Tag Archives: Eric F. James

James-Younger Gang Conference – 2017

James-Younger Gang-2017 Conference logo              CONFERENCE OPEN TO ALL – SIGN UP BELOW

Georgetown College, Scott Co. KY
Georgetown College, Georgetown, Kentucky

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CONFERENCE PROGRAM

Annual Conference 2017 – National James-Younger Gang Inc. Georgetown, Kentucky

What Happened in Missouri began in Kentucky

Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017

4:00 pm   Check-In Comfort Suites Hotel

5:00-9:00  –  Conference Room, Comfort Suites

Reception with Author Fair & Book Signing – Featured Authors: Eddie Price, Eric F. James, Gerald Fisher, William A. Penn, James M. Pritchard, Kent Masterson Brown, Sue Kelly Ballard, Bryan Bush, Dan Pence, Ronald Wolford Blair, & Frank Kuron. Read more about these extraordinary authors and their books HERE.

7:00 pm   Eddie Price, author of Widder’s Landing, performing “What I Saw at Cane Ridge”

Friday, Sept 29, 2017

9-12:00: Conference Room, Comfort Suites

9-10:00:   Jesse James Identity Theft. Mark Bampton of Ampthill, England: Topic – A Forensic Analysis of the Bob Ford/Jesse James Photo Hoax

10:30-11:30:   Eric F. James, author of This Bloody Ground, Vol. II of Jesse James Soul Liberty; TopicThe story of Frank & Jesse’s grandfather John M. James from the American Revolution to revolution against banks

11:30-1:00:   Lunch

1:00-2:30:   Conference Room, Comfort Suites

  • Dr. James C. Klotter, Kentucky State Historian; author of The History and Culture of Central Kentucky, 1792-1852; Kentucky Justice, Southern Honor, and American Manhood. Topic:  Student Life at Georgetown College
  • Dr. Glen Taul; Topic – Georgetown’s Records of Rev. Robert Sallee James & Rev. John James

2:30-5:00:  CARPOOL TOUR

3:00-4:00:   Ward Hall

  • Ron Bryant, former research historian, Kentucky History Center. Sustaining the Southern Plantation Life of William Ward, Richard Mentor Johnson, & their Lightfoot, Chinn, & Pence Slave Families

4:15-4:45: Georgetown College, Ensor Library-James artifacts display

5:00:   Business Meeting:  Comfort Suites

Saturday, Sept 30, 2017

9:00-12:00: Conference Room, Comfort Suites

9:00-10:00:   Living Descendants of John Hunt Morgan’s Captured Rebels  Ben T. Calvert, a descendant of John Thomas Calvert of John Hunt Morgan’s men, discusses his family’s six generations in Stamping Ground, his descent from Anthony Lindsay and his recent restoration and preservation of Lindsay Cemetery. Joining him is Asa Castle, a descendant of David Hunt James, also captured with his brother Richard Skinner James, Morgan, and Calvert. Both Calvert & James are cousins of Frank & Jesse James. Joining Ben & Asa is Kathy Hall who will speak about her ancestor Louis Singleton Price. While captured, Price wrote letters to his family, which Kathy will share.

10:30-12:00:   Guerrilla Symposium: Topic – What Made a Civil War Guerrilla?

  • Gerald W. Fisher author of Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Kentucky
  • James M. Prichard, Civil War Guerrilla Collections at the Filson Historical Society, author of Embattled Capital, Frankfort During the Civil War
  • Dr. Thomas J. Sabetta of the University of Kentucky, currently writing two books, one about Capt. Delos T. “Yankee” Bligh who pursued the James Gang, and another on “Dynamite” Dick Mitchel, a rider with John Hunt Morgan, Basil Duke, Sue Munday, and Sam Berry.
  • Kent Masterson Brown Esq., author & film documentarian, The Civil War in Kentucky: Battle for the Bluegrass State, First editor Civil War magazine, former chairman of Gettysburg National Military Park Advisory Commission & Perryville Battlefield Commission

12-5:00:  BUS TOUR

7:00-10:00:   Banquet:  Wilshire’s Restaurant                                             Special Guest Speaker:                                                                                                         J. Mark Beamis, second great-grandson of Drury Woodson James      &  son of Joan Malley Beamis, author of Background of a Bandit.

J. Mark Beamis, son of Joan Beamis

Sunday, Oct 1, 2017 – Adjourned

Maps provided to self-tour the Bluegrass & additional historical sites

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 REGISTER NOW

ENTIRE CONFERENCE $89.00 – Includes Banquet dinner

THURSDAY ONLY $ 20.00

FRIDAY ONLY $ 30.00

SATURDAY ONLY $ 40.00 – Banquet excluded

DOWNLOAD REGISTRATION FORM HERE

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RESERVE HOTEL NOW

Comfort Suites-Georgetown KY
Comfort Suites Hotel, Georgetown, Kentucky

Discount room rates are available now at Comfort Suites in Georgetown, Kentucky.

The group rate for the James-Younger Gang is $85/night for two adults plus applicable taxes. $10 more for each additional person.  Amenities include a deluxe complimentary breakfast, indoor heated pool, fitness facility, guest laundry, & game room. Each suite has a micro fridge, coffee maker, hair dryer, alarm clock radio, iron & ironing board, sofa sleeper, and wired & wireless Internet.

CALL  (502) 868-9500 ext. 403 for James-Younger Gang reservations. The discount rate of $85/night will automatically apply after 8 rooms are booked. Prior to 8 rooms booked, a rate of $100/night applies. Reserve early to insure availability. Only 20 rooms have been set aside. The discount rate expires August 31, 2017. Click HERE for general hotel information.

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 CRAVING SOME SWAG ?

The official tee shirt of the James-Younger Gang and Family conference is available now.

Chose from 9 colors in sizes small to 6X.

Order by July 1 for July 15th delivery.

ORDER HERE

 

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RELATED:   Take a PREVIEW TOUR now with Dan Pence, Tom Nall, & Eric F. James as they make final conference arrangements.

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History Authors to Meet James-Younger Gang

James-Younger Gang-2017 Conference logo

A lineup of impressive book and history authors will welcome registrants to the annual 2017 Conference of the James-Younger Gang & family reunion.

The selected authors will focus on the conference theme, “What happened in Missouri began in Kentucky.”

Guerrilla raids and warfare, John Hunt Morgan, social culture that led to war…all vie with personal history written by family descendants about ancestors. These authors bring a unique perspective to the history of the James-Younger Gang and their families that only is found in a meeting like this.

FAMILY PERSPECTIVE AUTHORS

 

James-Younger Gang History Authors

SUE KELLY BALLARD

In My Blessed, Wretched Life, Rebecca Boone’s Story, Sue Kelly Ballard writes a captivating, gut-wrenching, story about Daniel Boone’s wife, Rebecca Ann Bryant. Rebecca and Daniel Boone are 5th great-grandparents of the descendants of Jesse James Jr. and Stella McGowan.

“Ballard captures every mood and moment of Rebecca’s life in the backwoods and on the frontier with accuracy and passion, with authenticity and beauty, and at a pace that keeps the reader diving headlong into each new page eager to swallow up what happens next… it takes a skilled frontier woman…to keep everyone and everything moving along together.”

Born in Kentucky, Sue Kelly Ballard is a Board Director of the Boone Society and co-edits the Society’s Compass newsletter. A member of the Filson Historical Society and DAR, she recently received the DAR Award for Women in the Arts. Ballard is an “army brat,” having lived in several states and overseas. Recently, she retired as a professor emerita of chemistry.

James-Younger Gang History Authors

ERIC F. JAMES

In This Bloody Ground, Eric F. James writes a leading-edge history about John M. James, the grandfather of Frank and Jesse. In the epic style of his award winning Jesse James Soul Liberty quintet, Eric draws upon a cornucopia of unexplored sources to reveal for the first time an historical record too long ignored.

This Bloody Ground steers the reader deeply into the Kentucky wilderness with John M. James and his self-exiled bunch of rebel Baptist preachers, from John’s first meeting with Daniel Boone through the resistance and trials of the American Revolution. Facing persistent Indian raids and certain death on this unforgiving frontier, John nearly loses his family. Joined by the families of Lindsay, Cole, Pence, Nalle, Scholl, Hite, Vardeman and others, all bind to one another for self-survival and self-rule. Conspirators threaten and abound.  The choice is dire. John’s selection engulfs him. Stay under a repressive Virginia, or join Kentucky to Spain. With statehood overriding, John rises as a political founder and legislative representative. But, ruin remains his destiny. Under threat of revelation, John retreats to Rogue’s Harbor (later called Logan County) to live in anonymity and a new family of his own. Facing death, John M. James still yearns for more revolution. This time, against banks.

Eric writes and publishes Stray Leaves, the official website and blog for the family of Frank & Jesse James. Volume I of his quintet was recipient of the Milton F. Perry Award.

James-Younger Gang History Authors

DAN PENCE

In I Knew Frank, I Wish I knew Jesse, and in Guerrillas and Other Curiosities, Dan Pence edits and compiles a unique personal historical record harvested by his grandfather, the author Samuel Anderson Pence. As an inveterate collector of historical minutia and as a personal friend of many among the Jesse James community, S.A. Pence presents a story with infill information that every historian writing on this subject wishes he knew.

Dan Pence is the present president of the James-Younger Gang.

James-Younger Gang History Authors

EDDIE PRICE

In Widder’s Landing, Eddie Price writes a story of life, love and survival set against the rugged Kentucky frontier. Craig Ridgeway, a 21-year old gunsmith from Pennsylvania, rides a flatboat down the Ohio River to Kentucky to try his hand at farming. Through an accidental association with a notorious widow (the past proprietor of a liquor vault and prostitution den), he inherits a patch of rich bottomland, embraces a nearby family, and falls in love with the abandoned wife of a violent outlaw. Overcoming inexperience and hardships, Craig builds a promising new life, learning how to raise corn, tobacco and hemp. Inspired by the “Widder’s” recipe, he and his wife Mary manufacture bourbon whiskey, which he markets profitably in New Orleans. A new steamboat embarks on its first journey down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, ushering in a new economic era.

In a way, Ridgeway’s journey mirrors the arrival of Anthony Lindsay and his family. Lindsay’s young son saw only desperation in the wilderness ahead. If he did not marry a girl from the Quissenberry family on their flatboat, he never would find a wife in the wilds or have a family of his own.

Eddie’s book Widder’s Landing received the Gold medal for “Best Historical Fiction” in the 2013 Reader’s Favorite Awards. In 2015, he received the National Literary Habitat Award for “Best Historical Fiction.” Aside from being an award winning author, Eddie Price is a speaker for the Kentucky Humanities Council Speakers Bureau. His topics cover a variety of subjects, most concerning the era up to and including 1812. Soon, Eddie’s next book will be published. In An Unlikely Trio, Eddie writes about the 1913 Kentucky Derby when a thoroughbred, jockey, and breeder-trainer made racing history. In Chautauqua presentations, sponsored by the Kentucky Humanities Council, Eddie portrays jockey Roscoe Goose. For more about Eddie Price see his website.
WARFARE PERSPECTIVE AUTHORS

 

James-Younger Gang History Authors

FRANK KURON

In Thus Fell Tecumseh, Frank Kuron chronicles the battles and hardships of forces on both sides of the early-American conflict of 1812. Specifically, he targets the eighteen month period leading up to the Battle of the Thames in October of 1813 when the great Shawnee leader Tecumseh was killed. Over 160 primary accounts from diaries, newspapers, and letters of troops involved at the Thames provide the reader with the opportunity to solve the mystery now over 200 years old. How and by whose hand was Tecumseh slain? Was it Col. William Whitley, the frontier neighbor of John M. James at Crab Orchard, who killed Tecumseh?  Or, was it Richard Mentor Johnson of Ward Hall?

Frank Kuron is a lifelong resident of Toledo, Ohio. He has written history newspaper columns about the War of 1812 for the Toledo Free Press. Frank writes in a personal and engaging style, bringing to light lesser-known people, events, and the aftermaths of the war. He now is researching material for his next book about the frontier life of early America. As a board member of the Fallen Timbers Battlefield Preservation Commission, Frank encourages public awareness of this key, yet nearly forgotten, American & Native American confrontation.

James-Younger Gang History Authors

GERALD W. FISCHER

About Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Kentucky, Gerald W. Fischer writes, “Usually when people think about guerrilla activity during the Civil War, the border conflicts between Kansas and Missouri come to mind, enhanced by tales of Quantrill’s Raiders and Bloody Bill Anderson preying upon innocent townsfolk and civilians. However, guerrilla forces roamed throughout the border states and beyond throughout the entire war. Similar tales can be found in Kentucky, the Virginias, and other areas at a time when loyalties could be found for both North and South. This is especially true for the Heartland of Kentucky…Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Kentucky explores the real guerrilla fighters of the region, their exploits and their eventual demise, along with some of the infamous lawmen and soldiers assigned to bring them to justice.”

Gerald also has authored Battletown Witch, and co-written the book Meade County Families and History.  He blogs for the Meade County Area Chamber of Commerce, and writes a weekly history feature for the Meade County Messenger.  He is a regular contributor to the Kentucky Explorer magazine. Born in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Gerald studied history, archeology and anthropology at the University of Louisville, earning two undergraduate degrees in history and anthropology.  Graduating with honors from Spalding University with an M.A. in teaching, Gerald taught school in Florida and Kentucky.

James-Younger Gang History Authors

WILLIAM A. PENN

In Kentucky Rebel Town, William A. Penn examines Cynthiana, “that infernal hole of rebellion” where John Hunt Morgan’s last Kentucky raid ended calamitously. With Morgan went the Confederacy’s best chance, as Morgan himself opined, “to hold Kentucky for months.”  Penn probes the divided loyalties and tense conflicts that wracked the picturesque Bluegrass town during four years of upheaval. Penn traces the local confrontations between Unionists and Rebels with aplomb, giving close attention to the shifting allegiances and fortunes of leading community figures.  Penn concludes that a majority of Cynthiana’s white citizens maintained their rebel sympathies throughout the war and far into its aftermath.

Penn examines topics ranging from enlistment and conscription to early confrontations over federal encampments around Cynthiana. Petty jealousies and personal rivalries animate its central characters as much as grandiose claims to Southern honor or devotion to the Union. Penn is at pains “to explore the effects of the war” on all local residents. Drawing from an impressive amount of letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, and federal records, Penn highlights the daily physical and psychological struggles that those on the home front endured and the shattering personal losses that were all too common during wartime.

William A. Penn, editor of the Harrison Heritage News, has published articles in Northern Kentucky Heritage and the Ohio Genealogical Society Quarterly. He is a board member of the Historic Midway Museum, and operates its store in Midway, Kentucky.

James-Younger Gang History Authors

JAMES M. PRICHARD

Reviewers say, Embattled Capital is a must-read for students of the conflict seeking an intimate look at how the war affected life in a slave-holding border-state. The book shows that the citizens of Frankfort, Kentucky experienced a much different war. Allegiance was fluid and could change depending on who maintained power. The book’s strength lies in the author’s ability to vividly convey the city’s wartime experiences through the excellent use of primary sources.  His skill tells the story of Frankfort’s Civil War and postwar story through the eyes of the local community.

James M. Prichard is the former Research Room Supervisor at the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. Presently, he works in the Special Collections Department of the Filson Historical Society. He is a regular contributor to Civil War Times, North and South, and True West magazines. His essays have appeared in the Kentucky Encyclopedia, The Encyclopedia of Louisville, Biographical Dictionary of the Union, Heidler’s Encyclopedia of the Civil War, The Worl Encyclopedia of Slavery, Confederate Generals in the Western Theater, Kentuckians in Gray, and Virginia at War: 1863.

James-Younger Gang History Authors

RONALD WOLFORD BLAIR

Wild Wolf, The Great Civil War Rivalry is the Story of Col. Frank Wolford, the celebrated Civil War cavalier and rival of Confederate raider John Hunt Morgan. Written by Wolford’s second great-nephew, Ronald Wolford Blair, the book discusses in detail Wolford’s heroic leadership in part of more than 300 battles and skirmishes and his notable rivalry with Morgan’s Raiders during which Wolford was wounded seven times. Additional details about Wolford’s political career and personal life are reviewed, plus little-known facts about his staunch opposition and policy dispute with President Abraham Lincoln over the use of black soldiers in the Union forces.

Ronald Wolford Blair is a contributing author of the book, Kentucky’s Civil War: 1861-1865, which won a Governor’s Award, as well as the book, Kentucky Rising, written by his friends, Dr. James A. Ramage and Dr. Andrea Watkins. Ron has written for as the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Lexington Herald-Leader. He is a member of the Civil War Trust for the preservation of Civil War Battlefields. Ron also is a member of several Civil War roundtable organizations, the Kentucky Historical Society, Friends of Henry Clay, and Morgan’s Men Association, among other organizations.

What Happened in Missouri began in Kentucky

RELATED

Program for the Conference and Reunion

Registration to Attend

Ancestral Trails Historical Society

The Ancestral Trails Historical Society  of Hardin County, Kentucky will host Eric F. James, the family historian and genealogist for the family of Frank & Jesse James. The nationally known genealogist will present his unique genealogical research techniques which now defines the lost history and genealogy of the Jesse James family following the assassination of Jesse James.

Hardin County Public Library
Hardin County Public Library, Elizabethtown, Kentucky

The speaker also will present This Bloody Ground the second volume of the James family’s Jesse James Soul Liberty family history quintet. Through thirty years of genealogy research,  the James family has compiled so much previously unknown history that one book alone is not enough to explain why the James family is such a uniquely American family. In their family history, the James family itself explains what no historian ever has been able to capture – why Jesse James endures as a uniquely American icon.

Both of the author’s two volumes will be available for purchase, personally autographed by the author.

Louisville Genealogical Society – Family History Seminar & Book Fair

Genealogist Eric F. James
Genealogist Eric F. James at the Louisville Genealogical Society Book Fair, 2014

For a second time, the Louisville Genealogical Society will host Jesse James family historian and genealogist, Eric F. James, at its family history seminar and book fair.

Mr. James recently appeared before the Society to speak about his book, Jesse James Soul Liberty. He reported on the unique research methods the author used to discover and report long lost genealogy of the Jesse James.

Jerry Cole and his acnestors
Eric F. James meets Jerry Cole & his Cole ancestors, John Gano Cole & Jesse Richard Cole,

The author also recently wrote about the  formerly unknown and unrecognized kinship which Louisville’s most famous citizen, Muhammad Ali, shares with the Jesse James family. “The Heavyweight Ancestry of Muhammad Ali” revealed the famed boxer’s unusual and unique kinship that neither Ali or his family had known before.

Beargrass Christian Church
Beargrass Christian Church, 4100 Shelbyville Road, St. Matthews, KY 40207

Keynote speakers at this year’s seminar are Pam Boyer Sayre and Richard G. Sayre.  Their lecture topics include the following:

Investigating Your Ancestors

Everyone loves a good mystery, but not when the mystery is, “Who is my great – grandfather?” or “Where did he come from? He just showed up here.” Genealogists can use common techniques employed by criminal investigators to help solve the mysteries of lineage.
One expert defines a criminal investigation as “a thorough, objective search for truthful information,” and that should also describe a genealogist’s quest for the truth about his or her ancestors. Since every case and every family is different, there are no fixed rules for an investigation. However, a good family history researcher, like a good criminal investigator, proceeds in a systematic, organized way, analyzing and evaluating all the evidence, and building a truthful case. Sometimes there is not enough evidence to prove a case, and both the investigator and the family historian must be able to move on to another case or family line. This lecture points out criminal investigation techniques that can be employed by genealogists to effectively search for and identify ancestors, record evidence , analyze and draw accurate conclusions, and write comprehensive but concise reports.
Bounty Land Applications – Federal & Military
Bounty lands were awarded by the federal government from 1788 to 1855 to encourage and reward service in the military. Nine individual states (Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia) also awarded land as part of Revolutionary War compensation. Today more and more of these resources are available online and many records can be easily copied onto disk or digitized by the National Archives.
Mapping for Genealogists
If you want to learn practical applications for a variety of mapping tools (both online and software programs), this is the session for you. Learn about geography, from platting an individual piece of land, to identifying its location in a given area, to mapping an entire community. Learn how to identify the correct courthouse in a given era for the records you need, and how topographical maps can provide clues to ancestors’ occupations
Military Manuscript Collections
For our purposes manuscript collections refer to the unpublished (often handwritten) documents of the government, organizational records, and personal papers of both officials and private individuals. The range extends from the extensive correspondence files of the War Department to the diaries of individual soldiers and sailors. The genealogical applications are endless. These documents are many times the only original record or source of an event and frequently offer primary information about an event or fact. Records of birth, marriage, and death may be buried in these records and almost always these documents add context and substance to our ancestor’s lives.
General Admission Classes include:
Fundamentals of Kentucky Land Patents
Presented by: Kandie Adkinson
Finding Living Relatives
Presented by: Deborah Campisano
Researching Irish Ancestors
Presented by: T. Joseph Hardesty, MLS, PLCGS
Finding One’s Way:  Uncharted Research
Presented by: Glen Conner
Jefferson County Cemeteries
Presented by: Jack Koppel and Steve Wiser
Digital Periodical Research – PERSI
Presented by: Mel Arnold
Found the Deed – Where’s the Property?
Presented by: Susan and Bill Snyder
Getting Acquainted with AncestryDNA
Presented by: Debra Renard
GENERAL PUBLIC IS WELCOME

 

Southern Kentucky Pastfinders – Lecture & Book Signing

Southern  Kentucky Pastfinders will host author and historian Eric F. James at 6 pm CDT on Saturday, April 16th, 2016 at the Old Logan County Courthouse in Russellville, Kentucky.

Old Logan County Courthouse-Russellville KY
Old Logan County Courthouse, Russellvile, Kentucky

For the first time in history, the family of Frank & Jesse James will appear in court in Russellville, Kentucky to answer for the infamous robbery of the Russellville Bank on March 20, 1868. In the robbery, the cashier Nimrod Long was shot and almost killed.

Eric F. JamesAppearing in the courtroom of the Old Logan County Courthouse will be Eric F. James, the James family’s historian and genealogist who represents the Jesse James family. Standing before a grand jury, comprising of residents of Russellville and Logan County, Mr. James will plead the family’s case for why the robbery occurred and why it may have been necessary.

Justice never has tried anyone for the crime. It is widely affirmed that the James Gang were the perpetrators, although historians argue if Frank or Jesse James actually were present.

Book-Jesse James Soul LibertyMr. James is the publisher of the James family’s official website and blog, Stray Leaves and Leaves of Gas. The first volume of his epic, five-volume history of the Jesse James family, Jesse James Soul Liberty, won the distinguished Milton F. Perry Award for groundbreaking historical research and reporting. In recent years, Mr. James executed the exhumation of Jesse James’ twin children in Waverly, Tennessee. They were reinterred with their parents in Kearney, Missouri, per the wishes of their mother Zee Mimms-James. Mr. James will be available to personally sign copies of his book.

The author recently appeared at the Logan County Tobacco Festival in October of 2015. David Guion, president of the Southern Kentucky Pastfinders, seized the opportunity to have the  Jesse James family historian return to Russellville to talk about the James family in depth.

Russellville Bank
Russellville Bank

Russellville is home to the Russellville Bank which the James Gang held up on March 20, 1868. In the robbery, bank cashier Nimrod Long was shot. In his talk, Mr. James will reveal the long-standing acquaintanceship of the James and Long families, dating back to the time of the American Revolution. The author also will offer the James family’s assessment of why Nimrod Long was almost murdered.

Book Review – Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol.I

BOOK REVIEW:  Jesse James, Soul Liberty. Volume I. By Eric F. James. Published by Cashel Cadence House, Danville KY. 2012. 411 pages, $36.95, reviewed by Bobbi King of Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter, June 23, 2013. Reprinted here by permission.

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Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter-Dick Eastman

             “Mr. James has conquered the Everest                             of writing a family history genealogy book                                         that is interesting enough                                 for the rest of us to want to read.”

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Eric F. James was asked to take on the task of researching and writing the story of the James family, specifically the many members of the family who merited fair consideration distinct from the myth and legend of the notorious outlaw brothers Frank and Jesse.

Mr. James succeeds in acquainting us with a family of characters who do deserve to be featured apart from the tarnished brothers. The book’s subtitle, “Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence” offers a not-so-subtle hint on the family’s take on their historical connection. Apparently, the more well-informed members of the family vigorously sought to put the kibosh on any kinship to Frank and Jesse James when naïve queries arose.

Mr. James introduces the family:

“In the emerging democracy of colonial Virginia, the early Kentucky frontier, and throughout the American heartland, the James were renowned as community builders, public office holders, ministers of faith, financiers, educators, writers, and poets. From these roots shot Frank and Jesse James.

“Following the Civil War, Frank and Jesse James eclipsed the family’s destiny. War may have splintered the family ideologically, but Frank and Jesse James disjoined the family’s compass and direction, casting a longer and darker shadow on the James family, like no other.

“Like their royal ancestors of old when beset by crisis, the James family turned suspicious and distrustful of its own. The larger James family kept apart from one another, holding in muted reverence what relic of itself that it could. The line of Frank and Jesse James was left isolated, unsupported and abandoned.”

Goaded by family in-laws, the Jesse James family withdrew into a citadel of its own. Their ostracism was enforced by every other family line of the James.

Bobbi king
Bobbi King

Mr. James’ book locates the various families’ residences, describes their personal occupations, details relationships and kinship to one another (a six-generation descendant chart is included), chronicles their military service, catalogs their movements about the regions, and quotes a good deal of material from their letters and journals, which always evokes a personality, a spirit, a temperament.

Mr. James’ research appears to be extensive across a wide variety of sources, with references at the end of the book that contain explanatory tidbits adding even more to the story. The photographs and illustrations, even those blurred by age and decomposition, are vivid and well produced, summoning up their subjects and places.

Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I
Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence, by Eric F. James

Mr. James, along with Judge James R. Ross, a great-grandson of Jesse James, is a co-founder of the James Preservation Trust. He writes and publishes on the official website of the James family, and is without a doubt the family cheerleader.

His writing is strong, perhaps a bit hyperbolic for my taste, but this is a good book for fans of Western history who want to know the real story. His research supports a claim to authenticity, and his writing keeps us reading.

Mr. James has conquered the Everest of writing a family history genealogy book that is interesting enough for the rest of us to want to read.