BOOK REVIEW: Myers, Jack, Knight’s Gold: The Largest Documented KGC Treasure Ever Discovered (Jack O’Llantern Press, 2016) pp. iv +498, illustrations, endnotes, no bibliography or index, ISBN 9781539896562, soft cover $18.95
Like a lot of books about the Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC) and the tales about treasure that the KGC supposedly buried to finance a second Civil War, this work contains a lot of speculations, garbles a lot data, and contains a ton of misinformation. The book is tedious to read, everything the author says he repeats at least three times.
A lot of the book deals with two treasure troves found in Baltimore, Maryland. Both of these troves are believed by the author to have been buried in basements by members of the KGC. Little factual data and a lot of questionable information is given to support this theory. We are asked to believe that two teenagers who found the first trove carried five thousand gold coins home in their pockets and shoes! A practice problem from the book, New Practical Arithmetic, published in Boston in 1875 is construed by the author to be a coded message by the agents of the Knights of the Golden Circle in Baltimore concerning the buried treasure.
Another reported treasure trove is located within Victorio Peak in New Mexico. This area is now on the White Sands Test Range. A lot of various stories are related about this reported treasure trove. The odor of fraud permeates almost all of what is reported about this supposed treasure location.
The most bizarre “treasure” parts of the book deal with none other than America’s most famous bandit, Jesse Woodson James.
The James boys did not spend their loot but socked it away to help fund the Knights of the Golden Circle and the second Civil War. No mention is made of all the race horses the James brothers bought, raced and bet on.
Almost all of the off the wall stuff published about Jesse James is trotted out in this book. Orvis Houk, Del Schrader, Ron Pastore, Henry J. Walker and a variety of other questionable James literature is quoted.(Somehow Betty Duke and her claim that her great-grandfather, James L. Courtney, was the real Jesse James got left out. This must have been an oversight.) This specious material is jumbled in with material from well written and well researched books. The author makes no effort to select the wheat from the chaff in any of this.
The James material is all a total tangle of out and out falsehoods, misinformation and speculation. One fiction novel even is cited to support some of this material.
Examples of some of this material are: (1) William Clark Quantrill was head of the KGC’s Knights of the Iron Hand; (2)John Newman Edwards wrote dime novels after the war; (3) After the war Jesse James worked as a bounty hunter and tried to go straight; (4) Gov. Crittenden appointed Sheriff James Timberlake as a deputy U. S. marshal (these are federal appointments); (5) Sheriff Timberlake went to New Mexico after he collected his reward and likely helped stash some of the Victorio Peak treasure; (6) Albert Pike started the KKK: etc. etc. etc. The nonsense boggles the imagination!
Forensic science now impugns an ambrotype image claimed to be Jesse Woodson James. The forensic report concludes the image is not America’s iconic historical figure at all.
A forensic science paper titled “Analysis of an Ambrotype to Find Out if it is an Authentic Image of Jesse James” was written and published by Mark David Bampton, a native of Great Britain. The paper first appeared on Academia.edu, and now is republished in its entirety below with permission.
Applying his knowledge of forensic science acquired over many years, Mark Bampton has made a name for himself in the U.S. as a forensic analyst of historical photographic images. His masterful forensic debunking of the Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax definitively lay to rest a claimed Jesse James tintype image as being a fraud.
Most recently, Bampton garnered more distinction when he applied his forensic science skills to an image claimed to be famed Mississippi blues man Robert Johnson. American musicologists who engaged the controversy beforehand have coalesced in the end behind Bampton’s meticulous analysis. In the case of the Robert Johnson image, Bampton’s analysis went beyond facial recognition alone so far as to scrutinize the hands of the blues artist.
THE RED FLAGS
The present ambrotype claimed to be Jesse James is owned by Patrick Taylor Meguiar. He has consigned the artifact for auction to Addison and Sarova, an antiquarian book dealer in Georgia.
Prior to consignment, Meguiar’s artifact and claim raised a host of red flags. When Meguiar sought the opinion of his artifact from the Jesse James family, he made claims that were not substantiated. When promoting the artifact on its web site, the auction firm furthermore relied upon and created fictionalized history, to promote the questionable artifact for auction sale.
Eric F. James had no difficulty pointing out what he perceived as significant discrepancies in Meguiar’s image and claim. James is the genealogist, family historian, and archivist of an archive of family documents pertaining to the Jesse James family. His archive includes 250 years of authentic James family images, plus an extensive archive of images that have claimed to be Jesse James or his brother Frank James, collected over the past 150 years. Recently, James produced a video showing the genetic physical characteristics of the men of the Jesse James family. On average, James receives 3-4 claimed images every month. Most all of them never are subjected to forensic science analysis.
FIRST RESPONSE OF THE JESSE JAMES FAMILY
Writing to Patrick Meguiar, James was quick with his replay and opinions.
“First to the image:
“Attached you will find a side by side comparison between your image and one of Jesse James.
“To the untrained eye, it would appear easy to see why your image might claim to be that of Jesse James. However, when left to scientific forensic analysis, there’s much to be said. I will simply address those particulars identifiable to me.
“Clearly, these two subjects are not the same age. Jesse James is about 16 when this image was taken. The subject of the claimed image appears to be almost a decade older at least. Forensic analysis would take this into account. Still, enough physical features can be compared.
“The forehead in a professional analysis would be measured for comparison of mathematical spatial metrics. From my view, they appear similar, but each displays a different hairline. There also appears to be some spatial formations that do not comport. The JJ image is broader. The claimed image appears more narrow in compactness. Again, mathematical metrics would measure this very precisely.
“The eyebrows are dissimilar. Typical of the Jesse James family, one eyebrow is arched and the other curved. Both are arched severely in the claimed image, very unlike any image to be found among the archive of images from the James family.
“The eyes are shaped differently in each. However, JJ’s eyes are more deeply set, more round than almond, and are not subject to as heavy an overhang of fatty eye tissue. The spatial relationship of the eyes to the nose also differ.
“The noses differ also, JJ’s being longer with the typical James base that arises up and forward from the area above the lip. The base of the nose on the claimed image does not rise, nor is it as widely spaced. The spatial relationships between lower nose and upper lip also differ.
“The cheekbones differ, too. By the time JJ was the age of the subject in the claimed image, his cheekbones would grow more pronounced.than that of the claimed subject. They also are more widely set. The same could be said of the upper jawbone, which among the James is as pronounced as that of the claimed image.
“Below the nose, the most telling discrepancies appears among the base jawline, jaw formation, lip formation, and their spatial relationships. Unlike the flat horizontal lower jaw of the James, the claimed image displays a rounded jaw line and bulbous jaw. The typical lip formation of the James, evident in the JJ image, of full lower lip and an indented upper lip drawn very widely beyond the width of the nose formation, does not appear the same in the claimed image, which is tight, lacks definition, and is no more wide than the width of the subject’s nose. No James image displays such a narrowly drawn lip.
“Below all this is the neck, JJ’s neck being elongated like most among his family, and the claimed image displaying a truncated neck depth.
“All of this leads me to conclude that you should not waste any money to have your image authenticated. I do not believe it to be an authentic image of Jesse Woodson James.”
A comparison of the initial perception by James with the measured and scientific analysis by Mark David Bampton reveal the two, not only arrived at the same conclusion, they arrived at the same conclusion for virtually the same reasons. Neither James nor Bampton had conferred with one another beforehand or during their independent analysis.
Initially, James casually considered the man in the ambrotype might be William Clark Quantrill under whose black flag Frank and Jesse James briefly served. Upon closer examination of his archive of authentic Quantrill images, James discarded the thought as improbable.
OR UNDER WHO ?
Following his reading of Mark Bampton’s paper, James revisited the question of who the man in the ambrotype might be.
A comparison of an image of Patrick Taylor Meguiar with his childhood image plus an image of Patrick Meguiar’s father, leads James to suspect the man in the ambrotype is a relative from Meguiar’s past. When James compared historical images of Patrick Meguiar’s, he noted remarkable similarities among Meguiar’s legitimate ancestors and the man in the claim image. None of the legitimate ancestry of Patrick Meguiar was known in the period to the ancestry of Jesse Woodson James.
James knows that forensic science has proved the man in the ambrotype is not Jesse Woodson James. The evidence and proof made public in Mark Bampton’s independent forensic analysis report is available for anyone to see. What remains unseen is the evidence and proof of Patrick Meguiar’s claim. Patrick Meguiar still must prove who is the man in his ambrotype.
Leonard Hall is the owner of a daguerreotype appearing to be that of John W. Mimms, Jr. Hall wants to put his image on the market and make it available for acquisition.
There’s a hitch, though. Mr. Hall’s preferred customer is a member of the Jesse James family or its related families. His backup choice is an historical institution that would make the image available to the public, or a collector of Jesse James-related or Western memorabilia.
Who is John W. Mimms Jr.?
John W. Mimms Jr. is the son of John Wilson Mimms Sr. and Mary James, making Junior a descendant of the James family, also. Mary James is the daughter of John M. James and Mary “Polly” Poor, grandparents of Frank and Jesse James, making Mary James and John Wilson Mimms Sr. an aunt and uncle of the James brothers, and making John W. Mimms Jr. their first cousin.
When John M. James and Mary “Polly” Poor died between 1826 and 1827 within months of one another, the couple left behind nine orphan children, ranging in age from a few months to Mary, who was the eldest at age seventeen. Among the orphan clan was Robert Sallee James, the father of Frank and Jesse James.
Mary’s uncle is Drury Woodson Poor from her Poor ancestry on her mother’s side. He became the executor of the estate of John M. James. Within weeks, D. W. Poor immediately became guardian to Mary and her siblings.
An immediate problem arose to confront Drury Woodson Poor. He had nine children of his own. Now, he was given charge of eight more. Besides, he had just launched his career as a Kentucky legislator and state representative from Logan County. Poor had the confidence of his community. Known as the “Lion of Whippoorwill Creek,” Poor had served Logan County as its sheriff before his election. His judgement was respected. Poor’s resolution to his problem was to marry off Mary James, the eldest orphan, to John Wilson Mimms Sr.
For almost thirty years thereafter, John Wilson and Mary James Mimms operated a tobacco farm in Adairville in Logan County, Kentucky. After being ordained in the Missionary Baptist Church as a Methodist minister, Rev. Mimms removed his family from Kentucky in 1856 to join Mary’s brother Thomas Martin James in Missouri.
For the benefit of the orphan clan, D. W. Poor purchased the family Bible of John M. James and Mary “Polly” Poor and gave it to Mary James-Mimms. Before the Bible burned in a storage room fire, its’ genealogy entries were copied into the family Bible of Robert William Mimms. Ultimately this Bible was passed down to Ruth Ethyl Waers, a granddaughter of Robert William Mimms. Ruth married Col. Harold Burton Gibson. The Bible is presumed to have stayed in the Gibson family.
History knows little about the life of John W. Mimms Jr. other than he was born in Logan County, Kentucky on July 14, 1831. He married Cornelia Dobbins on Dec. 22, 1859, in the company of his siblings Robert William and Lucy Frances Mimms. Then he died shortly after that in February of 1863.
The Mimms Daguerreotype Cannot be Authenticated
Since no photographic images exist of the closest family of John W. Mimms Jr., no forensic analysis can determine if the picture of him is scientifically authentic. The earliest known images of these James-Mimms descendants occurs among their grandchildren.
Also, since no authentic documents exist to show comparison evidence of the image or of the handwriting of John W. Mimms, Jr. to the signature in the daguerreotype case, the handwriting cannot be ascertained as authentic, either. Forensic analysis, however, should be able to verify the paper stock and ink as being in the period, or not.
Some evidence of ownership or subject identification of “John W. Mimms Jr.” can be found in the inscription “H_ _per, Kentucky.” These two identifiers appear written on the case interior underneath the daguerreotype. The written name and location must be taken at face value.
What can be authenticated in this artifact, in fact, is the town in Kentucky that is inscribed in the case, despite the evident appearance of puncture damage to the town’s name. The town is Hesper, Kentucky. This fact is little known except to historians of the Jesse James family and the James Preservation Trust. The identification is found in a letter from Lutie Mimms to Joan Malley-Beamis. Lutie identifies J. W. Mimms Jr. as a “merchant in Hesper, Ky.” Lutie is the granddaughter of John Wilson Mimms Sr. and Mary James-Mimms. Joan Beamis is a great-granddaughter of Drury Woodson James, an uncle of Frank and Jesse James.. Beamis also is the author of Background of a Bandit, the first genealogy of the Jesse James family by the Kentucky Historical Society.
Provenance of theDaguerreotype
In his original query to Stray Leaves about his daguerreotype, Leonard Hall attested to the following provenance.
“I was in Martha’s Vineyard this summer (where the Presidents hang out for vacation) and Island off Cape Cod…..and I am an ex~photographer and picker….I was at a flea market that I normally visit and saw this at an Antique vendors table…I bought it as he seemed to realize it had some connection but said he had if for a few years and wanted to sell it as he dealt in high-end jewelry…..he said he got it in Miami where he summers…..that’s the origin as far as I’m concerned…”
In this circumstance, an authenticity rests in the eye of the beholder.
Regarding the case, it is a widely and well-known fact that Littlefield, Parsons, & Co. made photographic casings of this type in a variety of sizes, covers, similar fabric and imprints. The company’s casings were available throughout the nation, both North and South. Similar cases are known to host photographic images of Civil War partisans from both sides.
While it is assumed the identification of the company, paper, ink, and other related materials are authentic, only a formal scientific forensic analysis can ascertain definitively. The costs of such analysis well could exceed the cost of acquiring the image.
What is left to assess is a comparison between the daguerreotype and known Mimms family images. While the physical characteristics of the Mimms are not known to be catalogued, a catalogue of physical characteristics of the James does exist. After all, the subject image of the daguerreotype and the following photographic images of related Mimms family members are all descendants of the James family, too. These Mimms display identifiable James family physical features.
Multiple images exist of Zerelda Amanda “Zee” Mimms a younger sister of John W. Mimms Jr. Zee Mimms also is the wife of Jesse Woodson James. Sarah Ann, or Sallie Mimms, was born after Zee. Drury Lilburn Mimms was born before Zee and Sallie and immediately following John W. Mimms Jr.
From generations that follow the Mimms siblings, Maj. Gen. Harold B. Gibson Jr. is the son of Ruth Ethel Waers-Gibson who inherited the Mimms Bible. Lutie Mimms, whose full name is Lucille Ethel Mimms-Gray, is a daughter of the eldest and firstborn of the Mimms siblings, Robert William Mimms.
Does the daguerreotype of John W. Mimms Jr. resemble images of the Mimms siblings and family?
Interested in Acquisition?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and express your family or social affiliation with the James family. I’ll be happy to refer you directly to Leonard Hall.
UPDATE: July 21, 2016
Daguerreotype of John W. Mimms Jr. SOLD
Cowans gets the kinship wrong. However, citing the research of Eric F. James of Stray Leaves, Cowans concludes a sale of a legitimate Jesse James family artifact.
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.”
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.
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.
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.