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Book Review – The Trial of Jesse James Jr. by Laurie Ann Little

BOOK REVIEW: The Trial of Jesse James, Jr.: The Son of An Outlaw Stands Accused, adapted by L. A. Little, (Vintage Antique Classics Publishing Co. 2012), 201 pp., soft cover, $14.99.

By Nancy B. Samuelson

The Trial of Jesse James, Jr. book

This book opens with a short section, “Beginnings” which gives a bit of the history of Jesse James Jr. (Jesse Edward James). This tells how Jesse Jr. applied for a job as office boy to Thomas T. Crittenden Jr., the son of the Governor who was responsible for the death of the outlaw Jesse James. Young James and young Crittenden became lifelong friends. Young Jesse met many influential friends in the Kansas City area. He was a well liked and had a reputation as a hard-working, honest young man.

The bulk of the book is a series of newspaper articles from The Kansas City Journal. These begin in September 1898 after the robbery of a Missouri Pacific passenger train near Leeds, Missouri. Jesse James Jr. was soon accused of taking part in this robbery. The newspaper articles continue through early March 1899 when Jesse was acquitted of all charges.

These articles tell about the accusations of W. W. Lowe, a suspect himself, and a switchman at the Santa Fe Railroad switch yards. There were other suspects as well including Andy Ryan, the brother of Bill Ryan of the old Jesse James gang, and Jack “Quail Hunter” Kennedy, who was suspected of a number of crimes.

Jesse Jr. maintained his innocence and had a wide circle of friends who stood by him during the trial for this robbery. He had four defense attorneys and they were able to get a new Judge to try the case. Affidavits were submitted to show that Judge Wofford was prejudiced against Jesse Jr. Wofford was replaced by Judge W. D. Shackelford of Boonville, Missouri. The Prosecuting Attorney was James A. Reed, later a U. S. Senator and a presidential aspirant. Reed had six other attorneys assisting in the prosecution.

The articles give a good look at some of the police procedures at the time. Suspects were detained but not arrested for some time. There is discussion of “Sweating” prisoners as well. Jury selection is discussed and a lot of testimony from witnesses is included in a number of the articles.

The trial ends in acquittal of Jesse Jr. on all charges. The jury was out for about one hour and only one ballot was needed to make the decision. The Prosecuting Attorney then dismissed the charges against the other suspects.

Frank James attended the trial and he is mentioned several times. Mrs. Samuel, grandmother of Jesse Jr., and other family members were present and testified in Jesse’s behalf.

One additional newspaper article appears near the end of the book. This is in February 20, 1910. W.W. Lowe, who was the primary accuser of Jesse Jr. admitted he lied about James’ involvement in the robbery and said his story was a frame up.

The book has a one-page epilogue about the later life of Jesse Jr. The last section of the book is a reprint of the first four chapters of Jesse James, My Father, written in 1899 by Jesse Jr.

The book is nicely produced and easy to read. The front cover has a nice photo of Jesse Jr. There are a few illustrations from the newspapers throughout the book. There are no notes nor is there an index.

COUSIN OF JESSE JAMES GRANDCHILDREN BELONGED TO 20 LINEAGE & CHIVALRIC SOCIETIES

On November 20, 2011, Kansas City native Col. Stewart Boone McCarty Jr. died. Like the grandchildren of Jesse James, Col. McCarty was a direct descendant of Kentucky explorer Daniel Boone, making him a cousin to the grandchildren of Jesse James, who also are directly descended from Daniel Boone. (See Pedigree below.) Unlike the outlaw’s grandchildren who suffered under the stigma of their heritage, Col. Boone suffered no such stigma. He actively pursued his family history to the joy of reveling in it.

Col. Stewart Boone McCarty
Col. Stewart Boone McCarty Jr., USMC (Rtd.) – Left

Little joy came, though, to Joan Malley Beamis, who was the first of the Jesse James family to pursue the James family heritage. Joan was a great granddaughter of the infamous outlaw’s uncle, Drury Woodson James. Joan sought her own membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

Joan Bemia
Joan Malley Beamis

 

 

Her family strictly warned Joan to avoid any contact with her cousins in Missouri. Writing to the New York City Library, instead, Joan was dismayed to learn that the great repository of east coast history knew nothing about her family and nothing whatsoever about the family of Frank & Jesse James.

Col. McCarty had no such difficulty. For many years he served the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (NSSAR) as President General. Out of its membership of 28,000, Col. McCarty was one of six to receive the Society’s Minuteman Award.  He had graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles with an AB in Economics. At George Washington University, he completed an MA in Management and Personnel Administration; and then he completed graduate studies in Archaeology at Worcester College of Oxford University and the Catholic University of America.

Despite receiving an excellent education herself, Joan struggled for years simply to make contact with her family of cousins who didn’t even know of her or her kinship with them. Joan wrote a number of times to Lawrence Barr, the outlaw’s grandson.  He ignored her letters. Finally, his wife, Thelma Duncan Barr responded to Joan, but only after Thelma had been urged to do so by a cousin in the Mimms family, who already was a member of the DAR.

Joan Beamis learned her cousins in the Jesse James line of her family knew little, if nothing at all, about their family history and lineage. Joan was left to perform the difficult research that took years to restructure the skeleton of her James family genealogy. What little she learned, Joan published as a book titled, Background of a Bandit, through the Kentucky Historical Society.

Stewart Boone McCarty
Col. Stewart Boone McCarty Jr.

Col. Stewart Boone McCarty Jr. pursued a lifelong career in the U.S. Marine Corps. He commanded units from platoon to battalion, in combat and in garrison, interspersed with staff assignments and attendance at military schools.  He was awarded the Legion of Merit; Bronze Star Medals with combat “V” in Korea and Vietnam; the Purple Heart; the Meritorious Service Medal; and other United States and foreign military awards.

He retired from military service in 1974. Knowledge of his family history merited him membership in multiple lineage societies in which he avidly participated.

  • General Society of Colonial Wars (past Deputy Governor General and past Governor of the Washington D.C. Society)
  • National Gavel Society (past President)
  • National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (past President General; Minuteman Award Recipient; Patriot Medal Recipient)
  • One Hundred Living Descendants of Blood Royal
  • National Society Americans of Royal Descent
  • Order of the Crown of Charlemagne in the United States of America
  • Order of the Merovingian Dynasty
  • Hereditary Order of Descendants of Loyalists and Patriots (past Governor General)
  • General Society Sons of the Revolution (past President of the Washington D.C. Society)
  • Huguenot Society of Washington D.C. (past President)
  • St. Andrew’s Society of Washington D.C. (past President)
  • Society of the War of 1812 (past President of the Washington D.C. Society)
  • Society of Descendants of Knights of the Garter (Treasurer of the American Friends)
  • Ancient Heraldic and Chivalric Order of Albion
  • Baronial Order of the Magna Charta
  • Jamestowne Society
  • Society of Boonesborough

 

Chivalric Orders

  • The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem (Officer Companion)
  • Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (Grand Cross, former Grand Prior, Priory of St. King Charles the Martyr, Washington, D.C.)
  • Knight of Grace of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem

 

Joan Beamis finally achieved her membership in the DAR. Her lineage link to the American Revolution came through her ancestry descended from the Patriot Robert Poor. Joan also learned she was eligible, if invited, for membership in more lineage societies. Among them are:

  • The Sons & Daughter of the American Revolution
  • The Daughters of the American Colonists
  • The Daughters of the Colonial Wars
  • The Jamestowne Society

 

In all her research, Joan never did identify the Patriots among her James lineage. They existed, as the new history of the James family will show in Jesse James’ Soul Liberty; but they eluded her.

Eric James, Danville, Ky. January 6, 2012

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Pedigree of Col. Stewart Boone McCarty Jr.

. Stewart Boone McCarty Sr. & Vivian Myers Simmons

.. Ernest P. McCarty & Elizabeth Josephine Stewart

… Samuel L. Stewart & Delila L. Boone

…. Daniel Boone Jr. & Mary Constance Philabert

….. Daniel Morgan Boone & Sarah Griffin Lewis

…… Daniel Boone & Rebecca Ann Bryant

 

Pedigree of James Randall Ross

James Randall Ross

. Ronald Munro Ross & Josephine Frances James

.. Jesse Edwards James Jr. & Estella Frances McGowan

… Jesse Woodson James & Zerelda Amanda Mimms

.. Alfred Monte McGowan & Martha Ann Wood

… Luther Alfed McGowan & Mary Frances Hosman

…. Alfred M. Hosman & Mary Boone

….. Nathan Boone & Olive Van Biber

…… Daniel Boone & Rebecca Ann Bryant