Tag Archives: Drury Woodson James

El Paso del Robles & La Panza Rancho of Drury Woodson James

“Rodeo scene taken on the LaPanza Ranch about 1893.” Joan Beamis Archive, James Preservation Trust.

On May 22, 1971, Mary Louise James-Burns dictated her memory of her father Drury Woodson James and his La Panza Rancho. Her dictation was taken and put in writing by Mary Louise’s granddaughter Mary Joan Malley-Beamis.

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Paso de Robles Grant

 

While the story of “Drury Woodson James by His Daughter Mary Louise James-Burns” briefly outlines what Mary Louise James recalled about her father’s connection to the fabled La Panza Rancho, much of the rancho’s history was left untold.

Today, history can fill in the saga of this legendary land that reveals so much of California’s most colorful past.

As La Panza Ranch stands on the brink of new ownership, La Panza affirms the true treasure it is. The worth of La Panza far exceeds any amount that it costs.

This is the history of the La Panza Rancho.

Mission San Miguel, Arcangel

Mission San Miguel, Arcangel was founded in 1797 by Fr. Fermin Francisco de Lasuen, who succeeded Fr. Junipero Serra, the founder of a chain of missions spanning California from north to south. The era of the missions compelled the Native-American population of the area either into isolation or into cooperation.

In 1842, Mexican Governor Manuel Micheltorena granted to Pedro Narvaez nearly 26,000 acres of the El Paso de Robles Rancho.

El Paso de Robles Claim of Petronilo Rios

Plat of Rancho Paso Robles

Historian Wallace V. Ohles, who attended and spoke at the 2002 family reunion of the Jesse James family in Paso Robles, California, wrote in his book The Lands of Mission San Miguel that in 1852, Petronillo Rios filed a claim for El Paso de Robles. His claim would take 14 years to be patented!

When California became a United States territory, and later a state, outstanding land claims had to be settled. The Board of Land Commissioners, sitting in San Francisco, rendered a decree of confirmation in favor of Rios in 1855.

Rios did not have clear title to the land he then sold to the brothers Daniel D. and James H. Blackburn with Lazare Godchaux in 1857. Rios received $8,000 from the Blackburns and Godchaux. Rios transferred the land, fully disclosing his receipt of the land from Pedro Narvaez and Gov. Manuel Micheltorena.

Rios did not receive his land patent until 1866. It was granted by President Andrew Johnson. That year Thomas McGreel [alternately McGreal] acquired one-half of the rancho for $10,000 from Daniel D. Blackburn. McGreel then sold his interest to Drury Woodson James for $11,000.

in 1860, D.W. James and John G. Thompson had purchased 10,000 acres of government land for $1.25 per acre. They stocked it with 2,500 head of cattle. This was the nucleus of the La Panza-Carissa Ranch, which in time grew to 50,000 acres.

“On Duty-Taken on the La Panza about 1900.” Joan Beamis Archive, James Preservation Trust.

The Paunch

La Panza – In Spanish, the word means “the paunch,” the belly and its contents.

The vaqueros of old Rancho La Panza used belly parts of slaughtered cattle as bait, to trap, lasso, or poison the California grizzly bear. From the bear hunting country surrounding the rancho, the captured bear was shipped north to battle bulls in the gaming arenas of San Francisco.

The Still House

“Home of Dr. Still-LaPanza Ranch. Post Office was here. Photo 1892.” Joan Beamis Archive, James Preservation Trust.

“The picturesque old stone building is still called the Still House, although no gin or red eye was ever distilled there. It is the sole surviving member of a complex of buildings owned by Dr. Thomas Still, a pioneer at La Panza.

“Dr. & Mrs. Thomas C. Still. My grandparents came into the LaPanza mines in 1879-about 5 miles from LaPanza Ranch house. Land adjoined LaPanza Ranch.” Joan Beamis Archive, James Preservation Trust.

 

“Still, a physician born in Tennessee in 1833, brought the family across the plains in 1863 in an ox-drawn wagon, wintering at bleak Honey Lake in northeastern California. He first settled on a claim near Mt. Diablo, then moved to Sebastopol, where a sawmill accident almost cost him his hand [hidden in this photo]. Luckily his wife had bandages and pine oil handy and this rude treatment kept the fingers attached.

“From Sebastopol, he took his family to San Luis Obispo County in 1867 and to Palo Prieto (later Annette) in Kern County in 1872. The news of the gold rush at La Panza caused him to pull up stakes again in 1879. He went to La Panza, then a ‘lively town,’ and mixed the practice of medicine with farming and stock raising.

The Post Office

“He was also Postmaster of La Panza from November 4, 1879, when the post office was set up, until June 15, 1908, when it was discontinued. Actually, his wife, Martha, and daughter carried on as Postmistresses, for the sawbones was away on cases. Re-established April 29, 1911, the Post Office continued until April 20, 1935, when it was closed for good and mail delivered to Pozo instead…

Gold

“La Panza is a country of many legends and little (written) history. Old-timers will tell you of Mexicans and Indians mining gold there long before the 1878 rush. Today, Do La Guerra Canyon – once people with 250 miners – cannot even be located. In 1882 a prospector named Frank H. Reynolds mined on Navajo Creek but he is a ghostly figure…

“The Painted Rock about 1890. Paintings were along inside walls which can be seen at right.” Joan Beamis Archive, James Preservation Trust.

The first official report of gold production was not made until 1882 when $5,000 was reported taken out. By 1886 the region was producing $9,164 a year bit it dropped to $1,740 in 1887. In 1888 and 1889 the sum of $3,000 and $6,200 respectively and the following year it was $8,800. Another drop occurred in 1891 to $1,785 and it continued to $1,097 in 1892 and a mere $600 the next year. Then it was $1,200, $3,000, and $3,000. In 1897 the figure was $2,500 as, ‘on account of the limited water supply the mines were worked only in the rainy season.’ It was an even $1,000 for the ‘Year of the Spaniards.’ No reports were made in 1899 or 1900, but in 1901 a puny $300 was mined. A revival in 1902 and 1903 brought it up to $2,399 and $1,840, then another slump sent production to only $630 in 1904 and $300 the following year. The last two years’ worth reporting showed but $316 taken out in 1907 and $124 in 1913.

“Inside of Painted Rock about 1920.” Joan Beamis Archive, James Preservation Trust.

Cattle Country

“…After the gold rush petered out, this land reverting to sheep and cattle country again…

“Jim Jones and Jake Schoenfeld bought the ranch from D.W. James and added the Carissa Ranch to it, operating both spreads as one. With the death of Jones in 1903, the partnership was dissolved. His heirs took the Carissa Ranch and Jake kept the La Panza Ranch.

Jake Schoenfeld Residence, La Panza Ranch. Joan Beamis Archive, James Preservation Trust.

“Frank Fotheringham, who was born in Sutter Creek in 1861, came to La Panza after grammar school training in Sacramento and high school education in San Francisco. He found it a great sheep and cattle country already, going to work for his brother-in-law, Jacob M. Jones, who owned about 25,000 acres. Frank worked as foreman until he was 30. Then he became superintendent of Schoenfeld and Jones’ twin ranches, the Carissa and La Panza.

“When the ‘NO Fence’ law went into effect Fotheringham had to bring in enough wire from San Looey [San Luis Obispo] to circle 45,000 acres. He did a tremendous job in stringing it in only 6 months. In 1897 he leased different ranches to tenants, but after 2 years turned back into cattle range. As early as 1886 he had raised and fattened herds of cattle. He would ship them in feeders from Mexico and Arizona by the trainload. He would turn them out in a year ‘fat and fit.’ His own Durhams and Herefords were veritable butterballs, too.

“In the old days around La Panza, Frank used to see more deer, mountain lyons, coyotes, and grizzlies than human neighbors. And a few of his two-legged neighbors were anything but neighborly. Perhaps they wanted to imitate Joaquin Murrieta or Tiburcio Vasquez, both of whom hid out in San Luis Obispo’s backwoods. In any case, Frank first visited Los Angeles in 1883 at the tail end of a long chase of horse thieves who had raided his La Panza remuda and gone south with the stock. In 1916 Fotheringham finally bade La Panza adios, resigning from the ranch to go to Santa Marguerite to live.

“Rodeo scene on the LaPanza Ranch about 1892.” Joan Beamis Archive, James Preservation Trust

“When the ranch was sold to Henry Cowell of the Cowell Lime & Cement Company of Santa Cruz & San Francisco around World War I, Walter Dunning became for many years foreman of the La Panza Ranch. When he died, his wife, Dolly Dunning, became foreman until Clarence Jardine took over. The ranch is now a 34,000 spread, eased by Jake Martens and Bill Vreden. Jake Martens is the managing resident partner. It is partly farmland, partly grazing land for cattle. Irrigation and alfalfa have been introduced but otherwise, it is pretty much the way it looked when whiskey men in muddy Levis were working with sluice boxes, rockers, and gold pans along La Panza Creek.

La Panza in 1960

“Still’s Dairy. Stone building on Still Ranch-LaPanza Post Office in background-Photo about 1910.” Joan Beamis Archive, James Preservation Trust.

“La Panza is pretty quiet now. Dr. Still’s inn, stage stop, and post office are gone, leaving only the old stone dairy. It is hard to realize that the road which winds past…was once one of the most heavily traveled stage roads between the Coast and the San Joaquin. Marica’s Saloon, the gathering place for the old-time California cattlemen and American Chinese and Mexican miners, is no more. It is gone with the miners and the outlaws. Tales of violence cling to the stones of the old house at La Panza, however. There is believed to be a grave in the long-forgotten graveyard where an outlaw was buried after losing an argument with one of his peers. And several miners are said to have been murdered for their caches of gold, their belonging scattered about their corpses and their tents or shacks torn up…

“Or O.M. McLean will tell you of the night his grandfather, Dr. Still, was called to the door by an urgent incessant knocking. When he opened it, a man asked him to come with him quickly to treat and wounded friend. When the physician asked him what happened, the visitor blurted out, ‘I shot a man.’ He quickly changed it to ‘A man has shot himself,” however. The wounded man was in bad shape and condition, but Dr. Still operated, successfully removed the bullet, and then warned the man’s friend that the gunshot wound might prove fatal if he were moved. Nevertheless, when the Doctor returned the next day to see how his patient was doing, he found that both men, on the run from the law, had disappeared afraid that he would report the incident to the sheriff.”

Excerpts from “La Panza” by Richard H. Dillon, The Grabbon Press, San Francisco, September 26, 1960

La Panza Today

The Carrisa Plains portion of historic La Panza:

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The Troubled Life of Peter Burnett

At the Jesse James family reunion in 2002, living descendants in the family of Peter Burnett appeared. They were seeking knowledge of the Burnett family’s connections to the Jesse James family. Stories of a connection had come down in their family lore.

To date, no specific connection with the James family, or with Drury Woodson James, Jesse’ s uncle and founder of Paso Robles, California, has been found. Given D.W. James social and political connections, it remains highly likely some connection existed. Is also is highly certain that Peter Burnett would have known Rep. Coleman Purcell Younger of Santa Cruz, California, the husband of Burnett’s niece, Rebecca J. Smith, among other Burnett-Younger kinships.

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“Ancestry & Kinship of Peter Hardeman Burnett”

FREE DOWNLOAD

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BOOK REVIEW: Nokes, R. Gregory, The Troubled Life of Peter Burnett: Oregon Pioneer and First Governor of California

(Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2018) pp.ix-270, several photos and maps, appendix A-D, notes, bibliography, index, ISBN 978-0-87071-923-5, paperback, $19,95.

By Nancy B. Samuelson

Peter Burnett may not be a name that is familiar to many people these days. It seems a pity that he has been largely forgotten. He was a man of some rather significant achievements in the states of Missouri, Oregon and California. I have been interested in him for some time and was pleased to see that someone had finally written a book about him. However, I found that the author chose to judge Burnett by today’s standards of political correctness and ignore or belittle his many real accomplishments.

R. Gregory Nokes
R. Gregory Nokes, author of The Troubles Life of Peter Burnett

R. Gregory Nokes is a journalist and is a competent writer but the book will appeal more to a general audience than to historians or scholars. He did do a fair amount of research and has discovered a number of Burnett’s letters that have never been made public before.  He has also thoroughly researched Burnett’s other writings, and there is a considerable amount of this material.  There is no evidence, however, that he consulted any contemporary newspapers reports of the actions and events in Burnett’s life.  Nor did he dig very deeply into family connections and the accomplishments of many other members of this talented Burnett family and their near kinfolks.

The author makes much ado about Burnett’s contributions to the deplorable “Lash Law” in Oregon that Burnett helped put on the books. But little is said about the almost immediate revision of the law and the fact that the law was never once enforced. Many, in fact, most other states and territories had similar or worse laws on the books concerning African Americans and other minorities. Nokes is highly critical of Burnett in many ways and this detracts from the contributions Peter Burnett did make.

Peter Burnett was almost completely a self-educated man. He was born into a poor family in Tennessee but the family soon moved to Missouri to better themselves. Burnett was able to become an attorney and established a good law practice and engaged in several business enterprises. He was one of the men responsible for getting the U. S. Congress to approve the Platte Purchase that added a considerable amount of territory to the northwestern section of Missouri. Some of Burnett’s business enterprises were not successful and he soon turned his eyes to the Oregon Territory. He “boomed” Oregon and organized the first major wagon train to travel to Oregon in 1843. He was active in the organization of the Oregon Territorial Government and was Oregon’s first Supreme Court judge.

When word came of the discovery of gold in California, Burnett once more decided he could improve his fortunes by going to California. He took the first wagon train from Oregon to California and achieved a fair amount of success in mining for gold in California. He then moved to Sacrament and went back into the legal business. He took over some of the real estate sales for John Sutter and was well on the way to repairing Sutter’s finances until Sutter, Sr. fired him in a huff. Burnett did bolster his own finances as well from his sales of Sacramento real estate.

Burnett then turned his hand to helping get a state government organized in California and was overwhelmingly elected as the first Governor of California. He later resigned from this office to pursue his business interests. He later went into the banking business in San Francisco and was president of one of the most successful banks in California. Peter Burnett died a wealthy and highly esteemed man.

Burnett was completely honest, a rare quality in the hectic days of Gold Rush California, a deeply religious man, and a devoted husband and father. All of his children that survived were successful and talented people. His sons-in-law were attorneys and served in state government as did some of his grandchildren.

An item of interest to Wild West buffs was completely missed by the author. Burnett had close connections to the Younger and Dalton families. His brother, George William Burnett, was married to Sydney Ann Younger, an aunt of the Younger boys of James-Younger gang fame. Sydney Ann’s half-sister, Adeline, was the mother of the Dalton brothers of Dalton gang fame.  George William Burnett served in the Oregon legislature for some time and his son George Henry Burnett served on the Oregon Supreme Court from 1911 to 1927, twice serving as the Chief Justice of the court. Peter Burnett also maintained close social relations with Coleman Younger, the uncle of the outlaw Younger brothers, in Santa Clara County. California for a number of years.

This book is certainly worth reading and it inspired me to dig even deeper and to see what else I could learn about this fascinating man. Peter Burnett is worthy of more study so we can fully appreciate his contributions to our history.

Red Flags Fly over Claimed Jesse James Ambrotype

An ambrotype, claimed to be Jesse James, has raised multiple red flags, particularly from the Jesse James family.
Ambrotype claimed to be Jesse James, disputed under red flags by Jesse James family
Ambrotype photographic image, claimed by Patrick Taylor Meguiar to be Civil War Partisan Jesse Woodson James. Before sending the ambrotype to auction in August of 2017, Meguiar submitted this image in January to the Jesse James family. Jesse’s family disputes Meguiar’s identification.

Patrick Taylor Meguiar wants to sell his ambrotype. He claims the subject of his picture is Jesse James.  Patrick says the artifact was handed down from Jesse, through Patrick’s family, to him. Patrick also says he is Jesse’s cousin. Patrick’s ambrotype is waving red flags.

Patrick has two problems. Patrick cannot prove his kinship to Jesse. Moreover, Patrick cannot prove his ambrotype is Jesse James. Disregarding what may be wishful thinking, Patrick is taking his claimed Jesse James ambrotype to auction.

 “Dear Cousin” – Red Flag # 1

Patrick Meguiar
Patrick Taylor Meguiar claims his ambrotype is Jesse James. He also claims to be a cousin of Jesse James.

Fatal flaws in Patrick’s wishful thinking first appeared when he solicited the Jesse James family. Emailing to Jesse James family historian and Stray Leaves publisher Eric F. James, Patrick wrote, “Dear Cousin Eric.”

A greeting like “Dear Cousin Eric” raises an immediate red flag among the James family. The common belief within the James family is that those who claim to be a relation most likely are not. Moreover, those who are a legitimate and genetic relation are not likely to admit it, let alone to talk about it. A greeting like “Dear Cousin” forewarns that something amiss is about to follow.

No Sources – Red Flag # 2

Writing to Eric F. James, Patrick staked his claim to Jesse James kinship, but he provided no genealogical details or sources as evidence of his claim.

“This is the image that has passed down in my family with the tradition that Cousin Jesse Woodson James gave this photo to my great great grandmother Sarah Mariah Martin Meguiar & her siblings in 1868. I descend twice directly from Sarah Hines Martin who was the sister of Mary Hines James the wife of William James.

“My line is as follows: John Hines had Sarah Hines who married John Martin. They had Robert Martin who married Sarah Jane Hoy. They had Sarah Mariah Martin who married Thomas William Meguiar. They had Thomas Charlie Meguiar who married Dorothy Robert Turner. They had Thomas Maynard Meguiar who married Allene Moore Hobdy. They had Thomas Maynard Meguiar, Jr. who married Eva Nell Groves. They had me, Patrick Taylor Meguiar.

“My second line is Sarah Hines married John Martin. They had Elizabeth Martin who married Martin Turner. They had Robert Williamson Turner who married Almira Lucetta Hammond. They had Dorothy Robert Turner who married Thomas Charlie Meguiar. (See the line above to continue to me).”

Muddy Ancestry – Red Flag # 4

At Stray Leaves, an independent genealogical investigation into Patrick’s claim revealed the particulars of his ancestry. The investigation also revealed Patrick’s knowledge of his own ancestry was somewhat muddy. Patrick’s wishful thinking attempted to graft his ancestral tree to the Jesse James family tree.

Red flags of Patrick Meguiar claimed roots
Dual roots of the family tree Patric Meguiar grafts by claim to the family of Jesse James

Research indeed confirmed the two lines of ancestry from Patrick to Sarah Hines that Patrick claimed, with a couple of muddy anomalies. Stray Leaves considers the discrepancies as minor and irrelevant to proving Patrick’s tree attaches to the James.

The principal point of grafting between the Meguiar and the James trees, Patrick says, occurs with Sarah Hines, Patrick’s second great-grandmother. Patrick claims Sarah  and Mary Hines are sisters. As his evidence, Patrick cites the Douglas Register where the marriages of Sarah and Mary are identified.

Douglas Register
The Douglas Register

The Douglas Register does not show evidence of Sarah Hines and Mary Hines being sisters, however. Just because the names of both girls named Hines appear among a list of marriages performed by Rev. William Douglas of St. James Northam Parish in Goochland County, Virginia, nothing in the Register substantiates that one Sarah Hines is a relation to another Mary Hines. In the Douglas Register, other James are listed who are not related to William James and wife Mary Hines.

Aggravating this artificial grafting point of two family trees, Patrick’s Sarah Hines appears to have unexplained ancestry in America. Whereas, evidence in the Jesse James family affirms Mary Hines was an immigrant from England. The James family cites the The Unites States Biographical Dictionary (Missouri Volume), U.S. Bio. Pub. Co. 1878.

Additionally, Joan Malley Beamis acknowledges in her essay “Unto the Third Generation,” which she wrote to the third generations of Jesse James’ descendants, that William James and Mary Hines may not be the progenitors of their Jesse James family at all. Joan acknowledges so many James families occupied Virginia in the Colonial period where the James lived. Joan M. Beamis researched and wrote Background of a Bandit between 1950 and 1970. The Kentucky Historical Society published Joan’s book in 1970. Joan is a great-granddaughter of Drury Woodson James, Jesse’s uncle. Eric F. James included the entire text of the Beamis essay “Unto the Third Generation” in his book Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence.

Ambiguous Affidavit – Red Flag # 5

Together with his ambrotype, Patrick submitted to Eric F. James an affidavit, dated February 24, 2014. The document, executed on the letterhead of Williams Galleries, American Art & Antiques, is written and signed by James E. Williams.

Red flag of ambiguous Williams Galleries Affidavit
Affidavits by James E. Williams

In the affidavit, Williams states in generalities but no details, “Using my many years of experience in historic research; artifact search and evaluation; exposure to a wide variety of historic expertise at universities, historic sites and museums; and specifically researching photographs of Jesse and Frank; my educated opinion is that a very sound case can be made that the subject in the ambrotype is Jesse James.

Williams further concludes, “The preponderance of circumstantial evidence that has been collected to support the idea that this is a photo of Jesse is very impressive. Consequently, my opinion can be nothing else other than this is an ambrotype of Jesse Woodson James.

Writing to James E. Williams, Eric F. James inquired,

“1. Did you conduct any further due diligence, other than what you state in the affidavit? What was the nature of that research?

“2. Did you subject the image to a scientific forensic investigation and analysis? If so, what was the outcome?

“3. Did Mr. Meguiar consign his artifact to you for sale, auction, or disposition? What was its outcome?

When James E. William replied, he avoided the direct questions to say instead, “Considering much information Mr. Patrick Meguiar provided, it was my opinion that the ambrotype was an image of James. At no time did Mr. Meguiar consign the photo to me for sale, nor do I have financial interest in the photo, nor do I claim or want financial interest in the photograph. I’m sure Mr. Meguiar has the information that was evaluated and will go over the information with you. I have no interest in the photograph other than its’ potentially historical significance.”

For its lack of specificity and detail, the affidavit Meguiar provides to substantiate his claims amounts to no more than hearsay.

Inexpert Auction House – Red Flag # 6

Patrick strangely placed his claimed Jesse James ambrotype with the auction house of Addison & Sarova. The firm’s circle of expertise is antiquarian books. Its location in the state of Georgia is well beyond the customary locale and sphere for western artifact auctions.

A further lack of expertise is evident in Addison & Sarova’s promotional description of the Russellville Bank robbery,  written to promote the sale of the artifact. Concocting a witless fiction, Addison & Sarova spins an unschooled tale straight out of pulp fiction from the 19th century. The uneducated fable is a contradiction, replete with historical falsehoods and gross inaccuracies regarding Jesse James and his factual history.

Fictional Promotion – Red Flag # 7

The fakery begins with Addison & Sarova’s assertion that Jesse James was a principal actor in the Russellville Bank robbery. No evidence supports this tall tale. In fact, at the time of the robbery Jesse was bedridden, lying on death’s doorstep. Two doctors attended Jesse. They were unable to remove the two bullets Jesse carried in his chest and lung.

The auction house clearly fashions its appeal to prospective bidders ignorant of facts or factual history.

The auction firm then spins another whopper, integrating the wishful thinking from Patrick Meguiar’s family stories. The fibbery has Jesse James casually meandering around town after the bank robbery, handing out his ambrotype. This he does in the place where he is so desperately hunted. The chicanery defies common sense. Why would a most hunted outlaw spread pictures of himself, risking that he might be identified?

Factual history records where Jesse James went. Jesse was sent to Paso Robles, California. There, his Uncle Drury Woodson James afforded Jesse the use of his ancient springs on the property of his El Paso de Robles Hotel. The ancient spring was long respected by local indigenous people for its healing properties.

When Eric F. James contacted Michael Addison, objecting to such gross distortions of factual history, Addison refused to be quoted. The due diligence Addison exercised consisted of corroborating Patrick Meguiar’s claimed genealogy using Find-a-Grave memorials. Find-a-Grave has been a notorious and flagrant abuser of the Jesse James family, allowing fraudulent memorials to remain published despite historical contradiction.

Addison produced laughter, however, when he placed so much emphasis on the ambrotype’s coloring. Reproducing blue eyes that Addison claims match the eyes of Jesse James, was all the evidence Addison needed apparently. Never mind the historical fact that color was not integral to an ambrotype image. Color was added as a post-production technique by a photographer or artist. If desired, an artist could have painted Jesse’s eyes purple.

Most significantly, Michael Addison confirmed his firm had not executed any scientific forensic analysis of Patrick’s claimed ambrotype.

The negligence of Addison & Sarova in failing to objectively assess the wishful thinking of Patrick Meguiar is not surprising at all. The firm wants a sale and will do whatever it takes to produce one.

However, now for the benefit of an auction bidding public, the James family will subject the claimed Jesse James ambrotype to the experienced commentary of the James family before the auction occurs. The James family also will provide to the public the commentary that first was provided to Patrick Meguiar, but which was ignored and disregarded. More rigorously, the family has retained a scientific forensic analyst to subject the auction artifact to an independent scrutiny. The James family will make the report of that independent inquiry and analysis publicly known and available.

“Whatever the determination of the resulting forensic report may be,” Eric F. James says, “authoritative information will be available to a prospective bidder, useful for making an informed decision. A bidder need not rely solely upon the wishful thinking of a consignor nor upon the sales promotion typical of auction house smoke and mirrors.”

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RELATED:

Forensic Science Impugns Claims of Jesse James Ambrotype

Authentic Jesse James family daguerrotype SOLD for $360

Bob Ford/Jesse James Photo Hoax

 

Mary Louise James Tags Early Buildings of Paso Robles

In 1947, the long-widowed Mary Louisa James Burns wrote to R. C. Heaton in Paso Robles, California. She sent him a history of her father, Drury Woodson James, a founder of the town. In 1905, Heaton had purchased the home Drury Woodson built for his family, the same home in which Mary Louise was born.  The residence was one of many buildings Drury Woodson James built as part of his El Paso de Robles Hotel, around which he built the town of Paso Robles. In one correspondence, written by her granddaughter Mary Joan Malley Beamis, Mary Louise James identifies and tags the early building of Paso Robles.

engraving-identification-1948

Mary Louise James Burns identifies landmark locations of the buildings of the El Paso de Robles Hotel, built by her father Drury Woodson James in Paso Robles, California. The locations are pictured in an engraving published by The Paso Robles Journal, Oct. 6, 1948.
Mary Louise James Burns identifies landmark locations of the buildings of the El Paso de Robles Hotel, built by her father Drury Woodson James in Paso Robles, California. The locations are pictured in an engraving published by The Paso Robles Journal, Oct. 6, 1948.

Joan Beamis transcribes the identification tags dictated by her grandmother Mary Louise James…

This is from a wood cut. I have the original copy.

  1. D. W. James Home – 1969 or 70. I was born in this house. A very good likeness considering.
  2. South Cottage where your “Nana” was married (long cottage).
  3. Original Hot Springs Hotel.
  4. Patsy Dunn store. (Ed.: D.W.J.’s father-in-law Patrick Dunn) My father moved this and we used it for storage for many years. It was torn down in 1960.
  5. The Ralston Cottage, or at least its location.
  6. Bath House – original – another was built here but burned in about 1910.
  7. Club House
  8. Tenth Street
  9. Old Stage Road, now Spring St.
  10. Tenth St.
  11. Park Water Station
  12. (does not appear)
  13. Stagecoach approaching
  14. Sunnyside Cottage, or Cottage A                                      

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r-c-heaton-ad-paso-robles-1948-red

LETTER FROM R. C. HEATON TO MARY LOUISE JAMES BURNS

Paso Robles, Cal.    April 20th, 1948

Mrs. E.F. Burns

Somersworth, N.H.

Dear Mrs. Burns: Thank you for the copy of your father’s history sent me by the Paso Robles chamber of commerce at your request. I have it filed away in the history of San Luis Obispo county.

Letter from R.C. Heaton to Mrs. Edward Frederick Burns (Mary Louise James), daughter of Drury Woodson James, founder of Paso Robles, California. References to Carolina F. "Carrie" James Maxwell and Helen "Hattie" James Bennett, sisters of Mary Louise James. "UncLe Jim Blackburn" refers to James Hanson Blackburn, brother of Daniel Drew "D.D." Blackburn, both partners of D.W. James. Heaton owned the El Paso de Robles Hotel property following its destruction by fire in 1910.
Letter from R.C. Heaton to Mrs. Edward Frederick Burns (Mary Louise James), daughter of Drury Woodson James, founder of Paso Robles, California. References to Carolina F. “Carrie” James Maxwell and Helen “Hattie” James Bennett, sisters of Mary Louise James. “UncLe Jim Blackburn” refers to James Hanson Blackburn, brother of Daniel Drew “D.D.” Blackburn, both partners of D.W. James.

Thinking that you would like to see a picture of the old home place as it was in your younger days I had some copies made and am enclosing one to you. I sent one to Carrie.

Please tell me when the house was built and when your folks moved in – also anything that you recall about the place.

Frank and Jesse James were out to California twice but I do not have the record of what years or where they stayed.

This would be interesting to some people.

The visit of Carrie and Hattie B.* last year with us is a happy remembrance.

Too bad that your father could not have ended his days peacefully in the grand old hotel** he had the faith and courage to build in those early days.

Too few people appreciate what he and that other active generous citizen – Uncle Jim Blackburn – done for this community and its old time residents.

Best wishes,

R.C. HEATON

* The references to Carrie and Hattie is to Mary Louise’s sisters Carolina F. James Maxwell and Helen James Bennett.

** The reference to the grand old hotel is to the larger resort hotel D. W. James built in the rear of the original pioneer stagecoach hotel. The Springs Hotel burned to the ground in 1910.

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In 2002, the friends and family of Frank & Jesse James reunited at the Paso Robles Inn to celebrate Drury Woodson James.