Tag Archives: James Preservation Trust

GREAT-GRANDSON OF JESSE JAMES & DANIEL BOONE, DONALD JAMES BAUMEL, IS DEAD

“If all I did was to walk around saying that I’m a descendant of Daniel Boone and a descendant of Jesse James, I wouldn’t have a life of my own.”
– Donald James Baumel to Eric F. James, 2002

Donald James Baumel, James Gang & Family Reunion, 2002, Paso Robles, California

The ancestry which Donald James Baumel inherited from America’s iconic outlaw Jesse James and Kentucky’s iconic explorer Daniel Boone determined how Don lived and died. Central to his life was what Don valued most – his privacy.

Don Baumel died on April 27, 2011. Family members delayed announcement of his death, considering whether to announce it at all. If Don had his way, he would have probably preferred to slip away into history totally unnoticed, with no recognition either of his life or of his death by anyone.

Don was last seen among his family at the James Gang & Family Reunion, held in Paso Robles, California in 2002. Months of coaxing by Judge James Randall Ross, Don’s first cousin, finally got Don to show up. Among 200 family and friends attending the reunion, Don went virtually unnoticed among them as he circulated freely through all the events. No one had seen Don in years. He talked with few people.

At a break in the events, Judge Ross and I went to lunch with Don. He ordered a sandwich, but picked at it sparingly. We then went shopping for a western outfit, so Don could be dressed western style like the rest of us. But in every store, Don resisted. Nothing was purchased. That night at the banquet, however, Don appeared in a western outfit that had more worn authenticity than anyone else in the dining room. He looked like he just had stepped out of the California West when Frank and Jesse last visited Paso Robles. The clothes were Don’s own.

Touring historic sites the next afternoon, Don rode with me, my niece Kathryn Craft, and Steve Leonard of the James Preservation Trust. For once, Don was not silent at all. We showered him in questions. Don not only responded generously, he gave us an exclusive insight into his life, which no one ever had heard before.

Don was born a twin. His twin sister Diane survives him. In high school in Los Angeles, Don and Diane both were considered “joiners.” If a group existed, they joined. Years later in 2007, I met Barbara Clemens from their high school class. Barbara confirmed the fact. Diane and Don were elected by their classmates, together with three others, as “Ephebians,” the top graduation honor awarded to those who demonstrated the highest grade averages, and who were the most socially and politically active. Don was Vice-President of the student body.

About this time, Don learned he was a direct descendant of the notorious outlaw Jesse James. Like most others among the James family who stumbled upon the family secret, Don was advised not to advertise the fact, but not to deny it either, if questioned. Don chose to avoid the question altogether.

When he joined the U. S. Army, Don’s life began to change. He was assigned to a security group, and stationed at a radio squadron in Mobile, Alabama. Don learned tools of the secrecy trade. Exiting the Army, Don enrolled at UCLA in California. He no longer was the socially and politically active student that he once was in high school. Don had changed.

Don knew little of his family history, unlike his cousin Jim Ross, who had grown up in the household of Jesse James Jr. For himself, Don seemed to live in a growing fear of the past. As he did, Don’s life appeared to become directionless. When his father Mervyn Baumel died in 1964, Don was left a trust fund instead of an outright inheritance. Unlike his cousins descended from Thomas Martin James, the Kansas City millionaire merchant, Don didn’t need to worry about having money or a career, and the possible exposure that came with it

Most of his life, Don lived in San Francisco. Like a couple of his less recognized cousins, Rev. William Henry James who maintained a mission for the poor and homeless of Kansas City, and Luther Tillman James who founded the Kansas City Provident Association to financially support programs for the poor and homeless, Don developed an affinity for the disenfranchised of San Francisco. Among the faceless of Market Street, Don found he could live and work as he pleased, both comfortably and anonymously. Money meant little, if nothing, to Don. Anything he had, he was happy to share or give away. Like Rev. William Henry James, like his ancestral Mimms cousins, and like his third great grand Uncle Drury Woodson James, Don lived in a hotel.

A heart attack took the life of Donald James Baumel, as it did his cousin Jim Ross in March of 2007, and also Jim’s mother Jo Frances James in March of 1964.

ERIC JAMES
Danville, Ky.
September 28, 2011

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DON’S DESCENT FROM JESSE WOODSON JAMES
Jesse Woodson James & Zerelda Amanda Mimms
. Jesse Edward James Jr. & Estella Frances McGowan
.. Mervyn Baumel & Jessie Estell James
… Donald James Baumel

DON’S DESCENT FROM DANIEL BOONE
Daniel Boone & Rebecca Ann Bryant
. Nathan Boone & Olive Van Biber
.. Alfred M. Hosman & Mary Boone
… Luther Alfred McGowan & Mary Frances Hosman
…. Alfred Monte McGowan & Martha Ann Wood
….. Jesse Edward James Jr. & Estella Frances McGowan
…… Mervyn Baumel & Jessie Estell James

…… Donald James Baumel

RELATED STORIES

High School Photos of Jesse James Great-Grandchildren

Obituary of Dr. John R. James, Uncle of Frank and Jesse James

John R. James Obituary
Obituary of John R. James.

The James Preservation Trust has received the contribution of the obituary of Dr. John R. James, an uncle of Frank and Jesse James.

For over a hundred years the obituary lay inside the family bible of Jesse Edward Smith, Dr. James’ grandson. Upon the death of Jesse Edwards Smith, the bible was passed to his daughter Agnes. Although Agnes married, she bore no children. Agnes left the bible to her favorite nephew Jesse Deets Smith.

The James Preservation Trust extends its gratitude to Jesse Deets Smith and his cousin Sandy Kassen for this contribution. Both are descendants of Dr. John R. James, an uncle of Frank and Jesse James.

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OBITUARY TEXT

Doctor John. R. James was born in Logan County, near Russellville, Kentucky, February 5th, 1815, and fell on sleep October 25th, 1887, at Carthage, Missouri, aged seventy-two years, eight months, and twenty days. He was the son of Rev. John James, who was noted for his piety and fidelity in the early history of Kentucky.

Jesse Edward Smith
Jesse Edward Smith, grandson of Dr. John R. James. See RELATED STORIES below.

The subject of this sketch was converted at Red Oak Grove Church, in Logan County, October 1832, in a revival meeting conducted by Reverend Mr. Stephens. and joined the Methodist Church at once. His conversion took place in the time of the great revival which spread over that, part of the State—he was soundly and genuinely converted. Through his Christian life of about fifty-five years, he continued to evidence the spirit of the Master, and to adorn the doctrine of Christ. During all this time he brought not a reproach upon the religion he professed, never faltering nor deviating from the path of duty; always cheerfully supporting the institutions of the church he loved so well. As he said to me, “I’ve stood by the Southern Methodist Church through all her history.”

He was happily married to Miss Amanda Williams, of Logan county, in 1836; she died in 1871. This union was blessed with three children, John. F., Robert. W., and Sue P., (now Mrs. Smith). He was again married in 1872, to Mrs. Bradley, who died in 1884.

Bro. James now felt that the charm of earth was broken, so he was only awaiting the summons. Two brothers and one sister were with him when called to go— Reverend William and Mr. T. M. James, and Mrs. Elizabeth West; also his immediate family, who did all that loving hands could do. I was with him before the end came and talked with him freely about the crisis. “I am willing and prepared to go.” For fifty years I’ve been preparing for this event.” Without fear he passed to the land of rest.

J. H. Todd
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ADDITIONAL OBITUARY

CARTHAGE BANNER Weekly Edition
published October 27, 1887
Carthage, Missouri

DR. JOHN R. JAMES
Dr. J. R. James died this morning at five o’clock at the residence of his son-in-law, J. W. Smith, corner of Chestnut Avenue and Clinton street. The deceased was almost a total stranger in this city, having come here from Anthony, Kansas the 7th of last month with his son, R. W. James, who is now in the harness and buggy business on North Main Street. He was over seventy-two years of age and died from a disease of many years standing. His two brothers and a sister, Rev. Wm. H. James, T. M. James, Mrs. Elizabeth West, all of Kansas City, arrived last evening and were present at the time of his death. The funeral will take place tomorrow at 10 a.m. from the South Methodist Church, Rev. J. W. Todd preaching the sermon. The funeral services will be in charge of the Masonic order of this city and the remains will be interred in Park Cemetery.

RELATED STORY: Jesse Edward Smith Recalls Jesse James, His Namesake & Cousin

Susan Prudence James-Smith
Family of Susan Prudence James, daughter of Dr. John R. James, and her husband John Wesley Smith

James Preservation Trust Gets Historic New Digs

Jonathon Nichols Office & Home, c. 1802-1816

The James Preservation Trust soon will occupy the historic, 200 year old building built by Jonathon Nichols in Danville, Kentucky. The structure sits on the Wilderness Road, the entry road from the Cumberland Gap into central Kentucky, pioneered by Daniel Boone with his ax-man Johannes Vardeman. Vardeman is the father of Rev. Jeremiah Vardeman who married Betsy James, the daughter of John M. James & Clara Nall. John M. James himself rode this path repeatedly, bringing pioneers from Virginia and North Carolina to settlement in Kentucky.

The structure was built originally in 1802 for Nichols & his hemp farm. Nichols purchased the land from Phillip Yeiser. The dual doors facing Wilderness Road entered Nichols’ one room office on the left & his one room & attic residence on the right.

Jonathon Nichols Home & Office, Original Entry Facade

Sometime before 1816 Nichols added more spacious living space to his original structure. Subsequently, the main entrance to the home was shifted to the side facade.

From this home, Nichols’ hemp farm extended along the streets of today’s Lexington & Broadway Avenues to Danville’s First Street. Constructing hemp rope requires a building as long as the rope being manufactured. It is believed an additional manufacturing structure occupied the property extending up to 400 feet in length. Today, the property’s original Lexington Avenue boundary is occupied by mansion style homes dating to the pre-Civil War era.

Over time, the office-residence housed enslaved people. Joseph McAlister James, who left Pulaski County to settle in Danville, brought his enslaved with him. Prior to the Civil War, Mack set them free, establishing them in their own plantations off Clark’s Run nearby.

At the Boyle County Courthouse nearby, generations of Jonathon Nichols’ descendants have served as County Clerk & Recorder. Nichols family signatures have witnessed the deeds of Joseph McAlister James in the eighteenth century & deeds of Stray Leaves publisher Eric James in the twenty-first century. They also have witnessed the deeds of the Sallee & Samuels family descendants who also lived in Danville.

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TOUR SITES NEARBY

Constitution Square, Danville, Kentucky

Within walking distance of the JPT’s new home are many sites relevant to the James family. One can visit Constitution Square, where John M. James attended Judge Harris Innes in 1784, when Innes petitioned Virginia for the separation of the District of Kentucky to become its own Commonwealth.

James Hotel, c. 1910. When the original wood structure burned in 1876, Joseph McAlister James rebuilt the hotel in brick.

Off Fourth & Main Sts. in downtown Danville, is the site of James Hall, owned by Joseph McAlister James. James Hall was home for decades to Danville’s community & social events, politicking, Chautauqua presentations, & theatricals.

A block away, adjacent to the Court House built by Isaac Hite, is Weisiger Park, the former site of Mack James’ hotel, originally built by Jeremiah Clemens as the Black Horse Inn. Clemens was a relation of the author & humorist Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain.

Boyle County Courthouse, Built by Isaac Hite

In this same area, William Clark Quantrill, Frank James, the Pences, & the Youngers invaded Kentucky after the end of the Civil War, on their mission to “meet” Abraham Lincoln in Washington. Frank James took the opportunity to acquire some new book while in town. Further down Main St. is the First Presbyterian Church & cemetery, where Mack James was its first cemetery sextant. Adjacent is Centre College where Crittendens & Youngers were schooled.

Eric James says “No, Thanks” to Jesse James publisher, North Star Press

If you thought you knew Jesse James, wait until you meet his family. So says Eric James, author of the new, long awaited, four volume history of the family of Frank and Jesse James.

According to historian Nancy Samuelson who has previewed portions of the upcoming book, the author of The History of the Dalton Gang says James’ book is likely to send historians back to find what history they missed.

“I was honored that North Star Press of Minnesota wanted to publish my book,” says Eric James. North Star Press already publishes five books about Jesse James and the James-Younger Gang by author John Koblas. “My books would have been a natural complement,” says James. Koblas, who also has previewed a large portion of James’ book, insists James’ book “must be published!”

After two months of negotiations, however, James now is seeking a publisher elsewhere. After twelve years of research and writing, Eric James is not at all disappointed that publication of Volume I of his epic quartet now appears headed for a nine month delay. Publication formerly was expected this Fall. Release now is re-scheduled for Summer of 2011.

Given the economic difficulties in the publishing industry today, James doesn’t begrudge North Star Press for not wanting to produce a hardcover edition. James just wants to meet his readers’ expectations. They tell James a hardcover edition is a must, though some of his readers prefer a case slipped, collector’s edition.

James credits North Star with opening his eyes to his book’s possibilities. “North Star was particularly helpful in establishing the multi-volume format of the work,” says James. “This, in turn, focused my attention on the work’s trans media possibilities.” James is intrigued by the new Vook format, soon to be used by vampire author Anne Rice. A Vook is a book published in tandem with video applications of a book’s content.

Since 1997, Eric James has written and published the official web site for the family of Frank & Jesse James. Stray Leaves, a James Family in America since 1650 (www.ericjames.org). On any given day, over 10,000 visitors are attracted to the web site, particularly to research its gargantuan genealogy database, related to the James family. James also is president of The James Preservation Trust, which addresses the historical interests of the James family.

Eric James already is at work planning a special 4-day schedule of events in Kansas City, where he will premiere the book. Russell Hatter, curator of the Capital City Museum in Frankfort, Kentucky and publisher at The Frankfort Press, is looking forward to James’ quartet of new books. “Eric James’ gift for pulling new history out of genealogy is absolutely brilliant!”