Tag Archives: Jesse James

Portrait of an Abandoned Family

Every photo tells a story. This photo tells the sad story of the aftermath left by a person not in the picture. Mack Henry James 1878-1945 ran out on this abandoned family. He left his wife and his children, shown here, with no support. With few resources, they successfully reorganized themselves into extended family.


Identified by Dean Watkins Conely, Feb 18, 2016: Center: Ivadean James Elliott & her 3 chrildren Patricia Ann, Gerald, & Rod Elliott. 4th Child is Del Watkins, sister of Dean Watkins Conley. 2nd Row L-R: Zena James Randall, Ada James Watkins, Geneva “Ginny” James Randall, Dora James, & Canzada Watkins. Back Row L-R: Lareen Randall Phelps, possibly Boyd Phelps, & Leonard Watkins.

Mac died terribly. He was a junkyard man woefully ridden by  Buerger’s disease. His two legs were amputated. Mac was left entirely to the care of one of the women for whom he abandoned his family. Following Mac’s death, his third wife Flora Audra Spencer, after caring for Mac and watching him die, would enter her own descent into the cruel underworld of Alzheimer’s disease.

Mac’s abandoned family progressed forward painfully. They were more successful. Generations of them, demonstrating high respect for family, have followed. Mac only survives as a lost memory and a sad story. The legacy of Mac’s family lives in his children and theirs.


The Abandoned Family in the Picture

Canzada Frances Gregory-Watkins:  From her apron, it is evident Canzada Watkins is the hostess of this group on the day the photo was taken. Born in 1872, she is the mother of Leonard Watkins, a twin born in 1905.

Leonard Watkins :  Leonard is a son of Canzada Watkins. Leonard also is a 6th great-grandson of Samuel Sallee of Culpeper County, Virginia. Just how Samuel is related to Guillaume “William” Sallee, the associate of Frank and Jesse James’ grandfather John M. James, remains undefined.

Ada James-Watkins :  Ada James, one of the daughters abandoned by Mack Henry James, stands to her husband Leonard’s right. All the descendants of Leonard and Ada James Watkins share a unique combination of James and Sallee kinship.

Delma “Del” Watkins:  The child standing far right is the daughter of Leonard Watkins & Ada James.

Dorinda “Dora” Phelps-James:  Standing to the right of Canzada Watkins, Dora is the first wife of Mack Henry James. She is the mother of his children. All were left to be Mac’s abandoned family shortly after the birth of their 5th child, Ivadean James in 1915. The 1920 census lists Dora at age 37 as head of household with four children between the ages of twelve and four and a half years. She had been head of household for almost four years.

Ivadean James-Elliott:  Standing front and center is the youngest child of Mack Henry James. Ivadean James inherited the genetic tall gene that is occasional among James siblings. Over the years, the unhappiness of her expression in the photo would turn into resignation and peaceful acceptance.

James Family History Is Lost & Unknown

When interviewed in 1999, Ivadean James-Elliott misidentified her paternal great-grandfather. She knew her grandfather Judge John Thomas James, who tragically was dragged under an automobile and killed when Ivadean was 8 years old. But she knew nothing about her actual paternal great- grandfather, the “talented, but erratic” Rev. Joseph Martin James.

Leaving his family in embarrassment and defrocked due to his alcoholism, outrageous misbehavior, and bigamy, Rev. Joe married Permelia Estepp bigamously, while he still was married to his second wife Rhoda May. Rev. Joe continued to father children in alternate years as he lived with his two wives in their houses in alternate years.

The community of Flat Lick Baptist Church and Pulaski County branded the offspring of Rev. Joe and Permelia Estepp as “the bastard bunch.” They were socially ostracized by a communal silence. Children and grandchildren of this line did not know or recognize one another. Nor were they regarded as family by others of the James family. Today, that has changed.

More Abandoned Family

Ronald “Ron,” Patricia Ann, & Gerald Elliott: The three children Ivadean James bore to Gid Chester Elliott, who also abandoned Ivadean as her father did. When Ivadean died in 2000, ironically Gid Elliott also passed 12 hours later.

Zena James-Randall:  Another child in the abandoned family of Mack Henry James, Zena married Rev. Clifford Randall Sr. They had 6 children. Zena operated a mercantile store in Science Hill. She was known to often forgive unpaid due balances. Her kindness and consideration, together with her children and their progeny, salvaged their lost ancestry. She restored dignity and respect.

Geneva “Ginny” James:  Geneva married Rev. William Lesbert Randall, known casually as Willie. Their 7 children moved in a world beyond Pulaski County. Five years after they married, Rev. Randall in 1928 began to conduct missionary work in China. For a year following September, 1936, he furloughed in Victoria of Vancouver, Canada. He returned to China until 1940, when Ginny and he finally returned to Pulaski County, he conducted Baptist evangelism.

Missionary Family

Missionary Family – Rev. William Lesbart Randall & Geneva James, with their youngest son Robert Randall.

Other Outlaw Kin

Through their ancestry in the Randall family, the descendants of Zena & Geneva James also are 3rd cousins, twice removed of Western outlaw & lawman Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp 1848-1929. The common ancestors they share are William H. Earp 1720-1778 & Priscilla Nichols.

Laurene “Lareen” Randall-Phelps:  The daughter of Zena James & Rev. Clifford Randall Sr., she married Boyd Bertram Phelps. The couple produced 4 children.

Boyd Bertram Phelps, possibly:  Zena’s husband.

Omer James:  Omer does not appear in this photo above. He is the sole male sibling of Zena, Ada, Geneva, and Ivadean James. Omer was known to visit his father Mack Henry James in Bloomington, Illinois on several occasions. He appears here with a friend identified as Clettie.

Contributors

William Hurt:  The subject photograph above was brought to the attention of Stray Leaves by William Hurt. He is the husband of Mitzi Elaine Watkins, a daughter of Leland Elaine Watkins and a granddaughter of Leonard and Ada James Watkins.


Dean Watkins Conley:  Dean provided William Hurt with the subject photo initially. She provided furthermore identification of the individuals in the picture. Dean Watkins Conley is a daughter of Leonard and Ada James Watkins.


Ada James Watkins’ Lore about Frank & Jesse James

Contributor William Hurt provided Stray Leaves with this following family lore back in 2010.

“Hi. My name is William Hurt (not the actor). I was at my wife’s family reunion sitting with her grandmother Ada James Watkins. We were all sitting around talking and she was sitting quietly enjoying the presence of all the young people around her when a popular cousin arrived and caused a big stir of people wanting to see him.

Ada James-Watkins

“Well, out of the blue she [Ada] started telling a story. I was totally amazed. She said, ‘I can remember when I was a young’un at our reunions when Frank would show up he would cause an even bigger commotion.’

She went on to explain that she was talking about Frank James. I knew that she was somehow related to Frank and Jesse James, but I didn’t know that she actually knew one of them, let alone that Frank would come to Pulaski County to a James family reunion. Unfortunately, she stopped talking and a few months later suffered a stroke and forgot everything and everybody.

“I grew up in Campground close to where The James Gang hid out after an aborted attempt at robbing The Bank of Somerset, according to stories. It seems they rode into town and saw some young men with shotguns and thought someone had tipped them off. In all reality, the boys [with the shotguns] were going rabbit hunting and never even noticed the James gang. The gang returned to Campground and hid out a few days then rode on to rob the bank in Jamestown so the story was told to me. The cabin they hid out in burned when I was very young but the chimneys are still standing.

“My wife has been wanting to find out exactly what her relation to Frank and Jesse really is. Lots of people around here claim relation but most I do not believe. I didn’t really think my wife was related until her grandmother told that story and one of her cousins tried to explain the blood tie. Thank you for your time. I no longer live in Campground I now live in what locals call the Halloween house in Stanford.”

Ada James-Watkins (c) with daughters L-R Dean, Delma, and twins Zena and Lena Watkins.

The Facts about Ada James Watkins Lore

Alexander Franklin “Frank” James died February 15, 1915, when Ada James was still only 4 years old. Other James family relate stories of the James brothers visiting Rev. Joseph Martin James’ stone house in Shopville, but none of the stories are substantiated.  If Ada recalled a Frank James, it probably was another Frank James among the family and not the notorious Civil War partisan who had surrendered.

The attempted robbery of the First National Bank of Somerset, KY occurred in either 1876 or 1877 as reported in Alma Tibbal’s book The History of Pulaski County.  As is widely known and documented, Jesse James lived in Nashville and secondly in Waverly, Tennessee. Frank also lived in Nashville. Both were pursuing the turf trade and racing. Frank was pursuing a lucrative career as a race starter. They had little need for robbing banks.

Lastly, the Campground site mentioned has been researched and documented HERE on Stray Leaves.

Descendants of Dorinda “Dora” Phelps-James, 2017

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James & Earp Cousin Rev. Bernard Patton Randall Passes

Flora Audra Spencer, The Other Woman in The Life of Mack Henry James

Who Wrote the Jesse James Family Tree?


Who wrote the Jesse James family tree? The story of the Jesse James family tree discovery is told in the opening chapter of Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence.
Joan Beamis found the family tree among the artifacts of Mary Louisa James-Burns. Joan called her grandmother Mary Louisa, Nanna. Joan’s great grandfather is Drury Woodson James, an uncle of Frank & Jesse James. Nanna is his daughter. The finding of the family tree following Nanna’s death left Joan with the lingering question.

Jesse James family tree-pg5
Page 6 of the Jesse James family tree found by Joan Beamis.

Some of my Theories of Nanna’s Handwritten Family Tree Found in Her Trunk after She had Died in 1950

by Joan Beamis

The family tree was declared as inadmissible evidence for genealogical purposes by the D.A.R. Registrar’s Office when offered as partial proof when I was searching my papers for membership in the D.A.R. I could not say who wrote it, when it was written, or by whom it was written.

Rejection imprint received by Joan Beamis from the Daughters of the American Revolution.

My grandmother, Mary James Burns (Mrs. Edward F.) never talked about her James connections even with her own grandchildren; and we were grown men and women when my father inadvertently let it slip. (He had to forbid us to mention anything about it to Nanna.) My one thought now, is, that Nanna, seventeen years in her grave next June, would have enjoyed my research as much as I have.

Now, about this little “tree.”

1. Evidently written by someone in Kansas City because the exact birth date and death dates are given only for Mary, Elizabeth, and Thomas Martin.

2. It might possibly have been one of Mary James Mimms’ children because the only wedding date is that of the mother and father – 1828.

3. It was evidently written expressly for my grandmother because all vital information and statistics about Drury Woodson James were left for her to fill in. With the exception of his name and his wife’s name, and that was written Lula instead of Louisa.

4. Exact death dates are given for Mary James Mimms, Elizabeth James West, and Thomas Martin James. Year of death is given for Dr. John James and Nancy James Hite. Nancy married Maj. George Hite of Logan County, Ky., brought ten children into the world and died there at the age of 55. I know nothing at all about the dentist Dr. John James who married Amanda Williams on Sept. 1, 1836 (On record at Logan County Court House). In the 1860 Census, they were living with the Williams family – they and their three children plus Prudence Williams aged 71 female listed as a farmer! the son-in-law, Mary Williams, aged 45. The brother-in-law aged 17, a farm laborer and another brother-in-law Lucius age 7.

5. Apparently, the author of this tree was very familiar with the family of Rev. William James. He is listed as marrying Mary Barbee, as near as I can make out because Nanna has crossed out the name and written Varble over it. The original tree is thus:
a) William
b) Mary married Geo. Kirkpatrick – no children
c) Laura married Chas. Dickson – 2 children: Chancy, Frank (married)
d) George not married
e) Alice married Luther Chapman: Grace, Ethel, and Alvin
f) Luther – married
Then Nanna had written in, evidently after corresponding with Mary Kirkpatrick the following changes. Compare with the above.
a) Julia – dead
b) Thomas – dead
c) William – dead
d) Mary – married Geo. Kirkpatrick – 1 child William Lee (Dec. 3, 1875 – Jan. 18, 1879)
e) Laura married Chas. Dickson: Chancy, Frank (married)
f) George – not married
g) Alice – married Luther Chapman: Grace, Ethel, & Alvin
h) Luther – married
i) Gustavus – dead

Evidently, the author was unaware that William James had nine children and not six. But the missing ones could very well have died in their early infancy as did Mary Kirkpatrick’s only child William Lee, whom the author was also unaware of.


Lucy Ethel Mimms-Gray, called Ludie, was a lifelong school teacher. She also was a member of the DAR who helped Joan Beamis acquire her DAR membership via their Mimms ancestry. Ludie also is a James descendant through her great-grandparents John M. James & Mary “Polly” Poor.

6. Evidently, a woman’s handwriting and I think a member of the Mimms family. Lucy Mimms Gray (see the family tree – a daughter of Robert Mimms and Mattie Thomason – with whom I had an extensive correspondence until she died age 90, January 5, 1967) says it was not her mother’s handwriting. May have been Nannie Mimms McBride or it may have been Sallie Mimms Sullivan. Couldn’t have been Mary Kirkpatrick. Couldn’t have been Elizabeth James West’s daughter-in-law as she certainly would have know the name of the girl her son Oscar married! Someone from the West family also would have known that Elizabeth James bore nine children, not four as the tree states.

7) Couldn’t have been Susan Parmer (Jesse’s sister) as she was living in Texas and furthermore was dead by the time the tree was written. And so was Nancy James Hite.

8) Doubtful as to whether it could have been Sarah Woodward James or either of her two daughters-in-law, as she was reputed to have disliked her husband’s family intensely. Furthermore, no vital statistics are included about Aunt Sarah – not even her wedding date.

9) Undoubtedly written by a Mimms because that has the only wedding date and that is just the year 1828. Also, the details are more complete for that family than for any of the other seven families. Also Mary James Mimms, being the eldest, and repeatedly in possession of the James family Bible, was the only one who would know the details of her parents and her grandparents. She must have told the details to Nannie, Sallie, or Mary G. Mimms (daughter-n-law). But why they didn’t jot down the death date of their father (Sept. 1870). The death date given is that of the mother. Death dates for Nannie McBride, Sallie Sullivan, and Mary G. Mimms ought to narrow the field.

But all in all, it remains a mystery and probably will so forever now. 


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J. MARK BEAMIS ENDORSES JESSE JAMES SOUL LIBERTY

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Harold Dellinger – Jesse James pop-Historian

Harold Dellinger has died.

Harold Dellinger-pop-Historian
Harold Dellinger

Harold was Jesse James’ pop-historian.

Most people don’t know Harold Dellinger. Among the Jesse James community, Harold was an officer and active participant in the James-Younger Gang, the William Clarke Quantrill Society, and the Friends of James Farm. Those are the people who knew Harold best.

There is another group of people who knew Harold Dellinger on a much different level. Harold was known to them as a pop-historian. That is, Harold was one who appreciated history so much that he rose to a level of authority although he was not trained officially as a historian.  For many, Harold was their introduction to the popular history of Jesse James and the Civil War. Only those close to Harold knew his interest in Jesse James began simply enough when Harold was a young parole officer in Kansas City.

In 2007, Harold published his book JESSE JAMES, The Best Writings on the Notorious Outlaw and His Gang. The book served as an excellent introduction to Jesse James for newcomers to the subject. For the knowledgeable already, the book offered an indispensable addition to one’s library shelf of Jesse James books.

In recent years, Harold produced some YouTube videos, as the Quantrill Society visited obscure historic sites connected to Jesse James and the Civil War.

Harold’s visit with the Quantrill Society to the historic residence of Judge Luther Mason prompted Stray Leaves to initiate an inquiry into the ancestry and kinship of Judge Luther Mason. Not surprisingly, the research revealed Judge Mason is kin to Frank and Jesse James, as well as to other notables of the Civil War era.  While their kinship as half 5th cousins is somewhat distant and indistinguishable in the period, the tug and pull of their shared genetics now remains known and unmistakable, revealing new history to come.

The James-Younger Gang issued the following condolence:

Harold Dellinger condolence
Condolence from the James-Younger Gang

“We are saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Harold Dellinger and send our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and associates. Our historical community has lost a valued member. Harold will be remembered fondly for his kindness and willingness to help fellow historians.

“We had the pleasure of having Harold as a guest speaker at our 2015 conference in Kearney, Missouri. He gave us a wonderful presentation on Jim Cummins then joined us for our banquet where he mingled with new and old acquaintances.

“He will be greatly missed.”

 

On behalf of the Quantrill Society, President Cyndy Taylor had this to say:

“The William Clarke Quantrill Society is still reeling from this blow–Harold was fine one day, before Higginsville, and gone the next.

His daughter, Laura, told me today that there would be a visitation on June 14 from 4-7pm with a eulogy at 6 pm during that time, at Passantino Funeral Home in Kansas City, Missouri. The obituary will be coming any day now, as the family is still putting it together. He will be buried at Lancaster, Missouri where his parents are buried.

“Harold was president of the WCQS for 10 yrs. or more, and good friend /assistant to Don Hale. He belonged to a number of historical organizations.

“To say ‘We miss him’ is the understatement! He was on our ‘frequent contact’ list; all of us, especially the board members, talked to him and asked questions of him sometimes weekly.

“In sorrow,

“Cindy Taylor

“WCQS pres.”

 

On Saturday, June 2, 2018, Harold was scheduled to participate in Confederate Memorial Day events in Higginsville, Missouri. When he failed to appear, members of the Quantrill Society checked his residence, where Harold was found deceased.

R.I.P., friend  of Jesse James and Stray Leaves.

Condolences accepted in Comments below.

UPDATE:  Obituary, Funeral, & Intenmet

Photo Experts of Convenience Juke Identity Theft

Seeking authentication experts of convenience doomed Justin Whiting & his fake Jesse James photo to failure.

Justin Whits-fake Jesse James
Justin Whting and his fake Jesse James tintype

 

When Justin Whiting’s “7£ eBay find” was rejected by the Jesse James family as a fake image of Jesse James, Whiting turned to experts of convenience. Whiting believed the experts he chose would provide the validation required to bring his tintype to auction. His experts would provide Whiting a path to the financial windfall he expected.

Whiting’s experts of convenience, however, fell far short of the task. Flaws hidden in their backgrounds and abilities proved to equal Justin Whiting’s flaws of expectation.

Rejected by Jesse James Family

In email salted by bad grammar, misspellings, and chronic badgering, Whiting repeatedly plagued the James family’s historian, Eric F. James, with conflicting claims related to several old photographic images Whiting owned. Once Whiting settled on the best image he thought was Jesse James, he requested the family historian’s concurrence without offering justification or reason.

In short order, James informed Whiting his image, in fact, was not an authentic image of Jesse James. James further advised Whiting that any effort to secure an authentication would be a waste of time, effort, and money.

Whiting abruptly switched to other images in his possession that he also claimed was Jesse James. Whiting’s incoherence quickly turned into an annoyance for James. The irritation turned into exasperation when Whiting informed James he would consult Lois Gibson for an authentication of his image.

Rejected by Lois Gibson

Lois Gibson was known to James as the haywire authentication artist in the Bob Ford/Jesse James Photo Hoax of 2017. James warned Whiting to be wary of whom he associated with, lest Whiting acquire the reputation of a con artist himself.

Months past before Whiting returned to James. When he did, Whiting complained that Lois Gibson did not believe his image was a match for Gibson’s Jesse James image authenticated in her hoax. Why would they, James questioned. You can’t compare a fake image of Jesse James to another fake image of Jesse James that was authenticated as a match for yet another fake image of Jesse James. Whiting’s rabbit hole of foolishness was laughable.

Regardless any reason, or the lack thereof, Lois Gibson offered to authenticate Whiting’s image for $750 plus an additional $750 to authenticate Whiting’s comparison image.

Billy the Kid by Lois Gibson
“Authentication” of Billy the Kid by Lois Gibson.

Whiting told James he would align with James in branding Gibson a fraud if only James would approve his image. At this point, James ceased responding to Whiting’s chronic email.

Accepted by Experts of Convenience

In time, Whiting returned once more to James to announce he had found an authenticator more expert than the Jesse James family. His authentication expert accepted Whiting’s image as a match to an image of Jesse James known by James. Shortly, Whiting expected, his image would be fully authenticated in writing so he could proceed to the auction market.

William Dunniway

William Dunniway is not an expert in Jesse James photography. He is not an expert in photo image authentication, nor is he trained in any photographic forensic science. This did not stop Justin Whiting from seeking William Dunniway as his second expert after Lois Gibson to authenticate his fake image of Jesse James.

William “Will” Dunniway gave up historical re-enacting to pursue his interest in wet collodion photography

Will Dunniway
William “Will” Dunniway gave up historical re-enacting to pursue his interest in wet collodion photography

For 25 years, Will Dunniway, as he is known, was a re-enactor of history. Today, Will no longer does re-enactments. Instead, his time is devoted to his interest in wet collodion photography, an old style of photographic image creation that differs entirely from the tintype photography of Justin Whiting’s image.

Like Justin Whiting, inexperience in the forensic science of image authentication did not stop Will Dunniway from stepping beyond the boundaries of his abilities. When he did, Dunniway exposed his own deficiencies.

Dunniway’s Shortcomings

Recently, Will Dunniway was called upon to assess an image claimed to include Billy the Kid.  The National Geographic Society produced a documentary about the find.

The image since has become highly controversial and has divided the community of western historians. Dunniway’s opinion revealed the limitations of his expertise. 

True West Magazine reported Dunniway’s Billy the Kid findings.

The tintype itself was analyzed by noted wet-plate collodion photographer Will Dunniway…He date-stamped the croquet photo to a plate made between 1877-1881. The chemical process used to make the plate tells the tale. Residue and a close look at the media material itself is consistent with photographs made in that time frame. Dunniway also confirms McWilliams findings that clothing worn in the period is correct.”’ 

Such was Will Dunniway’s sole findings.

player of croquet game
Does this tintype of a croquet game include Billy the Kid?

Will Dunniway suggested that period clothing and an estimated date of 1877-1881 says the third person from the left is Billy the Kid.

Of Dunniway’s two findings – one, the date stamp of a collodion image compared to a tintype, and two, the identification of period clothing – neither of these findings authenticate anything regarding the primary question. Does the image include Billy the Kid?

Dunniway’s Expert “Authentication” for Whiting

Wisely, Dunniway begins the written affidavit of his findings for Whiting’s Jesse James tintype. He boldly states, “…I am NOT a facial recognition expert.”

This statement alone should have disqualified Dunniway as an expert in forensic science suited to assess and write an image authentication. Any opinion Dunniway might produce was doomed to be rendered unworthy.

Will Dunniway affadvit
Affidavit of authentication by Will Dunniway lacks any statement of training and experience in formal forensic science analysis or motorization. The opinion letter is accompanied by a business card, promotional advertising, references copies of Whiting’s claimed image, and a meaningless imprimatur stamp. The document is not notarized.

Regardless, Dunniway persisted in Whiting’s authentication charade. Dunniway stated, “The age of the image was about 1861-1862.” He offered no explanation for his declaration.

Again without evidence, Dunniway speculated as if fact, about Whiting’s comparison image. Dunniway stated, “It [the comparison image] appears to have been printed of a collodion glass negative…” Then Dunniway added one more  disqualifying pointless absurdity, “This is only conjecture…”

In conclusion, Dunniway’s imagination took flight like that of Justin Whiting. “I believe it was taken on the same day by the same photographer. This is very evident by the face, hair cut [sic], jacket, shirt, and tie that this is the same image of Jesse James at 14 years old.” How this imaginary deduction is made, Dunniway left entirely unexplained.

In the end, Dunniway excused himself and his valueless declarations. “I recommend that Justin follow up with a facial forensic comparison…” With that, the buck was passed from Justin Whiting’s second expert to his third expert, Kent Gibson.

Kent Gibson

A public watchdog, says Kent Gibson “has never met a photo he didn’t authenticate as a famous person. His most famous pratfall was the bogus Amelia Earhart.”

Under the name of Forensic Audio, Gibson markets himself as “Certified Forensic Audio Examiner.” His impressive show business resume boasts abundant credentials limited to the field of audio.

Nothing in Gibson’s resume reveals any training, expertise, or experience in forensic science, historical photography, photographic analysis, or history.

Integrity Issues

Like many in show business, Gibson prefers to put forward a younger, more attractive image of himself. The photo of Gibson that appears on his website is a much younger version of the middle-aged persona one meets in person.

Kent Gibson claims to be a photographic expert.
Kent Gibson past, as he advertises himself, & present when met today

Gibson also fudges the location of his business. On his website, Gibson advertises, “My studio laboratory is in the Hollywood Hills.” His actual address, that appears on the same web page, exposes Kent Gibson’s fundamental difficulty with veracity.

Kent Gibson’s studio is not located among the glamorous, star-studded, multi-million dollar mansions and estates of the Hollywood Hills with its stunning views and coveted seclusion. Gibson’s actual studio and home are in the workaday neighborhood of the Hollywood “flats.” Originally populated by crowded orange and avocado groves, Gibson’s neighborhood today is beset by heavy traffic, closely knit homes, and apartment buildings.

511 North Orange Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Home studio of Kent Gibson, not in the Hollywood Hills as Gibson says, but in the less prestigious Hollywood “flats”

Whenever Kent Gibson is shown an old photographic image, Gibson exits the neighborhood of reality and enters a world of fantasy.  Like Justin Whiting, Gibson dreams of discovering the historic photo that will make his name as popular as a celebrity subject he attaches to it. No explanation or justification for this is required in Gibson’s world of expertise.

Photo Identification Slip-ups

Despite his lack of scientific forensic credentials, Kent Gibson already has established a record of highly questionable photo “authentications.” One attached him with Will Dunniway to the disputable Billy the Kid. The other, more egregiously, finds Kent Gibson declaring an unknown image as the lost aviatrix Amelia Earhart. His Earhart declaration has been brutally disproved.

Claimed Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett
Billy the Kid (L) & Pat Garrett (R) as “authenticated” by Will Dunniway and Kent Gibson

In 2017, the New York Times published a fake photo story, typical headline and all, that claimed Will Dunniway and Kent Gibson had authenticated Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett in the image above. The image owner, Frank Abrams previously had hawked the image as including Jesse James. Not finding believers in the claim to Jesse James, Abrams turned to Gibson and Dunniway to produce the altered claim of the Kid and Pat Garrett.

About the same time, Gibson’s authentication of the Billy the Kid croquet image was debunked. Gibson had claimed to discover the location where the image was taken. The location and timeline of the image were disproved. Amateur debunkers became more expert in debunking than the experts were in authenticating.

The image’s owner was revealed to be a shopper of photo experts. One abettor was a coin dealer and auctioneer, who stood to benefit by the sale of the artifact.  Other auctioneers previously had passed on the artifact.

An unwitting abettor was the  National Geographic Channel that was conned into producing a documentary of the discovery. Embarrassment followed for the Society when the discovery was debunked.

Gibson’s expertise in the artifice was downgraded after his Billy the Kid location identification was found to be an impossibility. Gibson had to admit his identification was not good enough to hold up in a court of law. Finally, Gibson’s reach into extreme fantasy to identify Amelia Earhart also was debunked.

Caught by the Short Hairs of Amelia Earhart

The face of Amelia Earhart is recognizable worldwide. Only an expert of convenience like Kent Gibson would dare identify a person showing no identifiable facial features, who is photographed from the back, as the famed aviatrix.

Expert of convenience Kent Gibson identified this seated person as the lost Amelia Earhart. Gibson’s judgment has been disproved since.

Gibson reached for worldwide recognition when he falsely judged this image for the History Channel. What he earned was worldwide mortification.

A post-mortem of Gibson’s debacle by the Center for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) summarized numerous flaws by Gibson and his abettors in the Amelia Earhart farce when the image was proved to be taken two years before Earhart’s disappearance.

‘I don’t know what to say,’ says Kent Gibson, the facial-recognition expert that the History Channel hired to analyze the photograph for Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence. ‘I don’t have an explanation for why [the photograph] would show up two years early.’”

Excuses without Explanation

The National Geographic Society reported,

In the documentary, Gibson said that based on the facial and body proportions of the two Caucasians, he said it was “very likely” that the photograph contained Earhart and Noonan [ed. her co-pilot].

In a phone interview with National Geographic, Gibson added that since the documentary filmed, he has acquired new facial-recognition software that signals a match between the photograph’s Caucasian man and Fred Noonan. His previous software had indicated that there were too few pixels in the photograph to successfully perform the analysis. (In a follow-up email, Gibson declined additional comment.)

Gibson’s “Authentication” for Whiting

Not skilled in the meticulous metrics and analytics of photo analysis that applies forensic science techniques which are extensive and time-consuming, Kent Gibson prefers to rely solely upon photo comparison software for the quickie authentications he proclaims.

Such software today is used to trick the eye, as one auctioneer tried to do in 2014. More commonly today, such software is deployed on Facebook to harvest metrics for advertisers by fooling  Facebook subscribers to transform their photo images into historic persons, the opposite sex, art, or cartoon characters. (The same software could be employed to transform an image of Kent Gibson into an image of Lois Gibson. After all, the two never have been seen together.)

When addressing Justin Whiting’s image, Kent Gibson acted impulsively as he does routinely.  Digital Trends reported,

…Gibson didn’t need long to reach his conclusion. “I could tell immediately,” he said after running the picture through several facial recognition programs.  “It scored off the charts.”

Gibson is also hyperbolic in his assessment of the value of Whiting’s image. As the BBC reported,

Mr. Gibson said: ‘”All power to Justin. An authentic photograph of outlaw Billy the Kid sold for $5m (£3.6m) in 2015 so the sky’s the limit…Jesse James is a very famous outlaw so this is obviously a valuable image.”

DOWNLOAD Kent Gibson’s Declaration

Spawn

Con artists of fake Jesse James images feed off of one another.

In Regina, Canada, Rob & Karen Baron produce a YouTube channel called “Bargain Barons.” They are promoting their latest discovery – a tintype they claim is Jesse James.

The Barons say,

We have put the word out to several people. We very quickly heard back from Forensic Audio & Video Examiner KENT GIBSON. According to Kent: “Dear Rob & Karen: I ran your tin through one of my 5 different facial recognition programs and your photo is plausible.”

The Con Artist’s Template

So far, Rob & Karen Baron are making all the mistakes, following the typical template of a Jesse James photo con artist.

  • The Barons claim discovery of a tintype of Jesse James like Justin Whiting
  • The Barons found the tintype on the internet like Whiting
  • The Barons compare their tintype to fake images of Jesse James like Whiting
  • The Barons are shopping for experts of convenience like  Whiting
  • The Barons claim Kent Gibson believes their claim like Whiting

Without a doubt, once the Barons have an authentication in hand, issued by an expert of convenience like Kent Gibson, the Barons may seek to become merchants of identity theft like Justin Whiting. They may seek an expected financial windfall, too.

If they do, the Barons will find the Jesse James family waiting for them to discredit their image and expose another fraudulent Jesse James photo misadventure.

RELATED

Part I – Historic Photo Fraud Produces a Merchant of Identity Theft

Part II – Jesse James Family Discredits 7£ eBay Find of Justin Whiting

Part III – Photo Experts of Convenience Juke Identity Theft

Part IV – Forensic Science Proves “7£ eBay find” NOT Jesse James