Tag Archives: family reunion

The Sift – May 14, 2018

The Sift is a periodic omnibus of significant, but smaller, ingredients of history, genealogy, and news, received behind the scenes & sifted daily at Stray Leaves.

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Daniel Lewis James Movie “The Great Dictator” Banned by Thailand’s Ruling Junta

Blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter Daniel Lewis James and first cousin of Jesse & Frank James, still makes news in the 21st century. Read “Thailand’s Junta Got Charlie Chaplin’s ‘The Great Dictator’ Blocked From YouTube.”

Dan James gave Charlie Chaplin the unique American verbiage the British actor required when Dan co-wrote The Great Dictator with Chaplin. His story is featured in the chapter “All For the Underdog” in Volume I of Jesse James Soul Liberty.

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Farewell Barbara Pierce Bush – James In-Law

Each time I must enter the passing of another James family member into the master genealogy database for Stray Leaves, I do so with a measure of sadness. On rare occasion, such as in recent minutes, I do so with difficulty.

Barbara Pierce Bush was not of James blood. She is an in-law to her Bush family who is our blood. Like many in-laws of our family, Barbara Bush was a stellar influence whose impact never will be under-measured but celebrated instead.

For those among our family who found themselves at odds with Bush politics, none that I know ever found themselves at odds with the political understanding and insights that Barbara provided. She connected the dots with effective savvy and sometimes necessary glue.

Barbara Bush is a unique American treasure. Prayers will be left for those she left behind. For each tear, there will be a smile, followed by the music of laughter. She is a person well worth remembering and celebrating.

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Phillip K. Smith III Exhibits in Milan

Phillip K. Smith III
Phillip K. Smith III, Artist

Phillip J. Smith III has a new installation, “Open Sky,” in Milan, Italy.

Smith denies he is a third great-grandson of Susan Prudence James & John Wesley Smith, despite bearing all the customary genetic physical features of James descendants, including the telltale ear formation.

Smith is not the first to deny his kinship. Nor will he probably be the last. His art is rather ironic since it is constructed around the use of mirrors and reflective imagery. On the other hand, outside of Stray Leaves research into Smith’s ancestry, his art may be his only reflection of his self-constructed identity.

Open Sky
Open Sky by Phillip K. Smith III, Milan Italy, 2018

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Think You’re Anglo-Saxon?

Think you are Anglo-Saxon? Read this story, then check your DNA & your knowledge of archeology.

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Beware Minnesota Historical Society & Good Riddance as Executive Director of Kentucky Historical Society Departs 

Kent Whitworth-Minnesota Historical Society
Kent Whitworth

 

BEWARE MINNESOTA!!!

Former Executive-Director Kent Whitworth is the fool who bamboozled the Board of Directors of the Kentucky Historical Society into filing a lawsuit against its own members! He charged me and other members with trying to create a shadow government. Really! After filing his frivolous lawsuit, he then failed to prosecute it.

God only knows what nonsense he has in mind at the Minnesota Historical Society for the history of the Younger brothers and the James Gang.

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Query from Logan County (KY) Public Library

This week Mark Griffin queried me. Mark is the reference specialist at the Logan County Public Library in Russellville, Kentucky. Mark questioned, “Have you come across any information saying Gov. Thomas Crittenden of Missouri ever met with Gov. Luke Blackburn of Kentucky in Louisville to discuss the matter of Jesse James?”
My answer was as follows:

“I don’t know of any specific meeting, however, the following is known. Thomas T. Crittenden was a close ally and supporter of the James family, the family relationship stretching back at least a couple of generations and closer, following the killing of Jesse James. Crittenden had put out the $10,000 reward for Jesse’s capture, not for his murder.

Luke Pryor Blackburn
The wicked Dr. Luke Pryor Blackburn

“Dr. Luke Pryor Blackburn, born in Woodford County, Kentucky, contained two epidemics in Natchez, Mississippi in 1848 and in1854, one of yellow fever and another pf cholera. He also was a physician to Gen. John Anthony Quitman. Next to Quitman’s plantation on St. Catherine St. was the Forks of the Road slave market, operated by three brothers of the James family – Thomas Green, David Daniel, & John Duke James. The father of the James brothers, Thomas James, was a charge d’affaires to the Spanish government. Later he retired to Hyde’s Landing in Nashville, Tennessee where Frank and Jesse visited and lived periodically. Blackburn and the James surely would have known one another in this period.

“During the Civil War, Blackburn served with Sterling Price together with A.J. James.  A.J. was attorney general under Gov. Beriah Magoffin when Magoffin refused to send four regiments to Lincoln for the war. During the war, Magoffin’s descendants are a first cousin of Blackburn.  A.J. James served under Preston Leslie, and it is said under Gen. Joseph Orville “Jo” Shelby, who is Blackburn’s nephew. After the war, James would become Secretary of State. In retirement, A.J. James was president of the Farmers Bank of Frankfort, with Blackburn’s cousin Edmund Haynes Taylor on its Board of Directors.

Andrew Jackson "A.J." James from The Sift at Stray Leaves
A.J. James

“In the Civil War period, Blackburn shipped infected clothing to the North and to Lincoln, in particular, intending to kill him. Months after the war ended, Quantrill and the James brothers rode through Kentucky en route to Washington. It is said they intended to assassinate Lincoln. They were halted by Maj. James Bridgewater. Quantrill was killed. Frank James surrendered. Blackburn’s nephew Jo Shelby testified at Frank’s trial and Frank was exonerated.

“Blackburn is related to a small number of James. He also is kin to Presidents George Washington, James Madison, and the Lee family of Virginia of Gen. Robert E. Lee, as well as V.P. Richard Mentor Johnson. He also is related to my second wife through her grandfather R. J. Reynolds. Most of these kinships are in the third to fifth cousin categories.

“Given all of these relationships, it is entirely possible that Dr. Luke Pryor Blackburn talked with Gov. Crittenden.”

I referred Mark Griffin to Dr. Thomas J. Sabetta of the University of Kentucky, who recently was a panelist at the 2017 James-Younger Gang & Family conference. Dr. Sabetta currently is 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.

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Historic James Related Home For Sale

4090 Lexington Rd, Paris, KY 40361
4090 Lexington Rd, Paris, KY 40361. Childhood home of Elizabeth “Betsy” Wright, spouse of Justice John Thomas James

In this historic home in Paris, Kentucky grew up Elizabeth “Betsy” Wright, the spouse of Justice John Thomas James, a son of Capt. John James & Dinah Allen. Their long line of James descendants includes living family today. Notable among them is Richard “Dick” Overgard, who first contributed the data on this line to Stray Leaves almost 20 years ago.

Other notables in this line also include Sheriff John Payne Kelly Sr. of Kelly’s Ford in Culpeper County, VA., made famous in the Civil War. The Sheriff married Betsy’s daughter Margaret Wright James. Their son Granville James Kelly Sr. was postmaster at Kelly’ Ford and the father of Alexander Doniphan Kelly. At Kelly’s Ford, this family essentially knew everyone personally in and around Kelly’s Ford, including those associated with the escape of John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincon’s assassin.

The home and property currently is for sale.

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Hite Family Reunion at Belle Grove

Hite Reunion logo
Hite Family Reunion 2018

This summer you can get a leg up on This Bloody Ground, Vol. II of Jesse James Soul Liberty.

Join the Hite Family Reunion 2018 at their historical, ancestral home, Belle Grove Plantation.

From this citadel, the Hite-Bowman family entered the frontier of Kentucky to inform, direct, and protect Frank & Jesse James’ pioneer grandfather John M. James in the wilderness. The keynote speaker is Richard Hite, whose book Sustainable Genealogy we have reviewed and recommended.

Hite Family at Belle Grove Plantation
Hite descendants visit Belle Grove Planatation

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Matrilineal  Ancestry Key to Choctaw & Chickasaw Descendants of the James Family

Susannah James from The Sift at Stray Leaves
Susannah James Colbert, matriarch of a line of James descendants of Chickasaw blood.

Our new and most recent research at Stray Leaves has taken a decided turn towards our James descendants of Choctaw & Chickasaw blood. Recently, we mounted a new searchable genealogy database, devoted to these two lines of unique James descendants.

A key thing to know when learning about the Choctaw and Chickasaw is how they differ fundamentally from our Anglo bloodlines.

In traditional Anglo bloodlines, power, family, and identity flow through the male paternal side of ancestry. Among those of Choctaw & Chickasaw blood, just the opposite is true. These Native-American tribes take their power, family, and identity from their female ancestry.

You can learn more about this matriarchal structure below where you will find a number of links and videos.

Matriarchs on chickasaw.tv
Stories of Chickasaw matriarchs can be viewed on the Chickasaw.tv video network.

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J. Mark Beamis – Photos from Exeter Reunion

J. Mark Beamis, son of Joan Malley Beamis and second great-grandson of Drury Woodson James, shares some photos from his recent 1973 class reunion at Exeter.

Exeter Class Reunion from The Sist at Stray Leaves

James Mark Beamis from The Sift at Stray Leaves
J. Mark Beamis, Class of 1973, Exeter College

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Jesse James Family Reunion 2002 Video – Pt. 11

A year before the Jesse James family reunion, Judge James R. Ross and myself made a trip to Paso Robles to meet with Tom Martin, then current owner of the Paso Robles Inn. I had visited there in 2000 when the remnant of the old hotel was undergoing preservation and restoration. I was anxious to see what had been done since. Both I and Judge Ross also hoped Tom Martin would agree to host our Jesse James family reunion at the historic hotel, first founded by Drury Woodson James.

Tom Martin, Anne Martin-Bowler, Judge James R. Ross, Eric F. James
Tom Martin, Anne Martin-Bowler, Judge James R. Ross, Eric F. James

I had already posted a lengthy feature story about Uncle Drury and his famous hotel on our website Stray LeavesWhen Meeting Tom Martin, we also met his sister Anne Martin-Bowler. She informed us she was writing a book about Drury Woodson James and the founding of the hotel. The book was planned as a promotion for the hotel. The History of the Paso Robles Inn, More Than a Century of Pride has been published since.  Anne did an excellent job.

Needless to say, the Martins were thrilled to be our host. We were equally thrilled to be holding the family reunion on Uncle Drury’s old hotel property. We were especially excited about having a family banquet in Uncle Drury’s ballroom, which the Martins had preserved and restored. Until Tom Wallace

Until Tom Wallace, who supervised the reconstruction, told us his story of working on the formerly condemned property as he does in this video, the only information I had about it was gleaned from George Jackson. a heating contractor, employed  to install a  heating plant for the old ruin. I was particularly tickled by Jackson’s story of discovering a petrified cat when he opened up sealed portions of the original brick basement. You can find Jackson’s story on Stray Leaves.

Jesse James Family Reunion 2002 Video – Pt. 9

Arriving at Hearst Castle, the Jesse James family at first believed they were simply visiting a local stellar attraction not too far distant from the home of Drury Woodson James. Hearst Castle’s docent regaled the family with the story of William Randolph Hearst’s legendary castle town recreation on a hill overlooking the sparkling blue Pacific Ocean and the area’s local history.

A docent from Hearst Castle welcomes the Jesse James family.
A docent from Hearst Castle welcomes the Jesse James family.

My postscript to the presentation made by the Hearst Castle’s docent in which I revealed the purpose of our visit, surprised even the docent. Since it was such a surprise, I knew I had to bring along the sources from where I had gleaned information that now appeared surprising. After my short presentation, the docent asked about my notes, “Can I see that?”

Jesse's great-grandson catches up the to James gang, eager to hear about the relationship between Hearst Castle and Drury Woodson James.
Jesse’s great-grandson, Judge James R. Ross, catches up the to James gang, eager to hear about the relationship between Hearst Castle and Drury Woodson James.

I have to admit that the first time when I discovered this small morsel of James history that now it so appetizing, I couldn’t be more grateful for all the effort that had been made to learn of it. The new research techniques I had developed in my years of researching the James family’s genealogy have paid off in very big ways, in excess of this little exciting discovery.

Leaving no stone unturned meant that my research not only had to study the James family, but also had to study their in-law families, and additionally to study the social communities among whom they lived. That’s how this small piece of Drury Woodson James’ history came to be found in a research depository I never might have looked in, had I only confined myself to studying the genealogy of the Jesse James family.

From Hearst Castle, we were off to visit the Tobin James Wine Cellars. While there, our host Tobin James told us the story about his bar which he had purchased and its claimed relationship with Jesse Woodson James.

Jesse James Family Reunion 2002 Video – Pt. 8

Our first full day of lectures at the James Family Reunion in 2002 left us feeling a bit of cabin fever. What better relief than to take a day trip to visit the cabin that Frank & Jesse James occupied during their visit with their uncle Drury Woodson James between 1868 and 1869.

James Curtis Lewis, Judge James R. Ross, Eric F. James
James Curtis Lewis, Judge James R. Ross, Eric F. James

The cabin had been relocated to its present site. Local historians produced the research to verify the fact. They also aided us. They contacted the owner so we could meet with him. We then presented him a plaque and historical commemoration for the cabin. (If anyone can name the name of the owner in 2002 or the owner today, please email it to me. It’s been misplaced among my records.)

When Jesse & Frank visited Paso Robles, Drury Woodson James was not entirely welcoming of their visit. A preliminary visit by Frank was required to convince Uncle Drury to allow the visit for the purposes of Jesse using Drury’s ancient hot springs to recover from the two bullet shots he was carrying in his chest.

The James Family present a commemorative citation to the Jesse James cabin's owner

As Jesse gradually recovered and put on a little weight, Drury employed his nephew with his vaqueros who worked Drury’s La Panza Rancho. As much as Jesse would have like to be considered an experienced cattleman, the vaqueros knew better. Jesse’s ropes were brand new and not woven like the ropes of the vaqueros. They laughed at Jesse as they would at any tenderfoot.

During their  visit, Frank and Jesse visited San Francisco. They also took an exploratory trip to Hangtown, in search of the burial site of their father, Rev. Robert Sallee James, who had died of cholera shortly after his arrival. A forest fire had ravaged the cemetery, burying many of wood grave markers and crucifixes, their father’s own among them. To present day, the exact burial site of Rev. Robert Salle James remains unknown.

The day trip ended at the Norman Vineyards. Owner Art Norman entertained us, showing us how wine is made. He then generously shared his product with us.

Jesse James' great grandson Judge James R. Ross visits Jesse's Paso Robles cabin for the first time
Judge James R. Ross visits for the first time the cabin his great-grandfather Jesse Woodson James occupied in 1868 in Paso Robles, California