Tag Archives: fire

Fire Damages Home Where Frank & Jesse James Parents Married

Fire damage from chimney

Nov. 8, 2012,  Last night a fire occurred in the home the parents of Frank & Jesse James married in Stamping Ground, Ky. Rev. Robert Sallee James married Zerelda Elizabeth Cole on Dec. 28, 1841, standing before the fireplace in the home of Zerelda’s uncle, Judge James Madison Lindsay. Judge Lindsay parented Zerelda several years in this home, before sending her to a convent school. That fireplace was the cause of last night’s fire.

I was last in the home in Sept. of 2007. TV’s Inside Edition interviewed me there about Brad Pitt’s movie The Assassination of Jesse James. I then did another interview in their studio in NYC.

The current owner of the home is James Barber, the son of the late John Barber. When John acquired the property about a decade ago, he sold off much of the land & the contents of the home. As a distant cousin of the Zerelda’s Cole family, John kept the historic home for himself. A couple of days before John died, he offered the home to me for purchase, which I declined.

The historic site also was the location where the discovery of the Zee James Collection came to light. The collection consisted of the trunk & contents that Zerelda had packed with Jesse’s widow following Jesse’s assassination. The women sent the trunk back to the family home for safe keeping. The house which remained in the ownership of Lindsay family cousins since Jesse’s murder preserved the historic artifacts for well over 100 years.

The fire damage to the home is repairable. Whether it gets repaired remains to be seen.

Marshall Field’s Christmas & Anna Knaff James

F M James and Anna Emalia Knaff 300x241Anna Emalia Knaff (1883-1954) met Frank James when she was working at Chicago’s Marshall Field’s Department Store. A fire had broken out at the Iroquois Theatre nearby. She ran into the street to assist, and met her future husband Francis Marion James (1880-1931), as he was dragging dead bodies out of the theatre.

In years to come, Anna brought her seven children, as well as her grandchildren, back to Marshall Field’s every Christmas to see the store’s magical windows filled with fanciful Christmas displays. Inside Field’s, they stood in wonderment before the giant five story tall tree that graced the store’s atrium. Then came that special visit with Santa Claus, to whom they whispered their Christmas wishes.

During the year, Anna brought her granddaughters to the store’s dining room. There, she taught her granddaughters to luncheon like ladies, and to always wear white gloves.

Little did any of us know then that the Marshall Field family and the James are distant cousins, through our mutual kin in Colonial Virginia.