Thanks to Elizabeth Lee “Libby” James-Brown, there are new photos to add to the family album of Libby’s 2nd great-grandfather Edward Perry James and his wife Elizabeth Langford. Libby’s 1st great-grandfather is Jack Oliver James, the husband of Dimple Hite.
This is the family portrait of the Edward Perry James family, with some of his children. Formerly, this was the only known image of Edward Perry James and his family, when they resided in the stone residence built by Perry’s father Rev. Joseph Martin James in Shopville, Kentucky. Perry was born in the stone house. At a later date, Perry would remove his family to Berea, Kentucky, where he built them a two-story home in a modest Victorian fashion.
To this we can now add the following portrait photos, one done earlier in their lives of Perry and his wife Elizabeth, and the other later.
From the Flat Lick Baptist Church, we also have this 1899 photo, celebrating the church’s first 100 years. In his suspenders, Edward Perry James is front and center with Elizabeth and their three daughters standing behind.
David Ralph James, and his son Christopher David James, know one thing for certain about their DNA. They don’t possess the Y-chromosome DNA proven to be that of their paternal James ancestors.
The problem rests with David’s great grandmother, Mary Ellen James, who was born in 1856. She also is Sam Walton’s grandmother. As most of America knows, Sam Walton founded Walmart.
When Mary Ellen James left the home of her father Reverend Daniel Field James in Pulaski County, Kentucky, she took her only child with her. William Otho James was four years old when a history of Fayette County, Kentucky, reported in 1882 that his mother was unmarried and living in Missouri.
Unknown is whether or not Mary Ellen James left her Kentucky home in disgrace. No marriage record can be found for her. Nor can any record be found to identify the father of Will Otho James. Mary Ellen made sure her son bore her own name of James.
Leaving home, Mary Ellen took Will Otho first to Joplin, Missouri. Shortly after the report in Kentucky appeared, she then moved to Johnson County, Kansas, east of Kansas City and Lee’s Summit. There Mary Ellen married Reuben Moore Lawrence. He, too, had been born in Pulaski County, two years before she was. Together, the couple then moved to Corbin, Kansas, south of Wichita, where they started a family.
After Mary Ellen bore Reuben Moore Lawrence the second of their four children, Will Otho James struck out for Indian Territory. It was 1892. He was only fourteen. He’d be twenty-one before Sam Walton’s mother, Nancy Lee Lawrence was born. It would be almost a decade before Will Otho married and started a family himself.
Will Otho and his family lived in Kingfisher and Bartlesville, Oklahoma. When his children were grown, he settled in Norman. He was a charter member of the Assembly of God church. He operated a hotel, and the Log Cabin Restaurant, where he became a local celebrity among school kids who called him Dad.
David Ralph James is the grandson of Will Otho James. His aunts and uncles visited occasionally with the Lawrence family, and knew Sam Walton personally.
Knowing his DNA is not that of his James ancestry, David and his son Chris James cannot help but wonder if their DNA isn’t that of the Lawrence family, or even that of Sam Walton’s father, Thomas Gibson Walton.
ANCESTRY OF SAM WALTON
Samuel Moore Walton, aka Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, is a great grandson of Mary Ellen James. His pedigree is as follows:
Reuben Moore Lawrence Sr. and Rebecca Moore
. Reuben Moore Lawrence Jr. and Mary Ellen James
.. Thomas Gibson Walton and Nance Lee Lawrence
… Samuel Moore Walton
IS THE FATHER OF THIS LAWRENCE MAN THE UNKNOWN PARTNER OF MARY ELLEN JAMES ?
Robert H. Lawrence shares a physical resemblance with Will Otho James, as well as with Will’s sons Otho Junior and Vern Reuben James, his nephew David Ralph James, and grandson Christoper James. Like theirs, his life has its own mysteries.
Sometime between 1886 and 1890, Lawrence killed a person in a family feud. He was convicted and sent to jail. Within a year, he escaped. He changed his name to Robert Edward Goff and fled to Oklahoma Indian Territory, where many migrants from Pulaski County, Kentucky had settled. He married, settled in Sapulpa, had six children who carried the Goff surname, after which he mysteriously died.
The grandparents of Robert H. Lawrence are Reuben Moore Lawrence Sr. and Rebecca Moore, the same as the great grandparents of Sam Walton. William T. Lawrence, who may be Mary Ellen James’ mystery man, is his father.
W. T. Lawrence was eighteen years older than Mary Ellen James. He had served the Confederacy in the Civil War. Right before the war started, W. T. married Almira Griffin, a very distant cousin of the James. When Almira died around 1884, W. T. promptly remarried to Elvira Cash by whom he had two more children, Gopher and Iona. A third child is known to have been born to W. T. Lawrence, but that child has never been able to be documented. The only information about the mystery child that the descendants of W. T. Lawrence know is that the child bore the name James.
For the Goff descendants of William T. Lawrence, knowing the DNA of the Lawrence family would be as helpful to them as it would be to the family of David Ralph and Christopher James.
The James Preservation Trust has received the contribution of the obituary of Dr. John R. James, an uncle of Frank and Jesse James.
For over a hundred years the obituary lay inside the family bible of Jesse Edward Smith, Dr. James’ grandson. Upon the death of Jesse Edwards Smith, the bible was passed to his daughter Agnes. Although Agnes married, she bore no children. Agnes left the bible to her favorite nephew Jesse Deets Smith.
The James Preservation Trust extends its gratitude to Jesse Deets Smith and his cousin Sandy Kassen for this contribution. Both are descendants of Dr. John R. James, an uncle of Frank and Jesse James.
Doctor John. R. James was born in Logan County, near Russellville, Kentucky, February 5th, 1815, and fell on sleep October 25th, 1887, at Carthage, Missouri, aged seventy-two years, eight months, and twenty days. He was the son of Rev. John James, who was noted for his piety and fidelity in the early history of Kentucky.
The subject of this sketch was converted at Red Oak Grove Church, in Logan County, October 1832, in a revival meeting conducted by Reverend Mr. Stephens. and joined the Methodist Church at once. His conversion took place in the time of the great revival which spread over that, part of the State—he was soundly and genuinely converted. Through his Christian life of about fifty-five years, he continued to evidence the spirit of the Master, and to adorn the doctrine of Christ. During all this time he brought not a reproach upon the religion he professed, never faltering nor deviating from the path of duty; always cheerfully supporting the institutions of the church he loved so well. As he said to me, “I’ve stood by the Southern Methodist Church through all her history.”
He was happily married to Miss Amanda Williams, of Logan county, in 1836; she died in 1871. This union was blessed with three children, John. F., Robert. W., and Sue P., (now Mrs. Smith). He was again married in 1872, to Mrs. Bradley, who died in 1884.
Bro. James now felt that the charm of earth was broken, so he was only awaiting the summons. Two brothers and one sister were with him when called to go— Reverend William and Mr. T. M. James, and Mrs. Elizabeth West; also his immediate family, who did all that loving hands could do. I was with him before the end came and talked with him freely about the crisis. “I am willing and prepared to go.” For fifty years I’ve been preparing for this event.” Without fear he passed to the land of rest.
J. H. Todd
CARTHAGE BANNER Weekly Edition
published October 27, 1887
DR. JOHN R. JAMES
Dr. J. R. James died this morning at five o’clock at the residence of his son-in-law, J. W. Smith, corner of Chestnut Avenue and Clinton street. The deceased was almost a total stranger in this city, having come here from Anthony, Kansas the 7th of last month with his son, R. W. James, who is now in the harness and buggy business on North Main Street. He was over seventy-two years of age and died from a disease of many years standing. His two brothers and a sister, Rev. Wm. H. James, T. M. James, Mrs. Elizabeth West, all of Kansas City, arrived last evening and were present at the time of his death. The funeral will take place tomorrow at 10 a.m. from the South Methodist Church, Rev. J. W. Todd preaching the sermon. The funeral services will be in charge of the Masonic order of this city and the remains will be interred in Park Cemetery.
John M. James (1751-1823) was one of the founders of Flat Lick Baptist Church, located outside Shopville in Pulaski County, Kentucky. Most of the his fellow founders were rebel preachers like himself, who had been persecuted for preaching without a license. They made their exodus from Virginia in 1781 in a Traveling Church, bound for the Shawnee temple of New Canaan, called the Cain-tu-kee. John provided the land upon which the original log church was built in 1799.
The first pastor at Flat Lick was James Fears, followed by Stephen Collier. Then came John’s “talented, but erratic” son, Joseph Martin James (1791-1848), who was expelled from the church and defrocked for his alcoholism and bigamous marriage with a parishioner. Joe’s brother-in-law, Robert McAlister (1782-1851) assumed Joe’s role as pastor. Robert was followed by Joe’s son, John James (1816-1902). John graduated Georgetown College with his cousin Reverend Robert Sallee James, the father of Frank & Jesse James.
This image of the Flat Lick congregation was taken in 1899, on the 100th anniversary of Flat Lick Church. Kneeling center, in his white shirt and suspenders, is another son of Joseph Martin James, Edward Perry James (1847-1931).
The original register of Flat Lick Church remains preserved today in the church’s archives. Among those listed here appears Martha James and Rachel McAlister, Pastor Robert McAlister’s wife. Other James family members populate the register, including one of the James family’s enslaved persons, Nutty James. The enslaved were an integral part of Flat Lick’s congregation. While the men and women sat on the ground floor level opposite one another, the enslaved stood in the loft.
This is another photo taken on the 100th anniversary. The original log structure was replaced in the late 1840s, when Joseph Martin James was pastor. Ransom Carson supervised the enslaved who built the new church of stone. At the same time, Reverend Joe had Ransom and the enslaved build Joe a stone residence, which Joe then occupied on the knoll above his store house at Dahl Road and Flat Lick Creek. Some time later, a portion of the church’s stone wall collapsed during a fire. The congregation immediately fully restored the church.
This picture of Flat Lick’s congregation was taken in 1999, following ceremonies celebrating Flat Lick’s 200th Anniversary. On that day, the congregation heard from a descendant of John M. James. John’s 4th great grandson Eric James recounted the James family’s historical association with the Church, as Eric stood at the very lectern from which his ancestors preached 200 years ago.
From the large number of churches that were spawned throughout central Kentucky, and as far as Tennessee, Missouri, and Texas, from this church, Flat Lick gained a reputation for being a Mother Church.
Flat Lick Baptist Church proceeds into the 21st century, fully functioning and operational.
To commemorate the 200th Anniversary of Flat Lick Baptist Church, this book was published, documenting the church’s history. Copies may be purchased by writing directly to the church.
Official website for the family of Frank & Jesse James – Living lives, telling the story. Knowing self.
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