Tag Archives: film

The Smack & Zing of This Bloody Ground

This Bloody Ground, Volume II of the Jesse James Soul Liberty quintet
Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. II, This Bloody Ground

Daniel Boone and John M. James are ancestors of today’s descendants of Jesse James. In the present film documentary Daniel Boone & the Opening of the American West, Boone once more cuts a path and trail for Jesse’s grandfather John M. James, again today as Boone did in the past. The film is worth viewing as a preview of the smack and zing of John’s own history, soon to come in my book This Bloody Ground.

In recent years, as I sat in Danville, Kentucky, writing the story of Frank & Jesse James’ grandfather as the second book of my Jesse James Soul Liberty quintet, Kent Masterson Brown was in Lexington, Kentucky, beginning his journey of three years to bring Boone to film.

Both my book and Brown’s film cover the same period, the same territory, many of the same people, and a lot of the same history. However, each of us delivers a different view. Much of Boone’s story, as Brown tells it, is located north of the Kentucky River. The story of John M. James in This Bloody Ground, as might be expected, resides south of the Kentucky River.

Brown credits Boone in part with opening the Northwest Territory that became everything from Ohio west to Minnesota. John M. James and his band of rebel Baptist preachers, not only opened the West from colonial Virginia to Missouri Territory, but also way beyond into the Far West, to the Rockies and California.

Daniel Boone is a star in history’s firmament, replete with legend and misleading mythology, which Brown goes to great length to extinguish in a shower of facts. John M. James, for the most part, is unknown to legend, mythology, or fact. Equally, unknown is the origination in John’s Kentucky of many of those families affiliated with John who later spawned their own history of the American West.

Kent Masterson Brown
Kent Masterson Brown

I have enjoyed the former historical work of Kent Masterson Brown. Brown resembles for me the often fabled Kentucky lawyer whose telling of a good history lesson, more than a trial, vindicates justice. His voice that speaks through grit is invaluable. Brown and I are in the same business. Maybe that explains our mutual fondness for a neat and tidy bow tie.

Scitt New as Daniel Boone
Scott New portrays Daniel Boone

As a boy, John M. James tried to join Daniel Boone, when Boone stood beside his wagon in Stevensburg, Virginia, seeking recruits to enter the dark and unknown wilderness. Though John was too young for Boone to accept, each man became a pioneer. Each did so in his own way. Each has had a lasting effect on American history.

In This Bloody Ground, I will argue, however, that John M. James was more an average person’s pioneer. John M. James, not Daniel Boone, produced a more lasting effect relative to the common person. The legacy of John M. James endures in the social, religious, and political culture of America.

The marriage of Jesse’s son Jesse Edwards James Jr. to Estella Frances “Stella” McGowan might have appeared surprising at the time. It should not. He is a great-grandson of John M. James. She is a third great granddaughter of Daniel Boone. Their marriage represents the reunion of Daniel Boone and John M. James. For today and all tomorrows, the descendants of Jesse James will be the progeny of a star pioneer and a pioneer of the common man.

To view the entire program of Daniel Boone and the Opening of the West, and to savor the smack and zing of This Bloody Ground coming this year, CLICK HERE. The program may not be available for very long.

Ron Hansen Revealed

Ron Hansen’s novel The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was published in 1983. In 2009, actor Brad Pitt turned the novel into a stunning film that sadly flopped at the box office.

Both Hansen’s book and Pitt’s movie are fictional depictions. Yet both survive as the most representative of their genres regarding the accuracy of their subject icon and his factual history.

When writing Jesse James’ Soul Liberty, author Eric James twice attempted to contact Ron Hansen, seeking an interview. Soul Liberty is a history of the James family. Knowing the connections of the James family to the Catholic order of the Jesuits and that Hansen taught at a Jesuit school, the author wanted to compare notes with Hansen about the spiritual life of the James family. No response came from Hansen.

The following video is about the closest Ron Hansen comes to revealing the spirituality that guides his life and connects him to his subject matter.

Watch Catholic Writer Ron Hansen on PBS. See more from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

Free Download – Sissy Spacek’s 20,000 Cousins

 

One unavoidable thing about dying is, you never know who’s going to come along later and become your cousin. Consider Frank & Jesse James.

The Academy Awards weren’t invented yet when the outlaw brothers were alive. They wouldn’t have a clue about how important and celebrated you could be once you owned  a coveted gold plated statuette.

So Frank & Jesse James couldn’t possibly appreciate how cool it is be a cousin to Academy Award winning actress, Sissy Spacek.

Looking at it another way, no one can say just how Sissy Spacek might react if she knew she actually is a distant cousin to America’s iconic outlaws, Frank & Jesse James.

One thing is for sure. Sissy certainly would be stunned to learn that she has over 20,000 kinfolk that she shares with the outlaws and their James family. You can download her kinship report for free from Stray Leaves.

If this kind of serendipity tickles you, consider this. Sissy Spacek won her Academy Award for portraying Loretta Lynn in the film The Coal Miner’s Daughter. Loretta Lynn’s ancestral cabin home in Butcher Hollar is just a short distance from Waverly, Tennessee, where Jesse first buried his infant twin boys Gould & Montgomery James.

If we all could stick around a little bit longer, we all could be meeting some very interesting new cousins.