Tag Archives: fraud

Burley Auction Gallery Partners in Jesse James Hoax

Burley Auction Gallery adSavvy collectors of historical photos and artifacts took no time at all to alert the Jesse James family about the next stage in the ongoing Bob Ford-Jesse James photo hoax. The latest hoax partner is the Burley Auction Gallery, aka Burley Auction Group Inc. located in New Braunfels, Texas. The only suspense left to this promotion of fraudulent Jesse James imagery is, who will be the next sucker to fall for this auction’s photo fraud?

The auction announcement clearly identifies who is the present sucker. The Burley Auction Gallery advertisement identifies the estate of Tommy & Sara Jane Howell as the present dupe to have fallen for the scam.

SON OF A CON JOB

Fake photo claimed to be Bob Ford and Jesse James
Fake Bob Ford-Jesse James Photo

The flimflam originated with Sandy Mills, Lois Gibson, and others. The Jesse James family has published and documented a blistering indictment of Mills and Gibson, describing in compelling detail why the claimed image is a hoax. The James also have identified the cabal who have partnered, enabled, and supported Mills and Gibson’s hoax.

The Howells appears to have owned or acquired the artifact less than a year ago. Next in line, they now have consigned their fraudulent tintype to Burley Auction Gallery to dispose of it.

When and how the Howells came into possession of the fake photo is not clear. The photo was last available and being promoted for sale in January of 2016. Sandy Mills and her boyfriend were publicly intent upon selling the fake image for, as Mills’ boyfriend greedily stated in one televised interview on KREM2 in Spokane, Washington where Mills lives, “we’ve heard numbers in the millions.”

At that time, Bobby Livingston, executive vice-president of RR Auction in Amherst, New Hampshire, judiciously sidestepped the opportunity of auctioning the photo. Or did he?

Livingston certainly did not shy away from promoting the sham. In a newspaper interview, Livingston stated that if the image was authentic the photo might fetch up to $2 million. A surprising statement from an auction house, since due diligence by any auction house would reveal that no authentic image of Jesse James has sold for more than $1,500. Bobby Livingston is under indictment in a lawsuit for fraud, misrepresentation, and presenting fake historical images as authentic. Livingston and RR Auction go to trial on January 17, 2017.

Questions remain. How did the Howells come into possession of the subject artifact? How much did they pay? Why now are they so quick to rid themselves of a tintype claimed to be so valuable?

Burley Auction Gallery grandiosely expects the Howell image to fetch $50,000 to $1 million. The value estimate apparently has plummeted precipitously since Mills’ original claim “in the millions.” The James family predicts Burley will find a new sucker willing to pay far less than the predicted amount – if anything at all.

Burley Auction Gallery - Big Expectation
Burley Auction Gallery says, “Hey, big spender!”

FAILURE IN DUE DILIGENCE

Clearly, Burley Auction Gallery failed to conduct any due diligence in arriving at its estimate of value. Nor did Burley assess the tintype’s authenticity or legitimacy. Burley astutely refers to the image as “Photograph Attributed to Jesse James & Bob Ford.” Burley does not state the image is Jesse James and Bob Ford.

Burley Auction Group
Burley Auction Gallery, New Braunfels, Texas

Burley also cites the auction image was “Inherited from a cousin of Frank James wife.”  According to the Jesse James family, Sandy Mills’ claim that she is kin to the Jesse James family is as bogus as her tintype.

Mills never has published her genealogy publicly or made it subject to any peer review.  The Jesse James family does not know Mills family personally, or even informationally. Neither Mills nor her family appears in the official Jesse James genealogy on the James family’s web site Stray Leaves that has been published for 20 years, despite the fact that there are some Mills who in fact are related to the James. Burley Auction Gallery stepped away from conducting any due diligence regarding this claim of kinship whatsoever.

Robb Burley
Robert Wilson Burley, aka Robb Burley

How much malpractice Robb Burley, the auction gallery’s owner, may be on the hook for is yet to be determined. If Burley conducted any due diligence at all, Burley never contacted the James family for its opinion. Nor did Burley contact the family about the image of Bob Ford handed down through their family. The James family’s image of Bob Ford first was published in 2012 in Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I., an authorized history of the Jesse James family.  Nor has Burley contacted any collector of Jesse James artifacts and images known to the family. Those collectors are a tightly knit group. Most all enjoy a personal relationship with the James.

TX Dept of Regulation
Texas Department of Regulation

A CONFLICT OF INTEREST ?

One of the ironies of the Burley auction is the fact that the fake Bob Ford-Jesse James photo will be auctioned together with “Part II of the Texas Ranger Collection.”

Texas Rangers, 1892
Los Gibson’s original hoax promotion shown here compared the hoax Jesse James to Texas Rangers in 1892. The actual Rangers image is in the collection of renown western artifact collector Robert G. McCubbin, who is well known to the James family. The Rangers appearing in the 1892 image are (Standing, from left) Robert “Bob” Speaks and Jim Putman. (Seated, from left) Alonzo Van “Lon” Oden and John R. Hughes.

Burley’s promotion makes no mention of Lois Gibson’s original “authentication.” Then, Gibson cited an actual image of Texas Rangers taken in 1892, a decade after Jesse James was dead. Gibson asserted one of the Texas Rangers to be Jesse James. She favorably compared Sandy Mills’ claimed Jesse James tintype to the Texas Rangers’ image. The individual Gibson asserted was Jesse James, in fact, is known to factual history to be Texas Ranger Robert “Bob” Speaks, not Jesse James.

Why has such an invaluable authentication comparison been ignored and not cited in Burley’s promotion? The answer may reside at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum.

The rotating banner on the museum’s website displays the  Texas Ranger image from 1892 that Gibson claimed includes Jesse James. The banner image is titled “The History of Early Texas Rangers.” No one in America believes that Jesse James was a Texas Ranger after he was killed in 1882.

Web site of the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum, highlighting the 1892 image of Texas Rangers that Lois Gibson claimed included Jesse James.

In a slide show, Burley does rely upon Gibson’s comparisons of Bob Ford’s actual image to Mills’ claimed image. A degree in forensic science that would employ mathematical analysis to assess similarities and dissimilarities of physical features in historical imagery is not needed here. Plainly visible in Gibson’s comparison is the dissimilarities between the actual photo and fake photo regarding hairline, forehead, eye, ear, and nose structure, lips and jawline. The two plainly are not identical.

True and fake images of Bob Ford
Left appears an actual photo of Bob Ford. Right appears the fake photo of Bob Ford.

Furthermore, the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum takes great pains to caution the public against fake Texas Ranger badges. Fake Ranger badges are as rampant apparently as fake Jesse James photos. In this auction, the Howells have consigned to Burley Auction Gallery a number of Texas Ranger badges to be auctioned with the Bob Ford-Jesse James photo hoax. Assuming the Howell’s Ranger badges are bonafide, is it any wonder why Burley Auction Gallery would make no mention of Gibson’s egregiously and flagrantly flawed Texas Ranger image comparison?

THIS BOB FORD-JESSE JAMES PHOTO IS A HOAX

The Jesse James family formerly debunked the Mills-Gibson-Howell fake and stands by its allegations. The family further has documented the cabal of sycophants that has supported and promoted this bogus photo. The Jesse James family restates its willingness to support anyone who may have a claim they are defrauded by the known principals and supporters of this Bob Ford-Jesse James photo hoax.

Burley Auction Gallery is on the hunt for the next sucker in this proven swindle. The James family now adds Burley Auction Gallery to its listed cabal of those – and their successors – who enable, promote, and disseminate fraudulent and fake Jesse James imagery in their exercise of Jesse James family identity theft.

Lost Jesse James/BobFord Photo – Not Lost, Not Authenticated

Robert Ford & Jesse James as hoaxed by Sandy Mills & Lois Gibson
Robert Ford & Jesse James as hoaxed by Sandy Mills & artist Lois Gibson

Two days ago (ed. Sept 30, 2015), the Houston Chronicle headlined a story, “Lost Photo of Jesse James, assassin Robert Ford is found. Authenticated. ” Here we go again, I thought. Another day.  Another fake Jesse James photo. Another fake authentication. Another con artist, or two, or maybe more. The fact is, there are no photos of Jesse James or Bob Ford that are lost. Moreover, the ones claimed by the Chronicle are not authenticated. Here is why.

Lois Gibson, artist
Lois Gibson, artist

According to the Guinness Book of Records, Lois Gibson holds the world record for “most successful forensic artist.” Gibson is the chief forensic artist for the Houston Police Department. In my experience as genealogist and historian of the Jesse James family, Texas is the birthplace of numerous Jesse James hoaxes. Some have carried on for decades. Apparently, with three images of Jesse James, Robert Ford, and Zee Mimms-James, which Gibson claims to have authenticated, the 65-year-old Lois Gibson is an artist with a leg up on creating another Jesse James hoax in Texas.

Let us back up on Gibson’s story to my first encounter with Sandy Mills. Sandy is the owner of the image in question. Gibson claims this image was lost, now found, and she has authenticated it.

Sandy Mills, holding the tintype she claims is Bob Ford & Jesse James
Sandy Mills, holding the tintype she claims is Bob Ford & Jesse James

As happens with regularity in most any month here at Stray Leaves, images of all types believed to relate to the Jesse James family are submitted here for review, and opinion. Mills submitted her image to me for review in March of 2013. Mills stated, “I have a tin type photo of Jesse James sitting with another man, we think it is a first cousin Robert Woodson Hite. We are interested in showing you. Please contact me.” The email from Mills arrived under enhanced suspicion. Mills sent the email under an alias email account of Robyn Anderson. Con artists love alias names. Red flags were waving already.

The tintype presented to Eric F. James that is claimed by Sandy Mills to be Jesse Woodson James and possibly Robert Woodson “Woot” Hite
The tintype presented to Eric F. James that is claimed by Sandy Mills to be Jesse Woodson James and possibly Robert Woodson “Woot” Hite

In 2002, Jesse’s great-grandson, Judge James Randall Ross, and I founded the James Preservation Trust. Part of the mission of JPT is to archive the family history, as well as to address issues about the veracity of Jesse James family history, genealogy, images, and documents. Upon receipt of a claimed image, the image is circulated first for preliminary review among family, respected historians, and/or specific authorities most relevant to the image’s provenance. If the image is believed to be possibly verifiable as authentic, the image owner is referred for full forensic investigation and analysis to a reputable authority fully trained in the metrics of scientific forensic analysis and Jesse James history. The image owner then can chose to employ, or not to employ, such services.

The image Sandy Mills provided me was so blatantly false about being either Jesse James or Woot Hite, I told Mills not to waste any money for an authentication.

There exist only a handful of authentic images of the outlaw Jesse James. Those images appear variously on Stray Leaves and have done so for nearly 20 years.

I also included an authentic image of Woot Hite from the Joan Beamis Archive for Mills to compare with her claimed image.

Actual image of Robert WoodsonHite (L)fromthe James Preservation Trust, compared to the claimedWootHite (R). WootHite is a James descendant. His motheris Nancy Gardner James, an aunt of Jesse Woodson James. WootHite displaysthe same genetic physical
Actual image of Robert  Woodson Hite (L) from the James Preservation Trust, compared to the   claimed image (R). Wood, or Woot as he was called, is a James descendant. His mother is Nancy Gardner James, an aunt of Jesse Woodson James.   Wood Hite displays the same genetic physical characteristics that are common to Jesse James and other members of the James family.

MY EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE WITH SANDY MILLS

Click on an email to enlarge & read

LOIS GIBSON & SANDY MILLS CONJOINED

The Houston Chronicle article now links Sandy Mills with Lois Gibson. This raises many questions and more red flags.

Who is conning whom? Did Mills inform Gibson of my reaction to the image? Did Mills offer other information to Gibson that Mills did not offer to me? On the other hand, did Gibson see another opportunity for self-promotion, as Gibson formerly did when she stated a tintype image of Billy the Kid was the authentic tintype of the widely circulated image of the Kid already known to be authentic. At that time, Gibson fell under intense scrutiny. She was widely derided among the western artifact collector community, another red flag.

Regardless of what remains unknown about the relationship between Mills and Gibson, what is known is that the images Lois Gibson states are authentically Jesse James, Robert Ford, and Zee Mimms-James cannot be authenticated as true when, in fact, they are fake.

LOIS GIBSON’S CASE FOR AUTHENTICATION

Customarily, a reputable authentication of any historical image is documented in abundant clinical detail in an image’s authentication report. The report usually bears the signature of a witness or witnesses, and/or a notary for formal and legal recognition. Gibson provides none – a red flag. The report will give a full account of the credentials of the expert performing the authentication, a full explanation of the scientific techniques applied, the entire known provenance of the image and its condition. Gibson pretends to do so, but provides none – another red flag. The report concludes with arguments and resulting findings, which the applied forensic analysis produced.

No evidence exists that Lois Gibson performed any scientific authentication of image assessment, or that she is qualified to do so. In her biographical statement, Gibson says she is a forensic artist. At first glance, her record as an artist is impressive. She claims no forensic science training, though – a significant red flag.

What Lois Gibson has proudly produced from her palette of artist tricks is a deception intended to fool the eye of the indiscriminate viewer and a public un-knowledgeable about Jesse James. Gibson’s deft artwork is intended to convince you she has authenticated the subject image when fact it does not – an additional red flag.

Gibson’s cardinal sin was first to alter the image to her preference by a process of image reversal. Lois Gibson reverses the images presented to me in 2013 by Sandy Mills. In the field of legal evidence, this is termed “tampering,” – a most compelling red flag.

In a series of plates Gibson next manufactures and develops her suppositions with no reference to actual history that is known or recognized.

BREAKING DOWN LOIS GIBSON’S ARGUMENT

Plate 1 of Lois Gibson's case results in a false claim
Plate 1 of Lois Gibson’s case results in a false claim

In Plate 1, Gibson describes the spare provenance provided by Sandy Mills. Neither one addresses Mills own genealogy or the personal family background or circumstances that might offer the slightest explanation for how this image fell into the Mills family’s possession. Gibson proceeds to compare Mills’ image to the authentic wedding photo of Jesse James. Mills’ fake Jesse James is cross-eyed, something Jesse was not. Although Jesse suffered from “lazy eye” in his youth, the condition corrected itself by his adulthood. Mills references no relevant history about the condition.

The most telling giveaways of the Mills image are the spatial relationships and physical features. A reputable scientific forensic analysis would have applied a grid system, mathematics, and spatial metrics. Such analysis would have identified the discrepancy in forehead, hairline, eyebrows, eye formation and nose that is all too evidently wrong in the fake photo.

In Plate 2, Gibson commits the authenticator’s crime of comparing one fake photo to another fake photo. She misidentified the comparison fake photo as being “Historically accepted group shot of Jesse James and cohorts, circa 1880s.” Mills cites no recognized authorities for this false claim.

Lois Gibson 2-rejected as fraudulent
Plate 2 of Lois Gibson’s case is rejected as fraudulent

A check of the clock informs the most unknowledgeable person that Bob Ford assassinated Jesse James in 1882. Jesse’s popular death photo reveals his physical features. They resemble the fake comparison photo, not in the least. Jesse, in fact, was a bit chubby when killed. A check of any Jesse James history book also tells us Jesse had no cohorts in the early 1880s, other than the despicable Ford brothers.

Most egregiously, Gibson fails to discuss the physical discrepancies between her fake Jesse James and the fake comparison Jesse James. Between those two fake images, forehead, eyes, nose, ears, and facial width are all different.

Here is the quintessential question everyone looks for in claimed pictures of Jesse James. Where is Jesse’s famous missing fingertip in the comparison fake Jesse James? Mills’ fake Jesse James image displays a full set of unharmed digits.

Fake photos-fingers

“Historically,” Gibson’s comparison fake Jesse photo was rejected already as a fake. The actual image exists in the collection of Robert G. McCubbin, a reputable collector of Western memorabilia.  Tne photo is of a group of Texas Rangers, identified as (Standing, from left) Robert “Bob” Speaks and Jim Putman, (Seated, from left) Alonzo Van “Lon” Oden and John R. Hughes. The rangers were sent to Texas after a shootout in 1892.

Texas Rangers, 1892
The image Los Gibson compared to Jesse James is an image of Texas Rangers produced in 1892, a decade after Jesse James was assassinated. The actual Rangers image is in the collection of renown western artifact collector Robert G. McCubbin, who is well known to the James family. The image also appears in the rotating banner on the website of the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame & Musem. The Rangers appearing in the 1892 image are (Standing, from left) Robert “Bob” Speaks and Jim Putman. (Seated, from left) Alonzo Van “Lon” Oden and John R. Hughes.

The image  of Lon Orden went to auction in 2002, when  it was claimed to be Jesse James. At that time, Jesse’s great-grandson, Judge James R. Ross, lodged his written complaint with Swann Galleries in New York that was auctioning off the image. The image sold for a paltry sum to a man from Kentucky. I met that collector a few years later. The auction house had not informed him of the written opinion issued by Judge Ross. Proper and full disclosure might have influenced the bidder not to buy.

Plate #3: Remember that shell game where three shells move around while you try to remember under which shell a pea was placed? Artist Gibson plays this game to fool the unsuspecting eye. She is not alone in deploying such tricks. We recently encountered the same technique by an auction house that was trying to sell a fake Jesse James image for an advertised $40,000 to $60,000 windfall expected. Some fool actually anteed up $12,000 for an image known publicly to be worthless. The price of ignorance in the Jesse James artifact market can be dear.

Plate 3 of Lois Gibson's case compares Mills' fake image of Jesse James with a claimed image of Jesse James never seen before
Plate 3 of Lois Gibson’s case compares Mills’ fake image of Jesse James with a claimed image of Jesse James never seen before

While Gibson focuses the unsuspecting eye on her fake image, a knowledgeable eye is asking, “Where did this other fake image come from?” Gibson present a fake image of Jesse James never seen by anyone before. Neither Gibson or Mills cites no origination of this previously unknown image. No one among the Jesse James community ever has seen this second claimed image of Jesse James. Not ever among the Jesse James family. Certainly not among Jesse James historians. Not even among the public. Again, Gibson produces one fake image to compare against yet another fake image. The image she identifies as “Jesse James, 1870s, Webb City, Missouri” is another of Gibson’s gallery of Jesse James fake photos.

Lois Gibson 4
In Plate 4o of Lois Gibson’s case, Gibson employs artistic skill to transform an authentic image of Bob Ford to match Sandy Mills’ claimed image. A scientific authentication of historic images requires no tampering with images, relying chiefly upon scientific comparison application to reach a conclusion about authenticity.

In Plate #4, Gibson performs her same slight of the eye trickery. However, the physical features at the start of her slide characterization are not the same as at the end. If Gibson had simply looked at the photo of Bob Ford and his wife Dot Evans that appears on page 311 of my book, Jesse James Soul Liberty, Volume I, she might have surrendered her gambit to fool the Jesse James family. That photo of Bob Ford, never published before, has been in the possession of the James family for more than a century. That image of Bob Ford should have been integral to Mills’ authentication, had she tried.

Plate #6:  Incredibly, stunningly, and arrogantly, Gibson no longer can control her hoax. She goes full-bore con game. Lois Gibson not only introduces a third, previously unknown, and additional fake image of Jesse James, Gibson throws in a fake image of Zee Mimms-James, Jesse’s wife, to boot. To the trained eye, this third Jesse looks nothing like Gibson’s other two fake Jesse James photos. Nor does it compare to any known and authenticated historical image of Jesse and his wife.

Lois Gibson 6a-rejected as fake
Plate 6 of lois Gibson’s case presents a 4th fake image of Jesse James, and adds a fake image of Jesse’s wife, Zee Mimms-James, to boot.

At this point, Gibson loses all objectivity. She clearly has no knowledge of James family genealogy. Nor has she made an effort to know it. Jesse’s wife Zee is, in fact, a James family descendant herself. Zee’s mother is Mary James, Jesse’s aunt. The couple is first cousins. They share the same genetic DNA that marks their physical appearances with shared identical physical features. Those physical features have been accounted and quantified across five generations of the James family. In physical appearance, Gibson’s fake Jesse James couple share no common physical features that match the proven genetics of the James.

HOW CAN THIS HOAX GO SO WRONG?

The simple answer is environment and enablers, whether actual conspirators or not Texas is home to nefarious con artists who have preyed upon the Jesse James family and its identity for generations. From Orvis Hauk, to J. Frank Dalton, to Betty Dorsett Duke, Texans lift up their tall tales as they throw factual history into the trash. Texas legislators actually do this with schoolbooks, too.

The true Jesse James family in Texas goes unrecognized. Around Granbury, authentic members of the real Jesse James family who live there roam in confident privacy and anonymity. They can do this because Granbury would rather fete its fake Jesse James internment there. Authentic Jesse James family members populate Texas terrain and cemeteries from Red River to the gulf coast. No Texan celebrates Geneva James who taught Willie Nelson in grammar school in Waco. Nobody in Johnson County knows of John James of Alvarado unless they follow Stray Leaves or read my book. Texas has yet to recognize the kinship shared between Houston’s George W. Bush and the Jesse James family.

But Lois Gibson and Sandy Mills can find ample news coverage for fake Jesse James photos by the Houston Chronicle, whom we now must acknowledge as an enabler of bogus Jesse James imagery, along with their correspondent Dylan Baddour who broke the story.

Dylan Baddour who wrote the Houston Chronicle story
Dylan Baddour who wrote the Houston Chronicle story

We contacted Dylan Baddour and asked for his defense of what he wrote. He provided the following statement: “Lois Gibson, who identified the photo, is one of the world’s most credible sources for facial recognition. She’s a forensic artist and analyst with the Houston Police Department who has garnered a Guinness world record and features in national media for her success. When it comes to identifying faces, there is no higher authority. Every auction house we spoke with found it very compelling that Gibson made the ID, and couldn’t immediately refute it.”

What motivated Baddour to inquire of an auction house and not of reputable Jesse James family, historians, or authorities? When it comes to Jesse James artifacts, we repeatedly take auction houses to the woodshed for their inflated and inaccurate claims, not to mention their despicable practices of deceit. In all of Jesse James auction history, there has been only one auction that performed ethically and responsibly; and, ironically, Heritage Auctions is in Texas.

News aggregator Sarah Laskow who promoted the hoax by republishing Dylan Baddour's story
News aggregator Sarah Laskow who promoted the hoax by republishing Dylan Baddour’s story

We also reached out to Sarah Laskow, a news aggregator for Atlas Obscura. She replied, stating, “I used the Houston Chronicle as a source for this short post, as well as the analysis that Lois Gibson had posted. If there’s countervailing evidence about the authenticity of the image, I’d be interested to hear about it.”

Arden Dier, who may or may not be a real person, also promoted the hoax by republication.
Arden Dier, who may or may not be a real person, also promoted the hoax by republication.

Arden Dier harvested the story for republication for Newser, whose slogan is “Read less. Know more.” Really? We found no contact information for Arden Dier.

Michael Pearson of CNN was suspicious of the hoax.
Michael Pearson of CNN was suspicious of the hoax.

The only reporter we found to question the Mills-Gibson story was Michael Pearson of CNN, for whom we also found no contact information other than his LinkedIn page. Skeptically, Pearson asked, “Does photo show outlaw Jesse James with his killer?” Talk about a slick, Texas slide step.

There is more to this hoax than is clear at this moment. New information is being researched and developed. More revelations will come.

In the end, this hoax will enter history under the names of Sandy Mills and Lois Gibson. No matter how long it takes, history always gets to the truth. Sandy Mills and Lois Gibson will stay on our watch list of tricksters, con artists, and frauds for some time.

RELATED: THE BOB FORD/JESSE JAMES PHOTO HOAX CABAL 

UPDATE: December 22, 2015

The Texas Monthly has revisited another of Lois Gibson’s fraudulent authentication in an article titled, “49 Experts Agree: That Third Photo of Robert Johnson Is Not Authentic.”

With total disregard for responsible journalism, Dylan Baddour of the Houston Chronicle jumps shamelessly to promote Gibson once more in an article titled, “New photo of bluesman Robert Johnson unearthed; only third photo in existence.”

The family of Frank and Jesse James maintains the fraudulent actions of Dylan Baddour and Lois Gibson, and their sycophants engage in identity theft. A like reaction will probably come from the family of bluesman Robert Johnson.  Music historian Bruce Conforth, identified in the Texas Monthly article has been friends with Johnson’s descendants. Conforth publicly acknowledges the Johnson family’s assessments that Gibson’s claimed Johnson photo, like the Bob Ford/Jesse James claimed image, is a fake.

Claimed photo of Bob Ford and Jesse James is proved as a hoax.
Claimed photo of Bob Ford and Jesse James is proved as a hoax.

The article above is a re-publication of a post to Leaves of Gas that first appeared on October 2, 2015. After the initial publication of “Lost Jesse James/Bob Ford Photo – Not Lost, Not Authenticated,” the Leaves of Gas blog was hacked. The hack occurred on the day on which the Houston Chronicle published an addition to the story. The hack prevented public access to this post when the Chronicle’s new article was being published. This post represents the James family’s rebuttal to the falsehoods presented in the Chronicle story. Moreover, the hack appeared to have emanated from Houston, Texas, the home base of this Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax.

______________________________________________________________

Fraud on Find a Grave

Sue (anonymous last name) has posted a fraudulent memorial on findagrave.com. Sue will not respond to a legitimate request to remove the fraud. Her non-reaction calls into question the validity of any posting on findagrave.com, or the intention of its owner ancestry.com to give accurate information. One must question, out of the almost 1,800 memorials Sue has posted and manages, how many more memorials on Find a Grave contain fraudulent information that can’t be trusted?

Sue describes herself so: “I’m a Mother of 4 adult children, (is that an oxymoron?-lol) 2 sons, 2 daughters. I have 11 marvelous grandchildren, a fantastic, loving husband whom I’ve been married to for 40 yrs. on Sept. 21, 2014. And now our first Great Grandchild, Gysele Mei has arrived at 28 wks. She’s doing well so far. I’m the oldest of my 2 sisters & one brother. I’ve been a laryngectomee since Nov. 1999. Oh ya, I’m a redheaded Indian gal.

“Some of my ancestors are Chase, Campbell, Wabasha, Morelock, Moman, & Cress. My husband’s family names are Bryan, Bowen, Goodman & Goodpasture and O’Dell.”

Find a Grave screenshot of erroneous information-1

The issue of Sue’s fraud is clear. Sue’s memorial of Joseph Jesse Chase claims Chase is a son of America’s iconic outlaw Jesse Woodson James. This claim has been known to the Jesse James family for years. The claim always has been denied. No one among Chase’s descendants has ever provided any credible evidence to substantiate the Chase claim.

Find a Grave Screenshot of erroneous information-2

After a dozen years of genealogical research, and the expenditure of a quarter million dollars, the Jesse James family has gone out of its way to identify who actually is related to Jesse Woodson James. Extraordinary findings were made by documenting the Jesse James family, followed by genealogical research into the in-law families of the James, and then into others related by extension from those in-law families. Research went so far to study the genealogy of most anyone who was known to have contact with the James.

Historically, there have been literally thousands of claims of kinship to Jesse Woodson James, and to his brother Frank James. Not one ever has been proved. Even today, Stray Leaves receives two or three claims per month on average. Like Sue, few claimants reply to a request for evidence.

A reasonable assumption implies that Sue Anonymous likely is a relation, if not an actual descendant, of Joseph Jesse Chase. Sue assumed management of this Find a Grave memorial following its abandonment by Kent D. Myrick. Complaints to Myrick from members of the Cole and Graves families, who are legitimate relations of Jesse W. James, resulted in Myrick’s desertion and the subsequent assumption by Sue Anonymous.

email screenshot

The email request sent to Sue, pictured here, also met with no response. Sue’s lack of courtesy in not providing any kind of response whatsoever is evidence enough of her non-responsibility. Former requests made to findagrave and ancestry.com by a complainant from the Graves family also met with a lack of responsible action.

Without evidence, the memorial posting by Sue, that is supported by findagrave.com and ancestry.com amounts to fraud.

It shouldn’t be expected that Sue would permit this message on her findagrave pubic profile. However, with regard to Jesse Woodson James and the James family, Stray Leaves will continue to publish the identity of con artists, bogus history, fake genealogy, inaccurately identified images or artifacts, false claims, inaccurate information, and fraud when it is encountered.

This memorial to Joseph Jesse Chase is a fraud.

___________________________________

UPDATE:  March 19, 2016

After almost two years, the Find a Grave memorial above has been corrected.  The present memorial removes the names of Jesse Woodson James as a parent of Joe Jesse Chase.

In this time, considerable focus has been placed on Find a Grave policy that grants ownership of a memorial on irresponsible administrators.  This has raised considerable opposition by related families who are offended, as was this following case: “Does this couple in Missouri own your relatives on Find a Grave, too?

Focus also was brought by the National Genealogical Society which brought this issue to public attention on Facebook.

Corrected Find a Grave memorial
The corrected Find a Grave memorial that removed Jesse Woodson James as a parent of Joe Jesse Chase.

Fraudulent Images of Jesse, Frank, Anna, & Younger Brothers

fraudulent image of Frank James and Annie Ralston
Claimed image of Frank James & Anna Ralston assessed as fraudulent

Photos claimed by a collector to be Jesse Woodson James, Frank James and his wife Anna Ralston, and Bob and Cole Younger appeared this week on the blog of the True West Historical Society. These are fraudulent images. I was asked to respond. I posted the following:

The image may be of a Jesse W. James, but assuredly 100% NOT of Jesse Woodson James, America’s iconic outlaw. Additionally, no provenance appears related to the images to support the claim.

When images are submitted to the James Preservation Trust for possible authentication, prior to anything being done a visual assessment is made of the subject image. Comparisons with the known and authenticated images of the outlaw are assessed. The image also is visually assessed against multiple archives of images of James family members. If the image does not appear to resemble the archival known images, the submitter of the image is advised not to waste the cost of proceeding with a costly formal forensic analysis. Even if the submitter may wish to proceed anyway, the Trust will decline to do so, in essence deeming further effort a waste of time. Regarding the images here, my advice would be to not risk the cost.

Gone are the days when an historical image can simply be claimed to be that of an historical figure. There’s simply too much knowledge now, and forensic techniques have advanced immeasurably. However, that will never stop claims from being made. On average, I receive 2-4 images monthly, and occasionally entire photo albums, that claim to be members of the Jesse James family. The other day, someone asked me what I thought of a claimed image on the internet of Jesse James seated. I responded, “Which one? I have about 25 in our files.”

One certainty is this. There always will be more claimed or fake Jesse James images yet to appear, than there are authentic and true images of the outlaw that exist.

For fun, you may want to view a recent posting to the family on their blog about physical ear formation among the James. It took many among the family by surprise. A bevy of email resulted from family members, so many stating “I have one!”

Fraudulent image of Frank James and Annie Ralston
Claimed full image of Frank James and wife Anna Ralston assessed as fraudulent

Following considerable adverse criticism of the collector’s claims, the collector responded in a way typical of the behavior of countless con men in both the near and distant past. The collector did not address intelligently and coherently any issues of provenance, nor offer any evidence to substantiate his claim. Instead, the collector responded, lacerating his critics, calling them names, and in the most infantile fashion denigrating them by parodying their names. The collector later attacked his critics also of the True West site in their social media. Such is not the behavior of an average, bone fide collector.

Aficionados of the Civil War and Old West well recognize the physical personages of history. If an image holds a possibility of being authentic, calls are made publicly for forensic analysis to be conducted. For the most part, countless claimed images are promptly dismissed publicly as untrue.

A dead giveaway that the claimed image in this situation is not Frank James is the simple historical fact that Frank James has never been known to have a head full of gray hair when he was the age of the man in the photo. Frank James was bald by that time of life. Plus the facial features, spacing, and relationships in the claimed image differentiates wildly from known images of Alexander Franklin James.

Fraudulent pictures of Jesse James and Jesse James with the Younger brothers
Claimed image of Jesse Woodson James & Jesse Woodson James seated with Younger brothers, assessed as fraudulent

No authentic image of either Jesse Woodson James or the Younger Brothers would come close to favoring these.

Con men arrive with their claims, always pumping their frauds together with their own bad behavior.

The Ghost of Jesse James is in Selma, Alabama – Believe it, or NOT!

Celebrity attachment to an American outlaw is good for business. Since his assassination, countless newspapers and businesses have capitalized on the icon of Jesse Woodson James. Like most advertising and promotion, though, what passes as fact is more often than not lies, distortions, or simply fraud.

Today’s event of lies and fraudulent branding comes from Kelly Kazek, in an article Kazek wrote on al.com, a website for three Alabama newspapers.

Kelly Kazak
Kelly Kazek

Writing about “Haunting Tales from Ghost Town Tours,” Kazek featured the St. James Hotel in Selma, Alabama.  The journalist wrote, “In 1881, Frank and Jesse James and members of their gang took a vacation from robbing and killing and vacationed at The Brantly, according to the hotel website.” The Brantly today is Selma’s historic St. James Hotel.

A review of the website for the St. James Hotel confirms what the hotel claims. “Following the war, Benjamin Sterling Turner operated the hotel; the first African-American ever elected to the United States Congress and is reputed to have hosted the legendary outlaw brothers Frank and Jesse James in 1881.”

screenshot

If true, this would be welcome new history to the Jesse James genre, on many levels. What exactly was the relationship of Turner to the notorious outlaws? To what purpose were Frank and Jesse associating with an elected member of the United States Congress? We know nothing about Benjamin Sterling Turner that links him to Frank and Jesse James. But we do know where Frank and Jesse were in 1881. The story offered by Kazek and the St. James Hotel don’t add up.

Wishing to confront the St. James Hotel with the known and recognized factual record, we emailed Kelly Kazek, asking how long her story would stay on the internet. Her tart email response was, “As long as there is an internet.”  Really?

Kazek also asked what claims we believed were false. She didn’t wait for our response, however, before our email response was blocked as spam. Fine enough, Kazek can be notified of our reply below or via Facebook.

failed email delivery

Kazek had added to her story of the St. James that the ghost of Jesse James stalks the old hotel in “cowboy clothes” with a girlfriend named Lucinda and Jesse’s dog which “accompanied the James gang.”

We stated in reply to Kazek’s question, “There was no James Gang after 1876 when the Younger brothers were captured, convicted, and imprisoned. Jesse James lived in Nebraska and St. Joe, Missouri in the period the hotel claims. Jesse James never was a cowboy. He was first a partisan combatant of the Civil War, and after, though arguably, a criminal. No evidence has ever been produced linking Jesse James to any woman other than his wife. He was a devoted husband and father.”

Straying from historical fact is expected among journalists with no claim to history. But Kelley Kazek is the author of The Hidden History of Auburn (AL.) and several other history books. You expect factual reporting from such an author. Then again, Kelly Kazek disappeared on us as quickly as her ghost of Jesse James.

St. James Hotel
Jesse James reported the hotel reeked of Southern pretension – Believe it, or not!

 

Michele Bachmann Challenged to Prove Jesse James Claim

Michele Bachmann - FRAUDULENT CLAIMANT

The James Preservation Trust represents the historical interests of the family of Frank & Jesse James. Everyday the Trust deals with claims from the public regarding the outlaw Jesse James. Most claims regard a kinship to the outlaws, or a story of a relationship passed down through generations of a family. Only a few claims are submitted with supporting evidence.Most every one of the claims is unproved.

Some claims, such as the claim made by the motorcycle celebrity Jesse Gregory James that he is a descendant of the outlaw Jesse James, are plainly fraudulent. The Trust challenged the celebrity to produce evidence of his claim. The celebrity has produced no evidence. The Trust since has labeled Jesse G. James a fraud.

Among all the claims, however, no claim has ever come from as high a level as one intent upon becoming President of the United States…until now.

As reported in the press on November 21, 2011, T-GOP Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann writes in her book Core of Conviction: My Story that her second great grandfather won a farm in a poker game with the outlaw Jesse James.

It’s an historically recognized fact that throughout his lifetime Jesse James never owned a farm of his own. It’s also a fact that Jesse James was assassinated as he worked on a finance plan (robbery) to purchase a farm for his family in Nebraska. But the deal was never closed.

The James Preservation Trust challenges Michelle Bachman to produce the transfers of record regarding her second great grandfather’s farm that she claims he won from Jesse James.

UPDATE

Following Michele Bachmann’s claim, a thoughtful exploration of the facts behind Bachmann’s fraudulent claim was made on the Huffington Post by author Chris Rodda.

Rodda is a Senior Research Director for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). She also is author of Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right’s Alternate Version of American History

Rodda questioned,

Did Michele Bachmann Really Expect to Get Away With Her Jesse James Story?

Rodda then produced the facts behind the story, now copied here:

Chris Rodda

So, let’s start with the passage from Bachmann’s book:

“… When the bugle sounded, Iowans answered the call. That same great-great-grandfather Halvor Munson — the tall one who almost didn’t get to leave Norway — was fifteen when the Civil War broke out. Halvor rushed to enlist, and because he was big, it was easy for him to join the Army. The young soldier was sent west, spending the war years guarding U.S. forts out on the frontier.

“After the war, Halvor was demobilized and ended up coming home on a river raft. And who else was on the raft? None other than Jesse James and his gang. That notorious criminal crew, in fact, invited Halvor to join them; he declined. Yet he did agree to play poker with James and his gang, and he won, of all things, a farm in Iola, Kansas. Who would know that you could win at poker with Jesse James and live? For a while, Halvor traveled back and forth between Kansas and Iowa, but Iowa was always his home. …”

Now, let’s separate fact from fiction.

In the paragraph before the Jesse James claim, Bachmann is just keeping up the most important piece of fiction in the story she tells when campaigning in Iowa — that the intended destination of her immigrant ancestors was the awesome state of Iowa, and that it was Iowa where they settled upon arriving in the United States in 1857. In both her campaigning story and her book, Bachmann simply omits that her ancestors first lived in Wisconsin for well over three years, then went to the Dakota Territory for about the same length of time, and only ended up in Iowa — seven years after coming to America — because they couldn’t hack the hardships and dangers of the Dakota Territory, and fled to the safety of a well established Norwegian community in Iowa. So, of course, in her new Jesse James poker game story, she had to make her great-great-grandfather Halvor an Iowan when he enlisted in the Union Army.

Halvor did enlist in the Union Army, and he was only fifteen at the time. That part is true. He enlisted in February 1862, and his sixteenth birthday was on March 1, 1862. But he was not an Iowan; he was a Dakotan. He became a private in Company A of the 1st Battalion Dakota Cavalry, which was organized in April 1862. Halvor wasn’t “sent west.” He already was west.

Next, Bachmann’s story places the alleged poker game with Jesse James at the time when Halvor’s Army unit was demobilized, and Halvor was supposedly on his way home on a river raft. But this is impossible for two reasons.

First, since Halvor’s home was in the Dakota Territory, and not in Iowa, there wouldn’t have been any river raft trip for him to get home. According to his military records, Halvor’s unit mustered out on May 9, 1865 at Vermillion, Dakota Territory, only about fifteen miles from his home at Elk Point — close enough to just walk home. But it’s actually highly unlikely that Halvor even went home at all. His family had left fled the Dakota Territory in 1864, and were then in Utica Township, Iowa. But he probably didn’t go there either, and even if he did, he couldn’t have gone by raft because Utica Township is almost 300 miles away from the Missouri River.

Second, it was May 1865. There was no James Gang yet. The members of what would become the gang were busy wrapping up their Civil War guerilla activities. The whereabouts of Jesse James and his future gang members at this time are very well known because May 10, 1865, the day after Halvor Munson mustered out of the Army in the Dakota Territory, was the day that Quantrill’s Raiders were ambushed by Union soldiers, and James Younger was captured. A few days later, Jesse James was shot by Union troops while attempting to surrender to them, after which he spent many months recovering. This was all happening in Missouri, nowhere near the Dakota Territory. It wasn’t until February 1866 that Jesse James formed his gang and robbed his first bank.

Halvor’s river raft trip wasn’t in 1865 when he got out of the Army, but three years later, in 1868. Immediately after being discharged from the Army, Halvor, along with the sergeant from his Army company, joined up for the Sawyers Expedition, a federally-funded expedition led by Lt. Col. James Sawyers to build a road from Niobrara, Nebraska to Virginia City, Montana. This expedition set out on June 13, 1865.

According to the account of his son, Halvor signed on for a three-year enlistment in the expedition service, and was at Fort Benton in Montana when his enlistment was up. Since Halvor got out of the Army in May of 1865, and left with the Sawyers Expedition in June, his three-year enlistment would have been up in May or June of 1868. This is when he was on a river raft on the Missouri, getting off the raft at Sioux City, Iowa, and going overland from there to join his family in Utica, Iowa.

And where was Jesse James in May and June of 1868 when Halvor Munson would have been on this river raft trip? Well, according to all accounts, he was on his way to California. He was in Kentucky in March (at the time of the Russellville bank robbery), went to Missouri in early April, left from there for New York in May, and was on a ship bound for San Francisco on June 8. So, no, he couldn’t have been on a river raft with Michele Bachmann’s great-great-grandfather playing poker and losing a farm.

So, where did Bachmann get this story from? Well, just like her fictitious story about how her immigrant ancestors came to Iowa, it appears that she found something on the web, and then made some revisions to it. In this case, it was almost certainly a “Family Group” sheet for Halvor Munson on the IAGenWeb site.

Here’s the section, written by other Munson descendants, that mentions the Jesse James story. But this says that the James Gang was only “allegedly” on the raft, and calls the poker game story “folklore” and “unverified,” words that, of course, didn’t stop Michele Bachmann from turning the story into historical fact in her book.

“Halvor proved his faith in the ‘New World,’ as the Norwegian emigrants called America, when he enlisted in the Union Army in February 1862. He was only 15 years old so first served as a drummer boy in Company A, First Dakota Cavalry, which was assigned to garrison and patrol duty in the Dakota settlements. Uncertainty about the Indians, who, until a treaty in 1858, had sole access to Dakota Territory, kept Company A and the settlers on constant alert. Halvor was probably one of the soldiers that, along with the settlers, hastily erected Fort Brule in August 1862, for protection against the Indians. Convincing rumors of an imminent attack by the Sioux in early September 1862 later found to be untrue, frightened the settlers into an evacuation to Sioux City rather than taking refuge in Fort Brule.

“Halvor served in the Civil War for three years, two months, being honorably discharged as a Private, First Class, in April 1865, an historic month. On April 9th, General Lee surrendered his Confederate troops to General Grant at Appomattox, Virginia. President Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre April 14th and died the next morning. Out of service and only 19, what next for Halvor? His son, Alfred, wrote that Halvor immediately joined the government’s Sawyer Ox Team Expedition for a three-year term of duty. The purpose was to supply U. S. forts along the Missouri River as far west as Fort Benton, Montana (forty miles northeast of Great Falls). They also made a 500-mile trip from Ft. Benton to Salt Lake City, Utah to secure flour for these forts in 1866 or 1867. U.S. troops escorted them through dangerous Indian territories.

“Halvor completed his Expedition duty while at Ft. Benton in the spring of 1868. He rafted down the Missouri River with Confederate prisoners of war that the Union Army had used to fight Indians. The infamous ‘James Boys’ were allegedly aboard one of the rafts recruiting members for their gang. Jesse was 21 and had been robbing for two years, but may have established his ‘fame’ later as he lived until 1882.

“Halvor, age 22, left the raft at Sioux City, Iowa and came to Chickasaw County where he lived with his parents in Utica Township. [The Munsons lived near the village of UTICA in Dane County, Wisconsin, in UTICA township in Crawford County, Wisconsin, and in UTICA township in Chickasaw County, Iowa.]

“He married Anna Jorgensdatter Aaberg on October 26, 1868, at Saude, Iowa. They lived in Utica Township one year, and then settled on a farm in Jacksonville Township near the crossroads town of Jacksonville. It was established in 1854 when the first settler built a log cabin on The Old Military Trail, Fort Crawford–Fort Atkinson, Fort Dodge.

“Halvor was a shrewd operator when it came to dealing in land. He bought and sold land in Jacksonville Township, Utica Township, and near Iola, Kansas. Forklore had it that he won the 240-acre Kansas farm in a poker game, but this is unverified. …”

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Jesse Gregory James, alias Jesse James

Techniques of Jesse James Con Artists

News Coverage Spreads Bachmann Fraud

The Fraudulent Claim of Insane John James