Tag Archives: John Hunt Morgan

2017 JAMES-YOUNGER GANG – Diary of a Preview Tour

What Happened in Missouri began in Kentucky

Dan Pence at Spring Hill Cemetery, Harrodsburg, Ky.
Dan Pence, President of the James-Younger Gang, views the plot for the Confederate dead in Spring Hill Cemetery in Harrodsburg, Kentucky.


April 19, 2017 – Dan Pence and Tom Nall, president and past president of the International James-Younger Gang Inc., will arrive at the 200-year-old Hemp House here in Danville today. Then for three days, we will tour Kentucky and preview historic sites in preparation for the speaking events and tours that are scheduled for the 2017 annual conference in Georgetown come September.

Dan Pence-Tom Nall-Harrodsburg cemetery
Dan Pence & Tom Nall, president & past president of the James-Younger Gang, tour the Confederate cemetery at Hoordsburg, Kentucky

Today, we will begin at Constitution Square. We will talk about the enduring relationship between John M. James, Frank & Jesse’s grandfather, with Judge Harry Innes, his clerk & later Justice Thomas Todd, & Benjamin Sebastian of the Spanish Conspiracy. We will also address what role John M. James may have had in the ten Danville Conventions and how the Spanish Conspiracy led to his ruin.

Next, we will retrace the ride of Frank James, the Younger & Pence brothers with William Clark Quantrill when they rode through Danville in 1864 on a mission to “visit” President Lincoln.

At the family plot of the close Confederate ally of Frank James, John Pendleton “Black Jack” Chinn. Dan Pence stands beside the tombstone of Black Jack’s grandmother, Sarah White Stull Hardin-Chinn. Her husband Christopher Columbus Chinn is the namesake of Kit Chinn who traveled the racetrack circuit with Frank James in his retirement years. Black Jack rests behind Dan Pence among two rows of his Chinn and Morgan families.

We will tour their escape route from Danville to Perryville and up to Sally Van Arsdall’s farm outside Harrodsburg. There, Maj. James Bridgewater, whose wife was a Pence, caught up with the band and attacked them in the middle of a cold January night. Four of the band was killed. Previously, the James-Younger Gang Journal published my account of this event, “Why, Maj. Bridgewater?”

We will then tour Oakland Church cemetery where Quantrill ordered their fallen men to be buried. We also will visit Spring Hill Cemetery in Harrodsburg, where Frank James and Black Jack Chinn exhumed their slain from Oakland Church Cemetery and re-interred them in the Confederate plot at Spring Hill around 1898.

Nearby the family plot of Black Jack Chinn, Dan Pence tours the family plot of Franklin Pierce “Frank” James. In Harrodsburg, Frank James was the cashier of the Mercer County National Bank. Black Jack Chinn sat on its board of directors. Frank was twice elected Sheriff of Mercer County, and also was elected State Auditor. He halted construction of the new Kentucky State Capitol when the legislature failed to appropriate sufficient funding.

Returning to Danville, we will visit Bellevue Cemetery and the grave site of the grandparents of Clell Miller, Henry Logan Thurmond & Mary Kenley-Thurmond. Clell Miller was one of the James-Younger Gang. He was killed in the Northfield Bank robbery.

We will round off today’s tour in Danville with visits to Weisiger Park next to the Boyle County courthouse where Joseph McAlister James, aka Joseph McJames, operated the St. James Hotel. We also will stop by the parking lot on Third St. backing up to the Boyle County jail where Joseph McJames owned and operated James Hall, Danville’s first and original theater, and convention center.

In the coming two more days, we plan to tour in Woodford and Scott Counties.


Tombstone of Thomas Evans James, brother of Franklin Pierce “Frank” James. T.E. James operated the oldest dry goods firm in Harrodsburg – Hansford, James, & Co. His partner Smith Hansford rode with John Hunt Morgan, David Hunt James, & Richard Skinner James, both of whom were captured and sent to Camp Douglas Union Prison Camp in Chicago.

April 20, 2017 – Yesterday, after a full day of touring numerous historic sites relating to the pioneer settlement of John M. James in Kentucky and his pioneer families of Pence, Nalle, Vardiman, & Sallee, we ended our tour at Bellevue Cemetery in Danville.

Standing before the graves of Clell Miller’s grandparents, I received the ultimate compliment from Dan Pence. Turning to me, Dan said, “My grandfather would have loved to have known you.”

Tombstone Rev. Jesse Heah
Behind the tombstone of Thomas Evans James, Tom Nall spotted the tombstone of Rev. Jesse Head.  Rev. Head married President Abraham Lincoln’s parents, Thomas & Nancy Hanks Lincoln.

Dan’s grandfather is Samuel Anderson Pence, the author of I Knew Frank…I Wish I had Known Jesse. This book and its companion book Quantrill’s Guerillas 1861-1865 compiles Pence’s lifetime accumulation of history, stories, facts, and data relating to Pence’s personal relationship with the social communities and family of Frank & Jesse James. Dan edited and published his grandfather’s book posthumously. So much of Dan’s book is new and previously unpublished history. I have used this book often in my own research and writing.

Jesse Head plaque
Tombstone plaque for Rev. Jesse Head. “Rev. Jesse Head, Jan. 28, 1768-March 22, 1842. Preacher-Editor-Patriot. He married June 12, 1806, Thomas Lincoln & Nancy Hanks, parents of Abraham Lincoln. Jane Ramsey Head, April 10, 1768-August 30, 1851. Married Jesse Head January 9, 1789 and nobly shared with him the privations and triumphs of the life of a pioneer preacher.”
Jesse Head
Rev. Jesse Head 1768-1842 who married Abraham Lincoln’s parents

I was thrilled to think Dan thought so kindly about my research and writing. Dan’s generous compliment could not have thrilled me more.

Today, we continue our tour in Georgetown and Midway and the historic site related to the James family there.


April 21, 2017 – So far, very few complications have arisen regarding our programming for the September conference. Everything is working out well and in some cases better than first thought. This conference is going to be great!

However, while conducting our tour, revelations have occurred to us which surprised us. There really is no reason why the three of us, all raised in the upper Midwest, should find ourselves bound together by Jesse James. Yet, here we are.

Yesterday, Dan revealed his story “You have to go to Kentucky.”

Dan Pence-TomNall-Barbara Nall-Perryville Confederate Memorial
Dan Pence, Tom & Barbara Nall tour Perryville Battlefield and its memorial to the Confederate dead.

As a trained chemist, grown up In Michigan, Dan knew nothing of his connections to Jesse James. Not until Dan’s son brought home a book one day about Jesse James and Dan began to look at his grandfather’s box of memorabilia, did Dan begin to follow his path of spiritual discovery.

Dan Pence, Tom & Barbara Nall tour Logan’s Fort, a first stop for any migrant coming to Kentucky from Virginia in the early 1780s, including Frank and Jesse James’ grandfather, John M. James.

Following the neglected leads left to him, Dan began his journey. Dan’s door of discovery opened when a near stranger instructed him “You have to go to Kentucky. When Dan did, like me Dan discovered the unexpected.

In the Kentucky corporate offices of Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Dan met with Bill Samuel. Bill showed Dan Bill’s own neglected box of family memorabilia. Among the artifacts in Bill’s box were photos of Dan’s grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather.

Ever since then Dan has been on his own personal tour to discover what meaning Jesse James holds for him. Even on this preview tour of historic sites in Kentucky and after publishings his grandfather’s books, Dan is still learning more.

James-Younger Gang-2017 Conference logo

The three of us boys from the upper Midwest agree. We are traveling a curious path of divinity. We fully expect more revelations to come. Come to Kentucky, and you can, too. Join us and tour with us at the 2017 annual conference of the James-Younger Gang.

Author’s Book Signing Uncovers a Librarian’s Family Lore of Jesse James

HORSEFLY HOLLAR…The name may fit what you imagine to be Kentucky, but the people of the Hollar may alter your imagination. Librarian Allison White was hostess for my book signing at the Bullitt County Public Library in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. Allison hails from Horsefly. There, the family lore  of her and her neighbors make for some very entertaining storytelling. But not the kind of Kentucky stories you might think.

Allison White
Librarian Allison White, Bullitt Couty Public Library

Like the story of the couple who moved to Horsefly from Chicago. They brought with them a city slickers’ fantasy of raising lamas in Kentucky. One of their lamas became real neighborly, coming up to Allison’s bedroom, tapping on her window, and waking her up, after snacking in her garden throughout the night and leaving it ruined.

Or the American husband who brought home a Chinese wife. No one ever has heard one of them talk to the other in the other’s language. Each of them fights in their own native language – never more fiercely than when they both are standing over their vegetable garden in full public view.

Then, there’s Jesse James. “We have a lot of people who come to the library,” Allison told me, as she sat down to order four of my books to stock her library’s bookshelves. “They’re very interested in Jesse James. A lot of them have stories about him and their own family lore.” From what Allison tells me, I think we’ll be looking at a presentation, or two, in the coming year. Wherever I speak, I always come away having learned something new. So I look forward to meeting more of her library’s patrons.

Allison’s family has their own lore about Jesse, too. Her family home once hosted John Hunt Morgan, when Morgan came through, trying to retake Kentucky for the Confederacy. Among them, would have been David Hunt James, one of Jesse James’ distant cousins. Three of Morgan’s Raiders died at that time and are buried in Allison’s family burial ground.

After the Russellville Bank robbery, Allison’s family claimed to have been visited by the James Gang. Her great-grandfather provisioned them with use of his barn, but disallowed their occupancy in the house, because of his three teenage daughters. The family fed the gang in the morning, and one of the gang laid a five dollar bill on the table when leaving. Left behind also was a pipe, which, according to Allison, the family believes may have belonged to one of the Younger brothers. The artifact remains in the family, but the initials on the pipe are as worn as the day when it was left behind.

Eric F. James, Jean Thompson Kinsey
Authors Eric F. James & Jean Thompson Kinsey

Jean Thompson Kinsey is a fiction writer from Logan County, Kentucky. She also was signing books with me, among the large group of authors at the Bullitt County Library Author Faire. Jean informed me that she writes a fictional account of Frank and Jesse James in her Logan County Trilogy, Secrets of Willow Shade.

I met many Kentucky authors I didn’t know before. I was most impressed, however, by these two young authors.

Rebekah McAuliffe interview
Author Rebekah McAuliffe reading & being interviewed.

Rebekah McAuliffe, I learned, started reading at age two. Her mother told me, one day Rebekah was sitting in her high chair. She pulled the newspaper off the table and began to read it. “Then she started to talk about what she had read,” her mother said. “It was then we knew, Rebekah could read.” Now Rebekah is a published author.

Rebecca presented her debut novel Gears of Golgotha. She’s already planning her next book. At her signing table, I viewed her book trailer. Rebekah also may have some filmmaking talent. She said, she was considering making book trailers for authors as a sideline.

Leah Pugh
Author Leah Pugh, reading her book in progress

Leah Pugh read from an upcoming novel she’s writing. I was impressed enough to ask if she also was planning an audio book. Her story telling ability is extraordinary. And when read aloud, her words jump right off the page. But I soon learned Leah is not my discovery alone. Leah Pugh is under contract to write twenty books!

Her initial mystery novel, The Diamond Caper, is doing well. Leah’s presently writing her third mystery novel, Houston, We Have a Problem. Look for Leah Pugh to become the next Agatha Christie.

I’ll have more about the other authors, to follow later.

Bullitt County Library
Librarian, author interviewer,& co-host Patrick. He greeted me at the door by my full author name, that included my middle initial F.