weight the Council traditionally seeks. The Council wants characters that are instantly recognizable.

My one-act, one man play focuses on John among his community of rebel Baptist preachers. They made their exodus following the Revolutionary War from Virginia and away from its religious persecution in a Traveling Church into Kentucky. The same band of revolutionary citizens and rebel preachers then went to win the War of 1812, to secure the liberty first won in the Revolution.

After a period of prosperity following the war, Kentucky fell into economic chaos as banks proliferated and predator lenders fell upon the Commonwealth with a vengeance. Currency increasingly was devalued and near worthless. On top of that, the $7 million dollar debt America owed to Napoleon for the Louisiana Purchase was approaching, and it payment was due in specie, either gold or silver. As the full force of the economic Panic of 1819 struck, John found himself nearing death, as broke as Thomas Jefferson. However, John’s revolutionary spirit wouldn’t let him die. He prepared to take on the banks by electing Andy Jackson.

DOWNLOAD your own copy of Restless for Revolution.

Warning: This download may take several minutes. This video file is large.


Video: John M. James Speaks of Jeremiah Vardeman

This vidieo was made in 2002 at the Vardeman Family Reunion, held at the William Whitley Mansion in Lincoln County, Kentucky. John M. James appears in this video as a much younger man.

The opening of this video shows the re-dedication of the Vardeman Cemetery in Lincoln County, after the cemetery had been relocated and the historic Vardeman Cemetery was flooded by the creation of Cedar Creek Lake.